The Connected Leadership Podcast

Authentic Connections with Melva Lajoy Legrand

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Episode notes

Andy Lopata welcomes Melva Lajoy Legrand to this episode of the Connected Leadership podcast. Melva and Andy explore the concept of authentic connection. Melva is one of the leading event planners in the United States. Recognised nationally for her thought leadership, she is a six-time award-winning CEO who has used her social impact on the stages of IMEX Frankfurt (2024) and IMEX America (2023), the One Women’s Summit (2022), IBTM Americas (2022), four cities for BizBash’s Connect Conference (2022), and the Tide Risers Summit (2021). She has been featured in Forbes, Authority Magazine, The Washingtonian, The Black Wall Street Times, HQ The Association and more. Speaking on issues including the gender pay gap, redefining what success looks like for mature women, navigating career changes and being an ally for black women in the workplace. Based in Washington, DC, Melva produces events for audiences ranging from ten to 60,000 people, with the theme of connection being central to her work. Together, Andy and Melva explore the creation of authentic connections, not just for themselves but for others as well.

Melva shares her approach to organising events, emphasising the importance of designing experiences that cater to the unique needs of everyone involved, including speakers, sponsors, general attendees, and volunteers. She believes that making people feel seen, valued, and heard is crucial for fostering genuine connections. This philosophy applies not only to event attendees but also to her team.

Andy and Melva discuss the importance of understanding the 'why' behind people’s involvement, whether they are team members or clients. Melva values character and authenticity over a perfect resume, seeking individuals who are comfortable with their true selves and can see the bigger picture. This resonates with Andy's emphasis on vulnerability and sharing personal challenges to build deeper connections.

Melva highlights the importance of community building in event design, noting that people want genuine, unstructured networking opportunities. She believes that successful leaders share knowledge freely and mentor others, fostering an environment of mutual growth and authentic connection.

Andy emphasises the value of pre- and post-event engagement to create lasting connections. Melva agrees, pointing out that modern events should continuously evolve to meet attendees’ needs for connection and professional development.

In this episode, Andy asks Melva to share a podcast episode in which she shares her personal journey. Melva recommends listening to her podcast interview with Elizabeth Smart Foundation. Melva asked her to stress, "This post contains sensitive information which is meant to heal not harm. Read with care. Consider with compassion. Protect your peace."

This episode offers an examination of the art of creating authentic connections, whether through events, leadership, or everyday interactions, and provides valuable insights for anyone looking to foster genuine relationships in their personal or professional life.

Connect with Andy Lopata: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn | X/Twitter | Youtube

Connect with Melva Lajoy Legrand: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn