Saturday, March 10, 2018

Inspiring Women In Leadership Conference at UF

The holistic tone of the program demonstrated the insight and awareness of the brain child of this event, Laurel Brown and the program participants soaked it up like a sponge. Laurel and her team assisted by Katie MacWilkinson and overseen and supported by the Distance & Continuing Education team directors Andy Campbell and Dr. Brian Marchman collaborated skillfully to make this a successful, purposeful and fun event.

All the presenters and panels had nuggets of information, experiences and exercises to share that were holistic in nature, expressing the ability for everyone to do their own inner work and unlock their highest potential by being authentic, embracing their passions, utilizing FEAR management: Faith, Essentialism, Action and Resilience. (Gee, sounds like one of my programs, LOL) It was nice to be a student among so many other esteemed, established, successful, wise and wonderful women and a few awesome men. It was refreshing to be in the company of other leaders and business owners that were on the same page of inner growth to overcome challenges and be their best selves in offering their products or services to our community and many of its institutions.

The opening keynote speaker, Jennifer Ransaw Smith, set the tone with equating branding to a personal elevation lab, exploring words to re engineer your narrative.

Nadia Alcide on effective delegation began with an exercise in realizing our uniqueness and how we often lose it when we compare ourselves to others. Leaders don’t use their energy trying to “fit in” and forget their uniqueness, but rather tap into it and live fearlessly authentic.

Julianne McGuinness gave a thorough presentation on learning to understand, manage and take control of your finances. She presented many interesting facts, figures and suggestions such as: though women have 60% more wealth than men, 40% out earn their husbands, women have more debt, own fewer  homes but have better credit scores than men, demonstrating they manage money wisely. Women’s products and pink products are on average 13% more expensive than men counter items. Women demonstrate they are more interested in a well rounded lifestyle to include purpose, physical health, community support, social activities and relationships, where men were more interested in earnings and willing to devote more of their life to working. There is a relationship to how much money you earn and your happiness, that plateaus at $75,000, above which it has no affect, and she suggests buying your home and having it paid off before retirement.

Tara Blythe asked us "what did you want to be/do when you were 5 years old? Me, along with 2 others in the break out session of about 50 actually did it. Many said they wanted to be dancers and she was a bit surprised when I said I actually was a professional dancer. Most people get derailed from their dreams due to fear and self doubt. She also discussed the qualities of an innovator; one who puts ideas into action, thinks outside the norm, improves the status quo, is an influencer and uses dissatisfaction to move to action, and just like with our health, every big problem began as a small problem.

Opening day 2, keynote speaker, Rachel Scherl, began  with,  " Life's a marathon not a sprint and Grow or it's an expensive hobby". Grow by identifying your core values and stick to them, work with the people you like and on the topics you like, it’s more important that you like the people you work with than the topic you work on, and don't lose your sense of humor.  Liking the people, includes a feeling of team work, which means they align with your core values. Mine are honesty, transparency, respect, reliability, consistency and kindness. I can forgo the kindness, but usually if they have the first 5, kindness will be a given. I've learned that working with people that don't align with my core values is not only irritating, it's not satisfying and limits potential.  She continued stating that those that are aloof or who don't follow through on their word, make their word worthless and insincere, and use up our precious time, energy and resources, so both professionally and personally, why would we do that? Which was another question that reverberated throughout many of the presentations. Remember why one does what they do.

Jennifer Webb, brilliantly weaving a tapestry of life teachings through magic as she skillfully gave an enlivened presentation about effective communication and utilizing personal influences to summon confidence to help resolve conflict. She suggests not saying you're sorry, or I'll try, but rather "pardon me" or "excuse me" or “I will” or “I won't” as a more empowering way to communicate. We as women are often saying we are sorry for every movement we make, and there is a social bias here that we must be at the forefront of recognizing and changing.

Laurel Brown and her sister Hollie Walker gave a heartfelt presentation about rediscovering our inner child, the treasure within, and reflected on the power of play in inspiring creativity, fearlessness, and using nature as a stomping ground for curiosity and laughter to build our strength.

There were panel discussions on handling bullies, bozos and bosses (could have used that earlier in life), on networking skills, being an innovator and so much more.

I mingled with other exhibitors about their services and learned about other helpful resources in our area. The food was wonderful, with a beautiful presentation and selection and so many trinkets and toys to remember everyone by.

At one point near the end of the intensive, the closing key note speaker, Judi Huller guided us through an exercise of "fear slaying" asking, what would you do if you weren't afraid? We had pink cards that said "Because fear is my homeboy I will............(fill in the dots). She then went around the room asking people to pop corn out what they would do if there was no fear. Cynthia Allen said she'd be on Voice, and the group asked her to sing. She sang the national anthem, ( I heard she had done that earlier, as part of an exercise in one of the breakout sessions with Gregg Jones on creative empowerment). The group went wild. I thought I had video recorded it to share, but somehow it didn't record and hope someone else caught it). Imagine this room full of over 170 professional women and a few men, on their feet applauding, screaming and encouraging her, though she was fiercely awesome, that is how women and men in leadership role. They get excited to see someone grow and appreciated the courage and broom stick of fear she was jumping over. There were tear filled eyes around the room because each women could relate to what just happened. In unlocking her fear, she unlocked it for all the other women. As women, especially those in leadership roles, we are not only the example, we are also a catalyst, in doing the work ourselves, we simultaneously do it for others.

Dr. Brian Marchman was called upon to make some closing remarks where he shared that leaders serve those that they lead, true leadership comes from one's own personal growth, it’s not about me, as he passed the microphone to Colleen Davis and company, who work in his department to address the group and close the conference.

What I enjoyed most during these 2 days, was the essence of community of people wanting to up level their lives with integrity, balance and authenticity and let go of the things that hold them back or keep them stuck. (Sort of like my programs LOL).

Being a sponsor and participant of this memorable, purposeful and powerfully holistic event has up-leveled my knowledge and experience of women (and men) in leadership positions and created meaningful relationships.

Thank you to the people who sponsored my participation and sponsorship of this event and its associated materials. It is a worthwhile investment into the lives of the 170 plus participants, myself and the thousands of people we will impact, as a result of this gift that allows us to develop, and in that become a catalyst for others to develop and more effectively serve. I appreciate this generous gift and your support and what it has done for all of us.

I’m looking forward to nourishing these nuggets of wisdom, friendships and personal growth and improving what I can offer to my clients, students and friends. Collaboratory for Women Innovators April 6th, The Women’s Place April 20th and The Women’s Health Retreat May 19th

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