GWBC Keynote Speaker Enlivens, Enlightens Attendees on Forgiveness in the Workplace

John Tabellione

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

This past week the annual Greater Women's Business Council (GWBC) “Power of Partnering” Marketplace spotlighted Dr. Shawne Duperon, who spoke on the importance of forgiveness for a leader in the workplace, and how to be a forgiving leader.

Duperon, a six-time Emmy Award Winner, one-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and a self-described marketer with a “PhD in Gossip,” used a unique, interactive, lively delivery to enlighten the nearly 200 attendees. She has researched the phenomenon of “good gossip” for a decade, and is world-renowned for her case study, Project: Forgive. Her non-profit leadership foundation reaches millions in social media, and examines what causes people to passionately share innovative ideas and solutions that open minds and hearts.  

After being introduced by Deb Mackins, from Supplier Diversity and Development at Georgia Power, and current GWBC Chair, Dr. Duperon began with the etymology of the word, gossip. Originally, the word derivation had a godly connotation: from the Old English, godsibb, meaning God, plus a relative. Eventually, the word evolved to include a friend or neighbor until a couple of hundred years ago when it acquired its negative association, i.e., trifling talk or a groundless rumor.

Despite the impression of gossip being mean and nasty, such descriptions apply only about five to seven per cent of the time, according to Duperon. In fact, she calls “good gossip” the best marketing tool ever.

Photography by: Hope Productions Unlimited Inc.

Dr. Duperon is consistently rated among the top speakers and trainers globally and has been featured on major media such as CNN, ABC, NBC, CBC, and Inc. Magazine. 

In order to elicit full audience participation Duperon next utilized a bold, energetic, entertaining presentation in order to bond with everyone present. She had them think of an employee, a situation, or a client in the workplace who may be “high maintenance,” or who may cause anxiety, and their desire for more peace and forgiveness from this subject. Next, the communications and media expert asked everyone to stand and move to other tables to find a partner, someone they did not know. 

Each person then had to give such an uncomfortable example as she had described, then to imagine “the apology you’ll never receive,” from that person, and exactly how they would like it said to them. Next they had to say that apology out loud to his or her self. Duperon recommended they practice this tool consistently, perhaps even out loud with a trusted friend.

The partners then exchanged positions in the role playing, and later went on to other interactivity, such as communicating what they like about themselves, and what would they don for a Halloween costume, or what they would have liked to become when they were children.

As each activity concluded, Duperon added insights, such as “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes,” a quote from French novelist, Marcel Proust. Another potential takeaway was one of her own: “The willingness to have an uncomfortable conversation is a minimum requirement of maturity.”

Furthermore, she said, “When we start to see things in a new way, that’s when miracles start to manifest.”

She also elaborated on “love vs. fear” in such situations, by explaining the “cycle of reciprocity.” That is, during a give and take conversation, or during decision-making with a high maintenance employee or customer, a leader needs to make a conscious decision to allow things to flow back and forth. For example, forgive others, and yet realize that issues like procrastination, blame, disappointment, etc., can be offset with positives such as teamwork, compassion, creativity and freedom.

Photography by: Hope Productions Unlimited Inc.

The bottom line, Dr. Duperon noted, is that the cost of “disengagement” by a 2019 Gallup poll is $450 billion in lost productivity annually, since 68% of employees typically are not engaged and another 17% are actively disengaged.

The two-day GWBC conference also offered members networking connections, as well as several training and personal development workshops on subjects such as Cash Flow, Wealth through Entrepreneurship, the Labor Market, the Perfect Pitch, and Corporate Procurement.


The Greater Women’s Business Council consists of hundreds of women entrepreneurs, business leaders, corporations and procurement professionals in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, which are among top states for women owned-businesses. According to GWBC Chair, Deb Makins, the 12 million women business enterprises (WBEs) in the U.S. generate $1.7 trillion in revenue a year. 

The next GWBE event will be the LACE Awards (Ladies Achieving Continuous Excellence), the annual Black-tie celebration for the membership to recognize outstanding corporate partners and women business enterprises (WBEs) for their commitment and contributions to the mission of the GWBC. The mission of the GWBC is to advance, promote and advocate for women business owners through education, mentoring, certification and corporate partnering.

The 2019 “LACE” (Ladies Achieving Continuous Excellence) Awards will be held November 8, 2019 at the St. Regis Atlanta, 88 West Paces Ferry Rd in Atlanta. The dinner also features a silent auction, awards reception, and live entertainment.

About John Tabellione

John Tabellione is an award-winning, professional business writer, complemented by over twenty-five years of strategic communication responsibilities as a Marketing, New Business Development and National Account Sales Executive in consumer goods and commercial industries. 

Experience with Fortune 500 companies, as well as with smaller firms and non-profits, encompassing a variety of products, including those of Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark and Stanley Works. 

John has a B.A. in English from Fairfield University and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Hartford. In addition, he has studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute at Syracuse University, and Italian language and culture at Kennesaw State University.