Does every state do this? Bring together thousands of women in one room to talk about important issues? Well, they should! Huge props to our Queso pal Wendi and her whole team who put this shin-dig together for over 7,000 attendees. There were so many people there, in fact, that I had to park in the satellite parking. No problem, the shuttle ferried me to the convention center to drop me at the front door. Nice.
I missed the opening speakers, but heard fantastic references to them throughout the day. One of the morning speakers was Candy Chang who created the “Before I die…” project. They had a chalkboard wall in the middle of the expo for anyone to chalk up their contributions. You can check out her book on the project as well. It was really great to watch women from all walks and stages of life synthesize their goals on this space in the middle of the room. I think it symbolized the purpose of this conference really well.
So, I walked in, and collected my swag bag with snacks, treats from Mary Kay and some other fun little things. The Expo was filled with healthcare information from breast exams to skin care to nutrition. There was also a marketplace for job and education opportunities. There were several female-run or focused businesses there sharing their expertise and their products. They even included a mini art gallery for art done “by women of women.” This capsule art show really highlighted the diversity among women- color, focus, age, personality, etc. It was lovely. The Expo had several places to sit and network as well as several round-table discussions. It was a vibrant place to be in between sessions.
I was able to do two sessions while I was there. I listened to Carson Tate talk about “Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.” She emphasized the importance of saying “No.” We like to say “yes” to so many things, but we need to account for the fact that embedded in that “yes” is an implied “no” to something else. Wow! That is powerful stuff. When we fill our time then we leave no time for other things we might want to say “yes” to. As a habitual over-planner, this stopped me in my tracks. She went on to discuss the idea of working out a “time budget.” She said that time is a commodity that has more value than dollars. You can always go make more money, but you can never make more time. Be careful of those to whom you give a blank check of your time, and be sure to look at your time as an investment. All of this is to say that we need to be very intentional with how we spend, use and plan our time. Excellent advice!
My second sessions was with Wendy Wallbridge on the “Five Co-Creative Powers for Women on the Rise.” She teaches women to “cultivate the five co-creative powers of energy, thoughts, feelings, speech, and action—the fundamentals of self-creation—in order to redefine success and re-author their lives.” We did a powerful moment of exchange wherein one woman shared how she opened up to a colleague in a very professional way about some struggles in the office. That colleague turned out to be a director, and has since become a mentor to her. In that moment of struggle, she embraced her “feminine” side to make it work to her advantage, and thereby making her a more complete and successful leader. I am definitely interested to hear more about Wendy’s ideas.
The highlight was definitely the luncheon speakers. We heard from several women leaders from different fields leading up to the first main speaker, Patricia Arquette. You might remember that she won an Oscar for “Boyhood,” which was filmed in and around Austin over the course of 12 years. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Arquette brought to light the struggle over income inequality for women, issues facing women today in regards to healthcare and childcare, and more. Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning for the US State Dept., interviewed Ms. Arquette on stage. It was really interesting to see how the dialogue around women’s issues touches us all from actors to politicians to executives to bloggers! These are challenging and exciting times, and the conversation is often charged. I think ultimately this is a good thing! We need everyone’s passion and the different points of view to come together for creative solutions that improve all of our lives. This is all about building each other up. Doesn’t that sound better already?
The second speaker was Robin Roberts. She was interviewed by Tory Johnson, who also works on Good Morning America. First, let me say, Robin is gorgeous! She is tall, athletic and high-energy. I would just love to hang out with her. I might have to get a trainer to ready myself to really “hang” with her as I get the feeling she is crazy active and athletic! Anyway, she talked about her rise from athlete to ESPN to GMA, and how she very nearly didn’t take the GMA offer as she didn’t think she could do it. How often do we limit ourselves?! Thanks to a friend (encouraging friends are a must!), she took the leap. Aren’t we all glad she did? She also discussed her health battles, and her Mom. It was all very inspiring. We loved all of the “Momisms” as she called them- so many quotable quotes! She left us with her favorite one- “When fear knocks…let faith answer the door.” What powerful words!
If you get the chance to attend conferences such as these if not this very excellent conference next year, then you should jump on it. If you make it to Austin for the conference next year…there just might be some excellent queso in it for you as well as an equally delicious margarita!
Cheers to all the ladies out there who are handling it every day! We are on your team!