Monday, April 22, 2013

20 Things I Learned at the West Hollywood Women's Leadership Conference

In case you missed it, last Saturday was the West Hollywood Women's Leadership Conference. Some very prominent and influential women were there, including the West Hollywood Mayor, Abbe Land, and the ever so articulate and inspiring, Sandra Fluke.

Speakers led workshops and panels all throughout the West Hollywood Public Library which, by the way, has a spectacular photo exhibit of lesbian couples and their families throughout the downstairs and upstairs walls. Anyways, some of the workshops that I went to were "Dream, Set, and Achieve: Set Your Goals and Make it Happen!," ran by Sahar Andrade, and "Effective Communication: Saying What You Mean and Achieving the Career You Want," ran by Helane Wilbourne. Here are some of the most memorable and inspirational quotes/tips that I gathered throughout the day:

1. Ask yourself: "What would I attempt to do, if I couldn't fail?"And then do it...Sounds a little like Sheryl Sandberg, doesn't it?

2. Multitasking is overrated. This might come as a shocker, since most people like to list this as a skill in job applications, but here's the thing: if you multi-task, you are basically half-assing several different things. Wouldn't the more efficient and effective method be doing one thing at a time to the best of your ability?

3. Don't set yourself for failure— believe it and it will happen. For example, if I already go into an interview thinking that I won't get the position (which I am guilty of often), then I will act less confident, less convincing, and in result probably not get the position in the end. Why do that when you can go in positively thinking that you will, in fact, land the job?

4. Wake up thinking, "Today is going to be a great day." And it will be. Tell yourself your own future, and it will happen. Be Powerful, not pitiful.

5. Each one of us are the CEO of our own company— it's up to you what you are going to do with it. You are you're own boss. Would you be proud if your company and the way that you are running it?

6. Don't say "I will be..."; say "I am..." Change your use of words and it will change your way of thinking.

7. Eliminate the obstacles/limits and think around them instead. Believe that life is limitless, and throw yourself into something that you are passionate about.

8. If you have several difficult tasks to do, start with the most difficult. That way, you will have the rest of the day to do what you will, without the stress of completing that task. Avoid time wasters.

9. Think "what's in it for them?" instead of "what's in it for me?" Because we live in a life of "what's in it for me," you want to put yourself on the other side so that when you are going into a job, you can answer that question for them.

10. Make SMART goals— start with an action verb and be present, positive, and personal.

11. Ask a high price— don't ask for a quarter. The speaker told us a story of a man that was on the street asking for a quarter. A person came up to him and offered him a dollar, but the man refused, saying that he only wanted a quarter. The moral of the story is to aim for something higher— don't be that person who is just settling for the lower price.

12. It's not a women's issue, really. Our issue is everyone else's issue. It  in this instance being controversies portrayed as "women's issues," like sex trafficking, rape, sexual abuse and the gender gap. Patti Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence said this. She also said that men particularly are a part of the solution, and if anything it is a men's issue— not a women's issue.

13. It is okay to say "I need more time to process."This was from the "Effective Communication" panel. If you are in a business setting where someone is asking you a question that you are uncomfortable with, or do not know the answer, it is perfectly fine to say that you need more time to think about it, and that you will get back to them once you've had more time to process. This way, you will not be giving away any information that is either inaccurate, or not fully formed.

14. Try to connect in earnest is the key. When networking, Ms. Wilbourne says that even if you are trying to connect with someone that you are nervous about talking to, if you appear to be genuinely interested in what they have to say, then they will most likely respond favorably.

15. When you get a "yes" answer, dissect why you did. If someone agrees to mentor you, or offer you a position, or accepts your call, ask yourself why they did that. If you learn from your accomplishments (and failures) you will be able to know what works and what doesn't.

16. In order to sell yourself on the phone, think in terms of numbers. Say "This call will take five minutes; there are three things that I want to talk about with you."That way, even if it is a very busy person, they know exactly how long it will take, and that you aren't going to be ranting for a hour and a half.

17. Bring cheat sheets. Bring them to interviews, to speeches, to anything that you believe you need prepping for. Anyone who is anyone will have cheatsheets, so why can't you? That's Helane's philosophy.

18. Be the last person to have something to say. If there is a group meeting, don't let so-and-so take your idea. Be the person at the end that says, "I agree with _______ on this; I would like to expand on that..."

19. Ask how do you want me to follow up? Some very busy and important people may tell you to contact them, but most of the time you spend this time on their answering machine, or getting forwarded by their personal assistant, or secretary. Avoid this by clarifying how they want you to follow up. There's no shame in that game.

20. CLARITY IS POWER. The more certain you are of something, the more capable you will be to achieve it. Conquer your dreams!

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