Kindness is the Way to Empowerment

Photo by Stephen Zane

Photo by Stephen Zane

Great things never come from comfort zones.  Thanks for sharing this quote with me, Lisa Gilmore Design. If I only did things that fit within my comfort zone, I would exclusively be watching Bridget Jones' Diary and drinking Peanut Butter & Chocolate Milkshakes on my couch, because that's what comes naturally to me. 🎥🍫 But I'm open to adding to this shortlist, ha, so I said 'heck yes!' when I was invited to speak at CreativeMornings/SP last Friday alongside Christina Jones Photography & UMBN's Annmarie Boss about 'Women's Empowerment'. It was a dream scenario and was worth overcoming the anxiety I feel when I need to speak in front of others and now that I’ve done it, I feel like I've gained 100 courage points!

Photo by Stephen Zane

Photo by Stephen Zane

I encourage you to do things that scare you because you will be better for it. 

Thank you to everyone who came out for this month’s talks & music by Lobo Marino. Here’s my talk in full, including some photos from my PowerPoint. There’s also a video so you can listen– cheers to Roundhouse Creative and their amazing video & storytelling skills!

Sending hugs & good vibes your way. Stay boss. xx -G

Watch the Women’s Empowerment talks here!

Good morning everyone! My name is Gina Moccio, and I’m the founder of Babe Crafted, a business development club for women in Tampa Bay. I hope you don’t mind that I use my phone to read from. I figure in the photos I’ll just look like a Millennial in her natural habitat.

Also, before we get started, my dad and sister are here. Can everyone please say ‘Hi Steve & Jackie’? Thank you! And we have some Babe Crafted Members here as well. Can you ladies please stand up so we can see you? Let’s give them a round of applause. Thank you to you ladies for choosing St. Pete, Tampa, & Clearwater to build great businesses in. We’re glad to have you.

I’m so honored to have been asked to be a speaker at Creative Mornings and talk about women’s empowerment. Thank you to Tara and the whole Creative Mornings crew for making this event what it is— thank you to everyone who comes to the event on a monthly basis— you add some magic, too. And again, bravo to Annmarie and Christina for sharing today. 

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So to break the ice a bit and introduce you to who I am— I was inspired by last month’s speaker, Steven Peterman of The Sketchbook Project— he opened his presentation with a nod to the 10 year challenge. I don’t think of myself of a bandwagon kind of person— but it turns out I am, I just wait super long to get involved. Like, I saw Twilight 2 years after it came out. So here’s my 10 year challenge. I was in my 2nd year of college at The University of Tampa— I was producing a couple printed issues a year of a zine called Socratic— which would later turn into Vessel Collective— and I was at my friend Chad’s house working on a short film about a girl who travels to space on her bike and brings back a star to share with her friends. I was also making and wearing headbands with small plastic birds on them — which I’m not anymore, so some things do change over time. 

But what truly brings me here today, is something that our culture has been talking a lot about over the past couple of years— women’s empowerment. By any means— it’s not a new topic, but it’s just as important as ever. But oftentimes I’ve seen it talked about in a very general sense— like the word empower is a synonym for ‘inspire’. But those two words are very different. They’re both verbs— and incite the person receiving the empowerment or inspiration to do something. 

But empowerment doesn’t motivate you— it’s defined a measures that increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority.

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When you’re inspiring someone— they already have the tools and resources they need to do that thing. Your words or actions are giving them the spark they need to move forward.

But with empowerment— they do not have the tools and resources they need to move forward— and you’re helping to bridge that gap by extending said tools and resources. 

We can empower each other, collectively, through empathy and mutual support, and specifically through the topic I want to talk about today: kindness.

I believe that ‘Empowerment’ is rooted in kindness. When you extend kindness to another person, you both allow them to claim their own power and dignity, and you insist upon your own. It takes a lot of strength and confidence to be kind. And oftentimes it also takes time and patience, too. 

And that realization is why Babe Crafted takes the mission of working with non-profits that are focused on women & girls so seriously. That work, linking entrepreneurs with charities and non-profits, both helps the non-profits with the important work they do, and helps remind the entrepreneurs of the strength and empowerment they get from helping others. 

We do a lot of cool things for our members—- like creating a custom video about each member & her business, and monthly workshops on topics like Podcasts and Scalability. But at the foundation, the thing they love the most of the support and kindness they receive from fellow members. Creating a club culture where we take the time to listen and share has been the favorite part of many of our members. 

I have a couple brief stories I’ll share with you that I have from our volunteers days and collaboration with some non-profits.

Photo by Jess Fredericks Photography

Photo by Jess Fredericks Photography

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are survivors of domestic violence and CASA St. Petersburg is Pinellas County’s largest domestic violence shelter. They have a thrift store located on 1st Avenue N. and the location of their shelter is GPS protected— we all signed confidentiality waivers and authorized CASA to do background checks on us before we showed up at the shelter. I was in one of the waiting rooms at the front office of the shelter waiting with my little event cart that had snacks and water for our volunteer group as well as supplies we had collected in a donation drive in collaboration with some of our members with brick & mortar locations like Valhalla Resale and The Paper Seahorse— and I overheard a woman in the room next to me who was nearly in tears talking to another woman about being in a place in her life where she’s not able to afford Ibuprofen. Now- I don’t have the full details, and this is not about whether or not she received Ibuprofen from CASA that day— but the point I’m making is that I have never been in a situation where I haven’t had the ability to go out and buy something so basic as some over the counter pain medication. It hurt my heart so badly to hear this from that woman. Myself and our members who were volunteering that day gladly cleaned a large kitchen and dining space where dozens of families eat multiple times a day. Cleaning a kitchen seems really simple, but that’s just it— kindness doesn’t have to be complicated and “a little bit goes a long way” is a cliche for a reason. It’s true. 

Photo by The Dashing Ginger

Photo by The Dashing Ginger

Another story I have is from The Centre For Girls in Seminole Heights. This was the first non-profit we ever partnered with, which was donating all the proceeds from the raffle at our launch party back in June of 2017 to The Centre For Girls. We’re actually working on a big philanthropic project with The Centre in 2019, so we’ve been there multiple times over the past couple months for meetings. Many of our members who are volunteering their services ranging from interior design to public relations for this project haven’t been there before, so they get a tour with the Director of Programming, Sartura Shuman-Smith— a woman who oozes confidence and offers kindness to every person she speaks with on a daily basis. But when she describes the children aged 5 to 14 who walk through The Centre For Girls’ doors, the descriptions run the gamut. The girls come from all different backgrounds and home situations— and some of them are going through some really difficult emotional and mental trauma. Some of the girls have been physically abused— some of them have experienced terrible bullying— many of them have little to no self-confidence and struggle with finding and claiming their self worth. To hear about 5 year olds and 12 years going through these things is something I find very challenging. But there’s something we can do about it. And that’s kindness by way of getting involved in whatever way makes sense for you. 

Non-profits could use money and volunteer hours-- but they can also use donated items from their wish lists (many of them have wish lists posted on their websites), donated time of a skill you have, and even sharing their content on social media so they can reach more people. All of these efforts help them to do the valuable work they do for the women and girls who need it most every day. 

Before I have to go, I want us all to do something, right now in your seats, that I hope will help you envision kindness as a tool for empowerment. Kindness can be something you do— but it can also be something you say. But no matter what form it comes in, it says ‘I see you’. 

How many of you have flown on a plane before? 

You know the safety and emergency cards that each seat pocket contains? In case the oxygen pressure on the plane drops, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling— the card tells you to put yours on first before helping others. This may at first seem selfish— but you’ll be able to help more people if you can breathe. So I invite you today to do this for yourself. Put on your oxygen mask. Fill your cup. 

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Do it for yourself, and in turn, others will benefit. I have a brief exercise for us all today.

I want you to tell yourself something kind. Think about something you like about yourself: you are patient, you always leave things better than you found them, or you’re a good writer-- it doesn’t matter what the compliment is, just think about something you like about yourself and whole-heartedly tell yourself that right now. I’m going to give you a bit of time to close your eyes and clear your mind so you can think of the piece of kindness you want to share with yourself. When you’re finished, go ahead and open your eyes. 

How do you feel in this moment? Do you feel stronger, more energized, better able to face the day? That tiny, silent act of kindness is magical. Affirmations work; just a few words can change your whole attitude, and that’s real empowerment.

I hope you’ll all join me in going out into the world today in a spirit of kindness towards ourselves and each other. That’s how we’ll empower and lift each other up. Thank you!