What do you get when you mix 6 powerful speakers, 200 women and non-stop lattes, all on the backdrop of a massive donut wall?
You get the A New Woman Today (ANWT) conference – and the grand vision of Montreal’s own, Nabila Sofia Echadli.
Sofia, as she likes to be called, is one hell of a woman. One meeting with her and you know you’re in the presence of someone who knows what she wants. There are no ifs or butts, she’s clear on her mission – to gather women, to inspire each other and to rise as a collective.
A New Woman Today is a platform, and more specifically, a conference that aims at empowering women to set out for big dreams by providing them with the tools and knowledge to go after them.
After attending the last ANWT conference on September 18th, I can say, mission accomplished.
I participated in three mentoring sessions, made new friends and left with a renewed sense of knowing that my power is not only in my fierceness, but in my fragility too (thank you Devon Brooks). We stretched it out mid-day with Lole Ambassador Cristina Gonzalez, and indulged on a few too many treats thanks to Copper Branch and Bayard Gateaux.
The conference is truly a meeting of the mind, body and spirit. But enough from me, let’s see what Sofia has to say about it.
Besides being the boss lady behind A New Woman Today, you’re also an ethical hacker (so hot!) and the founder of a consulting agency. How do you find the balance between all the moving pieces of your work life?
Ethical hacking is a place where I like to be alone. I have to do my own research and it’s always a challenge to stay up to date with all the new information, leaks, trojans and new malfunctioned & malicious code. There are always new methods, new ways to do things.
It’s a dance between the different types of work that I do, and it comes down to work ethic. A New Woman Today brings me more pleasure because I get to help change people’s lives and help gather women around a variety of important subjects.
Volcanica has been structured and organized to give me some freedom to pursue other passions. We have 114 employees and we recently hired a CEO who’s taken over my work, which gives me more leaway. My work is to basically overlook new contracts, analyze reports and come up with strategies. I do a lot of forecasting and research on how to better advise our clients. It requires a lot of problem solving, another type of tango.
What’s your one piece of advice for fellow multi-passionate entrepreneurs?
The first thing I would say is planning is key. What helps me the most is to write down my goals and organize my days down to the second. I think working that way brings more attention to your goal and builds a foundation for your intention. You can do anything, but not everything. Never settle for half of what has to be done.
What does A New Woman mean for you?
A New Woman is someone who’s able to be in touch with her life and who’s able to renew herself through her pain and her joy, as well as her experience of life. She always has new awareness. She is constantly recreating, adapts and invests in herself but that doesn’t mean she has to spend hours in the self help section of Indigo. It just means being aware of her essence. It means recognizing growth and not staying stagnant.
Was there one specific moment or thing that inspired ANWT? Or, was it an idea that formed over the years? Tell us how how the idea behind A New Woman Today came to you.
I’ve had this idea for a while now. I was just waiting for the right moment to bring it to life as an impactful experience. I could have done this 5 years ago, but I didn’t grasp the urgency of it. I brought this platform to life because I felt there was a profound need in our community to bring women together, to have meaningful conversations. I didn’t expect it to be so well received. I thought it would be smaller and more intimate. But the need was great from women of all cultures. It resonated with me.
We all share the same struggles as women of today’s world. And having a place where we could share our vulnerability, knowledge, experience and advice with no judgement was important.
Tell us more about the ANWT conferences.
A New Woman Today ignites transformational dialogue. We cultivate community in a new and unconventional way. We bring the best speakers together and give women a reason to gather and share.
A New Woman Today conference is more than a place to show up in your latest outfit. People are there to share, grow, experience, and find purpose. Everytime we have a conference, we gather, inspire, answer and ask questions, deliberate stigmas and traumas. We’re seeding in a garden that will flourish for weeks to come.
We have inspiring speakers that share their life experiences. They tell stories and describe how they have found their strength. Storytelling is a big part of the conference. I look forward to putting aside Volcanica and putting more of my time into the conference. The response of the women has been so overwhelming, and I’m proud of how authentic this platform is. The women leave with a sparkle in their eyes, they feel connected.
I really want the conference to be a privileged moment for the women gathering. From morning coffee and mimosas to notebooks ready to be filled with motivational and inspiring advice from our speakers, our attendees gain the most out of a one day experience.
The conference always has a breakdown of 25 % sensitive subject matter, such as breastfeeding, sex therapy, women’s rights, etc. This is at the core of ANWT. Life is not always pink, you know. It’s not only a place for fun, it’s a place to grow. It’s about acceptance and embracing our vulnerability.
What’s been your greatest win and greatest struggle with A New Woman Today, this far?
The impact that we’re having is the greatest win. The transformational dialogue, the reunion, and the positive response from the women who attend. Also, I love that we’re shedding light on the impact of trauma and storytelling to harvest positivity.
My greatest struggle is financial. It’s not easy. I financed the whole conference. I have big ideas and they come with a cost. It’s been a struggle to find the funds for the conference and not to compromise the vision. For example, I wanted to have a large donut wall that we had to build from scratch. It was very expensive and required a lot of work. But I really wanted to show that Montreal can have events with live art installations; not just in cities like LA or Miami. When you believe in your purpose, you have to take risks in order to unravel your vision.
Bringing something new and finding an authentic team was also a struggle in the beginning. For the first edition it was really hard because I didn’t know what kind of team I needed, so I didn’t call on anyone and I didn’t have a team. But I had the greatest team for the second edition.
What’s next for ANWT?
Toronto! Our next conference will be held in GTA. The dates will be revealed in the beginning of the new year, but I can promise you that there will be a lot to look forward to!
After the first conference in February, it was obvious that a second edition was needed right away in Montreal. We recognize that Toronto is an exciting and vibrant market, so we are investing time to be able to deliver the experience that the city deserves. We are beyond excited to meet everyone there!
Describe yourself in one word.
Conference photo credits – GDPH
Check out this video of the behind the scenes action at the 2nd ANWT conference.