06 Jan What’s Next: From Concordia to IMPERIA
When I launched The Concordia Project on a spring day in 2015, I wasn’t sure how it was going to evolve. I simply knew that my brain was burning with an idea, and I had to see what would happen when I put it on loudspeaker.
Harvard had asked me to come and do the closing keynote for their Women in Business Week, and I had been deep in thought about the zero-sum game I’d seen for so long in the discussion about women’s equality in the workplace and the world at large. I knew there had to be a better way, because in a zero-sum game, it’s winner-take-all, and that wasn’t productive or sustainable. So I laid out my vision of what that might be, and decided to take it out into the world.
I’ve spent the past 3 years traveling the planet talking to women from all sorts of backgrounds and ages, gathering perspectives and sharing ideas. And whether speaking with craftswomen in Nepal or tech founders in Silicon Valley, I’ve seen a set of scripts emerge that transcends culture and geography to provoke many questions about how much of that script is baked in. I will likely spend the next 50 years examining that.
And our team has spent so much time deep in the work, we haven’t shared much of what we’re doing, or what we’ve learned, because it takes a minute to create a 50-year, global project. (It’s probably more like 100 years, but I’ll let my heirs figure that part out.) It takes a willingness to question every assumption, and listen for what the world needs instead of what you want to give it. It’s a very humbling experience, especially as an entrepreneur, to put one’s own thoughts and feelings aside to just listen.
So it gives me a lot of joy to talk about our next phase, because it’s hard-won, and is like our oxygen. It starts with an evolution of our name, from The Concordia Project to IMPERIA.
From our discovery and exploration, we’ve become clear that no matter what her circumstances, or location on the planet, there is a certain kind of woman who transcends all of it with enormous personal power to create something different for herself. Something better. And since I’m a philosopher at heart, I always look to classical roots to encapsulate my work. The Latin word for “power” is “imperium,” so we decided to take that and feminize it, since power is considered to be decidedly masculine. Thus, IMPERIA.
IMPERIA sets out to ask that woman “What does YOUR empire look like?” We are seeking out the woman pushing and recreating the very edges of her world, whether it be in education, science, entrepreneurship, humanitarian work, the arts, or any other endeavor. We’re here to be her premier resource of development and support, and we now know how much that matters, because in almost every discussion we’ve had, someone says “I don’t feel so alone now.”
At the heart of this resource is our global Innovation Incubator, a leadership development program and support network to take that incredible power she has and turn up the flame on it, providing her with new levels of resilience and self-mastery. Our curriculum of Self-Directed Empowerment™, previewed in my manifesto, will help her to master being her own renewable, sustainable energy source.
By 2030 our program will feature participants from every country on Earth, because we know that bringing that calibre of women into one conversation will, quite literally, change the world. In our beta conversations, we’ve found that the one thing consistently missing is the ability to dive into complex questions with people who understand. In our very first session, a young woman from Mexico expressed frustration because her father didn’t agree with her career path, and she didn’t know how to powerfully address his issues (she wants to be President of Mexico, and we’re clear she’s going to accomplish that). Within seconds, another young woman from Nepal expressed similar career concerns and familial frustrations. So in that moment, two women from opposite sides of the planet realized they could create a solution together. Even more important, the rest of the women on the call rallied around them in support to see what was needed. We knew we were on to something.
Our biggest challenge has been to take that knowledge, combine it with our why, and figure out what we needed to create — and what that would take from us and our partners. And then as if on cue, the universe hit me on the head with a catalytic opportunity. In September I was given a fellowship from All Good Work and Servcorp to develop The Concordia Project at One World Trade Center in NYC, and had no idea that in just 3 months’ time we would be propelled forward to answer the critical questions to jump-start our momentum. I guess sitting on top of the world in elegant surroundings will do that for a person.
We’re now making our way around the globe, so here are 3 ways you can help us make an impact right now:
- LOOK AROUND YOU. Who are the amazing women in your life? The ones who inspire you, and who are out to create big dreams. You know who they are, because they usually stand apart from the crowd. First, recognize who they are.
- ACKNOWLEDGE: Once you spot them, acknowledge them for the work they’re doing on behalf of your community and the world. We’re willing to bet they don’t hear that very often. You’ll probably make their day.
- SHARE: Please share with them what we’ve created with IMPERIA. Send them to our website. Tag them on one of our Instagram posts. Guide them to a place that’s waiting to welcome them and provide the support to make their dreams and goals a reality.
And if this woman is you? Welcome home. We are so grateful to have you here.
Thank you for being on this journey with us!
With love and thanks,
Jennifer L. Iannolo
Founder & CEO