The Professional Business Women’s 25th Conference today was fantastic! It was my first. In earlier years I watched the event come and go and always wished I had (made) the time to attend. This year, I just decided I was going. And I am glad.
California’s 14th Congressional District Congresswoman Jackie Spier gave the opening keynote address. She talked about political matters such as the feminization of poverty through cuts to programs like food stamps and PEL grants which happen to primarily benefit women. She also talked about her personal approaches such as making time for hugs, friends and to say I love you.
Jackie encouraged us to fail early and hard because failure is the first step to success. I loved that reframe. I am going to make it my mantra.
The next keynote speakers were a pair; Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey, a National Geographic Explorer and Charlotte Beers, notable advertising executive. In tandem they talked about “wayfinding” by understanding what is possible (90-year-old women flirting with the NG staff) and understanding what I want and why I work. Charlotte said “As long as you’re going to work forever, get on with it!”
Both Elizabeth and Charlotte talked about the choices we make about the stories we believe. We can make other people’s opinions the way we see ourselves or we can make our own opinion the choice. “They” do not get to invent me. I do. “If they don’t like me I will live”. They closed with a quote by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
As if the incredible powerhouse so far wasn’t enough, the next keynote speaker was Arianna Huffington. She issued a wakeup call. We only get ~30,000 days to play the game of life. There are 4 pillars that improve our success in living that life: Sleep (#1), Wisdom (taking time to disconnect with devices and connect with ourselves), Wonder and Giving. The thing she said that hit me most was to start each day with what I want from the day. Don’t start with everyone else’s agenda for me.
Arianna had a lot of great quotes:
She closed by emphasizing the inner work aspect of success:
Next we broke out into workshops. Sheila Heed, co-author of Difficult Conversations and author of Thanks for the Feedback, shared that so many difficult conversations were about feedback that they decided to study this in detail. Ultimately, they decided to study not the giving of feedback but how to receive it more resourcefully. She divided feedback into 3 types: Appreciation, Coaching and Evaluation and segmented our challenged in receiving feedback into the challenge of seeing the feedback and myself accurately, of responding to relationship triggers, and to mastering identity triggers.
Consistent with the Choice theme in Charlotte and Lindsay’s keynote, she said getting good at receiving feedback doesn’t mean I have to take it. It just means I am better at understanding it.
SEE it and myself accurately first:
WE: Enlist the right type of mirror for the job at hand.
ME: Deal with my part.
We have a choice about how feedback defines us. We can consider it input or we can consider it an imprint. The choice is ours.
Next, I visited Gina Rudan’s Hacking Culture workshop in the afternoon. She said that each one of us create our own culture, particularly in the SF Bay Area.
We can do some cultural curation and chose what works for us and what doesn’t. We can make “The Special”.
Gina encouraged us to “think like an immigrant” because they leave their cultures behind and chose what works in the new context.
Her favorite quote was by Audrey Lourde:
Diane Keaton was the closing keynote speaker. How awesome is that? With 63 movies to her credit and several books and etc., Diane is going strong.
Diane admires women who have their own style their own voice and who have put together their particular collections of “wrong” and turned them into “right.” Her examples included Katherine Hepburn, Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller and Joan Didion. Her observations were wide-ranging and included “maybe beauty is just love”, “life outlives love”, “Don’t tell me what’s beautiful before I have had a chance to decide for myself”, “I intend to join the babies of the world and laugh more.” Her advice reinforced the theme of deciding for myself my style and voice.
It’s very hard to close such an incredible day of giving by the speakers and participants. If I had to summarize I would say, “Go forth and chose, chose now because you’re 30,000 days are ticking, don’t wait, chose, ask, fail hard and get with it. Time’s a wastin’.” We’re choosing already. Let’s make those choices more our style, our voice and what we want out of life.