Last Friday, I was invited to the first ever Tweet Up with Suze Orman, hosted by Avon.
Before providing details about the event, it has to be said that I felt like a Luddite or one of those grandparents who still doesn't have email. This was a tweet up event, right? So there I was, the only one without a computer or blackberry/IPhone to send in our twitter posts. All I had was a pad and pencil and my Motorola RAZR (remember when the RAZR was the coolest phone on the earth and cost $1,200.) Happily, this situation will be alleviated when my phone contract runs out and I can get my IPhone - hallelujah. (Suze would be proud that I did not pay extra just to go with the trendiest new toy.)
Onto to the event. The Tweet Up was held at Avon headquarters in one of their conference rooms. I was surprised as I thought it would be some big media event with hundreds of people but it was only about 10 female bloggers. Most of them knew each other from other events. No matter how you old are, there is always that moment where you still feel like the new kid in the lunch room and all the cool kids are hanging out together.
But before I provide the wrong impression, everyone there was super nice, helpful and so happy to network.
Ms. Orman arrived around 9:20. Let's get to the superficial part, shall we? She looks so incredible and very pretty in person. I don't know who does her makeup but it was flawless and natural. Remember this meeting was held in a conference room which are not exactly known for their lighting. You would also expect that she arrive with an entourage, so not true. She was just there with her manager, KT.
Ms. Orman came in and just filled the room with her presence. As she mentioned, the television does not "contain" her energy and she is right. I found her to be engaging, interactive, empowering (such an overused word but in this case, an apt description), motivating, honest, and best of all had great sense of humor. When I say honest, she makes no apologies for her success nor should she. (PSA - Suze, continue to please spend your money, we need it to help the economy.)
Can you tell that I was impressed? It is very rare that I am impressed. As someone who has seen plenty of CEO's give speeches, she was so incredibly self assured, dynamic and really knows how to command a room, not afraid to give her opinion (not a surprise) and a true leader.
The topic of the "tweet up" was all about empowerment of women and being as successful as you want to be. Suze said at the outset "hope you are here for yourself and to make money."
In my opinion, the fit between Suze and Avon is such natural partnership. It's two powerful brands, both with the mission to empower women (and men) to be the best and succeed in life, both financially and personally.
Certainly, Avon has been at the forefront in helping women support themselves and their families since 1886.
Suze answered a wide range of questions during our session. She was extremely supportive, gave great advice and even congratulated women who had recently been laid off (myself included). Wow, this surprised me but also empowered me, that yes, I needed to change my life and validated what I am doing now.
Just wanted to give you a few great quotes from the event (luckily, I had pencil/paper because, I can't type that fast) and I am pretty sure the tech, saavy women were tweeting them as well.
" Changing Lives One Tweet at a time" (the situation in Iran is proof of that)
"Build your brand with honesty, integrity and truth" (take note Wall Street)
"All people need to be validated in their life"
" I don't like leverage" - this was a response to a question about leveraging assets to invest in the market.
Fun facts, I bet you did not know about Suze mentioned at the meeting:
She was waitressing at 30, when her loyal customers lent her $50,000 to open a restaurant and then her broker lost it all.
She went to Merrill Lynch, thinking she couldn't do any worse than her broker and went on to be one of their top earners.
She survived on Taco Bell during the lean years because it was cheap and good AND still eats it today. As a result of telling her Taco Bell dining story for all these years, she just signed a deal with Yum Yum brands, the parent company of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.
Suze's mom sold Avon back in the day to help the family out. Suze only recently found out after she told her mom about the Avon partnership.
She didn't publish her first book until she was 45 - this gives me hope that it's not too late.
She answers her own tweets. @suzeormanshow. Yes, she does. Sometimes she has to send 10 tweets to answer a financial question but she will definitely answer your tweets.
She does not prep before her shows and is hearing the viewer's questions for the first time when you the audience, hears the question. Her comment was that "you need to master and own the information/advice you are giving to others."
She only pays for big items (e.g an apartment in the Plaza, yes, that Plaza) with new money only, meaning, she does not touch the money she has set aside for her retirement, a retirement that keeps in her current lifestyle. She said it took her over a year to save up for the apartment.
She owns 8 apartments and she paid for them in cash. True to her word, she does leverage current assets to buy new assets.
Overall, this has to be one of the most enriching, transformative and motivational moments in my life. I want to thank Avon and Suze Orman for taking the time to set this up. To Suze, thanks for the inspirational words and support and most all of your candor.
Finally, to Suze's point, if I had not lost my job and started this site, I would never have had the opportunity to meet her and the other dynamic and supportive women in the room.