8 Takeaways from the PA Conference for Women

It’s been just about a month since attending the Pennsylvania Conference for Women and in a lot of ways, I’m still a little speechless. Well let’s be honest, speechless isn’t really in my wheelhouse. More like, I still feel like it’s hard to describe to others the gravity of this experience. This event, this gathering, this conference was just kind of incredible. Below are 10 takeaways I’ve been holding on to. Some tasty nuggets, soundbites, and some empowerment evoking emotions I took from those offering up the goods.

Carla Harris kicked things off in a way that was hard to follow. Meaning I felt bad for the other people who had to follow her because DANG she was captivating, eloquent, powerful, poignant, and witty without skipping a beat. I’d seen Carla speak at another event not too long ago and was excited to see her again knowing what tenacity and energy she brings to the stage. She did not disappoint and clearly knew her audience (as all great speakers do). She switched things up and offered, even more, words of wisdom for the taking. I adored this quote because it spoke so loudly to me. It rang in my ears and made my heart pulse a little harder. If you aren’t asking for what you want; in your career, your job, your relationship — what makes you think you’re going to get it? She keeps it simple, stupid and I dig it. As a woman who likes to take control and go after what I want — the simplicity of this statement took me back. Why aren’t I asking for the things I want? Yep, you guessed it fear and doubt. The biggest tag-team dream killers around. Thanks for bringing it to my attention Carla. Noted Universe…noted.

I told ya she was fire, didn’t I? This one evoked an audible YESSSSS from me. Do not diminish the greatness you have to offer just because others may not be ready for it. How many times have you seen a woman undersell herself or an accomplishment she’s had? TOO MANY. Stop it. You’re sparkly and bright for a reason! Let it shine!!!

Shondaland. SHONDALAND herself was there!!! Shonda and I go waaaay back. Like 2 or 3 years? You see we had this religious experience together when she read her book to me. Well sorta. Thanks to Audible and her book Year of Yes, I got to know the extremely introverted – liked to play with the vegetable cans alone in the pantry as a child – terrified of public speaking – really good at telling lies…I mean story-telling – CEO of her own company – writer – mother – sister – and devoted friend, Shonda Rhimes.  She spoke to me through that book and she spoke to me again at this conference. I mean like really SPOKE to me. She obviously has a way with words, that’s why she’s owned Thursday nights for the past 10+ years. She kept it short and sweet, like a good trained (also still terrified) public speaker would. Plus she had to save up her juices for her chat with Michelle Obama…more on that later.

Up next, the one brave male soul to give a speech. Five seconds in and I knew exactly why he was there. He spoke faster than anyone I’ve ever heard yet somehow I could understand every single word. Brilliant, genuine, and hysterical — this guy had 12,000 women in the palm of his hand in no time. This quote reminded me to slow down. It’s not about getting to one specific finish line. Happiness is truly found in the feeling moving towards whatever your potential is…in whatever direction you decide to go in that day or year. Redefining happiness for yourself is a beautiful thing.

BRENE!! Dr. Brene Brown graced us with her presence guys and it was my second favorite thing of the day. I’ve been listening to Brene share her social science research on shame, vulnerability, and daring greatly for years. She reads all of her audio books and preaches the good word in such an authentic way that you feel like she’s speaking directly to you. I adore her and her Texas sass! Especially her pronunciation of BULLSHIT. If you’ve ever heard her speak, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In our current social climate, WE HAVE TO speak truth to the bullshit. It’s hard and infuriating but it has to be done. Big or small, you have to speak truth to the injustices in our lives. The end.

I look at my fifth grader and this is all I want for them. Be strong, be empathetic, and be inquisitive about the world around you. And never stop! This is the overarching theme of her newest book, Braving the Wilderness and as soon as this phrase left her mouth and struck my ears it has been on a perpetual loop in my head. Sometimes I think our strong back hardens our front. Sometimes our soft front makes us forget to use our strong backs. And sometimes I think we forget that we were all born wild and free. Do things that bring your heart wild and abundant joy. Brene’s words always stick to me like plastic wrappers, often unshakable and always persistent, staying right where they landed.

MICHELLE OBAMA!! Michelle freaking Obama! Yep! We were in the same room. Granted a lot of people we also in that same room. BUT! Michelle has a way of speaking that is so personal and genuine, that it feels like she’s speaking directly to you. Her laidback yet elegant approach to everything transcends immediately. Shonda Rhimes joined the former first lady on stage for a “fireside chat” if you will. Shonda kept the conversation going with a real-talk attitude that validated every woman’s struggle, in some way or another. Michelle spoke of her blur of eight years being the FLOTUS, her struggle to balance being a mom of teenagers and one of the most well known political figures of modern times. She talked about why the ‘imposter syndrome’ seemingly missed her, how a “close-up” approach is the only way to help a struggling education system.  She spoke from her heart when saying she wishes women would make themselves a top priority on their ever-growing to-do list, the importance of making children know they matter, and her desire for all of us to see more of the humanity in each other. The cherry on top of this perfectly balanced sundae was when Barrack surprised her with an anniversary message that brought the house down. There was not a dry eye in the place after this heartfelt message. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to watch it below!

Last but not least, the best part of the whole shebang was having the opportunity to share this event with 20 (incredible in their own right) women I knew personally. It really amplified an already life-changing experience exponentially. Feeling the energy in the room, watching the ripple effect of enthusiasm take hold was incredibly motivating. That shared sense of a desirable future can help motivate and coordinate the kinds of actions that create huge transformations. Shared experiences such as these create this common denominator of understanding, encouragement, and empowerment. Together we can invest in one another, build partnerships, ideas, and forward motion to the things we wish to achieve. It’s pretty fricking exciting! 🙂

We gathered some of these women around our table, (The Mustache Mesa to be exact) to chat about our own experiences, observations, and overall takeaways of the conference. They offered up their own vulnerabilities, things they’ve taken from the conference and have implemented into their own lives, things that surprised them, and all of the impactful words that are still uplifting them. “Empowering Each Other Works!” check it out on iTunes here!

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