INFLUENCEHER WEEK 2018
JULY 30, 2018
Our first INFLUENCEHER Week came and went in a flash. From how to advocate for health benefits for yourselves or your colleagues to creating boundaries at work, home and in life, a whole lot was covered in just two days. Here’s a look at the major themes that stood out from the sessions:
Figure out what you need and own it
A lot of the sessions keep coming back to figuring out what makes you the most successful, happy and balanced person you can be. From the ‘Be Heard: Learning How to Vocalize Your Ideas’ session to the workshop on ‘Creating Successful Boundaries’, the theme continuously boiled down to this: figure out what you need whether that’s flex time in the office, a hard stop at the end of the day to get your kids or to hit that yoga class, or more opportunities in your day-to-day responsibilities. Really figure out what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning ready to crush it at the office or what makes you happier when you head back home at night.
In her ‘Hiding in the Bathroom: A Guide to Surviving Networking’ workshop, Morra Aarons-Mele, founder of Women & Work, echoed this, describing how we’re in a culture where people think that if we're always seen and always present or online, then that means we are always engaging with each other in a positive way. And that's just not true. Figure out what you need to be able to do your best work, and once you define it for yourself, own it. Don’t be apologetic that it doesn’t align to how the rest of your organization operates or when people give you the side eye for not working until 9:00pm. You are a responsible, fierce adult that can be great at your job without having to sacrifice your soul to do it.
It’s okay to disconnect to be more productive (and present)
Our Day 2 keynotes, founder of Folk Rebellion, Jess Davis and VP of Consumer & Product Marketing of The Knot, Amanda Goetz each shared different tips, tools and tricks that could be used to be more productive at work and to prioritize what matters most to you. Amanda explained how she keeps a running list of all the little to-do’s that pop up randomly throughout the day. She then sets aside a “power hour” completely dedicated to cranking through that list, with no distractions. On a similar front, Jess shared that she combats distractions by pausing her inbox and determining a few times a day when to receive emails, at times that are convenient for her. As Amanda emphasized: “if you don’t own your calendar, someone else will!” Over-communicating to your co-workers is key in this. Tell them your boundaries and stick to them!
“It’s pretty freaking amazing what you can do in an hour’s time versus the 5 seconds it feels like when you’re scrolling on your phone.” - Jess Davis, Folk Rebellion
Sometimes a little self-reflection helps too. Jess Davis gave us a much-needed dose of reality--that we need to cool it with our non-stop screen time. She encouraged people to create ritualistic safe spaces for yourselves where your brain can have idle time to process ideas. For her, this means not having a phone in the bedroom or at dinner. Putting you first means having a life outside of your business, dedicating time to pursuing hobbies and being present with your loved ones, and being more thoughtful about what you’re putting into your brain every day.
Embrace failure. Remember, you just didn’t do it well, yet
You’ve probably been told this at some or many points in your life -- that failure is OKAY. This notion came up numerous times in various sessions, because it’s that important to remind yourself that you may not get something perfect the first, second, or even third time. As Amanda Goetz revealed, she wouldn’t have the job she has today if she didn’t do her tech-start up, even though she admitted, there were so many things wrong it and thus, it failed. Jen Lum, Founder of Forge.AI, reiterated this in her Off the Record panel, saying, “failure isn’t a great word or feeling, but often the best things in life come from failures.”
"It's easy to internalize your failure, but once you reframe it in your mind, you realize how much smarter you are because of it." - Amanda Goetz, The Knot
How can you better cope with failure? In the ‘7 Habits of Highly Resilient People’ workshop, meQuilibrium’s Alanna Fincke shared tips on re-framing things to see them in a more positive way. Instead of saying “I’m horrible at Excel,” say “I’m not good at Excel, yet.” In order to deal with the stresses and failures of your every day, you also need to build in balance. Think about all of the things that are taking energy out of your tank (i.e. back-to-back meetings, checking a full inbox), and what actions you’re taking to put energy back in (i.e. meditating, taking mini breaks).
Dig into the things you don’t fully understand, if not for you - others
Taking responsibility of your health, finances, or living situation isn’t always easy. And, to speak for myself, I often don’t know where to begin or have enough understanding to know my options. Coming out of several sessions, there was a recurring theme on educating yourself. For example in the ‘Hacking FemTech’ workshop, the discussion went beyond fertility or infertility. At the core, the focus was on educating yourself, knowing your options or lack thereof and advocating for yourself or more importantly others.
Ellevest’s Lead Financial Planner, Rachel Sanborn, brought her wisdom to a room full of intent listeners eager to learn how to redefine their finances. Rachel told it like it is - the whole investing thing seems overwhelming and complicated because the industry made it that way so that the system can get more money out of our pockets. That’s why it’s crucial to do your research and know the fine print (like those sneaky investment fees!) before you invest. Without fully understanding finances, you’ll never be able to mind the gap (the pay gap that is!).
Build your power tribe and never go solo again
You can’t be a bad-ass, successful women without a tribe of fierce women to lean on for help and support - or maybe you can, but it would suck. As Alex Williamson, Head of Brand at Bumble, put it: “you can’t take steps forward if you don’t allow other people to join in.” As we go through the peaks and valleys of our careers, we need to surround ourselves with people who aren’t uncomfortable when we start talking about our challenges, and who can hold us accountable.
“We are in a time and a space culturally, where there is no better time to reach out and support the women around you.” - Alex Williamson, Bumble
From a young age, we are ingrained with the spirit of competition, but the truth of the matter is that we’re better together. As Karin Brandt, CEO of coUrbanize shared, when you have people who know they can rely on you for support, it works both ways! Then you know you can also rely on them when you need it. Feeling like your voice isn’t being heard in a meeting? Find allies and use them to echo your ideas and back you up. When we have a community of supporters around us, we can all grow together.
WHAT ATTENDEES SAID
“The MITX INFLUENCEHER event was a breath of fresh air that has given me concrete ways to be a better friend, co-worker, and woman.”