When my friend/psychologist/financial advisor, Diane, invited me to the 2017 Women’s Leadership Conference at Mount Saint Mary’s, I was super excited. I’m usually hesitant of attending ‘women’ events; more often than not, they don’t address issues and topics that I care about as a woman of color or one who has worked with women in underserved or low-income communities. But because 1) Diane was involved with the event, 2) there were academics, and 3) Mount Saint Mary’s was leading and hosting the event, I knew that they were #gonnakeepitreal. Diane was a #keepitreal person and all the Mount Saint Mary’s alumnae I knew were women of color who were progressive or, at the very least, woke.
The theme of the conference was The Resilient Leader: Propelling Our Ability to Succeed. The day was akin to soul searching/women’s empowerment workshop. It made me think about who I was as a person and how I was serving in the community– but not in a preachy way. I really needed this conference. As much as I love working in the community with all kinds of people, sometimes I’m just tired! Despite my roles and titles, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m being treated the same as others because 1) I am a woman, 2) not white, 3) perceived age (over 40 but Asian so, you know), or 4) I am nice. And then there’s the endless explanations and having to call out or teach people why they shouldn’t say certain things that are straight up offensive. Can I just live? Can I just lead?
It was so cool to be around smart and powerful women. Forget their job titles. They were inspiring because they leveraged what made them unique and used those skills, qualities, and/or knowledge to propel their success. One of the speakers, a manager from YouTube, shared her fun fact that actually correlated with her career success. Her fun fact was that she was a first degree black belt, soon going for second degree. She practiced a martial arts discipline similar to ninjas. She explained that at the beginning of each class, one person had to stand in the middle of the room, blindfolded. The person in the middle was then attacked by their classmates; and while still blindfolded, they had to defend themselves. She stated that 99.9% of the time, women knew where their attackers were coming from; men did not. She said that women had an intuition that most men did not seem to have. She and the other panelists believed in women’s intuition. During their careers, the panelists discussed how they felt they had to be more aware of situations and challenges more than men. Their belief in their gut instinct had helped them get through difficult situations, amongst other things. There was a discussion whether intuition was innate or learned. But they all agreed that we should trust it.
I didn’t write down all the stories as I just wanted to just take them in. But below are some of the quick takeaways. We probably already know them. But a lot of times– because of the fights we have to take on and the challenges we have to deal with while and because we are women– we forget. So a quick reminder lest we forget:
- Be yourself (be a good person). Be authentic.
- Be courageous and embrace failure.
- Visionary leadership is a process, not necessarily an innate talent or gift.
It’s in the calm that we find ourselves.
What is the life you want to create? Write it down!
Don’t think about a ‘career’; think about the life that you want.
Where you 1) show up best, 2) make the greatest impact, and 3) are your best self -> life that you want.
Intent comes from the soul; Goals come from the mind.
Peep the slideshow, which includes the session topics and speakers.
I attended the event not as a representative of the organization for which I work or as someone from the commission for which I serve. I attended as a community member who just wanted to learn. I was probably one of the few that didn’t have a title or organization on their name card, which was absolutely awesome.