Rewind back to Spring 2015, sitting in a conference hall, having anxiety on why we were even sitting at round tables when we had mounds of work to finish and SOP's to map out, back at the office. We passed texts reminding each other of the to-dos for immediate implementation as soon as we could get out the door. And then, appearing in front of us, was an elongated shaped woman, in a structured red blazer/pencil skirt. She took to the podium and we made eye contact. She began speaking and all of us were zoned in. It was less of a speech and more of a woman calling us to the mother ship. Her story was as if she was just repeating most of our careers up to this point.
This woman was Carly Fiorina. (Put any political opinions aside, she's probably one of the best speakers we have ever heard)
This was the first time we had heard anything about the Women's Conference of Florida and how this event was going to be planned for a year from now and it felt like they had just let us peek behind the curtain at Hodini's best trick but we couldn't see much.
After leaving the Prequel event, We remember thinking, dear god, please don't let this turn into a Feminist, Bra Burning, Tampon Commerial decorated in Pepto Pink........
Flash Forward to May 20, 2016.
Walking in to the Waterside Marriot hotel in downtown Tampa, the event branded colors were much like the "W" hotel, possibly our favorite brand of all time. The Statbucks staple was located in the hotel lobby (this is an absolute must for women in the morning) and that indeed helped with a 7:00 am call time.
We still had our doubts, when we saw the first speaker was about Domestic Violence. We know we sound completely insensitive here, but all we could think is wow, now Domestic Violence is going to set us back before we even get started. Needless to say we ate our words within the first two minutes and none of what Leslie Morgan Steiner said was remotely related to a pity party. She is a "Ted Talk" speaker, best selling author of "Crazy Love" and advocate for domestic violence survivors. She has an MBA from Wharton School of Business (yea, basically Hogwarts for business with more prestige than any others), worked in marketing for Johnson & Johnson and then the General Manager of the Washinton Post Magazine. She taught us more about the psychology behind why and turned the tables on how we perceived domestic violence to understand it as more of a hidden commonality than we think.
Another favorite of mine was Kellyanne Conway. She taught and reviewed current business trends being influenced by women. Basically teaching us just how much the game as changed in regards to business and life choices during age ranges and how that is being reflecting in the economic world. Her massage that stuck with me the most was "Fair not Equal". The way I took it was that arguing for equal pay is not what is needed, all you need is the same opportunity to earn the same amount as someone else. We don't need EQUAL pay we need FAIR pay. Trust that if we make our company a crap ton of money, we don't want someone else getting paid the EQUAL amount as us just because they are in the same position. She has her J.D. and you can catch her as a political analyst on any news Chanel.
Other speakers included the CEO of Girl Scouts of America, Anna Maria Chavez (her speaking ability alone is worth it, she made everyone both laugh and cry at once) . She is a graduate of Yale and held numerous posts under the Clinton administion.
Tracey McMillan was easily the funniest and we could have listened to her all day. She is a television writer (Mad Men, duh), relationship expert and author. It was really refreshing hearing her stories of the same struggles she has seen or been involved with in her industry and how she gets around it. She gave great insight on strategy and our top take away from her talk was to "Make yourself the only choice". Regardless of if its for a promotion, job, interview, anything make sure the decision isn't a decision, that the only answer is you.
Last but not least was Randi Zuckerberg. In her energetic talk, she shared her advice, expertise, and inspiration for women in business..... And then men that support them.
Just read that last sentence again and let it sink in.
This is event was everything Tampa needs, from Ted Talk styles, workshop sessions and panel discussions. Tampa's emerging young leaders need more of this and we are already planning for next year.
See you in 2017
C. & G.