This past week, I attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women. It's the largest woman-centric conference of it's kind in the nation. Ten thousand women were in attendance. Many of whom were career business women, worked in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions, or were small business owners and entrepreneurs. These were women who were movers and shakers and held a seemingly common goal; to break the glass ceiling and change the world. Estrogen is a powerful motivator.
There were many vendors and exhibitors and a tremendous opportunity to attend breakout sessions and workshops to help you succeed in the business world. There were sessions on finance, branding, social media marketing and so much more. MBA programs were there encouraging graduate degrees. Banks were there, to discuss financing options for small businesses. Technology companies were there, recruiting. Small business vendors were selling their products. You could even get a makeover from several cosmetic vendors and then get your head shot done for your social media profile pictures!
The conference drew amazing and successful and entrepreneurial women as key note speakers and one very brave and endearing man. Among the key note speakers were Tori Burch, Academy award winning actress Lupita Nyong'o and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They all had tremendously impressive resumes and experience and they delivered articulate, entertaining, and inspiring speeches. The energy in the room was strong, but it was a different energy than I am accustomed to at large conferences of women. This energy was one of power, ambition, drive, a strong desire to succeed in a "man's" world, to break gender and social barriers. It's a good thing in many ways, but perhaps, not so much, in others.
I am used to attending conferences around childbirth. Women drawn to these conferences are also powerful, passionate, driven, and embrace and use their hormonal gifts, but it's different. These women have a primary overlying objective of love, compassion, and helping each other, rather than competing with each other. They are not about breaking the glass ceiling, they are about nurturing others to reach their highest personal potential, for the greater good of everyone involved. Similar, yes, but the energy is SOOOOOO different. And honestly, I prefer this energy.
Of course, the truth is, I, personally, have a decent mix of both. While the more heart-centered and nurturing energy of my energy sensitive birthy peeps resonates with me more deeply, I am also a business woman. I have to be in order to accomplish the goals I want to in my life so I can educate and nurture others the way I feel I am called to do. I need both kinds of energy. I need both kinds of girl power. I am so blessed to have both in my life.
Ironically, the speaker I enjoyed the most, was the one man who closed the morning keynotes. John Jacobs is the co-founder of Life is Good. You know, those cool T-shirts that have optimistic and outdoorsy pictures and sayings on them.
In sharp contrast to the women in business suits, he came out on stage in jeans, a T-shirt, and a wool hat. His boyish charm quickly revealing a man whose mama raised him right. He spoke of the wonder of the way his daughter views the world. He spoke of love, optimism, goodness. He spoke of the power of dreams and persistence and doing the right thing. Of philanthropy and giving back and of the power of community. He threw frisbees into the audience. He was honest, raw, playful and yet a brilliant business man. Not because he wanted to be the best or beat the competition, but because he wanted to share a message of goodness and hope and optimism. I felt like he was one of "my" kinda woman. :-)
This got me thinking. Women are women. Or are we? We are all driven to do and be different things. Not everyone can be Hillary Clinton or an Academy Award winning actress. Not everyone wants to be.
We have so many roles we need to fill in our own lives. Mother, daughter, spouse, sister, aunt, niece, friend... We must fulfill the duties of our job descriptions no matter what that job may be. Whether we are the CEO of our household or the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, we all hold a position of power and authority. We all have a "business" we need to run. Some of us may aspire to do great things and change the world. Maybe that's by starting a business. Maybe that's how we measure success. Others may change the world through volunteering or writing a meaningful children's book.
The beauty of it is, no matter what we decide we want to do with our lives, we can. We are so blessed and fortunate to live in a place where we, as women, have those choices and those opportunities. When there are financial barriers to our opportunities, it's women like the ones who spoke at the Women's Conference, who provide the scholarships and angel investing to help those women find success.
We are so blessed. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had in the past and that are available to me now. I do hope I can pay it forward, and provide something as wonderful to a young girl or girls somewhere, sometime.