Goals & Priorities

Elizabeth Gilbert: On the Three Most Powerful Words a Woman Can Say

Elizabeth Gilbert

When she was 25 and had moved to New York City to pursue a career as a writer, Elizabeth Gilbert saw a woman in her neighborhood who seemed to be living her dream life: one of creativity that was not taken up by other day jobs.

“She became my mentor. She didn’t know. We didn’t have the conversation. I just decided. And, what that meant in my world was that I would semi-talk to her,” Gilbert told 10,000 women at the 2019 Pennsylvania Conference for Women. “My plan for this mentorship relationship was to be in her presence and what would happen is all that [she had] would migrate to me.”

Then, one night, Gilbert saw her at a party, where the woman politely asked how her writing was going. Gilbert responded: not very well. The woman asked why. Gilbert said she had too much work, and was busy with a boyfriend, and her roommates were very distracting. In short, she didn’t have time, and she didn’t have privacy.

“At the end, she asked me the single most important question anybody has ever asked me in my entire life. I can honestly tell you my life hinged on that question,” Gilbert recalled. It was: “What are you willing to give up to have the life you keep pretending you want?”

Gilbert felt offended and immediately defended herself. But the woman challenged her, saying that from her perspective it looked like Gilbert put time into everything except the writing that she said was most important to her.

Then she asked where her free time was spent. Gilbert responded that she didn’t have any. “Really?” the woman asked. “What’s your favorite television show?” Gilbert answered Seinfeld. Then the woman similarly challenged her about her favorite magazines and restaurants and bars.

Finally, knowing Gilbert and her friends had plans to go the beach for a week, the woman said: “You are not going because if you do go, then I don’t ever want to have this conversation with you again about how your work isn’t going well because the thing you care about you don’t have time for.”

Gilbert acknowledged that she had to learn to say “no” to things she didn’t want to do. The woman said, “Oh, honey, it’s so much worse than that. You have to learn to say ‘no’ to the things that you do want to do with the understanding that you just have this one life stream, this one energy source, this one brief moment here.”

That, said Gilbert, became the turning point in her life as a writer. She stayed home and wrote what would become her first book.

The upshot: “Women are taught they are supposed to care about everything and everybody equally; and it is a lie, a great lie that is keeping you in bondage,” Gilbert said. “The reason I think you are so worried, tired, and stressed,” Gilbert said to the audience, “is because you believe this great lie that you are supposed to care about everything and everybody equally.”

“My prayer,” she added, “is that you take that worry off your neck that you have been struggling with and turn it into a golden circle you put around you and your projects, and your creativity, around who and what you love. Say everything in the circle is now sacred. I choose what is in it. And, if you’re not in the circle you can what outside because I don’t care.”

Those three words, “I don’t care,” are the three most powerful words a woman can have in her arsenal, Gilbert suggested, because they allow us to focus our energy on what we do most care about.


 

The Magic of Liz Gilbert

People know Elizabeth Gilbert best as the author of the wildly successful international bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love that was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. It gave voice to women who longed for something more. More from relationships. More from love. More from life. She inspired us to pursue our dreams wherever they take us.

Since then, Gilbert has continued to dazzle us time and again. Her wondrous book, Big Magic, has led countless women to recognize that there are “extraordinary treasures” that long to be coaxed out of every one of us.

Then, just this past summer, Liz Gilbert returned to her roots as a fiction writer with the release of City of Girls, an instant New York Times bestseller. Set in the theater world of the 1940s, it’s a spellbinding novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering – you’ll like this: that you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person. But perhaps most importantly, she inspires joy and wonder wherever she goes.


Read more keynote recaps from the 2019 Conference

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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

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The Mindset That Wins: Strategies of an Elite Champion Runner

Desiree LindenIf anyone knows persistence and how to stay motivated, it’s Desiree Linden, last year’s winner of the Boston Marathon in the women’s category and the first American to win in 33 years.

Here’s a peek into Linden’s winning mindset.

It starts with a no-regrets attitude.

Linden had success as a college athlete, but she wasn’t one of those stars that everyone was watching. Still, she decided to pursue her dream of going pro.

“For me, it was worth the risk of answering that ‘what if’ question,” Linden explains. “I felt like I had the ability, and if I just put in a little bit more time, maybe I could do something special. There were no guarantees that I could even make a living, but I didn’t want to look back in 10 years and go, ‘What if?’” Read More

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

Cut the Complexity—and Do More Valuable Work

Lisa BodellMeetings, overflowing email inboxes, procedures and policies are all adding complexity to our jobs, hurting our productivity and, most importantly, blocking us from doing the work that has meaning to us.

“Typically, we’re not [even] doing our best thinking at work because we’re so busy doing stuff,” says Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of futurethink and author of Why Simple Wins.

Here are five ways Bodell suggests simplifying work: Read More

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

3 Facts About Ambition That Will Help You Succeed

Hana Schank

Hana Schank

When careers don’t go as planned, what went wrong—and how do people adjust? Seeking to find answers that would help them navigate their own paths, Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace interviewed all of their sorority sisters who graduated with them from Northwestern University in 1993. What they learned was “life-changing,” Schank says, because it gave validity to their choices, and she saw “I wasn’t just flailing here and there.”

But you don’t have to be going through a midlife crisis to be helped by their findings, which they published in The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family and the Path to Building a Life. Here are three key facts about ambition that every woman should know: Read More

Posted in Career, Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Career Choices, Goals & Priorities, Job Advancement Tagged , , |

Live Richer in 2019 with Tiffany “the Budgetnista” Aliche

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America’s favorite personal finance educator shares her top tips for maximizing your money in 2019, how to prepare for unexpected financial hardships, and the least-scary ways to raise your net worth.


Be sure to subscribe to our new podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play or TuneIn so you don’t miss this or any exciting upcoming episodes of Women Mean Business!

Posted in Financial Fitness, Goals & Priorities, Podcasts Tagged |

Cultivating the Next Generation of Women in STEM

Sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb

Just under half of all workers in the United States are female. So why is it that women comprise only 24 percent of professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?

There is no single answer to this question. Persistent gender stereotypes, beginning at early ages, may discourage girls from focusing on these subjects in school. A lack of female role models can make it difficult for young women to see themselves in STEM careers. And even after attaining a STEM degree, women earn less than men in similar jobs. Read More

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

Navigating Life’s Moments

By Ande Frazier, Head of Vision and Brand, myWorth

Leaving the recent Pennsylvania Conference for Women, I felt more inspired than I have in quite some time. To see so many women, from all different ages, races, professions and more, gave me such a renewed sense of purpose.

One of the biggest takeaways from the event, which we heard in different forms from the many distinguished speakers, was that it is so important to listen to each other’s stories. As women, we encounter so many moments in life that shape our stories, and many times it’s the people in our lives, or the communities we are a part of, that help us through it. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Financial Fitness, Networking, Transitions, Goals & Priorities Tagged , |

Overcome Unconscious Bias | Podcast

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In the thick of conference season, we decided to record this interview with Dr. Tiffany Jana in advance, and make it available for you to listen to at your convenience.

Let us know what you think about this new format in the comments! Read More

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

Strive for This Instead of Work-Life Balance

A self-professed “truth-bomber,” Anne Grady is all about getting real and talking about things that no one wants to talk about.

Here is one thing the leadership development expert wants everyone to know: Work-life balance is a mirage.

Or as she puts it: “Balance is bullsh*t.”

“It doesn’t really exist,” says Grady, author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love and Work. “Or if it does, it’s only temporary and fleeting. Stuff happens. Your job, family, friends, health—they can’t all stay in perfect alignment all the time.” Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities Tagged , |