Tara Westover on How We Lead the Way Forward

Tara Westover Tara Westover, the best-selling author of Educated, reflected on how women lead the way forward—the theme of the 2020 Pennsylvania Conference for Women—and suggested it may begin with recognizing what we don't know so we are able to restore meaningful dialogue in these highly polarized times. "As the author of a book called Educated, I am supposed to know what it is like to know things, to be certain about things," Westover said. "But as I thought about this difficult period, I thought it is not so much about education and certainty and facts; it's not just about what we know but about what we don't know." Using her own experience as an example, she observed that she once thought "feminism" was a dirty word, had wrong and hurtful thoughts about race, and was homophobic. But education—and the opportunity to express her opinions, however objectionable they were -- allowed her to think through what she really believed, adding that many in our nation require that same opportunity now.

More excerpts from her talk follow:

  • "Sometimes I wonder if what has gone wrong with our political process is that we have forgotten what we don't know. We are so bombarded with caricatures of each other that we've started to think just because we know one thing about a person, we think we know everything we need to know about them."
  • "What we've forgotten maybe is the difference between ignorance and humility. It's OK not to know everything. And there are some situations where approaching it knowing what you don't know is probably the best thing you can do."
  • "I have to believe that it is worth arguing with people who disagree with you—even on really important issues. Even on important moral issues, things you feel strongly about. It is still worth arguing with those people and explaining your ideas. That is the original idea of what politics is: It's persuasion."
  • "And I have to believe in that because I was someone who at various points in my life was wrong about almost everything—things that now are really important to me, I had the opposite view when I was younger."
  • "I was raised in a household in which feminism was a dirty word. I don't think I ever said it aloud until I was in graduate school. I grew up with really strange ideas about race. And I was lucky enough to be able to be given the opportunity to change my mind and learn more and understand experiences that were different from mine."
  • "I was homophobic. I was raised with strange ideas about that. And strange is a euphemism. They were not correct, they were hurtful."
  • "I am grateful I was given the opportunity through the education system to learn more, to say my views no matter how objectionable they were, and be given a chance to think through what I really believed."
  • "So important as I think all of these issues are and as important as it is to stand up for people, I am so grateful I was given an opportunity to change."
To go forward as a country, she concluded, may mean we need to give more people a chance to change, to have a meaningful dialogue, and for us all to know the things we don't know.
About Tara Westover Tara Westover is the best-selling author of Educated, reflected on how women lead the way is the author of Educated, which was on The New York Times bestseller list for more than 130 weeks. Born to survivalist parents in the mountains of Idaho, she never attended school and, instead, spent her childhood working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother—until, at 17, she decided to escape a violent older brother and isolated home life to carve out a new life for herself. She taught herself enough to get into college—having come to believe, as her parents taught her, that you can teach yourself anything better than someone else can teach it to you. Then she went on to graduate magna cum laude from Brigham Young University, earn a master's degree in philosophy, become a Harvard University fellow, and complete a Ph.D. in history from Cambridge University. The experience transformed her; and her brilliant telling of it has been inspiring millions. It has also been sparking important conversations, at a time when millions of young people are suddenly engaged in remote learning, about education, gender roles, and societal divisions and how we might overcome them.
Check out more highlights from the 2020 Virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women!

Real Advice for Women Seeking Mentors and Allies

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“Your mentors should be a diverse network,” says David Smith, an expert on gender workplace issues and co-author of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women. “If they’re not, you’re missing out on key perspectives and information, and you’re probably not being challenged enough in your thinking.”

Of course, for women in male-dominated fields such as the military (Smith’s background), the problem isn’t having too many mentors who look like you (i.e., female). The problem is having a mentor, period. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Communication Skills, Networking, Job Advancement Tagged , |

Beauty Truth-Teller Paula Begoun on Being an Entrepreneur, Hiring and Handling Stress

By Bryan Barron, for Paula’s Choice Skincare  

Work for Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice Skincare and Beautypedia.com, and you will laugh a lot. You’ll also become used to her straight-shooting ways. “I’m blatantly honest to a fault,” she says. 

Indeed, her truth-telling is her commodity and specialty. Combined with a passion for beauty products, it has resulted in 21 bestselling books on beauty and regular appearances on CNN, “The Today Show,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The View”, to name a few places—as well as her product review site Beautypedia.com and her global skincare company PaulasChoice.com.

It all began 35 years ago, when Paula was struggling with acne and eczema. She resolved to find a solution and began studying product labels, formulations and skin physiology. She discovered why everything she had been using on her skin either made it worse or didn’t help at all—and felt that her information could help so many other people, too.

Now Paula travels the globe speaking to women about truths and myths in beauty. “I love my job,” she says. Here, she shares more about entrepreneurship, work regrets, stress —and yes, her favorite products. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life Balance, Small Business, Success & Leadership Tagged , |

5 Tips to Feel More Comfortable at Networking Events

This is one thing Alice Rutkowski, an executive communication and presence coach who has worked with more than 8,000 executives over the past 20-some years, wishes everyone knew:

Body language reflects what you believe about yourself and others.

“Consciously and unconsciously, we are reading others and they are reading us all the time,” says Rutkowski, vice president of executive development at Sagin. “For example, whether you’re sitting or standing, crossing your legs can convey nervousness. It puts your body out of alignment, and being unbalanced isn’t conducive to feeling confident—and people can see that.” Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Marketing Yourself & Your Small Business, Communication Skills, Networking 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 , |