The single most important piece of advice pioneering life and executive coach Debbie Phillips would tell women wanting to exact positive change in their lives is make a step-by-step plan and then follow it.
Phillips literally wrote the book on motivating women to succeed through inspiration, strategies and support. Her "Women of Fire: 20 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!)," a book project she co-authored, was the natural outgrowth of her years of experience connecting women to one another to maximize their success through retreats, tea parties and coaching groups.
Now Phillips will be bringing her expertise and positive spirit to Alpena as the keynote speaker for R.E.N.E.W. (Rejuvenating, Energizing, Nurturing and Enlightening Women), a first-time women's expo event set for March 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the APlex. The event, at $30 per person, includes exhibitors, speakers, a luncheon and a copy of the "Women on Fire" book.
Life and executive coach Debbie Phillips
"I am excited to help spark the fire within Michigan women," said Phillips of her upcoming visit to Alpena. "In my 15 years as executive and life coach, I've seen how the key ingredients of success inspiration, strategies and support can make a transformative difference in a woman's life. I am honored to be part of an event that brings all three of these components together in one day."
The topic of her keynote address is "How to be a Woman on Fire Even if you Can't Find Your Spark." She also will lead an interactive workshop for attendees titled, "How to Find Your Passion and Fully Live It."
A former journalist and governor's press secretary, Phillips began working as a life and executive coach 15 years ago at a time when doing so wasn't really a recognized profession. Shortly after her foray into the field, it became an emerging profession. From the start, she worked with professional women who were juggling their lives, their careers and their families.
Expo for Women
Saturday, March 12
Cost: $30 per person
Tickets are available at the following locations: Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, Neiman's Family Market and Alpena Community College Foundation Office, Room BTC125. Deadline is March 4.
"I would work with them on a one-on-one basis to help them do what they really wanted to do," Phillips said.
That led to speaking engagements around the country and the creation of her own organization in 2003 called Women on Fire. This national membership organization extends the outreach of inspiration, strategies and support for women to be successful. Members transform their lives and, in turn, the lives of other women.
One of the 20 women featured in the "Women on Fire" book just happens to be a resident of Northeast Michigan. Mary Ellen Jones attended one of the signature teas given by Phillips several years ago, embraced what she learned there and made positive changes in her life.
Her journey of change, chronicled in the book, took her from a fast-paced California lifestyle as a television producer to a rural farm in Harrisville, where she has found personal fulfillment. Jones now works with Phillips in leading occasional Women on Fire events. She also helped to spark the idea for holding a women's expo in Alpena and has served on the R.E.N.E.W. planning committee to make it happen.
One aspect of the expo Jones is particularly enthused about is the panel of local success stories that will be moderated by Elaine Stenger, Ph.D., author of "Dancing in the Rain," a book that carries a message of love, forgiveness and self-empowerment.
Joining Stenger on the panel are five local women who have found personal and professional success, including Trina Gray, owner of Bay Athletic Club; Dodi Lance, a certified massage therapist, choreographer and community volunteer; Catherine Green, an underwater archaeologist and special projects coordinator for Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary; Mary Lou Peters, a watercolor artist, author and entrepreneur; and Miss LeFave, business owner of The Marketplace and How Cute is That.
"We wanted to highlight some of the women who have been extremely successful in keeping with the sort of Women on Fire motto of providing inspiration, strategies and support," Jones said. "We thought we would ask some of our local women to tell us how they did it."
Besides the keynote speaker and the panel discussion, the conference also will feature a presentation by Women on Fire member Christine Wagner, who is an internationally experienced consultant and trainer. She will discuss a whole-brain thinking approach that helps individuals and teams work together effectively and achieve their goals.
Other planning committee members besides Jones who have worked together on the R.E.N.E.W. expo are Jackie Krawczak, Sue Fitzpatrick, Amy Essex, Barb Szczesniak, Nan Katzenberger, Darlene Wilmot, Grace Marshall, Julie Dietz and Penny Boldrey. All are anticipating the positive effect such an event can have on women in the community.
"R.E.N.E.W. is the equivalent of spring break for women, and the day-long expo is tailored for their busy lives," said Boldrey.
Boldrey also said this unique event has been in the planning for a year and a half, and that it is wonderful to see it coming together.
"Thanks to the financial support of area businesses, service organizations and foundations, we're excited to bring Debbie Phillips to Alpena," Boldrey said. "An amazing group of hard-working area women have created an event that promises to help women escape from the winter blues."
Tickets for the event are available at the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, Neiman's Family Market and the Alpena Community College Foundation office.