The Pennsylvania Conference for Women. It was hard to imagine how anything could get done in the world, with so many powerful women (and a few smart men) in one place at one conference on one day in one city. Ok, I jest, but admittedly, that thought crossed my mind when looking upon the crowd, listening and absorbing the wisdom and learning shared from woman to woman, shoulder to shoulder. Judge Glenda Hatchett said it best during her Keynote:
“How dare we not claim our destiny and our dreams?”
Wow. This is a powerful woman, and one who is way past “daring” to speak her truth. Glenda Hatchett OWNS her truth. “This conference reminds us of the power of the potential that is among us….” she says, “…and how we come together to realize it, manifest it and take it to higher ground.”
Judge Hatchett went on to ask three life-altering questions to the audience:
1. What is it you have always wanted to do but have never done?
2. WHY NOT? If the answer is fear of failure, she says, “There’s no such thing as failure. You’re just warming up for success; you’re just warming up to get it right.”
3. What is it going to take to get you to do it?
Hillary Clinton knows what it takes, choosing her Keynote address to launch a brand new initiative at the Clinton Foundation called, “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project”, to advance women’s progress here and around the world. “I’ve met women from every walk of life in 112 countries, and I’ve also continued to speak with, and listen to women in our own country,” said Clinton. “I believe women everywhere can be, and are, agents of change, drivers of progress, makers of peace.” She explained that “ceilings” continue to hold back the aspirations and ambitions of women, saying, “The great unfinished business of the 21st century is helping women and girls break through these ceilings and participate fully in every aspect of life, once and for all.”
Isn’t that the truth.
Washington Post political correspondent Karen Tumulty interviewed Madeleine Albright asking what advice she would give women to make themselves heard. Before her actual answer, Ms. Albright showed her prowess as a comedienne referring to her age, saying, “I was born at some point between the invention of the iPod and the discovery of fire.” In the days when women were not respected for speaking up and opportunities were often missed, Albright developed a concept called “Active Listening”, and discovered the importance of “Interrupting”. Albright referred to an experience at the Security Council at the United Nations, and being the only woman among 14 men. Initially, she wasn’t going to speak, but saw the sign that said “UNITED STATES”, and thought, “If I don’t speak today, the voice of the US will not be heard.” She describes having an “out of body experience”, and knew what she had to do, and that is INTERRUPT. “I really do believe that the most important thing we have to do is interrupt, but if you’re going to interrupt, you have to know what you’re talking about, and you have to have a really strong voice to do it,” said Albright. “The lesson is that women have to work much much harder than men. There is plenty of room in the world for mediocre men. There is no room in the world for mediocre women.” Well said Madame Secretary, well said.
Women helping women was a recurring theme throughout the day. Former Wall Street finance executive Sallie Krawcheck framed it in an unexpected way, saying, “Women need sponsors more than mentors. Women are over mentored and under sponsored.” An interesting concept and one worth exploring. Well regarded as an expert in her field and the honest voice behind how to fix the broken global financial industry, Krawcheck spoke of lessons learned in her own career and the power of gratitude, then, in a twist of balance, added, “Gratitude is good, but a big glass of wine helps too.”
Mover and shaker, and now SHIFTer, Tory Johnson knows something about motivating women. She’s done so to the tune of thousands if not hundreds of thousands through her Spark & Hustle conferences, not to mention her work on Good Morning America. With her brand new book SHIFT, about her weight shift into better living, Tory shared her story to a room of 2000 women, hungry for her words of inspiration, encouragement, and just the right dose of “If I can do it, you can do it”. She gave a shout out to the snack-smart company “Hail Merry”, and just to be clear, Tory is not a paid spokesperson for the company, she truly loves the products. Hail Merry CEO/Partner and company “game changer” Sarah Palisi Chapin first met Tory through a colleague. One thing led to another, and Sarah went on to speak at “Spark & Hustle” conferences. “What I love about working with Tory is that she understands the businesses of the people that work with her,” says Chapin. “She makes a point of introducing women that can help each other. She helps people dream big so their possibilities can be expanded. She is like no one I’ve ever known.”
Weeks before the conference, I interviewed Executive Director and Board President of the PA Conference for Women (and so much more), Leslie Stiles, and asked her what it means to bring in such high powered speakers. “It’s really inspirational,” she said. “These are iconic, wise, and wonderful women. People are thrilled to see them in person and will learn by listening. She added that there is also plenty of time to catch up with speakers one on one. “That’s the beauty of this conference,” says Stiles. “With nearly 100 nationally known experts, women can go into a breakout session or a workshop and talk to people like Tory Johnson or Sallie Krawcheck, ask questions, etc., and it can be life changing.” There are also extraordinary local women speaking, like Principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman of Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia, who was the power and the heart behind keeping one of the most dangerous schools in the country open, against all odds.” Diane Sawyer and ABC news took note. Prepare to be astonished at the sheer will of this woman who cares about the success and well being of her students like no one has before. Hillary Clinton was equally moved and acknowledged and thanked Wayman from the stage. Even Keynoter to Keynoter can change lives.
In her own words, Leslie Stiles talks about the importance of empowering one another at a conference like this. “You reach your hand out and pull another woman up with you. It’s important for us to reach out to other women. We can help each other; this is networking in the BEST sense of the world. Our theme is “The power of possibilities, defining your own success. It’s a labor of love for me. I feel very strongly that this conference inspires and changes lives, and that’s an effort that I’m more than willing to make. You get more than you give with this type of work.”
SAVE THE DATE for next year’s conference! OCTOBER 16, 2014. paconferenceforwomen.org
Special shout out to TERREE YEAGLE for providing these great photos. www.themomentphoto.com