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 , |

5 Ways to Create the Career You Truly Want

Erica Williams Simon

At 27, Erica Williams Simon came to an important recognition. She was “successful” but not happy.

“So, I did what we are never supposed to do—especially as women, especially as black women: We’re never supposed to quit. You don’t quit. Well yes, you do and I did,” she recently said.

What she discovered in the time of self-exploration that followed was that many cultural and generational narratives had shaped her idea of what it means to be successful that had nothing to do with what she actually wanted out of life.

Now, the woman who had been listed on several “30 under 30” lists as a rising political star and TV commentator, is on a mission to help others understand the cultural stories that shape their lives and create new ones that will lead them to the life they actually want.

The author of the 2019 book, You Deserve the Truth, Erica shared these five insights with the Conference for Women: Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Career Choices, Transitions, Goals & Priorities Tagged , , |

ENCORE | Unstereotype: Tools to Un-Bias the Office | 2019 Session

The unconscious assumptions we all harbor about people who differ from us get in the way of good intentions; can bias our assessments of employees, candidates and clients; and ultimately influence decisions to hire, fire and promote. Leadership expert Deborah Pine will open the session with a brief presentation that challenges your assumptions, takes you outside of your comfort zone and addresses the systemic and institutional biases to which we are all vulnerable. Sharing their personal experiences and advice, a panel of experts will discuss systemic bias, how it’s perpetuated, and how you, as an individual can disrupt its mechanisms to “unstereotype” and un-bias your office! Read More

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Posted in Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Innovation, Breakout Session Tagged , , , , , |

A Conversation on How to Skimm Your Life | 2019 Session

Navigating life isn’t easy, but theSkimm founders, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin make it a lot more fun. This fireside chat will deliver theSkimm’s trademark mix of real talk, humor, and inspirational messaging to take all of the daunting, cumbersome and frankly unsexy parts of being an adult, and break them down in the same way they break down a complicated news story every morning in our inbox. They’ll also take you on a journey through their experiences with entrepreneurship and reveal how they’re evolving the brand to meet the demands of the future. Join this session to learn how to navigate the noteworthy moments in your lives, not just your days. Attendees will leave armed with advice, information and even a few hacks to help you make the most informed life and career decisions. Read More

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Posted in Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Goals & Priorities, Breakout Session Tagged , , , , |

Fab Finance: Creating Your Best Financial Life | 2019 Session

87 percent of Americans lack financial confidence when it comes to managing their money, and approximately 73 percent live paycheck to paycheck. Concerns over money transcend all differences; and despite working hard to get ahead, most families are one check away from a financial crisis. This interactive finance workshop will offer tools to help you create a new narrative and new habits that support financial success. Attendees will leave with:

    • A better understanding of your money story and how your experiences shape your relationship with money;
    • Ways to counteract the tactics marketing companies use to encourage consumers to spend beyond their means;
    • The ability to create new habits that allow you to save more and increase your financial health; and
    • Ways to create a budget that aligns with your life goals.

Read More

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Posted in Financial Fitness, Goals & Priorities, Breakout Session Tagged , , |

Make Your Meetings Matter | 2019 Session

Everyone attends them, most people hate them, and few are done well. In fact, studies show that poorly run meetings are a multi-billion-dollar problem in U.S. organizations. It’s time to stop throwing away time and money and learn how to manage meetings that matter. The ability to lead effective meetings from wherever you sit is an indispensable skill in every industry and function. In this high energy, interactive session you will learn essential tools and techniques you can immediately put into practice that will help you manage meetings that get results and are positive, engaging and efficient. Your next meeting participants will thank you! Read More

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Posted in Communication Skills, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Innovation, Breakout Session Tagged , , |

The Q&A – on Leadership and Entrepreneurship

Sam SapersteinWith JPMorgan Chase’s Samantha (Sam) Saperstein

“Effective leadership isn’t about standing on a pedestal and barking orders to people around you. It’s often about getting in the trenches and working alongside your team members.”


Q: What was your dream job as a kid and why? 

I wanted to be a writer, as I loved writing stories on an old typewriter as a child and always enjoyed reading. That led to my earliest jobs as a journalist in college and upon graduation. In addition to writing, being a journalist allowed me to continue to learn about different topics, like technology and the economy. It’s a great profession for people who are curious.


Q: What is one of the most surprising things you have learned about effective leadership—and how did you learn it? 
Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership Tagged , |

Proven Ways to Pioneer Equity and Diversity

Group of colleagues meetingYou might want to take a deep breath before you take this in:

  • At the rate we’re going, it will take another 202 years for women to be paid as much as men, according to the World Economic Forum.
  • The percent of women CEOs on the Fortune 500 list is still less than 7 percent—despite the fact that women represent 47 percent of the workforce.
  • And, it’s all worse for women of color (despite last month’s report that the majority of Americans now entering the work force are people of color, primarily women).

Now for the good news! Research is revealing what works—and what doesn’t—in efforts to give all women a fair shot at career advancement; and Lori Nishiura Mackenzie of Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research knows what they are. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership Tagged , , , , , |

How to Master the Tiny Habits That Will Help You Reach Your Potential

One step at a time

When he was a teenager, James Clear got hit in the face with a bat during a baseball game. It took surgery and nearly nine months for him to be able to work on regaining basic functions, like walking in a straight line. And even then, he could only focus on developing one tiny new habit a time. But together, these tiny habits turned out to make a difference—big enough that, in college, he was named an Academic all-American.

Luckily for us, Clear also went on to be an expert in how tiny habits can help us reach our potential—insights he compiled in 2018 New York Times best-selling book, Atomic Habits and is sharing with the Conferences for Women.*

“Excellence is not really about making radical changes,” he says. “It’s about accruing small improvements over time and committing to this philosophy of continuous improvement.” Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership Tagged , |

Confident Women Do These 5 Things Well

By Trish Foster, Senior Director, Gloria Cordes Larson Center for Women and Business at Bentley University

 The gender confidence gap between men and women is real: compared to men, women are more deeply impacted by self-doubt. Numerous studies show that women experience unease regarding their career and job performance at a significantly greater rate than men. Women tend to apply for jobs only when they meet 100 percent of the qualifications while men feel confident to apply if they meet about 60 percent. Likewise, women have more trouble visualizing themselves as leaders than do men. And still more research suggests that women’s confidence wanes with experience while men’s grows.

But our confidence deficit is not the real news. The story that should matter for women is what erodes our confidence and, even more importantly, how we can fix it. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement Tagged , |
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