Connecting Around Positive Change: Parlay House Meets +Media

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Plus Media Solutions
October 17, 2022 11:10:43 AM EDT

Fostering togetherness over transactions and connecting inspiration to action, two female changemakers discuss rich, life-altering connections and the importance of community to inspire and promote action. 

Anne Devereux-Mills, Founder of Parlay House, sits down with +Media CEO Julie Davitz to discuss motivation, women’s energy and closing gaps.

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Anne Devereux-Mills, Founder and Chief Instigator of Parlay House.

I founded +Media to close the gap between inspiration and positive actions. Can you tell me more about your motivation to create Parlay House?

Gatherings, especially work-related ones, are all about superficial meeting and transacting with each other, having more names in your Rolodex.

In my career as a multiple-time CEO, I found those forms of connections fleeting. For example, when I lost my CEO job during a health crisis, I found that the connections I had with people were pretty much gone. If I couldn't do something for someone, they couldn't do something for me.

So when I started Parlay House, the goal was less about the transaction and more about the depth of connection. That means knowing each other at a level where you can be there when there is something huge to celebrate or get through.

The movement that I started is much more about humanity, building communities that are accepting and understanding, and finding ways to relate to each other than about achieving and accomplishing specific goals.

Yes! Building community is key to +Media’s work as well. We’re both female-led companies, too. I think what you've created is so powerful because it's supportive and action-oriented. How do you foster that energy?

As someone who has been a marketer and advertiser my whole life, I know that women make 70% of the household purchasing decisions.

I know where the power is, and yet the women that come to Parlay house don't usually feel they have the power. And it's not just purchasing power, but having a say and affecting the economy and behaviors.

That's the gap we're trying to close. Once we’ve opened the door, we're able to be stronger, feel more connected, feel more supported, and advocate on our own and each other's behalf.

I couldn’t agree more. +Media moves audiences away from feeling powerless to feeling empowered. There's something so critical about knowing you can make a change.

There is, you don't feel helpless. Much of what we're trying to do is not solve the problem, but to make women know that they're capable of doing it themselves and that they have our support.

I think in our world right now, the problems seem insurmountable. I think it's easy to wonder as an individual, how can I possibly affect change?

Yet with Parlay House, we've seen much more than a pay-it-forward or a one plus one equals two sort of thing. What we've found is that other people are watching and they replicate the behavior, so it becomes exponential in its impact rather than linear.

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Women sharing their stories at a Parlay House gathering. Photo credit: Parlay House.

That's very much why I founded +Media, to be a bridge between people being inspired and taking action because we know that these small acts really do make a difference at scale.

What have you found is the greatest barrier to entry for people to take action around positive social change?

Trust is the number one unmet need within our circle for sure. You don't trust the media. You don't trust what people are selling. You don't trust almost anything.

So we provide a safe environment where they can trust that we treat their secrets gently. We're saying that we all share the same values of goodness, honesty and humanity.

When women meet each other in this relaxed, trusting environment and they talk about what matters to them, they start to find commonalities. It’s not determined by what they do for a living, but what matters to them as a person going through their one life in this world.

I've heard many stories of these women volunteering to do something they jointly care about together or supporting a cause they care about together. And we're not a political organization.

You are a female entrepreneur with an amazing career. How did it all come together?

We choose to do something that fills a missing piece for ourselves.

I was a successful business leader, but I always built businesses for other people based on their goals, which were usually profit-oriented. I did fine and figured out how to survive in that much more male, bottom-line-driven business. But when I looked back on the decisions I made and the things I would've done differently, the only way I could solve those was to do something for myself.

Now, as an entrepreneur and as master of my destiny, I can rewrite that story for the future.

What's next for you and Parlay?

Right now we're on a mass global expansion. We'll be in 20 cities by the end of this year.

The great thing about this organization is that it evolved based on the collective need, and it's shaped itself into what it is today.

We let our local leaders, our "instigators," determine which topics are going to ring most true where they are. And then we provide support for them to execute. At one of our international events, we had a women's gynecological health professional talk to us about the importance of care.

But we really let people in each part of the world feel out what they are needing and missing and do it that way. So I'm waiting to see how the organization whispers to us and how I can help that happen.