The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) hosted the ninth annual National Business and Leadership Conference at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Aug. 7-10.
The conference connects LGBT businesses with NGLCC corporate partners, who are committed to developing a positive environment for the LGBT business community.
"As we come up on 10 years, this conference is really a remarkable experience," said Chance Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of NGLCC.
The keynote address was given by real-estate mogul Barbara Corcoran. She currently works as an author, motivational speaker and contributor to NBC's Today Show and the ABC reality series Shark Tank. Using anecdotes from her life, Corcoran shared her top keys to success in business.
Corcoran met a handsome older man, Ramone "Ray" Simone, while waiting tables in her small town of New Jersey, and instantly fell in love. The pair soon moved to New York City, and Corcoran started a small real-estate business with $1,000 Simone loaned her.
After several years together, Simone announced that he was marrying a secretary at the firm. Corcoran decided to split up the business and start the Corcoran Group, which she later sold for $66 million.
"The best gift Ray gave to me when I walked out that day was saying, 'You'll never make it without me,'" said Corcoran. "Thank God he said that to me. … Just when I think I've tried everything, I'll think of his words and try again."
She translated this philosophy to her business, selecting associates with little or no sales experiences who had overcome some sort of obstacle or strife.
"My best trait is I am great at failure. I haven't found someone who is successful who isn't great at failure," said Corcoran.
Corcoran met her business partner of 10 years, Esther Caplan, when she came in to interview for a sales position at her company. Corcoran could tell she was notright for that job, but felt that her organizational skills suited her for secretarial work. Caplan would go onto use these organizational skills to balance Corcoran's lofty business ideas, a combination Corcoran credits her success to.
However, Corcoran's most crucial piece of advice was simply believing that she has a place at the table in business.
"What has been my largest struggle in life was the sense that I have the right to be there," said Corcoran.
Conference attendees were also able to network with more than 130 corporate partners, including specialized matchmaker meetings for suppliers to pitch corporate representatives.
The marketplace expo featured approximately 40 different companies and governmental agencies, including Target, HRC, Coca Cola, Apple, IBM, Pepsi and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Many of the representatives at the expo were supplier-diversity agents for their companies, specializing in finding minority-owned supply companies.