EMC was recently the big deal sponsor of the Simmons Women's Leadership Conference. I wrote a bit about it here. Today, I happened upon a blog by a colleague, Jamie Pappas, which covered her take aways on the conference. In good blogging practice, she ended her blog with a question which sucked me right in and made me want to reply.
In doing so, I was reminded of how moved I was at the conference – and how surprised I was to be so moved.
I'm interested about what you think about these curious conferences...
... where women have to wake up and get going at o’dark-thirty, deal with taking heat from husband and kids for leaving them to fend for themselves all day, only to talk business, sit in <sigh> conference ballrooms, eat conference food, for 10 hours, on a Saturday – on top of having to plot to find a way to beg for, or cough up 4-5x the price of a concert ticket to gain entry.
I could have thought of such events like this as follows:
• It cost how much?!
• The fact that women can be successful in business today should not be remarkable to the point it needs to be celebrated and have a conference dedicated to the topic.
• Are men and women leaders all that different? Don't we get all the role modeling, motivation or inspiration we need right where we work? Or in books, classes, etc.?
• Why don't we have Men Leadership Conferences? ... which brings me back to, "Is this really necessary? ... especially in times like this?"
A little voice inside my head still says all those things, frankly.
As a result of going to the conference -- and being conditioned a bit more than normal perhaps with the recent launch and ripple from EMC's The Working Mother Experience book, here is an excerpt of what I found myself sharing on Jamie's blog:
At EMC "we’re surrounded by confident, successful people who conduct business in a global playground. Seeing people like that doesn’t impress me so much. What has become profound, for me, is that I now have a mental, visual quilt of powerful, yet gentle, intelligent, confident, moving people who cherish womanhood, talk like a girlfriend, and yet also manage to move or lead major organizations and communities. As they talk about their audiences of Presidents and Kings, they also talk about kids, wine, strength, weakness, hope and compassion. They sing. They’re playful. They’re funny. They’re human. More human than we’re used to seeing from our daily business interactions. And you know what else? They mean business, and they deliver."
To me, seeing successful women act like "Women!," hearing the benefits women distinctly bring to the business, sharing professional knowledge that doesn't generally get covered during the course of a normal business day, and discuss things I'm used to minimizing on the job -- like degrees of emotion, compassion, mothering, and the need for vision and personal meaning -- was as refreshing as an ocean sail on a hot and windy summer day.
[PHOTO: My daughter, Margo, taken by her sister, Sophie]
How might this add value to back to the business? I don’t know for sure, and here is my impression: It unleashes leverage. It adds knowledge and affirmation. It builds our connections and convictions – which we know in business adds to results. It brings the osmosis which came from being enveloped in a blanket of female success back into the business. For most of us, there are no other times in our entire lives where we are in an intellectual achievement environment with all women.
For the men reading this, can you even imagine a day where you were not surrounded by men, free to be, well, men?
Maybe conferences like this are like all forms of solid education and nutrition. They’re just good for you.
------------------- Talk Back ------------------
What do you think?
Why have women's conferences?
What do you get out of them?