Keynote Access Extended Through Friday, Nov. 20

Breakout Session Access Extended Through Friday, Nov. 27

Access Extended!This week and next, we invite you to watch every single 2020 breakout session in the Virtual Conference environment—through Friday, November 27th.Keynote speeches, normally only available on Conference Day, will remain available to you through this Friday, November 20th.Don't miss Viola Davis, Tara Westover, Iyanla Vanzant, or any of our brilliant breakout session speakers!Watch Now


More to Explore this Week:

  • Read our message to attendees about last week's technical difficulties & choose your donation or bookstore voucher. Vouchers delivered via email 11/23.
  • The Exhibit Hall remains open 24/7 and features activities, contests, discounts, and more. Some offerings you might want to check out:
    • Education & Innovation Pavilion: Enter to win a free ticket to the Dec. 10 Massachusetts Conference for Women at the Hyundai booth; and enter to win a free home energy assessment at the PECO booth!
    • Women-Owned Business Marketplace: Just in time for the holidays, find unique gifts for friends and family or something special for yourself—all while supporting local women-owned businesses!
    • Community Connection Pavilion sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal: Visit the WSFS booth to post your message of inspiration!
    • Career Pavilion sponsored by Villanova School of Business: Consider a career with one of these companies showing their committment to women's success:
      • Upload your resume at the Bristol Myers Squibb booth
      • Access the GSK job finder and swipe your badge for more info
      • Swipe your badge if you're interested in working at Cisco
      • Learn more about careers at State Street—and their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
    • Health & Wellness Pavilion sponsored by Independence Blue Cross: Visit Target's booth to learn more about their Good & Gather brand and explore career opportunities
  • While you're exploring the Exhibit Hall, take in some Learning Bursts within the Career, Community Connection, and Health & Wellness Stages.
  • Chat with fellow attendees in the Cisco Networking Lounge.
  • Get an instant mood boost from our 2020 Conference playlist!
  • Learn how to make a tasty fall salad with The Honeysuckle Cookbook author Dzung Lewis.

One Woman’s Crash Course in Virtual Networking

Cate Luzio

Cate Luzio worked in corporate America for 20 years when she decided she was ready to do something very different and become an entrepreneur.

Her dream was to create a networking space for professional women in New York City—and she did it, using her own money to create a 15,000-square foot space, complete with nursing rooms, a salon/beauty bar, fitness studio, and more.

In late 2018, she opened the doors to Luminary, a membership-based career and personal growth platform and collaboration hub for women.

One year later, Covid hit.

After already having to navigate what she said was the most significant new experience of being an entrepreneur—everything came down to her—she now faced the challenge of running a collaboration hub during a pandemic.

The silver lining, she said, was that she learned to innovate fast. The result: She turned Luminary into a global, inclusive collaboration hub, with both physical spaces and a robust digital platform that delivered more than 400 programs in 2020.

Along the way, she observed several things about women and networking that might help you as we continue to operate in a virtual world of work. Here are highlights from a recent conversation with the Conferences for Women:


Three Ways to Improve Your Networking

  1. Reframe your idea of it. “I think there has to be a mind-shift change around networking,” Luzio says. “Men don’t use term ‘networking.’ They just do it. They say: I’ve got to talk to this person. They tap into relationships.”
  2. As women, she adds, “we have to remove the mental barrier that networking is tough. All you are doing is creating a conversation, taking part in a discussion, building relationships. That’s what networking is—and doing it strategically.”
  1. Make the most of Zoom. “When you are on a Zoom call, it is the easiest time to connect. It is spoon-feeding you networking opportunities,” Luzio says. But many people don’t take advantage of them, she adds. To make the most of Zoom meetings, Luzio recommends two things:
    • Take a picture as soon as you see everyone’s name. Scroll through and take a screenshot, or use your phone and take a picture. Then go back, connect on LinkedIn, and say ‘We were in that session together. I’d love to connect.’ There’s instant rapport.”
    • Introduce yourself in live chats. “What is the harm?” says Luzio. “You’re not putting yourself out there verbally. Just say, ‘Here’s my website if you’re interested in connecting.'”
  1. Be prepared with an ask. “You always have to have an ask ready,” says Luzio. “Most people want to help. But telling people what you need is so important because people are busy, and they can’t read minds. So, don’t beat around the bush. The worst somebody can say is ‘I can’t help now.’ And then you can move onto the next person.”

Cate Luzio will join Malcolm Gladwell, 5-time bestseller; Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race; Thomas Friedman, 3-time Pulitzer Prize winner; and Rana Foroohar, CNN analyst at the National Workplace Summit on May 6, 2021.


More from the April 2021 Newsletter

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So, You Want to Talk About Race? A Conversation with Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo, author of The New York Times bestseller, So You Want to Talk About Race, spoke recently with the Conferences for Women about the difficulties of talking about race with people we are close to, how to maintain a sense of urgency about addressing racial injustice, and more.

Excerpts from the conversation, lightly edited for brevity and clarity, appear below:


Q: You’ve said that many of your white friends were uncomfortable when you first started writing and talking about race. But many other people who you did not know reached out to you. Do you think it is more difficult to discuss race, across racial lines, with people to whom we are close?

Ijeoma Oluo: It’s incredibly difficult to talk with people we are close to about race. As a society, we have put expectations on people of color to bridge whatever gap we have in our relationships.

You see it in TV shows. People of color are always taking blows to remain close. It is expected in intimate relationships, work relationships, close friendships.

The problem then is when you are having a conversation about race, you are setting that aside. And when you don’t live up to that expectation, let go of the agreement, there is a question: Does our relationship still stand?

Often it doesn’t, at least at first. People of color know this. You try it once or twice and see how it ends up. There is always something fraught about it. By your mid-20s, you know it is incredibly difficult.

Many white people don’t get why things are changing. They don’t get the inherent expectations. They don’t get asked to leave part of themselves at the door.

Q: With all the serious issues our nation is dealing with, what are your thoughts about how people can best maintain a sense of urgency around addressing race this year?

IO: It’s vital to look at the workspace and say: How is it someone can be promoted and not advance equity for the team? How is it someone can be culturally incompetent and have a leadership position? How is it someone can celebrate a productive year when none of your customers are people of color? We need to start looking at all of that.

It’s also really, really important to recognize that there is intrinsic value in the lived experiences of people of color that stands alone in the workspace—it’s not just that they are people of color. It is that they have unique skills because they are people of color that need to be valued.

Q: Are you more or less optimistic about the state of race relations than when you wrote your book? And if you were writing it now, would you change anything?

IO: I have the same level of optimism I have always had. I’m a natural optimist but in a really practical way—not like everything will be great. I was influenced by Kurt Vonnegut, who taught me about the ability to be perpetually heartbroken by human beings.

I have the ability to be heartbroken because I am open to it. Every year I say it could be different, and I work toward that. Because it’s not different doesn’t mean it won’t be someday.


Ijeoma Oluo will join Malcolm Gladwell, five-time bestseller; Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner; and Rana Foroohar, CNN analyst at the National Workplace Summit on May 6, 2021.


More from the April 2021 Newsletter

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Reader Responses from Women’s History Month Poll: Women You’d Like to Take to Lunch

For Women’s History Month, we asked: Which women from history would you most like to take to lunch? Many of you suggested a wide range of women from performers to changemakers to spiritual leaders. Highlights appear below, slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Josephine Baker. She lived out her values and principles with courage and with dignity. I admire her spirit in the face of adversity over time and continents. From childhood, she could survive and thrive, which led her to places where she created and optimized opportunities. She took risks and developed instincts and networks that were supportive. She sang, danced, became an international star based in Paris, a spy for France, and then surrounded herself with a large family of orphans that she adopted. She also visited people in the hospital to lift their spirits when she got older. She is a badass and an inspiration. Rob O’Dwyer, MA

Octavia E. Butler. I have been influenced by her stories but also her devotion to telling the stories she found were missing in the genre. She was known as a shy woman but found her voice and used it to embody the story of Black women. I started reading Butler’s work in the early 1990’s. Octavia Butler seemed to get me and write stories that I could parse for months, stories that stayed with me for decades, stories that I reread periodically to see what else I could get from them. Her writing style is beautiful and fluid. I would like to talk about the courage it took to write those stories at a time when she was the only Black female author writing science fiction, and she was definitely the only author with Black female protagonists in speculative fiction settings. In reality, I think I would just gush like the fangirl I am if I ever had the chance to talk with her at length but I can dream. Sue Hawkins

Pema Chodron. She has helped so many people find their way and improve their lives. She has a great life story. She comes across as warm and personable in her public talks. And if worst came to worst—just sitting in silence with Pema Chodron would probably be as amazing in its way as having a good long chat with her. Jessica Holland

Amelia Earhart. I did a report on her when I was in elementary school. I had to dress up and present it to the class. Back then, I just thought she had accomplished something pretty great. I didn’t even think about the fact that she was a woman doing this. Now, as an adult, I think about what I didn’t know then. How truly amazing her accomplishments were when you consider she was a woman in a male-dominated profession, at a time in history when she was probably among very few women in the entire world attempting this. And of course, I’d like to know what happened to her. Sandra Faust-Mesropian

Queen Esther. She was prepared to lay down her life to help save her people by asking for an audience with the king. In those days, anyone not summoned by the king would be executed for doing so unless the king held out his scepter. Her whole story is a wonderful chapter in the life of the Jewish people and a remarkable testimony of how one woman changed the course of history. Carolyn Pfeiffer, PA

Kasturba Gandhi. Kasturba Gandhi was supported her husband [Mahatma] and lived the ideals of nonviolence and peaceful non–cooperation against the British Empire. She rallied the women to join the movement while encouraging indigenous economic means. Lo and behold, these methods led to independence from the British. Bela Pathak, NJ

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I am sure that RBG is a popular choice, but she symbolizes so much for me as a woman. She was strong in character and broke the glass ceiling long before it was a thing. She stood by her convictions, faced gender inequality head-on, and persevered. She took care of her husband when he was sick. She went to class for him, took notes, continued her classes, and cared for her young daughter. Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, she successfully argued several landmark cases on gender equality before the U.S. Supreme Court, where she was eventually called to serve. Even while aging and being sick, she continued to work out every day and sit on the Supreme Court. I cried the day she passed away. I felt like I had lost one of our greatest advocates, and it truly broke my heart. I try to remain inspired and remember what she fought for. Being quiet is being complicit, and I hope that is never me. My Mom is another woman of unbelievable strength and character. She is famous to me, and I would invite her to sit at the table with Ruth and me. Jocelyn Rineer, NJ

Ada Lovelace. Working in I.T., and specifically information security, I think her analytical mind and her life experiences would be so interesting to learn about! And, to give her an update on all we have accomplished since she wrote the first algorithm! Tina Schmidt

Rosa Parks. If it were possible and I had the opportunity to take one woman from history to lunch, it would be, of course, Rosa Parks. I really don’t know much about her other than what is publicly known by everyone. I would like to know what she was feeling and what was going on in her mind. Vivian Bowles

Chef Lena Richard. Not a lot of national attention is given to Lena, but she broke barriers. I would ask her about her time in Boston, where she attended a culinary school founded by Fannie Farmer. We would discuss how Boston was different culturally from New Orleans but still the same. As she had to get each of her classmates to write a letter stating they agreed to let her attend classes. We would talk about her founding her cooking school in New Orleans and some of her famous students, including Leah, Chose of Dookie Chase Restaurant. I would ask where I could get a copy of her cookbook (New Orleans Cookbook) and how it came to be that she had a cooking show in the 1940s in New Orleans that was televised. By the way, she would cook the lunch, and I would clean the kitchen. Maricia D C Johns, TX

Mother Teresa. It would be Mother Teresa for me to have an opportunity to feel her unconditional love. I would know how that feels to let me want to pass the feeling onto others. For love is an act of kindness that can only make the world bloom more love. “Let us all meet each other with a smile as the smile is the beginning of love” is one of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa. Another is: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. The more I see the chaos of the world and wanting to figure out ways to solve issues, the deeper I feel I fall into the hole. Let’s maybe switch gears and focus on love instead of issues. Love, to me, is a universal law; it can dissolve issues and melt everything into more love. Yihsing Pan, PA

Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman refused to ignore the fire and light that lived in her. Well-knowing that she could be killed at any moment for her actions, she continued to follow her life’s mission and purpose, leading hundreds of thousands of slaves to freedom. Harriet Tubman represented the type of “hard-headedness” and “good trouble” that could only be poured into one’s unrelenting spirit by the wholly Divine himself. How did she find the courage to push on despite “man’s” law? How did she know who she could and could not trust? How did she first realize her life’s mission and figure out the first steps to take to set her precarious, life-long success in motion? These are the things I would ask. LeKisha McKinley


More from the April 2021 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Goals & Priorities Tagged |

One Small Word that Can Help You Advance Equity at Work

Nina Shaw

How can you speak up for equity in a way that brings other people along rather than risks an unproductive battle?

Nina Shaw, the entertainment lawyer who The New York Times has called “The Hollywood Power Behind Those Seeking a Voice,” has one simple magic word: “We.”

More broadly, she calls it “We Speak.”

“It’s where I talk less about the personal situation and more about the organization,” Shaw says. For example, she might say:

  • “I’m concerned that we’re not sending the right message.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not living up to the things that we believe in.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not running the business in the way that we want.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not getting the best from all of us, that all of us are not allowed to do our best.”

Shaw says she often couches equity in “We Speak”—and works hard to set a tone and standard that values everyone, even those she is in disagreement with.

Applying “We Speak” to Working Parent Issues

Over this past year, Shaw said fostering inclusivity around working parents was a big issue where “we speak” helped.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions during the pandemic about people whose attention is split—primarily working parents, who are trying to oversee their children’s education and trying to do their work within the workday. And, it’s impossible when it comes down to it. They can’t do two things at once. And the time that they have to give to overseeing their children’s education is very specific.

“So, there’s been a lot of discussion about how to help those people, how to cover the work that they’re not often able to do. And, there have been people, especially people who don’t have children who have, I don’t want to use the word “resentful” because that’s too strong, but a kind of lack of empathy.”

How did she use “We Speak” to break through this?

“I find myself saying, ‘What kind of people do we want to be? We all care about children. Most of us have been parents or guardians or caregivers. How would we want to be treated in this particular situation and how can we be leaders? How can we be the firm that’s different?'”

Shaw discusses this and other issues in the March episode of Women Amplified, where she also shares a woman from history who she would most like to have lunch with during this Women’s History Month.

What Woman from History Would You Have Lunch With?

“I would pick Ida B. Wells for any number of reasons,” Shaw says. But the main reason?

“She had a life that spanned the Civil War to World War I. And, she was such an outlier. How do you, as a woman born during that time who is both a wife and a mother, become such a crusader—so much so that you’re willing to endanger your own life? I mean, where do you get the courage from?”

“I would love to hear what it was that made her just say, “No more, no more lynching, and I will do everything humanly possible towards that end.”

What woman from history would you most want to meet, and why? Send your answer to [email protected]. We will share highlights in next month’s newsletter.

Nina Shaw is a founding partner in Los Angeles-based entertainment law firm, Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano. She spoke at the 2021 California Conference for Women.


More from the March 2021 Newsletter

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What One of the Highest-Ranking Women in the Military Learned about Leadership

Michelle J. Howard

It seems fitting that Michelle Howard—famous not only for being the first woman to become a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy but for facing down Somali pirates to rescue Captain Philips—has this as one of her favorite quotes:

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

So, how do you cross the sea—or, more to the point, lead in challenging times?

Here is one of the experiences Howard had early in her career that she says taught her some important things about leadership.

She was a junior officer, largely working below deck, when some female officers began complaining about a new captain they said was biased. Then one of them stepped up to her and said:

“Michelle, it’s time someone talks to the captain, and we voted that you should be the one.”

“I was stunned,” Howard recalls. “I wasn’t sure I was up to it.”

But she thought about it. “Then I realized the problem was mine. I was afraid. And then I was disappointed in myself.” She was afraid that if she spoke to the captain about her colleagues’ perception of bias, she might sink her career.

Her next thought was: “I need to get the courage up. If I can’t talk to my skipper about something hard, how will I ever get the courage to lead sailors in combat?”

So, she got an appointment, put on a clean uniform, and went to see him. She talked for 15 minutes while he listened without interruption.

Finally, he thanked her for coming to see him and added: “I don’t necessarily agree with what you said. But I’ll be the first to say, let’s get an equal opportunity team out here. Let’s assess the crew. Let’s have some training, and I promise you I’ll sit in the front row.”

It was an important experience Howard says, that taught her that leaders listen and have confidence in themselves. They also, she learned, have to self-motivate.

It’s not always easy, of course. “But some days, you’ve just got to get your warrior on and take that first step,” she says.

“And when you do, bring everybody behind you and don’t care what they look like –because the diversity of the team is what will allow you to lead through change and surprises. They’ll get you to the right place and the right ideas that will allow you to be successful, allow the team to be successful, and allow the organization to be successful.”

Michelle Howard spoke at the 2020 Massachusetts Conference for Women. This article is based on her talk.


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