Keynote Access and Breakout Session Access Extended

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.

How to Build Mental Strength in 2021

Amy Morin

What do mentally strong people do—and not do? This question became a burning one for Amy Morin after she suffered a series of personal losses early in her career as a psychotherapist.

It also led her to write several books, including the international bestseller 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, and 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do.

We caught up with her recently for a conversation (from her houseboat) about how developing mental strength can help us meet the unique challenges of living through a pandemic.

Morin—the editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind, the largest mental health website—will speak at the Texas Conference for Women on October 5th.

Q: You distinguish between mental health and mental strength. What is that difference, and why is it important?

Think about the distinction between physical health and physical strength. Becoming physically strong might help prevent health problems, but it doesn’t guarantee it. We also know that being healthier and stronger are interrelated. The choices we make every day can prevent and reduce symptoms of existing problems. But it doesn’t guarantee we won’t get health problems. As a therapist, some of the strongest people I’ve ever met battle depression.

Q: We’re facing a staggering growth in mental health issues due to the pandemic. What practical steps can women take to address this when there is still no clear end in sight?

First, research says that when you are struggling with a tough time, just remembering it’s tough can give you a huge boost. Second, it helps to have something to look forward to. Put it on your calendar: Watch this movie on Friday at 7. Most people think that’s ridiculous. But research shows it gives a boost. A third strategy is to schedule time for worry. Tons of studies say that putting 15 minutes on your calendar to worry helps. It takes two weeks. But people notice a huge difference in mental well-being.

Q: A recent report suggested that businesses are sleepwalking into a mental health crisis, because many employees feel they have to disguise what they are experiencing. Why is it bad to hide their struggles, and what can employers do to create healthier workplaces now?

We do tend to hide mental health issues. There is still a stigma that it may be a sign of weakness. Or that if you’re struggling, it means you have a lack of mental strength. People worry they may get penalized. They won’t get a promotion. The truth is that mental health affects everything we do: how we stay on task, perform, and perceive things.

But it’s OK to talk about it. To come back to the office now and pretend you’re fine, pretend all of this didn’t happen is bizarre. Many people are distressed, and substance abuse is rampant. It doesn’t do any good to hide it. Employers can provide access to free screening tools from Mental Health America, so employees know that struggling and talking about their struggles is OK.

Q: You’ve written several books about what mentally strong people don’t do. What are some recommendations you’ve found most helpful in your own life since the pandemic?

Through the pandemic one thing I have appreciated is the strategy: Don’t focus on what you can’t control – on what the government or other people are responsible for. Focus on what you can. And you can control whether you wash your hands, mask, where you go, how you spend your time, who you spend it with, even how much news you want to consume and how.

Q: There are some misunderstandings about mental strength. For example, you’ve written that it doesn’t mean acting tough or ignoring your emotions. Can you explain that?

I see the memes: I’m tired of being the strong one all the time. This doesn’t make sense. We don’t get tired of having big muscles. But people get tired of being tough. Mental strength is about being courageous enough to say you could use a helping-hand or acknowledging that you are in pain.

Q: You’ve also said mental strength is not about positive thinking. What is it about then?

Positive thinking says it’s probably good you didn’t get the job because something better will come along. It’s a way to avoid being disappointed. But mental strength isn’t positive thinking. It’s about being realistic in your thinking rather than assuming everything will turn out well. If you’re overconfident, it can be more detrimental than having a lack of confidence.

Q: Some people have suggested if there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it is that more people are choosing mental well-being. Do you agree?

While this has opened the door to considering mental health for many people, and the stigma is decreasing a little, I also realize how fragile mental health is now And, there is a need for coping strategies. There are plenty of struggles, and they won’t magically go away. I hope that, coming out of the pandemic, we will have more tools and strategies for working on mental health.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Health & Wellness Tagged |

How Yoga Can Help You Find Your Balance (or Accept Your Imbalance)

Jessmyn Stanley

Jessamyn Stanley—who describes herself as a fat, queer, Black person—is refreshingly honest and self-accepting. She also has a lovely way of bringing self-acceptance out in others. We had a conversation with her this month about the transformative possibilities of yoga—even if you start with a free three-minute video.

Stanley is the author of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance and EveryBody Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body. She will speak at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women on November 10th.

Q: You’ve shared that you came to self-acceptance and wellness during a dark period in your life. Do you see a parallel opportunity for good to come from the challenges so many are facing now?

There is much suffering in life. It’s a constant we can expect. However, most people are drawn to a specific wellness practice –distance running, Tai Chi, yoga, for example –invariably come to a commitment through some struggle.

We are collectively going through intense struggles now. We’re being forced to accept the struggles that have always been and those from climate change and COVID. But if you can acknowledge that you are struggling or have any source of sadness, that is always the space on which to build a wellness practice.

Q: Your new book is Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance. What is “Yoke,” and how can yoga help us develop self-acceptance?

Yoga means to bring together. Yoking is the same idea – joining together. I have found I yoke not just when I am doing Downward Dog but when I am accepting internalized racism or remembering what it is to be sexually assaulted. So, ultimately yoga is truly the practice of acceptance—acceptance of everything as it is. The book’s goal is that anybody who reads it can find the confidence to accept themselves through the example of another human being.

Q: We live in a time when so many challenging things are happening; it can be hard to hold both the dark and the light, as you say. Why is it important to try, and how do you recommend doing it?

Yoga offers the opportunity to practice this on a practical level. You have to think about where you put your weight, where your hands go, and where your feet go? What do you do when you experience struggle? How do you stand, knowing it is not always going to look pretty and happy? All any of us can do is the best we can. Submission is the hardest part. We are so thoroughly trained to wear armor and stand strong for other people. The ironic twist is true power is in submission, in putting down your shield, in standing with the power given you on your first day of life.

Q: Many of us feel we don’t have the time to slow down enough to practice something like yoga. What do you recommend?

It’s very hard when you’re going a million miles a minute to stop. So, just start wherever you are with whatever you have access to. If you can do a free yoga video for three to five minutes, that’s perfect. Take small incremental steps, and don’t beat yourself up about not following a specific schedule for 30 days. Be easy on yourself, go slow, and find something that fits you right now.

Q: Many women struggle with perfectionism. How do you deal with that?

A couple of things are helpful for me. One is letting myself feel whatever I feel whenever I feel it and not scolding or chastising myself or falling into a perfectionist loop. Also letting myself get tired and feel all of the perfectionist sadness. I beat myself down, and from that place, breathe and practice the postures. From there, I start to move forward sometimes without even being aware of it.

Q: You’ve said that yoga is the perfect container for us to deal with systemic racism and other systemic issues. What do you mean?

Yoga is the base on which we can have all these hard conversations. What is needed when talking about systemic racism or any systemic problem is compassion for everyone. You can’t experience compassion with other people if you are not experiencing it yourself. That is what practicing does. When you accept yourself, there is no other thing to feel but compassion. And when you practice compassion for yourself, you have to practice it for other people.

When we say we want to dismantle systemic racism, everyone plays a different role in that—all people of all colors on all stages. As a fat queer Black person, I have a lot of feelings about this. It makes it hard even to hear someone else. But I know they experience strong feelings too. The person who is taught to hate Black people is also someone I can have compassion about. I don’t have to agree with them. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is to hear each other and know that every other person is deserving of life and goodness. Then we can come to a place of creating a different world.

Q: Your first book, which came out before the pandemic, was Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love your Body. What is the most important new thing you learned about letting go of fear lately?

If fear is there, I know it is good. I know it is something I need. Every good thing in life is scary because it is unknown. Fear is also an incredible motivator, the stimulus of so much. We think life would be so sweet if you never felt sad or afraid, but I don’t know if that is the case. I think life is sweet because of fear. It challenges us and allows us to see ourselves.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life Balance Tagged |

How to Raise an Adult in Times of Crisis

Julie Lythcott-haims

Is it more challenging to raise a child during the pandemic than at other times?

On the one hand, the answer seems obvious: Of course!

But on the other hand, it is also easier—and an excellent opportunity for parents and children alike, says Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kids for Success.

“This crisis is allowing us to step back and give kids more responsibility and more accountability—what they need to develop into whole, healthy, happy adults,” says Lythcott-Haims, who is also a former corporate lawyer and Stanford University dean.

Put another way, the pandemic is an opportunity to stop overparenting—which research increasingly shows contributes to anxiety and depression among young people and deprives them of developing a feeling of self-efficacy.

Types of Overparenting

There are three types of overparenting, according to Lythcott-Haims:

  1. Being overprotective. Parents tend to do this when they feel the world is scary, unsafe, and unpredictable. Therefore, they think they need to prevent anything from happening to their children and protecting them at every turn—thereby depriving their children of learning how to deal with difficulties they will inevitably face on their own.
  2. Being fiercely directive. When a parent attempts to orchestrate a child’s life, the child does not feel unconditionally loved. Instead, they think a lot of stress and worry that they may not live up to their parents’ expectations.
  3. Holding kids’ hands for too long. Lythcott-Haims this kind of overparenting as behaving like a handler for an A-list celebrity. This kind of parent might, for example, know when all homework assignments are due and bring in ones a child has forgotten. They are trying to make their child’s life easier, but they are robbing them of the ability to learn from experience.

While overparenting may come from a good place—the desire to love and protect our children—it prevents them from developing the confidence that they will be able to figure things out independently, as they will eventually need to.

So, what’s the solution?

Three Core Competencies Children Need to Develop

To grow into capable, healthy, happy humans, children need to develop three core competencies, says Lythcott-Haims. They are: agency, resilience, and character (ARC.)

  1. Agency: Agency is the sense that I can do the task in front of me. I am capable. To develop this, children need to do things for themselves. Picture your child learning to walk, for example. You didn’t walk behind with your hands under their armpits, Lythcott-Haims says. Instead, you cheer them on while they fall and get up and get stronger.
  2. So, figure out what skill kids are on the verge of learning and provide them with learning opportunities. Maybe it’s making their lunch or learning to wake to an alarm, or helping with dinner.
  3. Resilience. Resilience is the sense that I can cope or handle things when they go bad, as they will. But when you are curating the perfect childhood, things never go wrong, and children are deprived of developing resilience.
  4. “We’re supposed to let them have their feelings. Our instinct is to take bad feelings away,” says Lythcott-Haims. “But we need to let them have their feelings and let them know we care.” It’s not about fixing things, she says. There’s a lot we can’t fix. It’s about letting them have their feelings, letting them know you see they have feelings and letting them know you are there if they want to talk about them.
  5. Character. Character is knowing there is more than you in this world, knowing that others matter, as well. In the pandemic, parents can teach that because there are many people in need—perhaps including you. So, ask your child to pitch in, Lytcott-Haims says. “When a child handles something that isn’t their chore or job, that is a perfect time just to smile and nod and say I saw what you did. Nice job.”

“This is a tough time, but so much is actually under our control, says Lythcott-Haims, including how we show up in our children’s lives, exhibit confidence they’ve got it, and model good character. So, this pandemic is an opportunity to stop swooping in and therefore an opportunity to get a little bit of healthy adult life back.”

In short, says Lythcott-Haims: “When you stop making children the center of the universe, watch how they thrive—and you thrive, as well.”

Julie Lythcott-Haims spoke at the 2021 California Conference for Women. This article is based on her session, How to Raise an Adult in Times of Crisis.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Transitions Tagged |

The Biggest Little Word to Ask Yourself Before Holding a Meeting

Priya Parker

Pre-COVID, nearly 3 out of 4 people considered meetings a waste of time, according to a Harvard Business Review study. And some of the most successful leaders in the world, such as Richard Branson, famously avoided them.

But now that many people are returning to the office, we have an opportunity to approach them differently by letting one big little word drive them.

That word is “Why?”

If you’re holding a meeting, think first: Why are you having it? What is the real purpose? If you are networking, ask yourself: Why are you? What is the outcome you desire?

This is the wise advice of Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, who argues that many gatherings in both our professional and personal lives are lackluster and unproductive. But they don’t have to be.

“The biggest mistake we make when we gather is we assume that the purpose of our coming together is obvious,” she says.

Consider a wedding, for example. The purpose may seem obvious: to get married. But you can go to City Hall for that, as she points out. So, to design a meaningful gathering, you need to think about your real purpose of having a public event. Answering that can take your attention off planning the details and more on creating an experience.

The same holds for a staff meeting.

“So often, we inherit a form, and we try to perfect the form,” she says. “We forget to ask, ‘Why do these people need each other, and for what purpose? How might you bring people together, based on that?'”

Drawing on her experience as a facilitator, she recommends: “Don’t worry so much about shaping things. Shape people. Shape the psychology of a group.”

A New Approach to Networking

In Colorado, two entrepreneurs regularly attended a networking event that never seemed to lead to anything, Parker said. So, after considering their why—or what they wanted to get out of meeting other people—they came up with a novel approach called The House of Genius.

They bring together a group of 15-18 wide-ranging minds and three business presenters once a month.First, the three presenters share their business and a key problem they face in a rapid-fire fashion. Next,eachattendee offers questions, insights, suggestions, or introductions that may assist the presenter.The “genius,” they say, is in the collaboration.

“I love this example in part,” says Parker, “because networking, which is a meaningful connection around a shared purpose, is an outcome. It’s not the form.”

It all began with asking: “What is our purpose? And what is a form that can help us get there?”

Priya Parker spoke at the 2020 Texas Conference for Women. This article is based on her session: “Let’s Get Together, How to Gather Even When We Are Apart.” You can learn more about Priya Parker’s work on her website.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Goals & Priorities

How Civility Literally Pays: Tips from Christine Porath

Christine Porath

After graduating college, Christine Porath thought she had landed her dream job as an intern for the world’s largest sports management and marketing firm.

The only problem: It was a toxic work environment.

That’s when she asked herself a career-making question: What are the objective costs of a toxic work environment, and what are the real benefits of one that helps people thrive?

Based on 20 years of research, she says: “I’ve learned that our small interactions with people every day affect our energy level. As a result, they affect our performance, our organization’s performance, and ultimately the impact that you and the organization will have on society.”

“We hold people down by making them feel small, excluded, insulted, belittled. Now, of course, we don’t necessarily mean to do this,” she says. But people can feel it in ways that run the gamut from being insulted in front of people, to someone withholding information, to someone not acknowledging you, to someone being on their phone the whole time that you’re speaking to them.

“Research bears out how this tends to just chip away at us and our well-being and our sense of identity,” she says. And especially for women, it can lead to really negative health consequences and emotional distress.

Another cost: If you’re working in teams, incivility will cause teammates to shut down and not share their good ideas. It also causes people to be less likely to help others—specifically, three times less likely.

In short, she says: “We lose out on people’s contributions. Incivility also hijacks focus, performance, and creativity.”

How to Demonstrate Civility

Research shows that the single most important behavior for demonstrating civility is respect. In addition, it causes people to be 55 percent more engaged in their work.

More civil people are also twice as likely to be seen as leaders. They are more liked and trusted.

So how do you, as a leader, demonstrate that respect for others is at the heart of civility?

“It’s important that we connect first and then lead,” says Porath. “Use warmth first. You want to set that tone because warmth is primary. People judge you first on warmth.”

Interested in testing how civil you are? Porath encourages a little objectivity since we notoriously miss how our behavior affects others. So, you might ask a few friends. Or, try the assessment on her website.

Christine Porath spoke at the Conferences for Women breakout session, Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for Life. Listen to the session.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Success & Leadership