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Terri Williams and Sandra Beach Lin
  Terrie Williams and Sandra Beach Lin

400 Attend the 12th Annual Women in Leadership Conference at the Ross School of Business

10/25/2004 --

Connecting on a human level and teamwork are important, keynote speakers say.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – "Step outside your comfort zone," advised Terrie Williams. "Embrace the butterflies in your stomach. If there are no butterflies, you are being pathetic or you’re flat-lining. The butterflies mean you’re taking your game to the next level." Williams’ firm, The Terrie Williams Agency, has been called "the most powerful black-owned public relations firm in the country." The author of three books offered straight talk, insights and plenty of anecdotes as the morning keynote speaker for the Ross School of Business' 12th Annual Women in Leadership Conference on Oct. 1. Sandra Beach Lin, MBA '82, president of Alcoa Closure Systems International, presented the afternoon keynote address. About 400 students and businesspeople attended the conference.

Williams had no business experience when she started her company in 1988. She compensated by cultivating personal relationships with people who could help propel her career. She shared her story in her first book, The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed in Today’s Fast-paced Business World (1994, Warner Books). Each conference participant received a free copy.

Williams, who earned a master's degree in social work from Columbia University, draws from her experiences as a social worker and entrepreneur to educate and inspire. "Learn from your jealousies and insecurities," Williams said. "If you examine why you’re jealous, the process will tell you what your secret desires are." She asked her audience to connect with others on a human level. "It makes all the difference in the world," she said. "You never know when you’re touching people."

Conference attendee Angela Adams, MBA '06, interviewed Williams for an article in The Network magazine. "A lot of what she says is home training," Adams said. "Treat people as humans. We are all people first. There’s nothing revolutionary in anything she says, but a lot of people don’t do it."

Beach Lin, who joined Alcoa in 2002, said, "A bullet-train mentality is needed to compete. Teamwork is vital. Be culturally sensitive. The U.S. is important, but we aren’t the center of the universe. Understanding and appreciating culture are important." Beach Lin grew to appreciate the intricacies of international business after she and her family spent three years in Singapore, where she oversaw Asian specialty wax operations for Allied Signal (now Honeywell).

To succeed, you must ask for what you want and don't stay in one function. "Put the hours in," she said. "Keep in mind what you want, all along the way." Five of Beach Lin’s tips for business success:

  • Show up–people need to see you.
  • Recognize and reward people.
  • Bring people together.
  • Have fun.
  • Bowling is the great equalizer.

    In addition to the keynote speeches, the conference offered eight panel sessions, two workshops and countless networking opportunities.

    For more information, contact:
    Mary Jo Frank
    Phone: 734-647-4626 Email: