Simmons Leadership Conference
April 13, 2022
More than 6,400 attendees of the 43rd Simmons Leadership Conference explored this year’s theme of Cultivating Courage and Connection. In this post, we’ll hear heartfelt wisdom and advice about what it means to be truly courageous from our world-class lineup of speakers, including Simone Biles, Brené Brown, Molly Fletcher, Amanda Gorman, and Luvvie Ajayi Jones.
While Cultivating Courage and Connection was the main theme of the conference, several other, equally impactful, topics emerged as the speakers shared highly personal, candid stories that highlighted the importance of curiosity, community, flexibility, intentionality, and vulnerability in leadership.
Our Featured Speakers on Courage
In an inspiring, emotional, and powerful discussion, Brené Brown and Simone Biles shared personal stories about courage, vulnerability, connection, mental and physical strength, and so much more.
Simone revealed that withdrawing from the Olympic Games in 2021 was the most courageous decision she’s ever made and stressed the importance of acknowledging one’s vulnerability. Brené reacted to Biles’s honesty and courage with empathy and visible emotion and emphasized that it’s critical that we attend to our mental and physical well-being.
Walking away from the Olympic Games was a win in itself. I know a lot of people thought I failed because they expected me to go out with five or six medals, but walking out of it was my biggest win…It was probably the most courageous I've ever been.
I found strength and courage in being vulnerable and by opening up.
It’s OK to not to be OK.
Be authentically yourself and unapologetically yourself. That's how you stay true to yourself.
People are not okay right now, in general. We gathered at work here for the first time in two years, and the first thing I said was, no one’s okay and it’s okay…We can be not okay together. You have to normalize the grief and the anxiety that we’re all in.
You have to challenge the myth that vulnerability is weakness. There is no courage without vulnerability.
Vulnerability is showing up and being seen when we can't control the outcome.
In her conversation with Lynn Perry Wooten, President of Simmons University, Amanda Gorman described how she built her muscles of courage from a young age and developed them through poetry.
Whenever I stood up for myself at school I was to return home, tell my mom, and be applauded. Courage starts at home, it starts with the self, it starts young. It’s not something we arrive at randomly in adulthood.
Courage isn't the absence of fear but the recognition that there is something more important than fear. It's how we begin to articulate our dreams. It has a real pulse and significance and movement.
I approach poetry not just as a literary craft, but something that underwrites the change I would like to see in the world.
In an engaging and empowering session, Molly Fletcher shared entertaining personal anecdotes to illustrate how fearlessness and curiosity go hand-in-hand on the journey to success and peak performance.
We can't create courage unless we are curious.
Fearlessness starts with curiosity. Curiosity is the key that unlocks possibility. It asks the question, ‘What’s possible?’
Be bold. We can see obstacles or we can choose to see opportunities. There's no such thing as limits, just barriers that haven't been broken yet. Step in, lean in, and go for it.
Luvvie Ajayi Jones challenged us to have the courage to speak up with intentionality, no matter how difficult the situation.
In the absence of fear there is no courage. If it's easy, it's not brave.
I consider regret one of my biggest worst-case scenarios. I often ask myself: Will my silence convict me? Will my inaction make me proud? When we are afraid, we actually have a chance to choose courage, and it may actually push us over the edge to use our voice and use our power.
Be a disruptor for good. What is happening in the room is absolutely your business. Elevate the space by spending your privilege and power. Challenging an idea will not get you fired.