Walking the Walk: Leading by Example, Practicing Gratitude and Building Resilience

Season 4, Episode 4

Featured guest: Sonia Fong, Senior Vice President of Convention Development, Louisville Tourism

When faced with adversity, what mindset do you deploy? Sonia Fong, senior vice president of convention development at Louisville Tourism, shares her experience and perspective on leading by example, practicing gratitude and building resilience. 


 Podcast sponsored by Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Myrtle Beach Convention Center

Listen to more Dare to Interrupt podcasts: www.MeetingsToday.com/Dare-to-Interrupt.

Photo of Sonia Fong.

Meet our guest:

Sonia Fong is senior vice president of convention development for Louisville Tourism and has worked in the hospitality industry for approximately 25 years. Fong’s responsibilities include managing the convention sales team to achieve annual room night goals, developing and implementing the convention sales and marketing plan, outlining specific sales objectives and priorities for the convention sales staff, and establishing sales policies and procedures to maximize Louisville as a convention destination.

Prior to coming to the Louisville bureau, she was vice president of Convention Sales & Services for the Greater Miami CVB, working with the Miami DMO for 21 years, serving in a variety of sales positions with additional responsibilities overseeing its Washington, D.C., regional sales office.

Previously, Fong represented a variety of Miami hotels, including the Biltmore Hotel and several Marriott properties. Through her past work experiences, Fong has worked with many high-profile groups, such as Bitcoin, the Democratic National Convention bid, Art Basel, the Miami International Boat Show and many national tradeshows throughout her time in Miami.

Fong has a bachelor of science in Hospitality Management and her MBA from Florida International University. She was one of several recipients to be awarded Meet Louisville Business First’s 20 People to Know in Tourism/Hospitality,  in April 2023. Her industry involvement includes active participation in MPI, PCMA, IAEE, ASAE, DI and SISO. She is currently completing her CDME.

Sonia's social media Links:
Twitter: @SoniaFong8

More about our host:

Courtney believes that transforming past experiences into impactfulPhoto of Courtney Stanley, standing. conversations through raw, authentic storytelling challenges the status quo, connects people from all walks of life and results in great change for the world.

  • Courtney is the youngest member to have ever been elected to Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) International Board of Directors
  • She is the recipient of Smart Meetings’ Entrepreneur Award, MeetingsNet’s Changemaker Award, the Association for Women in Events (AWE) Disruptor Award, the MPI Chairman’s Award and MPI RISE Award.
  • Named Collaborate and Connect Magazine’s 40 under 40 and a Meetings Today Trendsetter.
  • Recognized as one of the event industry’s most impactful change-makers.
  • Serves on the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force, AWE’s Board of Directors, MPI’s Women’s Advisory Board, is a Meetings Mean Business Ambassador and is the co-founder of the award-winning movement, #MeetingsToo.
  • Named as a 2020 Meetings Trendsetter by Meetings Today

Connect with Courtney:


Editors note: The following transcription was facilitated by AI program Otter.ai and proofed by our editors. Although it is very accurate, there inevitably will be some mistakes, so please consider that when reading. Thank you.

Courtney Stanley  
This podcast is brought to you by Myrtle Beach Convention Center. 

Hello everybody. This is Courtney Stanley and welcome to another exciting episode of Dare to Interrupt, a listening experience where you have the opportunity to sit in on honest, unfiltered conversations with leaders who are considered to be the most influential, inspiring and innovative leaders in the world of events, hospitality, business and beyond. throughout their careers, these leaders have dared to interrupt conversations, their own comfort zones and sometimes even societal norms to hustle toward their greatest levels of success.

I am so excited to introduce you to today's guest here with us. We have Sonia Fong, senior vice president of convention development at Louisville tourism. Sonia, it's so great to have you here with us today. What is going on in your world these days?

Sonia Fong  
Hi, Courtney, thank you so much for having me. A lot going on. We had a very unprecedented last week here in Louisville. But like I mentioned earlier, this week, we started off with a very positive note. We had a general manager's meeting and a lot of our guests that were in town are very encouraging. They send a lot of support, and so overall I think you know we're also excited about Derby coming up so, it's the 149th edition—the city's ready, we're ready to shine. So workwise is good.

Courtney Stanley  
Yeah, and I was so sorry to hear about that tragedy, too. And I know that we spoke a bit about it before we hopped on today and it sounds like you know the leaders in your community have really stepped up, and you know, we hope for better and brighter days in the future for sure. I want to hear more about the derby. I have never been.

What is it like being in that energy in that space at that time?

Sonia Fong  
Well, I had the pleasure of attending—last year was my first year and this is my second time, so I know a little bit more about it because I went last year. The energy is unbelievable, but most importantly for us ladies and gentleman as well, the fashion there. Yes. Beyond, you know, everybody that walks by you is a hit turn; it is one of our lifetime bucket lists for everybody. If you have not been, I highly recommend. 

However, we do offsite events like that in cities that we go to, so we bring that experience to people that cannot come to Louisville. But Derby is our Super Bowl. We have international attendance we anticipate over, I think, 160,000 people on Derby Day. It is a huge economic engine that over the years—this is 149th edition, so the city knows how to do it well and I'm very much looking forward to attending, experience in, another time. 

We have customers come into town that have never been. It is on their bucket list. So, we're very happy to be able to deliver that experience that is so unique. Only found in Louisville. 

Courtney Stanley  
That sounds incredible. Especially the fashion. I can only imagine that when I do go—and I will definitely put this on my bucket list—the outfits that I will be packing for that trip just sounds like so much fun and such a cool experience. So, I'll let you know. I'll let you know when I go down and hopefully you'll get to go again and we can meet up and have a good time together. 

Well, Sonia, probably most of the audience probably doesn't know this, but I had the opportunity to interview you and your daughter last year during IMEX America's She Means Business program. And it was such a unique and special experience having both you and your daughter on stage at the same time. 

What was it like sharing that space with her and getting to see her shine in that moment?

Photo of Sonia Fong, standing.Sonia Fong  
Well, Courtney, it was also my first time meeting you in person, and you yourself should be so proud of yourself, and me being a mom—and I'm sure your mom and your parents are so proud of you. I think you're one exclusive example for all the young generations out there. 

So, first of all, hats off to you, Courtney, being able to share that space with my daughter was extremely special. You know, it's amazing. You know, I talked about her and yeah, it was very—it was an opportunity that I never thought I would have. But when IMEX and MPI invited us first, she hesitated, and then I encouraged her. And then when she went on stage, she just did so well. 

I'm just very proud of her, as a mom, seeing the young lady that she has become, also pursuing a career in hospitality management. I am just so honored that she was able to share that space and able to learn for many of us, including yourself. So, it truly was very special, beyond words can describe.

Courtney Stanley  
Yeah, I can imagine even as somebody who is participating in the conversation, but not related to the two of you, it was just really, really cool to be able to see a mom and a daughter having a conversation and each bringing their own perspective to that conversation. It was just so valuable, I think, to have that dynamic on stage for the audience. 
How does it feel having your daughter also walk in your footsteps in stepping into the hospitality industry?

Sonia Fong  
Yeah, I mean, I often tried to provide my feedback and advice, but I think like all of us, I want her to also learn from her mistakes. She's very independent. I really applaud her for being very brave as well. While she's also on her third year, she does have a part time job in Las Vegas. She works at the convention center. When she calls me, "Mom, I'm setting up chairs tomorrow, I am conference manager." 

So, she's wearing many hats. But I want her to grow and see the industry in her own eyes. While I can provide my own experience and feedback, I think each and every one of us to be living the life and career that we want. but the only way to learn it is through a journey, working through it, being in it, be present. And so, I think I think those are the things that I can say about her.

Courtney Stanley  
Mm hmm. Yeah. And it's so clear that you're so proud of her, and even sitting next to her on stage, I was just so impressed with her eloquence and just the way that she really carried herself. I just—I was so impressed. And I look forward to seeing where she takes her career and her life as well. 

Speaking of feeling proud, what has been your greatest or proudest moment throughout your career, throughout your life. Even reading your biography, before getting into this conversation today, you've had such an impressive journey and you've accomplished so much. 

What has been really the greatest or proudest highlight of that journey?

Sonia Fong  
Well, there were a lot of greatest successes and moments. A lot of people have helped me along the way and I'm so thankful. But if I would have to pick one proudest moment in my professional career, it would be completing my MBA while working full time and also managing a sales team, exceeding our goals. And also, being a single mom. I think, those two years of my, of the process of getting that MBA, it taught me a lot. 

So...but my daughter was the main fuel to it. I think there's us as individuals—we always want to aim higher and higher. Me being the first person in my family to obtain a college degree, but today, many of my other siblings and cousins, they all have PhDs and doctorates, so they all succeeded me.

But I think the proudest moment and most valuable to me was really completing that MBA, and it took the journey to a different level and it shaped me who I am—even a better professional and better human beings—because while working and going to school and tending to a daughter, it was not an easy test. But I was determined and I was focused, and I think having those trades really helped me. 

Courtney Stanley  
First, I want to say how impressed I am to know… that's so much to have on your plate at once—getting your MBA, working full time, leading a team, exceeding your sales goals, being a single mom and then everything else in between, including taking care of yourself. That's so much to have on your plate at once. And you mentioned that you learned a lot of lessons along the way that led to personal growth. 

What were some of those maybe tougher moments that led to the lessons that you learned?

Sonia Fong  
A lot of lessons learned. I think we as professionals and humans... I think gratitude is, is one. One thing that I never take for granted, I think anybody that I meet, that I come encounter with, whether it's an interaction, whether it's just an exchange of words, I am just very grateful for those moments of interacting and connecting with people. And, you know, and just take notes. 

I think, when you connect with people and learn about them, and remember who they are, what they are. As simple as it is to remember their kids or dog's name, and remember their birthday; it's sending a thank-you note, it goes a long way. 

I learned that being grateful, and showing gratitude has been one of the most impactful lessons that has also helped me along the way in my career, because I could always pick up the phone—or people that I have encountered in the past...that I thank them, that I acknowledge either a promotion or birthdays—people know that I genuinely care about them. And because of that, I get a lot of great reciprocation of future support. 

So, I think that's important for all of us to be mindful of. It sounds simple, but it's a little act of kindness that we could all practice and we could get a lot of benefits out of it.

Courtney Stanley  
Yeah, I would definitely agree with that, Sonia. And I think practicing gratitude is something that I am constantly reminding myself to do. I think it's not something that is naturally built into our day today, in terms of the lives that we have in the society that we're living and breathing in. And I think it really is something that has to be intentional, where you make it a practice in your own world every day. 

And it's actually... it's something that I have added to my to do list every single day, is to practice gratitude. Because, to be honest, I probably would forget...the day gets started, you're off and running, everything always feels a bit busy. And I think something that I have learned over the years is that being able to take a step back, and really acknowledge the people that are in your life that you do feel so grateful for. And some of the basic things— the house that you live in, the community that you have, even having a safe environment to exist in—those are all things that you could blink your eye and you're on to the next day without thinking about. 

So, I really do think that practicing gratitude is something that takes effort to be able to do every single day. Are there certain ways that you consistently practice gratitude in your life?

Sonia Fong  
Yeah, actually, I remember a lot of people's birthdays. So, I send them birthday cards. And then I'm pretty connected through a lot of my professional network through LinkedIn. And if I see they have a promotion, I'll send them a little special gift or a card. This has been embedded in me since I was in high school, so it's part of me. 

So, it's not a lot of effort, and I love doing that. Just today I got a text from one of my colleagues. I also mentored her in Miami, she said, "I got your card, and it made me cry." And it was just one note that would have maybe three sentences. But it's how we touch other people's life that I think makes it even more special and fulfilling for us. Right? 

And like I mentioned earlier, we live in such a crazy world, and it's just little things that you do for people that touches their lives in a positive way goes a long way. It really does.

Courtney Stanley  
Sonia—and it's such a ripple effect—I think that's the beauty of kindness, is that when you show somebody kindness, it doesn't matter if it's a big act or if it's a small act of kindness. It goes so much further than that one interaction, and I think we've probably all experienced that.

If somebody goes an extra step to hold a door for you. Or if somebody pays you a compliment out of the blue. Those types of small moments throughout the day completely for me change my mood; it shifts my energy, it puts me in a better place. And it's more likely that I will go the extra step and go the extra mile to try to pass on that energy to someone else. I really do feel like it's such a domino effect.

Sonia Fong  
Yeah, I agree. And I must applaud in general our network in the hospitality industry, all the individuals that we know, they have that in their trade, and that's what makes them so successful. So, I'm very happy to be part of that huge industry that we belong in. And kindness is one of them.

Courtney Stanley  
So yeah, I would agree with that. Something else that you said that I wanted to go back to was, you said that your daughter was the fuel for you during that two-year period where you had a very full plate with lots going on? 
What does that mean when you say that your daughter was the fuel for you?

Sonia Fong  
So, she was about 10 years old, and she said, "Well, I don't want to go to school, I don't like school." So, I said, "Well, I'm going to show your mommy goes to school, too." I think, you know, she is my priority. 

So, I would do anything to ensure that her future is better than mine. So, those sacrifices were worth it. You know, it's amazing how we knew, when you go through hardships, what really sets people apart in overcoming the hardship is your determination. I think as long as you have that, no matter what, the outcome will be great. 

So, she says, "I don't want to go to school," so I got concerned, right? I mean, she's young and she's not motivated. So, I'm going to set an example for her that I could go to school, and you should, too. So she's been doing amazing. And I'm just really proud of her.

Courtney Stanley  
That's actually... I'm smiling over here because I think that's wonderful. We're hearing that your daughter isn't feeling great about going to school and leading by example, literally by putting yourself enrolling her in school to get your MBA, to show her that you're also committed to your education and bettering yourself and your life. Like that is the most literal "I'm gonna walk the walk," isn't that? 

Do you feel like that's how you would describe your leadership style as well? So, in your personal world? Also in your professional space? Do you feel like you tend to try and motivate those around you by really walking your walk?

Sonia Fong  
Yeah, absolutely I do. You know, I am not shy about rolling up my sleeves and doing whatever needs to be done for the final outcome. And my team knows it. You know, I'm probably the one that will, you know, "There was no, you don't do this." I go, "Yeah, I have. I'm part of the team. And I'm here to help." 

I think that leading by example is what I would like everybody to practice, because the people that are working with you, or alongside you, even though it sounds small, they notice and they appreciate the fact that they have a leader that will really get down and dirty and roll up their sleeves with them. It means a lot to them. Because then why are you the leader, you not separating them by rank, title, so it's important to lead by example.

Courtney Stanley  
I agree with that. And I know that you're sitting in an executive position and it took a lot of work and determination and commitment to get to where you are today. 

From your perspective, what do you think some of the biggest challenges that leaders like you are facing today? And how do you think that we can address or overcome some of those challenges?

Sonia Fong  
Yeah, I think today, especially post-pandemic, it also depends on where you sit, and what lenses you're looking at them [with]. It also depends on the situation. I believe all of us learned a lot from the pandemic. I find that traditional ways of approaching things and managing teams are no longer in style. We need to be flexible, innovative, lead by example. 

Like I said earlier, like we talked about—and be compassionate. And how I approach to overcome them is to provide resources, help them set goals and help craft a plan, actions and KPIs. If it's, for example, if it's professional development, then I would encourage education, provide them with a leadership role in managing projects. I highly encourage them to get involved in community and industry boards, something of their passion. 

While work is work, but by doing something that is fulfilling, it will make them more successful. And also continue to learn and have a great support system and mentors. And I think those are important for us as we continue our journey.

Courtney Stanley  
I think that the two words that stuck out to me in your explanation of what leaders really need to be embracing right now are compassion and flexibility. I think those are... we've seen the battle happen. And we've seen headlines, we've seen articles, we've heard people talk about the discrepancy between an employer wanting to go back to the way things were a few years ago and employees really craving more flexibility, because so much has changed over the past few years. 

Is that something that you're seeing in your professional world as well?

Sonia Fong  
Yes, absolutely. And one of the things that I also like to share is that the reason I am also able to carry on a full-time job with my daughter was I had the flexibility in the sense that if I asked for a couple of hours, they know I would give back five times more. I think it's also that trust with each other. Well, some people might think, you know, that certain people take advantage of certain things. 

But I think it's both ways—the trust goes both ways. And once you establish that, it's very easy because that the results will speak value. And you don't have to be worried that we're giving them flexibility, or they're not going to do their job. But in return, you actually get a lot more out of individuals.

Courtney Stanley  
Yeah, I would agree that it definitely comes down to trust. And I think that it takes a lot of intentional effort to build trust, but it's such a necessary part of a working relationship. And I do find that trust is not only comforting, but it's also empowering, it allows and it's motivating. I think that it really does allow people to feel like they have the breathing room to be able to have a bit of freedom and flexibility in the way that they show up. 

But to also make mistakes and to know that their leader has the best intentions for them to grow for them to succeed, for them to continue to move up the ladder in that organization. And I think that really does come back to being able to trust one another. 

If I go back to this idea of journey that it's taken, and the path that you've walked to get to where you are today, what would be an example of, or a few examples of some of the challenges or the obstacles that you have personally faced in climbing to where you are today?

Sonia Fong  
Sure. Thank you for the question. I mean, it sounds very complex. And it was a long journey, I think in general, right? As women, people look at you from the outside and don't see the context of who you are, who you might be able to be. A lot of times the abilities of taking on a project; they underestimate your ability. 

I have personally encountered those scenarios. That's why I encourage everyone to continue learning, continue professional development. And also being... how I look that also impacts people's opinion until they know who you are, then change the mindset. 

So, I always remind myself and others—actually my daughter is very good at reminding me—that we shouldn't be judging people by whether it's a skin color or whether it's how they look. In the end, it's the real world, right? And I'm not trying to sugarcoat it, but it wasn't easy. 

But as long as you stay resilient and dedicated and work hard, in the end there will always be good results

Courtney Stanley  
Can you explain a little bit more what you mean when you say in your own experience you feel that people have maybe judged you or made quick perceptions about you based on the way that you look? And how that affected you at that time?

Sonia Fong  
Oh, yeah. You know, I think a frame or label is never a good thing. So, I think at the moment, because I have encountered so many times I probably—I'm self-trained to either react in a way that's not disrespectful. But I think over time, I have learned to become a little bit more vocal, in a sense that is, in a respectful way, to correct people's opinion about who I am.

Courtney Stanley  
I want to get into that, because I think this is actually a piece of advice that could be helpful to the audience. Can you give an example of what somebody might say and how you might respond?

Sonia Fong  
So, this happened for real. They say, "I know you can do the job, but this is not your time." So, what does that mean? Right?

It's because for that particular opportunity, I would just not fit in. And they were just looking for a male-dominant figure for the job, even though the job was fitted for me based on my experience and my resume and in the career that I have taken. So, I fought hard, and eventually, I got it. But it's been pretty hard. Yes.

Courtney Stanley  
What do you feel like your approach is when you do feel maybe underestimated? Because you'd mentioned this before, being underestimated, potentially because of how you look, or just potentially because you feel like it's a role that maybe they want a male leader for and that's not, you know, the shoe that you're wearing? 

So, what is your mindset when you go into responding to something like that, where you do see that you are being underestimated for whatever reason.

Sonia Fong  
So, the mindset and responses, you always have to be over-prepared. You know, do your research, just...you have to bring on the game, not just show up, but show up well prepared. And really having a track record of why it needs to be yours. 

So, I think, coming into that space, it's hard, but I think as long as you know who you are and what you want, and who you're about, I think that matters. So, I don't know if I'm giving you the right answer. But...

Courtney Stanley  
Yeah, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. I'm just curious, because I know that you are such a determined person, Sonia. And when you see even just hearing your stories, when you see that a problem arises, you are determined to find a solution. 

Even looking at the example of your daughter not enjoying being in school and you took action, you said, "Okay, I'm going to lead the way. I'm going to show her that this is something that really can benefit you. And she's going to see me do the work and see the results of that work. 

So, I can only imagine that in situations where somebody underestimates you or maybe doesn't give you an opportunity for a reason that you don't agree with, I can only imagine that you would really find that determination within you to either prove them wrong or to find another way to get there. 

Yeah, I guess in my way of doing thing is just be courteous, be respectful. I never disrespect anybody, even though we might not agree on certain things. It's always an opportunity to talk it out. It's important, as always, if what you believe is right, then fight for that. And I have done certain things that whether my beliefs have taken certain action, whether it's for my team or for myself, just, do the right thing, and do the right thing for the result that you want, and knowing that it is the right thing. And I think that that's also important as well. I would agree with that. 

And I loved when you said, "Know who you are." I think that that's such an important piece of advice that I think we, as people, often forget, when there are moments that might slight our confidence and sense of self-worth or self-knowing. 
I think that that's such a wonderful piece of advice to go back to, even some some mental practices where you're able to really remind yourself of who you are, what you stand for, what you care about, who you're serving, and why you're there. 

I think those are such key questions to be able to ask yourself to be able to recenter and move forward, whether it's on that path or whether you've decided to create a new one.

Sonia Fong  
And Courtney, and I agree with you in terms of being competent, and it it's not easy, right? I think, as women, at least for my generation, because the way we were raised, it's so different. I remember being at the dinner table—it's just whatever our adult parents say. And that's it, there's no discussion about it. 

But now I raised my daughter differently, right, because we live in a different world. I think one thing that a lot of us women lack is the confidence; we're always unsure. But it's okay to feel unsure. But you always have to show you have that confidence. And I think I have a team of 20 women that I work with, and one thing that I do on a daily basis encourages my team members to show that their confidence...and I help them and I think it's important that I am able to do that. 

And it makes me feel good because I'm helping someone to become their better selves. They have it... maybe all I have to do is say two words to them, and then the whole scenario changes for them. And it's just amazing how incredibly human connection and interaction with words can do to people?

Courtney Stanley  
Absolutely. When you look at your daughter, and you think about when you were your daughter's age, do you see big differences because of the way that you were raised versus the way that you raised your daughter?

Sonia Fong  
Oh my god, huge. She recently did a school project... Oh my god, I would have never thought of this in my era and my age, right? It's like everything is so innovative and so forward-thinking, and I told her you need to patent this, whatever idea you have. It's also the thinking in the way the young generation approach different solutions. 

You know, it was so, so different. And I was so shy. And what you see today is not who I was 30 years ago.

Courtney Stanley  
I think that's amazing, that you're seeing such great things and just great differences not just between you and your daughter at that age, but also in just the world, you know, the world that we live in today. And I think it's so interesting because I was sitting here starting to self-reflect on my own childhood, and I love to go down the therapy road, I love to go back to childhood, I love to self-reflect and explore. 

And so, I started to just wander a bit and start thinking about, you know, those conversations that you alluded to where you would potentially be hearing the words and have a discussion. And there really may not have been a place to have a collaborative discussion or to share your perspective. 

And so, I went back and I was thinking about my own childhood, and I think it was almost kind of in between ...Sometimes there was room to share, and a lot of times there was a position of authority. And my sisters, and I have two sisters, we've talked about this and how we believe that we were raised with people-pleasing tendencies, and how that has been one of the most difficult habits to break. 

And I will say, Sonia, this is something that I work on constantly, constantly. Not only am I reminding myself to be grateful every day, but I'm also catching myself in moments where I find myself wanting to consistently put other people before myself. I think sometimes people think of people-pleasing as you know, maybe you're holding back and you're nodding along and you're smiling, but a lot of times people-pleasing just shows up as caring for other people. And so, being able to catch yourself and ask yourself the question, "Am I truly being a caring kind person? Or am I uncomfortable putting myself first when I really need to be." 

So, it's just funny thinking about some of those conversations that I've also had about what childhood was like and how that's translated into today. And that also, for me, ties back to confidence-building and really how much work it takes to build your confidence, especially if you have been through experiences where you have maybe been knocked down, you haven't gotten opportunities, or maybe you've gotten fired, or you've had relationships and all of those things effect your confidence. 

And I just think it's always a pendulum that's swinging and you're constantly trying to keep it swinging in a direction. That's positive.

Sonia Fong  
Yeah, I agree.

Courtney Stanley  
I feel like we could talk forever, Sonia. But I know that we're coming to the end of our time. So, I do want to wrap up our conversation today by asking you a couple of questions. So, the first question I have is, what are some of your guilty pleasures?

Sonia Fong  
Oh, I don't have too many, just like—oh, women, right? We love shopping and shoes and handbags. But what I really love is dark chocolates and champagne. If you asked me about culinary....I do enjoy going out to eat. And speaking of my daughter, when we go on vacation, she's in charge of booking reservations. And every time we go, it's somewhere—it's a place that we go and is an experience. 

Courtney Stanley  
I love that you can share that together. And I also love chocolate, specifically dark chocolate and champagne. And I also love to try new restaurants and new culinary experiences. Okay, next question. Who in the industry today is really inspiring you? What name comes to mind?

Sonia Fong
I think there are many. I can't say one. I think Shimo [Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki]...I think looking back at her career, she has had an amazing journey and is so well respected in our industry—kind of bittersweet because she's going to retire soon. 

But she's someone that I always look up to. She's just so just so smart, and so kind and everybody knows her, everybody talks so highly of her. And I have the pleasure of also working with her, she handles our customer advisory accounts. So, we get to collaborate and it's someone, every time I have a meeting with her, I learn something from her.

Courtney Stanley  
That's wonderful. That is wonderful. And you're right, there are so many names in our space that come to mind. We're very fortunate we work in an industry where there are just so many incredible people. 

Okay, so final question for you. If you could leave the audience with one piece of advice knowing that our audience is mostly filled with women who are in our industry or maybe a step outside of our industry. What final words would you want them to be left with to think more about?

Sonia Fong  
Sure, just be resilient, you know, be the best of you. Find ways to make things work and never give up. I think that's something that I've learned and something that really worked for me. Be resilient, never give up and find new ways to do things, for sure.

Courtney Stanley  
Well, I love that advice. And that's definitely advice I'll take into the rest of the week with me. 

Thank you so much, Sonia, for sharing your stories, sharing your insight, your knowledge with us today. And audience, thank you all for listening. 

Make sure that you share what you learned from this episode with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following at MeetingsToday.com and at Courtney on Stage, and be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing to Dare to Interrupt on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google podcasts and more. 

Be bold. Stay determined and keep daring to interrupt my friends. Until next time.

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About the author
Courtney Stanley

Courtney is a keynote speaker, writer, podcaster and career success coach with a background in experience design, community engagement and leadership development. Courtney is the host of Meetings Today’s “Dare to Interrupt,” a podcast that provides a platform for the event, hospitality and tourism industry’s most influential and successful women to share their stories of adversity and success, unfiltered.