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“All of it was a surprise”

“All of it was a surprise”

Rock What You Got with Jearlyn Steele

It would be easy to think Jearlyn Steele set off on her path to success as a singer, performer, and talk show host, (just a short list of her accomplishments) early in life. After all, as a child she sang gospel with her brothers and sister. She has been a professional model, and holds both titles of Miss Ball State and Miss Black Minnesota. That group of siblings that sang together as children grew into the acclaimed singing family, The Steeles, performing all over the world and singing with some of the biggest names in music. She has a talk show on WCCO, Steele Talkn’ and is an entertainment reporter for Almanac on TPT. But to hear her tell it, all of it was a surprise.

Those surprises kept on coming to the girl from Indiana who ended up falling in love with Minnesota. She stopped singing after the death of her father, but thank goodness for us found it again and whether solo or singing with The Steeles, Jearlyn’s voice is one of the most dynamic we at RWYG have ever heard, she’s not only smart and funny, but a compassionate listener and a lot of fun to hang out with.

One of our very favorite things is how much Jearlyn has given to us at RWYG. Her support of past “women’s expos” has come from her belief that there is always opportunity for growth and something to be learned whether one is interested or not. That there is always the chance to change things and make them better. That’s what we are doing with RWYG and why we are so proud to bring Jearlyn Steele to the RWYG Live! Stage on Friday, September 13. Join us and learn for yourself, (if you don’t already know) what a magical performer Jearlyn is. Get your tickets now!

Click here to see the complete show line up and purchase tickets

To learn more about Jearlyn visit: https://www.jearlynsteele.com/aboutus

 

A word from the owner of Rock What You Got – Buffie Blesi

It’s been a surprise for me too – my deep friendship with Jearlyn! It was accidental, but absolutely joyous! I was working on a project that brought the National Association of Women Business Owners (www.nawbo-mn.org) to the Twin Cities and they were looking for an emcee. For years, I had seen Jearlyn host  the Women Venture Annual awards and I always left happy and inspired. Who better than Jearlyn to host our organization of 950 women from all over the country!

And it was working with her at the conference where I fell in love! Her heart is so big and her support of my dreams authentic. A beacon in a world that can sometimes be dark. She is the best thing that has happened in my world in the last two years.

And that voice!! My word, can she sing! She’s playful, sultry and she ROCKS WHAT SHES GOT in all the ways.

Thank you, Jearlyn, you are an inspiration to us all

Buffie Blesi

Last Night’s ‘Equal Pay’ Chant – Why Representation Matters

Last Night’s ‘Equal Pay’ Chant – Why Representation Matters

Last night I was able to go see the United States Women’s National Soccer Team on their Victory Tour. I’m not a soccer fan. I’m not really a sports fan, but I am a huge fan of women kicking ass, so when a friend of mine mentioned that they could get presale tickets to the game, I jumped at it.

Now, I don’t see a ton of live sports. Usually the Twins once a year, maybe a few times at CHS Field to see the Saints. The rest? Meh. I didn’t really know why, I just knew that I just didn’t care. That’s a lie. I do know why. But my feelings on kneeling for the flag and allowing partner abusers to keep their jobs is not the reason for this post. This post is about why women’s soccer is different from anything I’ve ever experienced.

I didn’t immediately realize it. I asked one of the friends I was with after a bit if I was correct. And I was. Everyone on the field was a woman. The announcer was a woman. The medics were women. The referees were women. And the powerhouse athletes on the field and giving power poses on the jumbotron? Women.

We’re so used to seeing all men on the field. But to see all women? Never. At a major sports event, to see just one woman on the field (or court or whatever) is an anomaly. To see only women? Mind-blowing.
And the crowd. Filled with people of all ages, all ethnicities, all genders. The crowd was there to cheer on and support a team of women.

There was chanting and heckling, just like any sports game. Towards the end, though, the crowd started chanting something I couldn’t make out right away. Then I heard someone behind me say ‘they’re chanting ‘Equal Pay!’ and I BURST into tears. I had been able to forget, for a bit of time, that these incredible athletes were not treated the same as their male counterparts. I had been able to forget, for just a moment, that women were so often treated as second class citizens. For just a second, I was able to put down the armor that comes with fighting for equality and be completely in the moment of pure joy and excitement.

That’s why representation matters. Seeing images of yourself on a larger scale, being able to see a world in which you are celebrated and loved for being exactly who you are, seeing someone that you could grow up to be is empowering. Also, showing the world that women have every right to take over that field and WIN (4 times, thank you very much).

In the immortal words of our queen Lizzo, “Serena Willy showed me I can win the Wimbledon (we can do it). Uh, put me on a pedestal. Bet on me, bet I will”

ROCK WHAT YOU GOT Event Coordinator,
Sarah Salisbury

There’s more than enough room for success. It’s not pie.

There’s more than enough room for success. It’s not pie.

Change is hard sometimes.

Especially change in societal norms, were some ideas about “the way things are” are so deeply buried, like the idea of “the haves and the have nots”.

Let’s say I have a pie. It’s delicious, and while I’m tempted to eat the whole thing, I know I won’t feel better about myself for having eaten it. I’ll probably be pretty sickly actually, and there are other people here who would LOVE some pie. I could share it! Great idea! But, wait, do I really want to give “my” pie away?

An old way of thinking would say, “That pie is mine! I’m not going to eat it, most likely it will go all mushy and weird, but I’m keeping it all because it’s mine! I worked hard for this pie!” Ok, settle down, no one is taking your pie.

But get this…it’s pie. Make another one. Chocolate Silk, Cherry, Sweet Potato. But, keeping other things all to ourselves…things like opportunity, membership, steps to success…these things are literally unlimited if we allow it. Putting a finite limit on who gets opportunity, who gets inclusion, who gets education…this is why there isn’t enough pie to go around.

Holding on to the fear of “losing” power for ourselves because others are growing holds us all back. Making space for other and making room for the success of others lifts all of us up.

Kenya McKnight of the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance knows there is more than enough success out there if we are willing to share it. Find out how at ROCK WHAT YOU GOT on September 13.

Click here to learn more about Kenya!

Get Tickets & Learn more about the ROCK WHAT YOU GOT: Women’s Summit taking place on Friday, September 13 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center here!

Be Nice to Yourself. Seriously.

Be Nice to Yourself. Seriously.

We’ve all had those days.

Those days when your hair looks weird, or that twenty pounds that snuck up on you out of nowhere won’t let you button your favorite pair of jeans and now you have to wear those weird brown pants that itch.

Or, you just lost your job, or a relationship, or your back hurts and you just feel like warmed over garbage. Like the light inside you has just gone out.

Those days are tough. And sometimes we tell ourselves we deserve it.

“I wasn’t good at the job.”

“I’m too fat to be loveable.”

“I’m the worst.”

You wouldn’t let a friend talk to themselves like that, you wouldn’t let a child talk to themselves like that, you wouldn’t let anyone say such mean things about themselves…but you say it to yourself, don’t you?

I know you do. I do too. And sometimes we say those rotten things so often, we don’t even realize it anymore. It becomes part of our script. The script to a pretty terrible movie. And once we have it memorized, we might need help unlearning it.

We deserve a better script. We deserve more light. We deserve to be nicer to ourselves.

On September 13, come meet Katie Horwitch, “Self-Talk Shifter”, author and podcast host as she guides us though all of the ways we can improve our own self-talk practices at the ROCK WHAT YOU GOT: Women’s Summit Leadership Symposium. Bring your friends, your co-workers, your neighbor you don’t know that well, but she made cookies that one time and she seems cool…and learn how you can be nicer to yourself, filling yourself with light, and by doing so, be a light for others too. And cookies. Have a cookie.

Click here to learn more about Katie Horwitch and her organization WANT: Women Against Negative Talk.

Click here for more information and to get your tickets!

The Time is Now

The Time is Now

Is it just a moment? Or…

Is it a movement?

In the last couple of years, women have been finding their voices like never before.

Women are galvanized. Banding together.

Pink hats and marches and “Me Too”…all of those things… but, SO MUCH MORE.

Assembling together because no glass ceiling has ever been cracked by just one individual.

When we share our stories, when we mentor one another, when we amplify the voices of women, we not only free ourselves to be the very best we can be, but we free others to do the same.

What you may remember as the “Twin Cities Women’s Expo” has evolved over the last year into ROCK WHAT YOU GOT, a celebration of twin cities women in business, entertainment and community engagement.

Under new leadership, ROCK WHAT YOU GOT is changing how we present, promote and elevate each other as female individuals. ROCK WHAT YOU GOT welcomes you to share our event, the Women’s Summit, on September 13, 2019 at the beautiful and historic Earle Browne Heritage Center. During the day, network with professional business women, attend mentorship panels, and have more than a few lively discussions! Keynote speakers include Katie Horwitch of WANT: Women Against Negative Talk and Lisa Harrisof Fashion Meets Poetry. Later, get the party started for your weekend with a seriously STUNNING entertainment line-up featuring legendary talents like Tina Schlieske and Jearlyn Steele, (SERIOUSLY, if you’ve seen either of these incredible women perform, you know…but if you haven’t…you’re in for a treat!) brilliant up and coming comedian Ellie Hino, (who absolutely brought the house down at our last event, The” ROCK WHAT YOU GOT Paygap Comedy Tour”) and many more music and comedy acts guaranteed to make the start to your weekend energizing and inspiring!

Learn more and get your tickets here: rwyg.zohobackstage.com/RWYGSeptember2019

Follow us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to see our #WomensHistoryMonth updates

My Girlfriends are My Everything – National Girlfriends Day

My Girlfriends are My Everything – National Girlfriends Day

I love my husband and my family, but the women in my life (pictured above) breathe energy into me in a way that only a girlfriend can.
With a quick laugh,
a heavy cry,
fun on the town,
deep introspective thoughts about life, science, politics and social injustices,
or light and airy banter about something funny, weird, uplifting or crazy that just happened to us.

I always know when I haven’t spent enough time with my girls. I feel heavy, tired, empty and lonely. It’s easy to make excuses about being too busy or too tired to go out for a ‘girls’ night,’ but the truth is, our girlfriends need us as much as we need them. Research shows that there are measurable health benefits to spending time with your girlfriends. According to a UCLA study, women have a biological need to maintain close connections. In times of stress, women experience a survival response called “tend and befriend” that compels them to protect their kids and connect with other women.

In a University of Michigan study, scientists found that women produce mood-boosting and stress-relieving hormones when they feel emotionally close to other women. Finding a group of women that will encourage you to be exactly who you are is essential to your happiness and your health. We need to prioritize spending time with our close girlfriends, especially when we feel overwhelmed or lonely. Take some time to reach out to your closest friends today. Schedule a lunch or a night out – doctor’s orders!

Buffie Blesi (she/her)
CEO//Chief Inspiration Officer

Looking for a fun way to spend time with your girlfriends?

The Rock What You Got: Women’s Summit will take place this September 13th and 14th at the Earle Brown Heritage Center (the same venue where we held our January event). This time around we have a few new ideas to make the Rock What You Got experience even better! The weekend will be full of interactive experiences, workshops, and demonstrations that span 2 days and 3 separate events. Events will include the Friday Leadership Symposium, Friday night’s Concert, and Saturday’s Expo. Tickets are sold separately for each event, but all access passes are available, and we encourage everyone to join us for the full weekend! Click here to learn more.

Tickets are on sale now! Get yours now to take advantage of the EARLY BIRD discount. Hurry! Prices increase August 7th!

Here’s What We’ve Been Up To!

Here’s What We’ve Been Up To!

Last December we officially changed our name from the Twin Cities Women’s Expo to Rock What You Got. We did this because we felt like the old name and event didn’t fully represent the women of today. For us, Rock What You Got is an anthem call for everyone to embrace their uniqueness and encourage others to do the same – without apology and without guilt. Our mission is to elevate Minnesota’s most essential female voices in music, business, theater, and community. We got our start this past January with our first two-day Rock What You Got event, and we’re continuing to move onwards and upwards with our second two-day event, the Rock What You Got: Women’s Summit!

The Women’s Summit will take place this September 13th and 14th at the Earle Brown Heritage Center (the same venue where we held our January event). This time around we have a few new ideas to make the Rock What You Got experience even better! The weekend will be full of interactive experiences, workshops, and demonstrations that span 2 days and 3 separate events. Events will include the Friday Leadership Symposium, Friday night’s Concert, and Saturday’s Expo. Tickets are sold separately for each event, but all access passes are available, and we encourage everyone to join us for the full weekend!

Here’s a closer look at our 3 summit events:

THE LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM – Friday, September 13th // 9:00am – 7:00pm
A full-day professional development conference, designed to elevate your “game” and give you the tools to develop stronger leadership, business, and career skills. Plus, become a fierce supporter of other women. This year, our theme for The Symposium will be “Women Empowering Women.” At this event you will experience workshops, demonstrations, and networking. We’ll tackle tough subjects on diversity, negotiation, mentorship and more.

There will be 3 educational tracks available to you throughout the day:

  1. Leadership
  2. Entrepreneurship
  3. Professional Development

THE CONCERT – Friday, September 13th // 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday evening will be a time to unwind at our second Rock What You Got Concert. This event is a continuation of our ongoing entertainment series that strives to showcase some of the most talented local female performers in the Twin Cities. Our headliners include Tina Schlieske of Tina & the B-Sides and Jearlyn Steele. They will be joined by the Steele band plus other special comedy and theater guests. Bring your friends and relax with a night of music and fun!

THE EXPO – Saturday, September 14th // 10:00am – 6:00pm
Remember the Twin Cities Women’s Expo? This is it! Except we’ve reimagined it to do more for the women of today, with plenty of interactive experiences, workshops, demonstrations and fitness classes. We’re using this expo to place an emphasis on women owned businesses and locally made products and services. Come and learn something new, meet Minnesota entrepreneurs, buy local, and enjoy this day for you!

Currently, we are looking for exhibitors and offering scholarships to women and minority owned businesses. If you know someone that might be a great fit for this event, let us know! For more exhibitor information and to apply, click here.

Tickets are on sale now! Get yours now to take advantage of the EARLY BIRD discount. Hurry! Prices increase August 7th!

Follow us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to see our #WomensHistoryMonth updates

Seriously, It’s Time for a Girls Night Out

Seriously, It’s Time for a Girls Night Out

when was the last time you had a girls night out?

We are all SO busy…all the time. It seems like there’s hardly a spare moment to spend with friends let alone organize a girls night out. The good news is, today is National Best Friends Day, and if that isn’t the perfect excuse to call up your besties, we don’t know what is. After all, it’s no secret that our schedules will always be busy. So, it’s up to us to make time for the people and things we care about the most, right?

Here’s the plan: you gather the girls, we’ve got the “Night Out” part covered. On June 28th, bring your entourage to the Pay Gap Comedy Tour at the Parkway Theater. We’ll start with dinner and a drinks at El Burrito Minneapolis – plus a few surprise goodies, special guests, & priority seating for the main event (all of which comes included in the $40 VIP ticket add-on). Next, everyone will meet at the Parkway Theater for music and comedy performed by an all-woman lineup! 

This is a night to celebrate and lift up ourselves and each other with positivity, laughter, and Woman-Power.

You’ll also be helping us do a little good; a portion of the evenings proceeds will go to support Breaking Free to fight sex trafficking in Minnesota, and Casa de Esperanza to help victims of domestic abuse.

So, what are you waiting for?!

Here’s Why We Need to Support Female Performers

Here’s Why We Need to Support Female Performers

If you look at the list of top 10 highest paid comedians in 2018, you will notice that they all have one big thing in common – they’re all male. So why aren’t any female comedians making the big bucks? Do they simply have less creativity or talent? We don’t think so. If you saw our blog last week about why we named our upcoming comedy event the Pay Gap Comedy Tour, you’ll already know that we think women are missing from lists like this because they don’t have the same access to the opportunities, leadership roles, or success that could land them there.

Here’s the thing, it’s not just comedy. This story repeats itself to women across all artistic fields and beyond. According to the Strategic National Arts Alumni project, the difference in men and women’s annual income across all arts jobs is $20,000. For a long time, art created by women was seen as less valuable, and the effects of that are still felt today. Luckily, we can help re-write that story by supporting our women artists – and here are a few great reasons for doing so:

  1. Attending female performances helps lend value and importance to women-made art. It has the power to show others that this art is worthwhile.
  2. It gives female artists more access to resources that could lead to more opportunities and success in their field.
  3. When we celebrate female performers, we legitimize them and challenge the way we and others think about women in creative spaces.

We want more women to feel empowered to own their stage and express who they are. Supporting female artists is one way to help show the world the value of all things created by women, whether it’s a stand-up comedy set, a small business, or a community initiative.

Come out to support our local female comedians at the Pay Gap Comedy Tour on June 28th at the Parkway Theater. A portion of the proceeds will also go to support Breaking Free to fight sex trafficking in Minnesota, and Casa de Esperanza to help victims of domestic abuse.

See you there!

Grab your tickets here! // Pay gap Comedy Tour // June 28 // Parkway Theater

So, What’s with The Pay Gap?

So, What’s with The Pay Gap?

Here’s a question: how is the gender pay gap still a thing? How are women still facing this in 2019? As much as we wish it wasn’t true, the pay gap is alive and well and that’s a hard pill to swallow – which makes it easy to ignore instead. It’s easy to think it doesn’t affect us much on our home soil, but according to U.S. census data analyzed by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Minnesota women only make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. That gap is even wider for women of color. When the AAUW analyzed the national statistics by race, they found African American women come in at 61 cents, Latina women at 53 cents, and American Indian women at 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes. As an organization that strives to elevate the powerful female voices of our community, this is an issue we can’t ignore.

In fact, we found ourselves face-to-face with the gender gap just a few months ago when we saw a big announcement about a new comedy tour promoting an entirely male line-up. We couldn’t help but wonder, “where are the women?” So, we gathered some of the most talented female comedians we know from around the Twin Cities and created our own event: The Pay Gap Comedy Tour.

You might be wondering, “what does the pay gap have to do with comedy?” The pay gap isn’t funny, but we choose to use laughter, positivity, and some bad-ass local comedians to take a stand against inequality. To us, it’s not just about money, the pay gap is a systemic reflection of gender disparity on many levels. It’s a measure of our access to opportunities, leadership roles, and success. These gaps become even more apparent in traditionally “male dominated fields” – like comedy. The numbers show that women don’t feel encouraged to step into the limelight; and in some cases, they might feel actively discouraged from doing so. We’re here to say, it’s ok to be LOUD, take up s p a c e, step into center stage and shine!

We are also taking this opportunity to support a few organizations dedicated to stopping violence against women. Portions of the proceeds from the evening will go to Breaking Free to fight sex trafficking in Minnesota, and Casa de Esperanza to help victims of domestic abuse.

Grab your tickets here! // Pay gap Comedy Tour // June 28 // Parkway Theater