Women Leaders Encouraged to be Themselves During Annual Leadership Breakfast

joan steffend

“Remember who you are, be who you are, share who you are and change the world.”

That was the message at the 2nd Annual Women’s Leadership Networking Breakfast. The event was held on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 at the Rasmussen College Blaine campus. Rasmussen College partnered with the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce to provide an engaging and inspiring discussion with some of Minnesota’s leading women professionals. 

Nearly 100 women from the Twin Cities area were treated with breakfast before hearing Joan Steffend, a former TV Host and author, once struggled with finding the kind of person she wanted to be.

“When people look at my life, they see a degree of success,” said Steffend. “But I don’t look back and think that.”

The Minnesota native admits she doesn’t have a lot to complain about. The former KARE 11 anchor and HGTV host says she has two beautiful daughters, a supportive husband and a home she loves, but she felt something was missing from her life.

“I took out a legal pad and wrote my autobiography,” said Steffend. “I’ve always loved to write, but never have I had that kind of experience. At first, the words fell off the pen, but then they just stopped. I didn’t finish until five years later.”

What she realized, Steffend says, is she lost herself for a long time. She says she spent years being someone others told her to be instead of listening to herself.

“I was told I was stubborn and hot tempered, so I finally took the time to think about that,” said Steffend. “What I realized is I’m actually just outspoken about myself. It’s important to spend time with those stories that are told about you.”

Steffend turned her experience into a book called …and she sparkled – a story about rediscovering oneself and the joy it can bring. Steffend later co-authored Peace Begins with Me and recently wrote Peace In, Peace Out, a book about how to bring peace into our lives and how to share with it others.

“I ask all of you to remember who you are, because you are magnificent,” said Steffend. “Without you, the world is incomplete.”

women leadership

Steffend’s message hit home for six Twin Cities leaders who took the time to answer a series of questions. The panel was made up of business owners and politicians, as well as chamber and hospital presidents. When asked about the biggest obstacle they’ve faced as women, they talked about overcoming the double standard they’ve each encountered.

“When a woman is strong and opinionated, she’s called a nasty word, but it’s expected of men,” said Rhonda Sivarajah, Anoka County Commissioner District 6. “We have to change that double standard and realize it’s OK for a woman to stand up for what she believes in.”

“Like most mothers, I tell my girls they’re beautiful,” said Lori Higgins, MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce President. “But I also tell them they’re smart and great leaders.”

The panel was also asked to give a closing statement. Like Steffend, many shared a similar message of being who you are.

“Live your passion each and every day and take care of yourself,” said Higgins. “As women, we wear a lot of hats, but we need to take care of ourselves.”

“Know that you can and be true to yourself,” said Carol LeDoux, Anoka County Commissioner District 5. “You must realize other people’s opinions don’t have to influence what you believe in yourself.”

The event wrapped-up with time for networking. Rasmussen College Blaine Campus Director, Patty Sagert, also talked about the importance of these leadership events as a way for students and community members to learn from leaders about specific topics like servant-leadership and entrepreneurial leadership.

About the author

Molly Andersen

Director of Public Relations

Molly is a Director of Public Relations at American Public Education, Inc., where she works on public relations and communications on behalf of Rasmussen University. A passionate storyteller, Molly believes everyone has a story to tell. She feels privileged to share the inspiring stories and wisdom of Rasmussen’s students, alumni, faculty and staff, and show others the transformative power of education.

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