In 2013, American Express OPEN launched OPEN Forum: CEO BootCamp, a new advocacy initiative helping women business owners reach their full potential as CEOs and grow their businesses. The premise of the initiative is to immerse women entrepreneurs in some of the fundamental pillars for successful ventures: confidence, competence & connections. 2MarylaiBag

OPENForum topics throughout the day revolved around

1. Getting Customers 2. Managing Money 3. Sourcing Ideas

The free one-day event was open to all women entrepreneurs with a full schedule including a mix of panels, keynote speakers, interactive workshops, and networking opportunities.  800+ women business owners (WBOs) from the New York area attended at the Sheraton Time Square along with WBOs who participated in the live stream around the country.


As the 2013 Winner of the 'Ones to Watch' (formerly the Rising Stars of Fashion), I was invited along with Kelsea Slade the 2014 winner to participate in a mentorship conversation with Diane von Furstenberg during the main stage session of #CEOBootCamp.  This was an amazing opportunity to talk with the fashion icon and hear her story of how she built her iconic brand.  Everyone in the audience got a copy of her newest book 'The Women I Wanted to Be' and she even asked the audience to hold up the books so she can take an instagram photo from her view on the stage.  Talk about keeping up with social media!  And she just aired her own television show House of DVF last week.  This legendary fashion designer does not stop and she teaches us how the sky is the limit.


"If you have the right ambition and the right attitude, everything is possible." @jjramberg @OPENForum

"The most important relationship you can have is with yourself." - Diane @DVF

"Confidence is everything." - Diane #CEOBootCamp @DVF

Your Leadership In Action game plan: 1. Purpose (vision) 2. High-level priorities 3. Action items” @levoleague

Never start from scratch. Learn from the people who've done it before.” @jjramberg #CEOBootCamp

"Fail your way to success. You can't expect to get everything right at the beginning.” @marylai_newyork

There was so many great take-aways from the CEO Bootcamp.  Read more about it here.


Meeting Diane and having a conversation during the panel at CEOBootCamp was one of the biggest highlights.  As a follow up to the event, we were invited to visit her DVF Studio in the Meatpacking District the next night.  It was a great evening with private shopping, drinks by Hella Bitters, seeing her personal art collection, and meeting other business owners.  I love people that make things happen and was excited to learn more about Small Business Saturday coming up... Make sure to support SBS Nov. 29th!