Yesterday, I attended the Watermark LeadOn Conference for Women in Silicon Valley.
As an inaugural conference, it was big and bold– information and inspiration across personal and professional development topics packed into one amazing day. With 5000 attendees and so many session and speaker choices, there was no way to “have it all.”*
Given the size, I was shocked to see my 15 friends who similarly attended. In typical female fashion, our greetings included quick exchanges of ideas that the other would find intriguing before we rushed off for a seat at the next session.
Following are my personal 10 Favorite LeadOn Inspirations:
• Kara Swisher as moderator for morning keynote and Hillary Clinton interview. She was funny, bold, and real. She was insanely prepared and let her guests shine, while being very memorable herself. When is the last time you said a moderator was memorable? Follow her at www.allthingsd.com, @karaswisher
• Hillary Clinton. When I die, I will say that Hillary was one of the most inspirational women of my lifetime. Happy that the conference was a bit overcrowded so we could fund her $300k speaking fee. May her 2016 announcement come soon.
• Same Sky (www.samesky.com) – Exhibitor that showcased very high-quality jewelry made by Rwandan women. The purchase of a necklace funds a year of a girl’s education. I love that simple but very effective marketing tie!
• Mixed-gender speakers Barbara Annis and John Gray leading “Bridging the Cross-Gender Communication Gap to Improve Your Leadership” breakout. With 22 years of working with mostly men, Barbara’s insights really resonate with me, as does her science-based research meshed with corporate insights. Check out www.genderintelligence.com.
• Camilla Olson (www.camillaolson.com) – Exhibitor showcasing clothing that is ridiculously comfortable, work to life. Very much my style—reasonably priced simple pieces made of high-quality, wrinkle-free material that can be matched with your personal accessories. Based in San Francisco, free shipping and returns, use discount code LeadOn15Off
• Creating Your Personal Brand Worksheet (see below) – Most valuable thing from the “Building Your Personal Brand: Sharing Practical Tools and Action Plans” during the end-of-day expert exchanges. Re-visiting this and my “elevator pitch” are on my near-term to-do list (and should probably be on yours).
• With 5000 attendees, the Men’s restrooms were converted to Women’s. Yet there were still long lines (so what’s the technology solution to that?)
• Anne Devereux-Mills, thought-leader in the “How to Become the Social Entrepreneur of Your Life: Doing Well by Doing Good.” Listening to Anne’s personal story was both exhausting and exhilarating. She admitted that “for 15 years, I was dialed up high on the single mom and CEO scene—I never had time to be philanthropic.” Her accomplishments since span entrepreneurial, philanthropic, political, and personal (bio)—a great role model for transporting professional skills and passions.
• Dr. Brené Brown. She’s funny. She’s real. She’s vulnerable. Seeing her reminded me that I had not yet listened to her most recent TED Talk Brené Brown: Listening to Shame. My favorite repeatable quote from her keynote: “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.”
• As a Silicon Valley conference should, the event and technology are interlinked. The LeadOn website has great resources for all the things I missed.
* My pet peeve at every women’s conference is the proverbial question “can women have it all?” Can we stop trying to answer this question, and just try to live the life that makes each of us happy?
Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for LeadOn:Watermark’s Silicon Valley Conference for Women