This week, I had an amazing opportunity to participate in the Equipment Leasing and Finance Associations’ 2nd Annual Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington DC. I went to the conference hoping to network, learn a few tips to help with my career path and get ideas to help guide my team… what I came away with was so much more valuable.

Lori Fraiser, SVP – Strategic Services at Key Equipment Finance kicked off the conference asking us all to put on our capes and take off our masks. The request was simple; embrace who we are and what we are good at, but be willing to show people the real us. It is powerful to realize we lead best when we not only embrace our strengths, but also courageously admit our weaknesses – and work to improve them .

The conference provided some practical tips on how to use our superpowers in the equipment finance industry:

The power of negotiation – Through an interactive exercise, we learned negotiation is so much more than haggling price, the best negotiators learn to break value down into small, negotiable elements that can both create value for the other party and claim value for your own. This is different from the hard-bargaining tactics* we see glorified in tv and movies where there is a definite winner and loser. Part of bringing our superpower to the equipment and asset finance industry is leveraging the power to create mutual value through the negotiation process.

Leadership is not about being perfect – In a panel discussion of senior leaders and emerging talent spanning the ELFA some common themes emerged from their real-life experiences:

  • Everyone makes mistakes; leaders learn from them and move forward
  • Everyone has doubts and insecurities; leaders embrace the superpowers they bring to each interaction
  • And my personal favorite:  Be soft on the people, and hard on the issues

Executive presence and personal brand matter – Both topics provided attendees an opportunity to self-reflect.  So many factors make up your personal brand; your core values, your best attributes, what you’re passionate about, to list a just a few. Throughout the conference, we were provided with a structured way to identify our personal brand message and a corresponding motto that each of us can use daily as a measure of our success. One of my superpowers is surrounding myself with smart people who compliment me; the individuals on my team have unique strengths made stronger collectively.

The power of this conference was not about staying current in the industry, getting additional required CEU’s or all about networking. Rather, it was in the reflection on how rare it is that we stop and invest in ourselves. I left the Women’s Forum energized and excited to be a better employee, leader, wife and mother. I hope all my fellow attendees felt the same energy and excitement to leverage their superpowers as well!


Kristie Kosobuski, CLFP Sr. Director Product Management and Product Marketing

*Great blog on hard-bargaining tactics to avoid from Harvard Law School