I joined 1,199 Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) members two weeks ago at the National Convention in Miami, FL. That made 1,200 attendees, the largest convention ever. What inspired so many professionals to leave their offices for nearly a week to attend this meeting?

First off, the key note speakers were among the best ever: Katty Kay, broadcast journalist from the BBC and co-author of The Confidence Gap spoke about her book and what women/men can do to up their confidence quotient with ease. She was followed by Steve Forbes, Chairman and CEO of Forbes Media, a company that has evolved to meet the changing method of electronic news delivery. Mr. Forbes remains among the successful business elite who are willing to offer up ways to keep the US competitive in the global economy while enhancing life here at home. I found his approach to a flat income tax and health care markets both rational and workable.

photoThe keynote speaker was former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Whatever your thoughts are about a possible female President or the future for Democrats after this round of elections, you have to admire this woman for her fearlessness. She spoke about parity for women in pay and promotion in commercial real estate and beyond. She offered herself up as an example of someone who has tried, failed, and survived in the biggest way on the world’s largest stage. I found inspiration for myself, by refocusing on my much smaller obstacles here at home. I was moved and motivated by all of these speakers.

Perhaps the best example of women in commercial real estate was exemplified in the opening remarks offered by Lissette Calderon, now with Related Group. She is a first generation Cuban American and mother of three young daughters. Educated in Miami, then at Wharton, she launched her own development company after working in finance in NYC for several years. Her vision was to build loft apartments in Miami, similar to lofts she enjoyed while living in NYC. Finding none, she started a 191 unit development which was completed and sold out within 18 months. That’s a home run in anyone’s book.

Ms. Calderon embodies the consummate CREW professional, someone who brings to life the ideas that inspire her, with poise, confidence, and a zest for life.