JPMorgan Chase hosted the PowerHER Austin 2022 conference, highlighting the financial power of women.
By Greg Hassell, Photo by Chris Caselli Photography
As the 240 participants settle in for the PowerHer Austin 2022 conference—a full day of discussion panels, fireside chats and networking opportunities—financial pop star Haley Sacks sets the tone for the day ahead.
“The power of women is in their pocket. All change starts with the individual. We have the ability to take control,” Sacks says during her presentation, Financial Wellness: Be Your Own Trust Fund. “It’s in the power of HER. By taking control of your money, you are taking control of your life.”
To help the women of Austin grow, succeed and thrive in their professional and personal lives, JPMorgan Chase hosted the event at Hotel ZaZa on Sept. 23. Together, the participants and panelists explore how to fund entrepreneurial ventures, how to make advisors and board members powerful allies, how to support the success of diverse businesses and how to weather the extreme personal demands of being a successful entrepreneur.
PowerHER: A Day of Inspiration
“This was truly an inspiring day and energizing experience. The incredible lineup of speakers provided valuable, actionable takeaways. Surround yourself with truth tellers, diverse voices make for more robust conversations and pay it forward and bring other women up with you,” says Ashley Brueckner, executive director of J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
“What a wonderful event!” Lourdes Zuniga, executive director of Financial Health Pathways, posts on social media after participating in the sessions. She writes that the day “was inspiring and full of resources to help women find their voice and power within themselves.”
Speakers provide their personal hard-won insights to help women take charge of their careers and finances. Even with different views on a topic, the debate remains informative.
When moderator Jamie Kramer asks what makes a startup company stand out, venture capitalist Brad Harrison offers without hesitation, “The team, 100%. We are looking for a great culture.”
But panelist and venture capitalist Kathryn Cavanaugh takes a somewhat different view. “The funder—are they persistent? Are they low ego and high humility? Will they view me as a partner or a check?”
Both agree that it is critical for an entrepreneur to choose carefully when it comes to finding a funder who will be an anchor and an ally.
“You want investors who will help you with advice and industry knowledge. Find someone who will stick with you in good times and bad,” Cavanaugh says.
JPMorgan Chase & DivInc
To help launch a new generation of women and diverse entrepreneurs, JPMorgan Chase has provided more than $750,000 to fund the work of DivInc, an Austin-based organization that is, in the words of JPMorgan Chase’s Yvette Ruiz, “a huge driver in creating wealth and bridging the racial wealth gap.”
DivInc’s signature program is a small-business accelerator. More than 100 companies have enrolled in and graduated from the accelerator program. “You can’t go wrong betting on women,” founder Preston James tells the gathering, amassing a huge round of applause. “I do this as an honor to my mother, who showed me the power of a woman.”
During the Austin Innovation Economy segment, BeatBox Beverages Co-founder Aimy Steadman challenges attendees to use their position and power to create great access for others. “Make your industry more inclusive and sustainable for the next generation,” she says.
PowerHER Keynote Melissa Bernstein
The keynote session is a conversation with Melissa Bernstein, co-founder of Melissa & Doug Toys and Lifelines. Melissa & Doug is a hugely successful toy company. Lifelines is her new venture focusing on mental well-being products for adults.
Bernstein says her company had many, many lean years. She and her husband considered packing it in nearly a dozen times. In those days, the couple basically lived on turkey hot dogs and ramen noodles.
Being a successful entrepreneur is an arduous journey, she explains. One should undertake it only “if you have this burning mission, a vision of something you want to create that is larger than yourself.”
Her biggest piece of advice: “Be honest early on about what you are good at and what you’re not.” At that moment, moderator Elaine Agather of JPMorgan Chase looks at the audience and quips, “Your ego is not your amigo.”
“If anyone says it’s easy, or pretends it’s easy, they aren’t telling the truth,” Bernstein says. But, she adds, “Feel really good about what you are doing. If I want my kids, especially my girls, to believe they can do anything, then I have to show them I love what I do.”