Why You May Be Better Equipped to Navigate Today’s Changes Than You Think

natural haired black woman smiling while looking away onto the street and thinking

If you’re like many people these days, you’ve been dealing with change as you never did before—changes that you didn’t seek out as the next positive step in your career or personal life but had thrust on you by outside circumstances.

But here’s a little good news:

The skills you need to deal with today’s unexpected changes are the same as the skills you likely have already tapped to create positive changes in your life. In other words, you may be a bit more prepared for the turmoil of 2020 than you think.

“I think the real difference between this type of transition and one initiated by your own desire is just in how you approach it,” Erica Williams Simon says in the newest episode of Women Amplified. “It’s about attitude,” the author of You Deserve the Truth: Change the Stories that Shaped Your World and Build a World-Changing Life, says.

“If the life that you thought you were living no longer exists, there’s a moment for grief, a moment to recognize that you weren’t expecting to have to make a shift here. But once you get there, however you get there, you have the power to determine your direction,” she says.

William Simons is host and CEO of Sage House, a company that creates spaces and content to surface wisdom about “who we are and how we want to live.” She is also using this moment to encourage women to make decisions that align with their needs but also their values, passions, desires, and vision for life.

Some years ago, Simon recognized that she was “successful” by most standards. She was listed on several “30 under 30″ lists as a rising political star and TV commentator. But she wasn’t happy. So, she quit and dove into a period of exploration that helped her understand that there were certain cultural narratives that shaped her idea of what it means to be successful; but they had nothing to do with what she wanted out of life.

Since then, she has been on a mission to help others understand the stories that shape their lives and create new ones that lead to the life they actually want— encouraging women to ask questions, such as: How does it make me feel when I use it? What am I seeking? What validation does it bring me? What is the impact? Does the impact match up with my vision for my life?”

This often takes a lot of experimentation, she says—and, as these times make clear, the need and willingness to pivot and pivot again.

“There is no yellow brick road anymore, if there ever was one. And so, the idea that you can talk and plan and think your way into your dream life is just unrealistic because the world is so unpredictable,” she said. “What you have to do is take steps and then put your finger up, check the wind like Moana [the character in the 2016 Walt Disney movie of the same name] and see what’s happening and how am I feeling and where am I going.

“I think that’s how you end up in the life that you want, which ultimately—and this is the mind-blowing part for me—may be different than what you think you want today. You only gain that perspective and that insight into what a new dream for yourself could be by living, by experimenting, and by doing.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Erica Williams Simon on Women Amplified.


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Life Balance Tagged , |

A Futurist’s Predictions about the Coming World of Work

In times as uncertain as these, there’s something calming about speaking with a futurist—someone who, as Lisa Bodell describes it, knows how to marry strategic planning with scenario planning about possible, probable and preferable futures.

So, here are three things Bodell, award-winning author and CEO of futurethink, are possible outcomes we will see in the post-COVID-19 world of work that the popular Conference for Women speaker shared in a recent interview:

1. More remote work

At the basic level, I think the office is going to change—not just physically but how we work. I think there will be more remote work because people have experienced it and realize they can do it. Employers will say it is about creating work-life balance but the real reason is employers will see it as cost-efficient.”

2. Less work-life balance

“The ugly side of more remote work is that people will work longer hours. The work-life boundary is going to go away. I am already working more.”

3. More re-invention—and stronger businesses

“I think there is going to be a lot of reinvention to come out of this.” While in ordinary times, people tend to resist change, Bodell says COVID-19 has forced us to embrace it and do things we never would have done.

I think what will come out of this is a stronger business. I know that sounds ironic but I think business will become more relevant and bigger problem-solvers because we are moving into comfort with change, and this time has really forced people to re-evaluate what they are doing.

Greater comfort with change, on the individual and organizational level, is what Bodell sees as the third phase of our adapting to life in a global pandemic.

First, many of us were plunged into fear and felt frozen. Then, we started to adapt, even as we felt exhausted from change. Now, she says, we are moving toward figuring out how to get stuff done and build businesses again.

Going forward, she adds: “Change will be the norm, and we will settle into that norm.”


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Transitions, Life Balance Tagged , |

What Challenging Times Have Taught This Young Gender and Disability Advocate

Aria Mia Loberti

In her young lifetime, Aria Mia Loberti has faced more challenges than many of us.

In the third grade, she was taken out of school because her teachers were unable to accommodate that she was blind—or, more to the point, they forbid her from using a cane, saying she might trip other students; locked her in a room during recess; and permitted discrimination and bullying.

In middle school, she had an illness that caused memory loss and forced her to be on bedrest for two years.

Still, thanks to online learning and a supportive family, she went on to complete high school two years early and top of her class; graduated this year with a triple major from the University of Rhode Island; and was recently awarded a Fulbright to study in England, where she will travel alone this summer because her parents are in the high-risk category for COVID-19.

It’s a brief lifetime of experience that, coming from a wise young woman, offers unique insights into how to deal with change and challenge.

“Every time I look back on a transition in my life, I think there is a lot more to learn in retrospect than during the time of going through it,” said Loberti, who has represented women with disabilities as a delegate at the U.N. International Human Rights Summit and spoken at the Massachusetts Conference for Women.

“So, I would like to encourage people to look at this period of time with a lot of focus. Pick a goal for each day, each week—something short-term—so you can see the fruits of your labor demonstrated to you,” she said.

Put another way, she added: “Do whatever you need to do to get through this challenging time. It will be easier looking back. You survive and eventually thrive.”

As for what she is learning from living through a global pandemic, Loberti said: “So many people keep telling people my age that we have to be changemakers. I think that is really important and everybody can bring about change. But it is important to recognize that not everyone is going to bring about grandiose change.”

Her mother, for example, changed Loberti’s world by stopping work to homeschool her and care for her through two years of bedrest—something no one outside her circle would be likely to see as world-changing.

“The concept of what it means to change the world needs to be flipped on its head,” Loberti added. “Not everyone is going to be a future president or CEO. But you can change someone’s perspective for the better. You can influence your family or community for the better.”


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Transitions Tagged , |

Navigating Transitions in Unpredictable Times with Erica Williams Simon

Making a career pivot can be scary and paralyzing, especially when events transpire that force an unexpected transition.

Covid-19 has left many with lost jobs and time to reflect and reevaluate life and priorities. Others are struggling to succeed at remote work with a disrupted structure and, in many cases, no available childcare.

In this episode, Erica Williams Simon will draw on her personal experiences to share practical strategies to help you shut out the noise, overcome fear of the unknown and identify your next step. Learn how to navigate transition in times of uncertainty, steps you can implement immediately to pivot now and ways to effectively communicate your story.

 

“There is no yellow brick road anymore, if there ever was one. And so, the idea that you can talk and plan and think your way into your dream life is just unrealistic because the world is so unpredictable,” she said. “What you have to do is take steps and then put your finger up, check the wind like Moana, and see what’s happening and how am I feeling and where am I going.Erica Williams Simon

 

+Please take our first-ever listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)


 

This Month’s Guest:

ERICA WILLIAMS SIMON is a social critic, author, host and CEO of Sage House, a company that creates spaces and content to surface wisdom about “who we are and how we want to live.” Most recently the former Washington politico and lifelong civil and human rights activist was head of The Creator’s Lab at Snapchat, a first of its kind program that developed inspirational experiences for a global network of young storytellers and creators. The self-described professional question asker is an accomplished moderator and interviewer. She is host of the popular podcast The Call, creator and host of the Rosario Dawson produced digital talk show The Assembly, and author of the book You Deserve the Truth (Simon & Schuster). She has been featured on The Today Show, O Magazine, and the Washington Post and is a frequent TV commentator. She recently moderated conversations with the co-founders of theSkimm at the PA, TX, and Watermark Conferences for Women; she also gave a standalone workshop at the 2020 Watermark Conference for Women in San Jose. @missewill

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as co-host of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Website: Erica Williams Simon

Read the book: You Deserve the Truth

Hear from more great Conferences for Women speakers in our new podcast, Best Breakouts

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Posted in Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

A 3-Point Framework for How to Be a Better Ally

Dr. Tiffany Jana

If you are a white woman who feels a little tentative to speak out or take action on the movement to confront racial injustice right now, you should know this: You are not alone.

“There is a massive sense of fear and resistance in this moment that white people are feeling that is rooted in a lack of understanding,” says Dr. Tiffany Jana, Conferences for Women speaker and diversity and inclusion expert.

Overcoming this—and becoming part of the solution at this critical time—does not lend itself to quick, easy fixes. There is much unlearning and new learning to be done, and much courage and generosity to be tapped.

But there is also a clear three-step framework that Jana offers as a way to become, as they say, “a tool and not a weapon” in confronting racial injustice. Jana is founder of TMI Consulting Inc. and co-author of the 2020 book, Subtle Acts of Exclusion.

1. Invest time in your own education—and know that, in itself, is a big deal.

In any kind of showing up for other people, you are either going to be the tool or the weapon,” says Jana. “An undereducated or malinformed person is going to be a weapon moving through the world causing harm in this moment. An introspective, well-informed person will be able to serve as a tool also known as ally, accomplice or co-conspirator.”

That’s why the best first step is to take a good look at yourself and advance your own understanding, Jana says. “Embracing your own education is a big freaking deal, particularly if you are a woman and there is a good likelihood that you are raising children or raising a spouse or taking care of business,” they said.

“If you are doing it right you are spending hours upon hours internalizing,” they added. “What happens when you take this kind of information in is it disturbs your equilibrium and that is not small. I don’t want anyone thinking that reading and introspecting now is something small.”

Jana also advises: Be sure to read a mix of Black and white voices, adding that—while it is clearly important to learn directly from Black voices—there is also something sacred about hearing from people like you about their journey in becoming more inclusive.

Two black authors Jana recommends:

Two white authors Jana recommends:

For a roundup of Black voices on race, visit the Conference for Women’s new Resource Center for Confronting Racial Injustice.

2. Reach out to other white people—in a spirit of “each one teach one.”

“We don’t need you on Day One to reach out to Black people; you need to reach out to white people. Bring a sister up with you. Make your reading into a book club so you have accountability. Talk about a chapter a week. Then you have people you can have conversation with. You don’t have to sit in your discomfort alone,” says Jana.

“The wonderful thing about the nature of diversity is even if you are of the same race, you still experience things a little differently; and one white sister might be further in the journey and able to unpack something you haven’t looked at yet,” they added.

3. Hold each other accountable.

“Before, it was typically people of color who had to hold the system accountable, and we were often yelling in the wind,” says Jana. “Now what we want to see from our white allies is once you’ve done that education, bounced things off your girlfriends, worked together to become more culturally fluent—stand up and use your newly informed and empowered voice to make sure you are calling out racial injustice when you see it.”

It is also important, they added, to pro-actively support Black people in service of cultivating greater equity in the workplace and society. Some specific ways Jana suggests you can do this:

  • Sponsor Black women. “Sponsoring means when I’m not in the room, you are actively advocating for me to be able to participate more fully. Or, when you hear someone saying something racist, you speak up and say that is not appropriate. I’ve worked with her and know firsthand she is a stellar employee.”
  • Buy from Black-owned businesses. “One of the most powerful things you can do is spend money in Black-owned businesses. Virtually everything can be purchased from Black businesses.”
  • Make room for Black women to advance in the workplace. “If we are advocating for each other across racial lines, particularly when the privileged are advocating for the underrepresented, you embed a level of innovation and resilience and cultural competency and fluency into an organization that serves the mission’s goals more than homogeneity every would. If a white woman does not get a job, trust me, she will find another opportunity at another moment. But Black women are so far behind the starting line, it has been fundamentally unfair and weighted against her from birth,” Jana says—which is why there are times when a white woman should step back and make room for a Black woman to advance. “That’s really putting your money where your mouth is.”

Finally, do not stop.

“My invitation to everyone who is emerging in this moment and waking up to the reality and intensity and the atrocity of racial violence,” Jana says, is this: “I beg that you don’t give up. Do not stop until we have eliminated the fallacy of the hierarchy of human value—because if we stop and settle for something less, we are denying ourselves, our children and grandchildren the beautiful future we can absolutely guarantee if we do this work now.”

Learn more at the Conferences for Women’s new Resource Center for Confronting Racial Injustice.


Also, new this month:

  • Two-time National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward speaks about “Giving Voice to All” – on the latest episode of our Women Amplified podcast.
  • Also, check out the newly released sessions on Best Breakouts, an audio series featuring timeless insights from our archives including ways to expand your knowledge and make important changes to advance inclusivity and mitigate bias, better support women of color in the workplace, and how to advocate through authentic activism.
Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms Tagged , |

Awkwafina! The First of Many Amazing 2020 Conference for Women Speaker Announcements

Awkwafina, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Rachel Cargle, and Stephanie Land! The first of many amazing 2020 Conference for Women speaker announcements

Join us for the first-ever entirely online Massachusetts Conference for Women this December 10th featuring Awkwafina, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Rachel Cargle, and Stephanie Land—four remarkable women who are breaking barriers, persevering, leading change, making history, and pioneering our path forward.

Register before July 24th to secure early bird pricing of $125!

Posted in Latest News, Life on Your Terms Tagged , , , , |

Giving Voice to All with “Sing, Unburied, Sing” Author Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward

Get up close and personal with two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

In this episode of Women Amplified, we explore writing as a vehicle to give a voice to others past and present. Ward’s powerful insights, however, go far beyond writing instruction. Her words serve as an important reminder that we have a responsibility to speak up and give voice to those who have been silenced or erased in whatever means of expression feels right for us.

Sharing her real-life experiences, Ward will not just teach you about the writing process, but will help you go deep within to find your voice and inspire you to use that voice for the good of all.

“I wanted people to see how growing up in that type of environment, growing up in poverty and as a black person and in the rural South, how that constrains your existence in certain ways. Because you never see people like us. Or back then, you never saw people like us portrayed in pop culture or living complicated lives in television or, I don’t know, or in literature. I wanted us to exist and I wanted us to be able to speak and to have voice and to have agency, and to assert that we are here and that we shouldn’t be confined to people’s ideas about us. But instead, we should be able to speak and to tell our stories and to show that our lives are just as complicated and just as complex and just as unique as everyone else’s.”Jesmyn Ward

 

NEW: Please take our first-ever listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)

  •  

 

This Month’s Guest:

JESMYN WARD is a novelist, memoirist and essayist. She is a MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner and has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation. In 2017, she became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction—joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike. Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives. Her novel Salvage the Bones was winner of the 2011 National Book Award. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, depicts what Publishers Weekly calls “a world full of despair but not devoid of hope” in the aftermath of natural disaster. Ward’s memoir, Men We Reaped, delves into the five years of Ward’s life in which she lost five young men—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that follows poor people and people of color. The book won the Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Ward is the also the editor of the critically acclaimed anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, which NPR named one of the Best Books of 2016. A singular Southern odyssey that strikes at the heart of life in the rural South, Sing, Unburied, Sing, earned Ward a second National Book Award in 2017. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2017 by The New York Times and Time, and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize.

She teaches creative writing at Tulane University in New Orleans. In 2016, she won the Strauss Living award, given every five years by the American Academy of Arts & Letters for literary excellence. In 2018, she was recognized among Time‘s 100 Most Influential People. Ward is currently working on two new books: a novel for adults set in New Orleans at the height of the American slave trade, and a young adult novel about a Black girl from the South with supernatural powers. Ward received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood Awards for her fiction, essays, and drama. She held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University from 2008-2010, and served as the Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi the following year. Ward’s latest book is Navigate Your Stars. @jesmimi

 

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Website: Jesmyn Ward, Author

Read the books: Navigate Your Stars | Sing, Unburied, Sing | Salvage the Bones | Men We Reaped

Hear from more great Conferences for Women speakers in our new podcast, Best Breakouts

Play
Posted in Podcasts, Life on Your Terms, Career Choices, Communication Skills, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women, Diversity & Inclusion Tagged , |

Standing Together, Now More Than Ever

a group of diverse women standing together in unity

Our nation has been rocked by tragedy and unrest in recent weeks and months—shaken by a tipping point in racial injustice, a global pandemic, and widespread economic devastation.

We mourn the senseless death of George Floyd and the countless other Black lives lost and stand with so many others in grief. We join the voices calling for change, and we call on women to support one another in fighting for equality for people of color.

As an organization, our core mission has been to promote inclusive equality for working women—across race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, and political affiliation. We haven’t always gotten it right, but we are committed to listening and learning. We know we must put in the work to go further.

In the coming weeks, the Conferences for Women will be using our platform and sharing resources to amplify the voices of Black women and women of color. We are launching a speaker’s series featuring top voices who can shine a spotlight on key issues relating to racial injustice and communities of color.

Every woman, of every race, can make a difference. By standing shoulder to shoulder in the fight for justice, we can take action to promote diversity and lend our voices to calls for change. By participating in the civic process and providing support to groups fighting for change, we can make change happen.

We are stronger together. We support each other. We are committed to volunteering, donating, reading, learning and, especially, voting. We repeat our mantra every day:

WE are the women the world needs now, and we are ready to act.

Posted in Latest News, Life Balance

2020 Conference Updates

Save the Date - registration opens Wednesday, June 24th at 9am

One reason the Massachusetts Conference for Women has been such a special event for 15 years is because of what happens when 10,0000 women come together to inspire and learn from each other. You can’t help but feel “The Power of Us.”

It’s a feeling we need this year more than ever. That’s why, with your safety in mind, we are designing a unique event for these times that we promise will not disappoint.

This year’s Conference on December 10th will deliver the same quality you’ve come to love and expect in a highly interactive virtual experience.

Recognizing how extraordinary today’s challenges are, we’re lining up some of the smartest people we know—globally renowned visionaries and leaders—to provide the inspiration, development, and connection we all need and want now.

In one day, you’ll gain:

  • Powerful new perspectives to stay resilient and relevant in today’s changing times
  • Opportunities to chat real-time with speakers and interact with each other
  • Ways to support women-owned businesses
  • And, even a chance to have some much-deserved fun.

Stay tuned for exciting speaker announcements and other details.

Registration opens Wednesday, June 24, at 9 a.m. with an Earlybird Price of $125.

Posted in Latest News Tagged |

What to Do When Your Plans Encounter a Pandemic

young woman pinning notes on a bulletin board to keep track of plans

Now that at least some of the shock of living in a global pandemic is diminishing, it may be time to ask: How do we pick up the pieces and start thinking creatively about next steps—or, perhaps, even how to re-invent ourselves in a new world?

But before even beginning to try to answer that, it may be helpful to recall Anne Lamott’s classic insight into the creative process.

In Bird by Bird, Lamott writes: “the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.” There are no “good second drafts and terrific third drafts” for anyone, she says, without that first messy step.

That truth about creativity, like innovation, prompted us to talk recently with Mary Laura Philpott, Conference for Women speaker and bestselling author of I Miss You When I Blink.

“Now, and moving forward with every passing week, we have to be even more creative because we’re not coasting on novelty anymore,” said Philpott, who has been compared to Nora Ephron. “We can’t coast on the excuses we had in the beginning, when there was a snow day-like feeling. We have to figure it out.”

If You Feel Blocked

But what if you feel like you don’t have it in you to create what comes next?

“What I always tell younger writers who ask me about how to overcome writer’s block is that there is no such thing. It’s a label we give to fear, when we are afraid of what we have to do or it is difficult,” says Philpott.

The same applies to innovation in business settings, she says. “There is no such thing as innovation block. There is fear. There is exhaustion. But we can do it.”

“I know many women in this audience are planners by nature and visionaries,” Philpott continued. “So many women at these conferences have told me what they were working on now, and what they were planning for five years from now.”

“I know it can be deeply demoralizing to someone who has that visionary tendency to hit an obstacle, and an obstacle that drags on a long time like this one. But we need to remember that time keeps moving forward. This is not life forever. This is life right now.”

Obviously, she added, we still have to focus on how to get through this moment. But don’t give up on your plan or vision in the process. “Save a little time every day to think about it.”


More from the May 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Goals & Priorities, Innovation Tagged , |