This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending (for the first time) the 30th Simmons School of Management Women’s Leadership
Conference in Boston at the beautiful Seaport World Trade Center.
It was a beautiful day in Boston, and driving in to the conference, I didn’t know what to expect. These things can either go very well, or well –
From the beginning of the conference, when Joyce
Kolligian kicked things off with her opening remarks, I got the feeling that I
was in for a treat.
She started the conference off by sharing with us
some of the highlights of the day, why we were all together and of course, got
in some plugs for Simmons College - can’t blame here there! After all, they’ve put this great event together!
The opening speakers were all good, but I have to
say that I was most impressed with EMC’s Bill Teuber
and the information he shared with the group. I’ve personally never met Bill
before, but would like to after having heard him share his story of why
diversity is important at EMC. He shared his belief that diversity doesn’t
happen on its own, but rather takes commitment from the top down, and I
couldn’t agree more. Being the father of three girls, Bill shared with the
group how women have influenced his life. It was great to hear his personal
story, his connections and how he fits that into work at EMC.
My favorite quote of the day also came in the
You're here today because someone believes in you, so believe in
~ Kathy Hopinkah
Hannan of KPMG
Create an environment where great things can happen
Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshops, held
the honor of the first conference-wide speaker session and shared her story
with us. She shared her dream of starting the Build-A-Bear Workshop and how she
was able to achieve that success. The most important lesson from Maxine is of course, to believe that you can - and then work to make that happen! I love the fact that her Board of Directors is comprised of a group of 5-13 year-olds! Talk about putting the right folks on the board!
Notable quotes from Maxine:
Stress Management with Mimi Donaldson
The stress management session with Mimi Donaldson was a great session covering ways to reduce stress by releasing the need for control and realizing when you’re in the midst of a “freak out” and stopping it from escalating. Mimi’s fun sense of humor in dealing with situations, and sharing examples of her own stress triggers made this session one of the best, in my opinion!
Notable quotes from Mimi:
can be a stress trigger, including fun things. Keys to overcoming your stress
triggers - accept the situation, stop your reaction, look at the situation
to ID positives, and listen to yourself
types believe there is only one way that the toilet paper goes on the
roller, and have been known to flip it when wrong
people love when formal people take over their stuff because it makes the
formal people stop nagging them :-)
a formal time person if you spend your day waiting on others and you're
early to meetings, events, etc.
your stress triggers, practice a strategy to prevent stress, learn to
adjust your responses
There has never been a time like this
Hunter-Gault provided the after lunch keynote address to the group, sharing
her experiences in childhood and adulthood and how they have impacted her. She
started and ended by telling us all, that there has never been a time like
this, and that we have the opportunity to truly make a different.
My favorite story of hers was when she shared a
childhood memory of how poor her school was – The school was
segregated and didn’t have enough money to even buy basic supplies, so each
year, there was a fund-raising effort for the school. The coolest part for the
students was that the student whose family raised the most money got to be
“king” or “queen” until the next fundraising event. It just so happened that
one year, it was Charlayne’s family that raised the most money. She recalled
being so excited to be “queen” and described herself as insufferable to her
family and classmates. But, that memory of being “queen” and knowing that
people believed in her led her through many tough times, and allowed her to
face obstacles that might have otherwise been intolerable, namely her time at
the University of Georgia , when the school was wrought with racial tensions.
Annie McKee on Becoming a Resonant Leader
founder of the Teleos Leadership Institute, shared with the group how to become
a more resonant leader, believing that successful resonant leaders motivate
employees and make for a more successful organization. McKee said that great
leaders are those that move us to find meaning and change, and that they touch
our very core in the way no one else can. They do not have to be well-known or
famous, they just have to speak to us in that unique way that helps us find a
new way of seeing ourselves and what we’re capable of achieving. She also said
that in order to be a great leader, one must be a complete human being capable
of engaging with others, seeing them and acknowledging them.
Notable quotes from Annie:
A memory is when your heart takes a picture
The closing remarks came from actress Diane Keaton, and I have
to admit that this was by far, my favorite session of the day for a multitude
of reasons, but the one that tops the list was the truly heartfelt and
inspirational way in which she delivered it as though she were talking to a
group of her best friends, at lunch at a nice restaurant somewhere.
Diane’s talk centered around memories of her life and her mother,
whom she just lost last year. There were moments when she shared stories with
us, and you could see the tears well up in her eyes, and you could look around,
and it was hard to find a dry eye in the place. She shared home video footage,
personal photographs, and stories galore of how lucky she was to have a mother
in her life that supported her and her dreams. She attributes all of her
success to her mother’s support and love and belief in her.
She shared how she’s had issues and challenges along
her journey of 63 years - issues with intimacy that prevented her from being a
mother until she adopted her two children at age 50 and 55; the natural worries
of being a good mom to her own children; issues with her own image and self-perception,
thinking she wasn’t good enough or smart enough or you name it, stating that
“perfection is the death of creativity”; issue with the stigma associated with
age and how culture believes that you’re only vibrant and creative when you’re
young. She believes creativity, curiosity, awe, and wonderment all add up to
vibrancy – and she has never felt more vibrant than she does now at 63.
She shared with us how she felt when her father
shared with her, just before he passed away that he had always hated his job
and now regretted that he had stuck with it all those years, all the while
hating it. Her advice “Make work play”
and enjoy what you do, do what you have a passion for. I’ve gotta say, I
couldn’t agree more! Thank goodness I’m doing just fine in that department!
Throughout all of her experiences, one thing she treasures is how her mother always took pictures, which she loves to reflect
on. During one particular Thanksgiving, Diane’s sister Dorrie was lamenting that
she had to do the dishes, and her mother’s response was that it “makes for
memories.” As the conversation progressed, Dorothy Keaton Hall shared with her
children my second favorite quote of the day: “A memory is when your heart takes a picture.” Indeed, I have a few
pictures in my heart from the day.
All in all, the conference was fantastic, and I
cannot wait for next year!!
How about you? Did you go to the conference, or do
you have thoughts on the topics I shared? I’d love to hear them!