By DEVIN WEEKS
COEUR d’ALENE — Like Mr. Miyagi to the Karate Kid and Yoda to Luke Skywalker, Eve Knudtsen knows women have an important role to play when it comes to mentoring other women.
"Mentors are role models. They're leaders, they're people you look up to who are willing to introduce you to their network so you can begin to build your own network, and then they go one step further and they go out and they endorse you," she said. "My hope tonight is that I inspire you to find a mentor, be a mentor, or both."
The Knudtsen Chevrolet Co. president was the first of several speakers to address the full house Tuesday evening during the inaugural Women's Entrepreneurship Day Idaho event, which was held in the Innovation Den in downtown Coeur d'Alene.
Knudtsen said General Motors is the only manufacturer that has a network devoted to seeking qualified women to be General Motors dealers.
"I am one of 250 of those dealers," she said to an applauding crowd.
With so few women in the dealership industry, Knudtsen said it's up to her to help lead the way.
"There were no women there to show me the ropes, no Oprah endorsement," she said. "My job now is to help other women get their start."
Women's Entrepreneurship Day is a global movement to celebrate women innovators and leaders, bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.
The inaugural event was brought to Coeur d'Alene with the help of WED Pacific Northwest Ambassador Latisha Taylor, who grew up in Post Falls and graduated from the University of Idaho.
"This discussion is to celebrate where we have come, what we have learned from one another and how we can partner together," said Taylor, who now resides in San Francisco. "We're stronger together than we are apart."
Other speakers at the event included Kjerstin Bell, Emmy Award-winning anchor for "Good Day" on FOX, whose speech was "The Power of Personal Branding”; Projected Growth Consulting founder and CEO Kelly Smith, whose speech was "Passion, People and Profit!"; and national trainer, author and speaker Chris Angell who shared insight about social media.
"I want to take initiative, meet people and network, meet like-minded people, get creative and be inspired and learn about resources that could be helpful in the business," said WED event guest Katie Lien Elwell, who owns Steel Rose Garage in Post Falls with her husband, Jereme. "This is women inspiring women. I'm all about women power.
"I'm a big believer in 'The more I help somebody out, the more they'll help me out,'" she continued. "Women have a great way of inspiring each other and supporting each other. We get it."