Four days. Seven educational workshops. Thousands of participants: forward thinking professionals, nationally recognized speakers and emerging leaders.

One message: Ignite leadership with speed and purpose.

What is the WFF Leadership Development Conference? The Women’s Foodservice Forum annual conference encouraging advancement of female leaders. A network for foodservice professionals to build leadership skills, discover expert resources and become the leader you want to be.

Interestingly, research shows that companies with more women leaders generate more revenue and decrease turnover.

But historically business leaders, especially in the C-suite, have been male. Today, male executives are champions of women’s success, as evidenced from participants like Dave Pace of Jamba Juice, Nigel Travis of Dunkin’ Brands and Thomas Zatina of McLane.

Each speaker left their mark on the room and opened my eyes to various ways I can grow personally and professionally. For example:

  • Juliet Funt, CEO, White Space at Work.
    • “The average workday is a sprint of frenzied, reactive activity – squeezing out the time to think.”
  • Simon T. Bailey, CEO, Simon T. Bailey International.
    • “You are a human being first, and the brilliance around you comes in different shades and hues. Respect everyone.”
  • Shari Harley, President, Candid Culture.
    • “Two purposes of feedback: improve behavior or reinforce behavior.”
  • Denny Marie Post, CEO, Red Robin.
    • “Raise your hand early and often!”

After listening to these (and more) thought-provoking speakers, connecting with industry peers and engaging with coworkers, I learned that leadership is solidly based on active communication, absolute clarity and intentional influence.

  1. Build Trust. Leaders must be transparent and grateful.
  2. Show Initiative. Proactively seek opportunities (and challenges).
  3. Coach. Support growth, encourage valuable feedback, create networks, and formulate development plans.
  4. Be Persistent. Relentlessly pursue goals, set high standards and get out of your comfort zone.
  5. Communicate and Listen. Encourage an open, honest team environment and actively listen to others.

And finally, to be a successful leader means to drive your life with passion, expand your comfort zone, have some fun, take some risks, and persist in growth and goal generation.

Womens Foodservice Forum Blacksmith Group


After all, goals contribute to happiness… “We could not be happy without setting ourselves goals. Children test themselves – they see how fast they can run, how high they can climb. Every happy adult does that same – seeks new understandings, new achievements. Prod any happy person, and you will find a project.” -Sir Richard Layard, Ph.D.

Looking forward to next year’s show in Dallas!


Click here to learn about Blacksmith Applications leadership team.