I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Pennsylvania Conference for Women on October 16. TNP paid for all of their female employees to go which, as I type it out, is weird and sad for the men.
It was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Arch Street in Philadelphia. Just a PATCO/Speedline trip for me! The doors opened at 7:30 pm for the Exhibit Hall and the complimentary breakfast. I arrived at 8:10, and all of the food was gone except for 2 muffins, and all of the coffee was gone except for decaf. They had to have known how many people were attending, so I can only assume my fellow conference goers were taking more than their share. I’ve worked enough meetings to know that’s often the case.
The opening keynote speakers were Jane Pauley, Jill Abramson and Candy Chang. Jane and Jill were warm, witty, and intelligent. They had inspiring stories and anecdotes for us. I never heard of Candy Chang, but after hearing about half of her speech, it was evident that she should have opened for Jane and Jill. I ducked out to rustle up some food.
The first session I chose to attend was: Transitions and Risk Taking: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave. The panelists were Jane Pauley, Patty Chang Anker, Jessica Bacal, and Molly Watson. I chose this panel because, frankly, I’m terrified about everything all of the time. And you’re like, “Whoa! You’ve made some big changes and leaps in your life! You travel by yourself! You get weighed regularly! You’re afraid?” Yes. All the time. That Etsy shop I keep talking about? Terrified to open it. I have an appointment with Dr. Ladyparts in November to talk about next steps toward getting pregnant. TERRIFIED. I have an idea for a nonprofit, but I can barely talk about it because the idea of even having an idea scares me. So it was a good balm for my soul to listen to successful women talk about how they conquered fear and were brave. Biggest takeaway: Don’t make up shit to worry about, courtesy of Patty’s therapist and repeated with gusto by Jane Pauley. I excel at making up shit to worry about. I added Jessica’s and Patty’s books to my to-read list.
The second session I attended was: How to Become the Social Entrepreneur of Your Life: Doing Well By Doing Good. I chose this one because of that nonprofit idea I mentioned above. I wanted some tips about how to begin to think about doing these things that scare me so much. Biggest takeaway: start locally.
Before the lunch break, I stalked the QVC booth. Show hosts Albany and Kerstin were there and they are very tiny individuals. I wanted to go up and say hi, but I had nothing to say other than “derp, this is my Diamonique tennis bracelet” so I declined. I did, however, enter to win a $1000 QVC gift card. I didn’t win, but if I had, I would have bought a La-Z-Boy recliner and an airbed for the future home which we are thinking of buying but OMG CHANGE I’M TERRIFIED. (*rereads notes*)
Lunch was provided! It was a box lunch, with a Southwestern salad, a roll, and an amazing looking chocolate cake which I resisted and still regret.
8000 women laughing together with salad. #pennwomen
— KimBOOrly Russell (@kimberrussell) October 16, 2014
Inspired by: Women Laughing Alone With Salad
The lunch speakers were Monica Malpass, Linda Cliatt-Wayman, Diane Keaton, Tory Johnson and Robin Roberts. Monica and Linda are well-known here in Philly. Diane Keaton had great words to share on what beauty was. And she was wearing a great hat to boot. And Robin Roberts is just the best ever.
There was a third session I could have attended, but I decided instead to attend some roundtables. I went to one on how to write a business plan, and another on creating and communicating a compelling message. Both were super-valuable to me and my future (TERRIFYING) goals.
There were two roundtable tracks: Small Business and Social Media. There were also Local Leader meetups and Expert Exchanges.
Now, here’s where I get ranty… If you have actual leaders and actual teachers and actual business owners ready, willing and able to give real-world, real-life info, why would anyone spend their limited time learning about freaking Instagram or Pinterest? Honestly, people who decide that they are going to spend their time talking about Twitter instead of learning about leadership make me feel better about my future job security. Pinterest isn’t hard! Twitter isn’t hard! Instagram isn’t hard! Someone paid money for you to attend this…you can learn about any of the social media in 30 minutes for free online by reading their own FAQs!!!
Next year, they should take away the Social Media track with the exception of the LinkedIn session, and replace it with a Technology track. Feature sessions like: “Excel tips & tricks in 30 minutes” or “Quick hints for switching from a PC to a Mac/Mac to a PC” or “Great apps/programs for time management” or “Project Management Software: Basecamp in 30 minutes.” THESE SKILLS are what people need to realize their goals. NOT a seminar on cramming 215 hashtags onto your over-processed Instagram photo of your pumpkin spice latte! *@^#*$^&#@
Okay, rant over. 🙂
I wish there was a second day of the conference so I could have attended Local Leader/Expert sessions and didn’t have to skip the third session to do so. I toured the exhibit hall some more and then called it a (great) day. The conference was great, and even if TNP doesn’t pay for us to go next year, I’d pay for it myself.
You know that feeling you get when you think about opening your Etsy shop? Some people feel that way about dipping their toes into the waters of social media. I know; it’s weird. Pinterest and Twitter are like the easiest things ever, and yet I’ve sat in on Twitter how-to workshops and have been astounded at the levels of incomprehension I’ve seen.
Attending a formal how-to such as you describe, I think, makes it less scary. People ask the stupid questions other people were too shy to ask, and when the presenters are good, the stupid questions don’t sound stupid, they sound great! Like wow, excellent question, because there are others here wondering the same thing.
Sounds like a great conference. If I were an employer I’d make sure the women in my company attended stuff like this all the time.