Three Days in Dublin

Kathy O'Hearn, Vital Voices Chief Development and Communications Officer

Kathy O’Hearn

It was day three at the Global Ambassadors Program (GAP) in Dublin when I heard my favorite new phrase: LONG TAIL.

Long tail is a theory that our culture is “shifting away from a small number of mainstream products at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.” Cameron Seagle and Natasha Alden run just such a niche: a website and business called The World Pursuit, a live documentary-meets-travel site. 

They talked about long tail to the gathered mentors and mentees during a session in the GAP training series called “Using Social Media Effectively.” It was just one brilliant training session out of so many at this GAP. I found myself furiously taking notes at each one – you would be crazy not to.

GAP Dublin mentees at the global forum – and this was only day two!

But it’s all assembled for the benefit of these extraordinary women leaders gathered – mentors and mentees alike – each one as interesting as the last:

Maria Kim, CEO of Cara, a job placement non-profit in Chicago, who riveted the room with her story of trauma as a young 11 year-old girl. How it motivated her to make the leap from the private to the purpose sector. You could hear a pin drop. 

– A vibrant Irish businesswoman, Bevin Mahon, owner of Dental Tech, who, while helping her parents with their business, saw huge potential for it to grow. Today, the mobile dental service and nursing home clinics have grown exponentially with plans to go nation-wide within the next year.

Shilpi Singh, who runs an experiential travel company, Unhotel. It’s an innovative collective of more than 50 unique and diverse experiences in India, all focused on sustainability. She said it best: “We are turning travel upside down.”

– The beyond-cool LA disc jockey, Michelle Pesce, who named her entertainment business Nona, in honor of her grandmothers who raised her in Ohio.

– A South African entrepreneur, Ntombenhle Khathwane, whose botanic hair and skin care line, AfroBotanics, was inspired by a deep, rich connection to her own fascinating family/life story. “Africa-wise” now has more resonance for her than ever. 

Trainer Aaron Kisner’s storytelling exercise had Ntombenhle Khathwane map out her fascinating family tree

And those are just a few of the stellar mentees I got to hang out with for a few days. Not to mention the rock star mentors, such as amazing Irish media mogul, Norah Casey, fresh off Ireland’s “Dancing with the Stars”; the fiery Jocelyn Mangan, who used her tech exec mojo to create “Him for Her,” a social enterprise working to get more women on for-profit boards of directors (you go, girl); always impressive Susan Davis, the pioneering woman business owner named one of D.C.’s Most Powerful in too many lists to name; and the brilliant internet marketer, Morra Aarons-Mele – the social impact powerhouse can sing a pretty mean rendition of the U.S. national anthem.

Only in Dublin: Maria Kim and Jenn Sloan work on strategic planning at the pub

The indomitable Norah Casey onstage at the global forum

The global forum – a master class in entrepreneurship with Anne Finucane (right) and Martha Stewart (left)

I can’t end this blog without mentioning the incredible trainers, each one offering power-packed sessions filled with thoughtful, practical information and tools. Zoë Dean-Smith has built an extraordinary team of top-notch trainers – in everything from financial management, to strategic planning, to public speaking, to social media, networking and executive presence. And I’m sure I’m forgetting something. 

What I can’t forget is how quickly mentors and mentees bonded, rolling up their sleeves on day one to work on strategies for taking their businesses to new heights.

Top left: Michelle Pesce; bottom left: Zoë Dean-Smith and Ntombenhle Khathwane; right: David Kennerly and Pam Seagle

I also got to see a vibrant, wildly entertaining Irish drummer/dancer corps at the opening night dinner, watch Pulitzer Prize winning photog David Kennerly at work, listen to a fascinating lunch conversation with Bank of America’s Rena DeSisto and writer Maureen Orth, and attend Bank of America’s a power-packed Dublin Global Forum featuring Bank of America Vice Chairman Anne Finucane, Martha Stewart, Cherie Blair, Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Irish designer Louise Kennedy. Bank of America is a very cool partner, in it for real – and for all the right reasons. Their support makes GAP happen.

GAP perk: meeting Vital Voices Co-Founder Melanne Verveer (2nd fr. left), w/ Mine Ozturk, Jane Mutulili & Pacita Juan

Another GAP perk: intimate conversation with Bank of America’s Rena DeSisto and celebrated journalist Maureen Orth

And I was only there a part of the week! There are later reports of an evening out with our superb LA DJ mentee bringing the house down, power pose practice somewhere on a harbor wall, pictures of GAP godmama Pam Seagle rocking the new “I Am A Vital Voice” black leather moto jacket, and evidence of healthy attendance at the Irish Tatler Man of the Year Awards (and why not?!) in Dublin. Hat tip to Norah Casey. A successful long tail week if I ever saw one. Congrats, GAP!

Read Zoë Dean-Smith’s Dublin kick-off blog

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Watch the program’s YouTube playlist.

Visit the Global Ambassadors page at Bank of America and learn about their other women’s empowerment programs.

Photography: David Hume Kennerly and Zoë Dean-Smith (group photo of mentees at global forum, collage images)