October 26, 2017

Key Takeaways from the Pennsylvania Conference for Women

By Megan Egan and Samantha Mueller

There’s something uniquely empowering about sharing a room with 12,000 women (and a few brave men) at the largest annual gathering of women in the country. It was a day where the world’s most influential women—among them former First Lady Michelle Obama and writer, executive producer and creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes—got candid about what it means to lean in, speak up and keep your seat at the table.

If there was a theme, it was that none of us is alone. Most women who spoke recounted moments in their lives when they were resilient and persistent. No one started at the top—they had to climb the corporate ladder and learn from their mistakes to arrive at where they are today. Each speaker left her mark and opened our eyes to the ways we can grow, not only professionally, but personally.

A few of our key takeaways were:

Your attitude is contagious.

Whether you’re up, down or in between, your mood affects every person that you encounter during the course of the day. It’s entirely unrealistic to act as though your job is exciting and rewarding 100 percent of the time. You’re going to have off days (as you should). But if you’re able to make your “on” days as constructive as your “off” days, then your positivity may influence someone else’s demeanor. When you’re conscious of the way your behavior affects those around you, you’re more capable of turning negativity in your life into positivity for someone else.

Be present at the table.

The voice that you have in that moment is powerful—it speaks for the masses. Do not waste that voice. Speak your truth, share your experiences and stand up for your passions. Those who are fortunate enough to have a seat at the table should not waste it. If you stay silent, then you may not arrive at the best solution. Take the risk, speak up and be bold. You might not get this exact opportunity again.

Invest in yourself.

The reality is that there’s always going to be something on your to-do list that needs to be crossed off—an email that needs to be sent or a relative who needs your help. However, reality also means that without self-care, those day-to-day tasks become nearly impossible to complete. Too often we neglect the importance of slowing down and taking a true break. Take a step back to unwind and observe how far you’ve come. It’s the most effective way to propel yourself forward.