If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed I was using the #masswomen hashtag recently. On Thursday, December 10th, I, along with approximately 5,000 women(!) attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women.
To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Was it going to be “rah rah women!”/”girl power”/”girls rule, boys drool”? Or more of, “how to be a woman in a man’s world”? Will I be told that there’s a chance for a work-life balance, or is that just a myth sold to today’s women? Overall, I think each presenter had a different take on guidance.
I’m going to attempt to recap the conference, though I wont be doing any of the presenters/speakers justice…which is why you should go to this event next year! 😛
The opening keynote speakers included:
–Marcus Buckingham, who wanted us to be happy. He said that women are especially hard on themselves, and encouraged everyone to “build on their strengths, and manage around their weaknesses”
–Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown University, who reminded us that we don’t have to do or be the same as those who came before us. She wants us to continue to learn, whether it’s through formal education or other means. We must have a questioning attitude, and build an excellence in communication, since brilliance cannot be shared if we are unable to communicate.
Each of the three sessions that day had many different presentations available with a range of topics. I’m just going to discuss the sessions I attended.
The first session I attended was “Live from the Corner Office: What I Know Now about Success”, moderated by Ellyn Spragins, author of What I Know Now: Letters To My Younger Self and If I’d Known Then: Women In Their 20s and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves (sensing a theme?). Ms. Spragins shared examples from her books, where successful women contributed letters full of advice that they wish they had received when they were younger.
Two women were there to read their personal letters, answer questions, and share their advice:
-Trudy Sullivan, CEO of Talbots, wanted her 39-year-old self to know that failure gives you experiences, and that you can’t take failure personally. You must move on, and not allow yourself to be over-invested emotionally.
-Trish McEvoy, founder of Trish McEvoy Cosmetics, wanted her 18-year-old self to know that “who is in your life determines your life”, that you must find something in common with everyone, and connect with others by becoming interested in others.
Session II was “Enhancing Executive Presence”, where Susan Colantuono, CEO of Leading Women, and author of No Ceiling, No Walls, discussed the difference between personal and executive presence. Personal presence is the “ability to comfortably draw and hold attention while delivering a message”. The only difference with executive presence is that you are delivering a business-savvy message. There was plenty more discussed, including learning the language of power, and the power of language. Overall, confidence and self-worth are very important parts of your personal and executive presence. You can check her handout about enhancing executive presence here. (and see other handouts from other presentations here)
The lunchtime guest speakers included First Lady of Massachusetts, Diane Patrick, as well as the Be The Change Award winner, Brittany Bergquist, co-founder of Cellphones for Soldiers. The most energetic of the speakers, by far, was the lunchtime keynote speaker, Suze Orman. The crowd was pretty excited to hear from her. She gave a lot of personal finance advice, and made sure we wrote it all down. For the sake of not going on too long here, I’ll post those pointers in a separate post.
The last session of the day was “Emerging Leaders on the Cusp”. They shared advice about how to get noticed and recognized as new and upcoming talent and how to present yourself as a leader within your company.
Overall, I thought the event was pretty great. I think I learned a lot (even if I haven’t gotten that point across well enough in this post). (By the way, the executive presence lecturer would not approve of my discounting of the quality of this post). Hopefully I can go again next year.
Other attendees, I encourage you to share your experiences here in the comments, or link to your own reviews. And if anyone wants more information about any of the sessions/speakers, let me know, and I can expand on it.
For recaps of the event from other bloggers, check out: