In the 16+ years since Wonder Women Dinners‘ inception, over 10,000 women from around the globe have been able to meet, collaborate and support one another’s endeavors – how incredible is that?!
We were fortunate enough to meet founder Dr. Yao Huang, who also founded Hatchery VC, and ask her a few questions about to magic of hosting and how the network she built for fun to stay in touch with friends in different cities has evolved into a full-blown ecosystem.
Far from being a regular networking event, I found my first Wonder Women experience to feel incredibly relaxed and welcoming. They’re hosted in the Wonder Women homes, so lots of guests eventually become hosts. “I was invited to a ton of events but lacked connection even through there were a lot of people there,” Yao explains.
What started out as four friends getting together with Yao consistently in New York City quickly grew. “We were all busy and without the structure of planning, we would never see each other. We got together for dinners once a month and never laughed so hard. Everyone invited more friends over time. The group got bigger, needing more space,” she recalls.
“The realization that this was special came from what people said about it. And as New Yorkers left for other cities and wanted to take it with them it spread and had to be organized to a consistent structure so that the outcomes of authenticity, fun, laughter, bonding can be repeatable. Over the years, paying attention to things that worked changed it to what it is today from four women having dinner in restaurants. Every nuance of the experience comes from 16 years of trial and error of how to create relationships over a two-hour dinner.”
Wonder Women Dinners have evolved into a safe place for women to share, connect, break bread and get to know each other authentically, slowly, intentionally. And through this, friendships are built that last and attendees find ongoing ways to support each other.
“Success and fun are not mutually exclusive,” said Yao. “Sharing, authenticity, vulnerability, honesty and the sisterhood of caring women; all of this is actually filtered and curated for. People come in through knowing someone we already know. And we do filter out those with the wrong energy or intentions to keep the quality high. We also try to have it in our Wonder Women hosts’ homes which changes guest behavior. Also having been going on for so many years, there are women who have been to so many already whose presence drive the vibe.”
Having a group of trusted, friendly professionals to be able to ask questions to and be vulnerable with is an incredibly powerful resource. As the Wonder Women community grows, Yao is managing a network of guests and hosts putting on over a hundred dinner parties per year.
And having been to couple of them now, there’s an ease that seems to lie at the core of the group that starts with Yao being her eternally-inspired self.
“I enjoy relationships with these women and do try to spend time with as many as I can. There are women in each city that help run these dinners and community. We also regularly do things together — going out to karaoke, taking vacations together, or start webinars and podcasts. It’s a community in the end that’s active and supportive.”
“That doesn’t manifest overnight, nor by magic. It’s giving time to help others, listen, and spend time. It’s not transactional, it’s authentic – really caring about them. With these bonds, you can accomplish anything. And we are, but it’s made easy by structuring and planning a monthly gathering so you can spend time with each other without the extra effort.”
Many thanks to Yao for the interview and inspiration, and if you’re feeling as inspired as we are right now, check out our complete how-to hosting guide and invite a few of your most curious friends over!