Fran Harris, former UT basketball star turned business coach, shares her thoughts on the importance of female empowerment and how to achieve your career goals.
By Lauren Jones, Photo courtesy of Fran Harris
What if we were raised in a world where all women felt empowered? Can you imagine how incredible and utterly euphoric that would be? For Fran Harris, that world is finally her reality. A former University of Texas women’s basketball NCAA champion, former Procter and Gamble saleswoman and now business explosion expert, Harris overcame her fear of greatness at an early age, and now lives by Laurel Ulrich Thatcher’s mantra, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”
She believes that empowerment comes from “owning your amazing and celebrating others’ brilliance.” It’s “waking up in the morning and asking yourself how do I want to contribute? Who do I want to be? And then, making it happen. It’s not allowing your gender, age, ethnicity, or circumstance to change the way you see yourself, or negatively alter the aspirations you have for your life,” she says with honest enthusiasm.
The socialization of women has always been different than it is for men, which Harris believes affects some women’s ability to self-identify as the ingenious women they truly are.
“It’s unfortunate that my 16-year-old nephews have such a different outlook on their future than my 12-year -old niece,” Harris remarks with an intensity that’s hard to miss. “The world shows them that they can become whatever they want to become. They feel very few limitations.”
Real or pre-conceived boundaries never registered with Harris, who at 9 years old started her first business, selling snow cones to her neighbors in the sweltering Dallas heat. By the end of the summer, she had earned $1,500. Seventeen years later, she found herself in a sales job with Procter and Gamble, and even though she quickly landed on the fast track to success, she knew she was destined for something bigger. At 29, she left her “six-figure compensation package, company car and benefits,” completely ignited by the desire to start her own coaching and consulting company to help others discover their passions.
This fall, Harris is producing and hosting an event for women who want to unleash “their inner diva” and drive their dreams to fruition. DIVA Con, which Harris describes as “a luncheon where women can own their amazing”, is happening Thursday, September 7th at the Frank Erwin Center. DIVA stands for daring, ingenious, victorious and altruistic. Four characteristics that the four DIVA award honorees embody.
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While we often think of the word diva in a negative connotation, Harris believes we need to “turn it on its head. A diva is someone who is a maverick, a risk-taker,” someone who is “living her life in a big way.” Instead of shutting down women who are “on fire,” we should instead challenge ourselves and one another to no longer “be taken aback by another woman’s success, but rather to celebrate her achievements.”
Harris knows a little something about being a maverick and risk-taker. She’s succeeded in three of the toughest industries on the planet — sports, television and sales. She’s an ESPN announcer, CEO of her own business and professional development agency, and has written more than 20 books. Her latest book, Bullyproof My Company will debut at DIVA Con.
DIVA Con is for “divapreneurs and working divas” and Harris wants each woman in attendance to walk out of and feel like they are “levitating” by how inspired they feel. Throughout the conference, DIVA award winners will share their stories of entrepreneurship, including our publisher Melinda Garvey. Plus, just by attending you’ll be entered into a $1,000 giveaway.
DIVA Con is all about inspiration, celebration and digging deeper. For those who leave the event wanting to connect further with the women they’ve met and establish concrete next steps, Harris will be hosting a DIVA business retreat at the end of September or early October. The first 100 Diva Con registrants receive complimentary tuition.
“DIVA Con is as much about networking and affirmation, as it is about motivation and reinvention,” says Harris. We all need inspiration, women to look up to, dreams that inspire us and goals that stretch us. Besides, you don’t want to wake up one day and see someone online or a morning television show talking about an idea you had 15 years ago. You’ve got one life and you should live it like a diva!”