Wednesday, November 7, 2012

3 Things I Learned at the 2012 Texas Conference for Women

In October, I attended the 2012 Texas Conference for Women  in Austin. It was a HUGE conference with over 5,000 attendees (everything's bigger in Texas...). There were many "celebrities" there (in my book, at least) like Gretchen Rubin, Danielle LaPorte and Cathie Black. I was also introduced to some new rockstars like Brene Brown and Lauren Berger.
That's a lot of seating!

The conference consisted of a morning keynote address, two breakout sessions (each with about 10 options), a lunch keynote and then many different activities in the afternoon. There was also a Health and Wellness Expo with the conference. It was overwhelming to say the least. I got to Austin at about 7am, grabbed my complimentary French Toast Sticks and coffee from the Peached Tortilla food truck, whipped out my conference program and started to map out my day.
French Toast Sticks and Sbux!

I really think I optimized my experience. I won't give you a blow-by-blow, but here are my top three takeaways:

1) Vulnerability = Strength

I think many people hear "vulnerability" and think "weakness." Brene Brown suggests that is actually shows strength. She currently has the 2nd most watched TED talk ever about The Power of Vulnerability. In her book, Daring Greatly, she talks about how vulnerability (at the right time and place, of course) can really help us move forward in relationships and other undertakings. She talked about how giving good feedback puts us in a place of vulnerability, but often is much more effective and productive. Good communication also requires some vulnerability. One thing that really resonated with me was when she said when you do something brave, your are almost always being vulnerable. Think of a time when you were brave. Were you also at a place of vulnerability?

2) Be Clear on How You Want To Feel

The second breakout session I went to covered defining success in your own terms and included a panel of four women: Alyce Alston, CEO of CultureMap Austin; Laren Berger, the Intern Queen; Danielle LaPorte, author of The Fire Starter Sessions; and Wilka Toppins, attorney and founder of The Corporate Latina. Here are the highlights:
  • "If you feel like you're faking it more than not, you're in the wrong place. Don't fake enthusiasm." - Danielle LaPorte
  • Alyce talked about she made the move from a really swanky job to a position at Reader's Digest. Some of her friends and family questioned the move, but in the end the position at Reader's Digest  better used her strengths and she enjoyed her work more. Lauren added that she worked for a talent agency in LA which represented many high-profile celebrities. Her friends all envied her job, but all she talked about was how she wanted to be the Intern Queen. Sometimes society's image of success doesn't align with what makes us feel successful.
  • Wilka talked about how sometimes we make decisions that lead to imbalance in our lives. We need to forgive ourselves for these decisions, learn from them and then do what needs to be done to regain balance. 

3) Outer Order Creates Inner Calm

I've been a firm believer in this for several years now. Having a neat and orderly home really does put your mind in a better place. Gretchin Rubin addressed this in her keynote speech at the beginning of the conference and talks about it more in her books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She suggests making your bed and purging your possessions since the project our identity into our environment. When purging, it's good to ask yourself "Do I use it? Do I need it? Do I love it?" If you don't answer "yes" to one or more of those, ditch it!

Gretchin talks about Happiness at Home
Of course I learned a lot of other great things throughout the day and I took several pages of notes! It was a great experience and I'm so excited to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women next year!

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