Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The future is female - Pennsylvania Conference for Women

The Pennsylvania Women's Conference is the most hopeful I have been since Election Day in November. I truly believe women will lead us out of the political and social mess we are in in this country. I feel that in my bones and this day reinforced that times a million. We are going to get more seats in government and at the tables of our workplaces. We are going to forge a future that is better for us and our families. We are going to do these things because if we don't we cannot move forward or even tread water.

It's funny how many people take offense to the phrase the future is female. Listen up, frail men: it's been your world since the beginning of time. History and all that. So excuse me if we are reclaiming our time and not being quiet about it.

The crowd felt largely progressive. It also felt diverse and powerful. I definitely got more out of the keynotes at the opening session and lunch than I did out of the sessions. It was also great to meet a lot of smart, strong women. The exhibit hall was excellent also.
I am a copious note taker and I'm about to lay a lot of text on you. Here are some things that resonated with me and might resonate with you as well:

Sandra Leung from Bristol-Myers Squibb:
-None of us can afford to be invisible in the workplace.

Carla Harris from Morgan Stanley - she was totally amazing. I mean, she advocates celebrating your birthday all month. Her energy was fire. How could I not feel a bond?
-Own your power. Never let anyone make you doubt that which is uniquely you. If you let people do that, you have given away your power.
-If you were invited into the room, you belong at the table. Do not sit at the table and keep your mouth closed.
-In order to grow your power, give it away. When you empower others you amplify yourself.
-Fear has no place in your success equation. If you approach things from a place of fear, you will under-penetrate every opportunity. Fear is false evidence of things appearing real.
-If you meet someone and they tell you you are too much for them, they are right. Do not dim your light for someone else's convenience.
-If you don't ask, you don't get. You are responsible for your career.
-If you don't make a mistake, you're not reaching far enough. Everyone makes mistakes, what matters is if and how you get up. Resilience is important. Do not carry the mistake as baggage - it creates a competitive disadvantage for you. Life is a journey and you have a long runway.
-When life comes to teach you a lesson, if you don't pass the test you will repeat the class.
-Do not use your personal currency on things that are not worth it.
-If you ask for help and are turned down, there is one word - next.
-Always default to TRY. Always play for YES.
-Know that you know that you know you have all the goods you need to maximize your success.

Shonda Rhimes
-Names we call people matter, and we're not talking about given names. Nice, well behaved, pretty, sweet girl is not what we should default to when we talk about girls. Tell your kids they can be anything. Give them naming rights. That is power.
-Names you give ideas matter. Don't say obstacle because then there are obstacles.
-You can't be discouraged or break or give up because of how things are. The reality of life is all male and all white until you walk in the door. When you walk in the door, the future changes.
-How we name something dictates how we deal with it. We let fear name things. We are afraid of brilliance, beauty, wanting something, failing, succeeding, being out of our league. Rename your fears. Put the naming rights in your pocket. On behalf of women, go name the world your own.
-We belong in any room we are in.

Shawn Achor
-Joy can co-exist with displeasure because happiness is not pleasure. It is the joy we feel moving towards our potential. The opposite of happiness is not unhappiness. It is apathy.
-We are afraid of happiness as a society.
-Optimism is great but will not stop reality. If you sugarcoat the present, it sucks. We need rational optimism - the belief that behavior will matter if linked to the right people. Our brains are designed to co-process the world.
-Sustainable happiness comes from using your energy to make others better.
-Happiness does not exist on the other side of success. As soon as I get...I'll be happy. But we keep moving the goal post. If you raise your levels of happiness you will raise your levels of success, not the other way around.
-Re-train your brain to look for success and connection, not mistakes and errors. Many jobs train us to look for mistakes and errors. We have to find a way around that.

Leslie Stiles
-The best way to make a difference in the world is to make a difference in your situation. Push yourself. Develop your strengths. And use them to build a world that is equitable and tolerant and safe for all.

Dr. Brene Brown
-People are hard to hate close up. Move in. We are in a time of rampant de-humanization of people. The line is not left or right. The line is what is human or not.
-Speak truth to bullshit but be civil.
-Don't let someone frame your beliefs. When they do that, you need to call bullshit.
-Walk through the world with a strong back, a soft front, and a wild heart.
-You do not negotiate your worth or belonging with other people. That is yours. That is what you carry in your heart and how you show up.

Michelle Obama - full disclosure, I was basically basking in the comfort her presence brought to a cavernous room and enjoying sitting and listening to her have a conversation with Shonda Rhimes like we were a big audience of girlfriends, so my notes are lacking here. She is powerful, down to earth, strong, and present. She did not talk about her husband, although he did pop in with a pre-recorded message for their 25th anniversary, which was that day.
-There are all these rules that slowly suffocate young girls and give them small cuts: you ask too many questions, put your hand down, cross your legs, sit like a lady, girls don't do that.
-Women worry too much about failing to lean in. Men do not let fear of failure stop them.
-Shame on us if we sit by and let an imposter talk us down.
-Put yourself on the calendar first. Don't give your time away indiscriminately.
-Ask questions, don't make judgments.
An empowering, worthy day. I am worth it. You are worth it. The baby girls and young ladies are worth it. We are all worth it and we are more powerful than we allow ourselves to show.


  1. Such a great event to attend! I'm going to one in Boston in December! xo,Biana-BlovedBoston

  2. Love this. I love your words about Michelle Obama too and how you were just enjoying her presence. I love Brene Brown. You must be feeling so inspired after attending this event.

  3. My heart bursts with pride❣️❣️❣️ It doesn’t compute in my brain why there is not liberty, justice, and equality for all. Greed for power and money is fugly and deadly. Thanks to you girls and all of these awesome women. Amen on Michelle Obama being like our friend. Goddess speed. Such ugly treatment of her and she still goes high. Lights and angels and love to all everywhere for all that is good. It’s like DT and the gop have cursed our nation. The most bad stuff ever since he has reigned. Or the universe is rip-roaring angry.
    Keepin’ The faith. Love. Your. Momma.

  4. LOVE this: "Do not dim your light for someone else's convenience." It's so nice to walk away from an experience feeling empowered and hopeful, for a change

  5. Being in the same room as Michelle Obama - priceless! And yessss to putting yourself on the calendar first <3

  6. What a great event to attend!!

  7. Wow. What an amazing conference. So many powerful, admirable woman on stage and in the audience too. I would have basked in the presence, the calm, the steadfastness, the honor of Michelle Obama too. I miss her so much. And oh yeah, her hubbie too. :D If you enjoyed Brene Brown's speech than I do believe you'll enjoy her latest book because her topic is straight from it. And I agree the future is female and we are the ones who will right this ship.

  8. What an amazing experience. I'm so glad you got to go, and feel so hopeful. Loved reading your notes. I think this one struck me most "If you were invited into the room, you belong at the table. Do not sit at the table and keep your mouth closed." My sister is graduating college in the spring and I am sending this post to her because I wish I'd read something like this BEFORE I started my career. I listen to a podcast and the host is a female who has been an executive at Nike, OWN, Fox television, and others. She said once that two pieces of advice she would give to women is first, not to begin speaking in a meeting with the words "I'm sorry, but..." or "Just a quick question..." Own what you are going to say and don't cheapen it before you even begin. Also, she said she spent decades sitting around conference tables. She noticed that when women have something to say, they typically whisper it to the person next to them. She said men never do that. They speak it out. I've always remembered those two things in every meeting I'm in. Now I have some new advice to remember too!

  9. I wish I would have heard many of these words before I started in my career over a decade ago. It sounds like an amazing event to attend!

  10. Stephanie,
    I'd love to see people march to the front of their world like it was Darlington in Cup Racing. I feel like wanting people who are actually awesome in their worlds, because, we need to be Forward to Paris, not Backward to Tokyo.



  11. What a powerful group of women with powerful messages. I am so happy you got to attend and that you are a copious note taker and could share this with us. And yes, the future is female, so hard to get that through peoples skulls that white men have been running the world for too long!

  12. I can only imagine how you felt leaving that room with all that empowerment fed into you.
    I love Michelle's advice on putting yourself down on the calendar first. That really spoke to me!

  13. I would love to see Michelle Obama speak. My aunt went to a similar women's conference a couple weeks ago in Toronto with Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama and more. I'll have to check if anything similar is coming to Orlando.

  14. What an amazing event. I was in a smallish setting with Michelle Obama several years ago and she really does have a comforting quality to her.

  15. I'm adding a conference like this to my bucket list because this event sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing your notes! " -If you meet someone and they tell you you are too much for them, they are right. Do not dim your light for someone else's convenience." was definitely my biggest take away from this post and right now I really needed to read that.

  16. Oh my gosh, this conference sounds so incredible. What an awesome experience for you. Considering she's a writer, I totally get it, but Shonda seems so focused on language and the words we use. I think that's awesome and admirable. And of course Michelle is just amazing. I would LOVE to attend a conference like this! So cool!

  17. I take a lot of notes too ... but I don't know if I'd even be able to write anything down if I had gone. What a lineup and very empowering!

  18. Wow. I feel like I was there. I wish I HAD been there. Thank you!


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