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Michelle Yates
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CREW Network Convention Recap

Earlier this month, I was able to attend the 2015 CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Network conference in Seattle. From the opening keynote to the breakout sessions, project tour and Madelaine Albright’s closing keynote, the conference was energizing, inspirational and provided lots of networking time.


Before the conference, I arrived early in Seattle to take in some of the local sights, namely the Space Needle of course which was right next to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Both are amazing!

That same afternoon I attended the Leadership Summit Chapter Board Training since I’m the co-sponsorship chair for CREW St. Louis. In this hour and a half session, board members were urged not to do anything that wasn’t relevant, didn’t add value or didn’t make a stronger chapter. CREW President Gail Ayers also talked about relevance, focus and engagement (“don’t be a killer of ideas”). Finally, chapter leaders from across the network engaged in discussions with each other and shared best practices.

Market Place is considered the conference kick-off event. This networking reception had lots of people, food and exhibitors. Following this fun social event, representatives from CREW St. Louis attended the Distinguished Leaders Roundtable as a supporting partner for the Chapter Leadership Circle. Industry leaders talked about:

-the importance of being able to tell a story;

-having the confidence to say “I don’t know;”

-never turning down the opportunity to make a public appearance; and

-being willing to tackle the gray areas.



One of my favorite speakers was the opening keynote, Carla Harris. Carla is the author of Strategize to Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up, or Start Over in Your Career. Her engaging, funny presentation focused on understanding and being able to change others’ perceptions of you, investing in not only “performance currency” but more importantly “relationship currency,” getting comfortable taking risks and authenticity as your competitive advantage.

The breakout sessions I attended were about the rise of the urban canvas, crowdfunding, senior housing market, and experiential retail. Former CNBC Chief Economist Marci Rossell also gave a glimpse of factors affecting the current and future economy. The highlight of the conference was the closing keynote by Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. What a privilege to be able to hear her stories first hand! She also talked about taking the initiative, negotiating, active listening, assembling a team and just plain working hard.

After the final keynote, several CREW members took project tours. My group visited several of the office buildings in downtown Seattle and heard about their growth and future plans.

Finally, another great thing about attending the conference was the quality time spent with other St. Louis Chapter board members. Even though I see them at board meetings and events, it’s nice to be able to have a longer conversation and get to know everyone better. I can’t wait to go again!

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