I had a wonderful week attending the Connections conference presented by Exact Target. For many, the conference was a chance to interact with vendors and hear about new products, but it was slightly different for me. Marketing was my career in a past life, I’ve since moved on to internal communications and as I tend to do, am already looking forward to my next step in my career.
I chose sessions such as “My Personal Journey: Inspiring Stories from Fearless Females”; “The Power of Personal Brand and How to Create Yours”; “Unraveling the Myths of Creativity”; “Using Communities to Drive Stronger Engagement” and “Propelling Your Career with Mentors and Sponsors”. The sessions I really loved were listening to Twitter’s Chief Communication Officer participate in a Q&A, hearing will.i.am discuss how his childhood impacted his decisions to be charitable now, listening to author John Green, who is so much more than an author and of course, seeing Mindy Kaling give the closing speech this afternoon. Can we say girl crush?
Mindy is just as adorable as she is on every show you’ve seen her on. She’s hilarious and sweet and seemed authentic – which was a big word at this year’s conference. I love how she addressed being a female in a male dominated world, how she said to choose 5 people who really matter and ask their opinion versus listening to the negativity of everyone who has an opinion and how she talked about being confident.
“I find that saying the wrong thing in a very confident way is the key to everything”
Mindy reminded me today is that you don’t always need validation that your ideas are good. Being prepared and confident can make it automatically seem like your ideas are good. I definitely consider myself more of an “idea” person than a businessperson. Even so, I don’t always have people saying “exactly” when I speak, or agreeing with all of my proposals. But I am confident enough in what I know to sit at the table and speak up. Mindy told us that yes, as women, we are held back compared to men, but we need to stop focusing so much on that and focus on our work. If our work is good, then you’ll get more recognition.
Mindy has worked her way up from a struggling writer to not just actor but writer, producer and director of her very own show. She’s living her dream. While most of us stopped dreaming of being famous after about age 11, we have other (much more realistic) dreams. Maybe it’s to own your own business. Maybe it’s to write a book. Maybe it’s to be the CEO of a company. Whatever it is, it’s within reach. Hard work pays off and Mindy demonstrates that.
“That’s the tragic thing about being ambitious. As your success grows, so does your ambition.”
So, I left the conference with very little product knowledge (enough to tell my boss that the user experience will be changing along with the interface) but with a ton of inspiration. I’m motivated to pursue more of my dreams; to not be scared of rejection (it’s inevitable); to step up my game; to demonstrate my value and expertise; and to listen to the voices that really matter. I feel very empowered right now, almost as much as when I read Lean In.
I could blog a whole different post on how women don’t take as many chances as men. I could show you statistics of how we count ourselves out of jobs because we’re not totally qualified, whereas a man would go for it because he had some of the qualifications. We often let our ideas go unheard because of other voices in the room, and our fear of sounding dumb (you won’t!). As I got on the plane to leave Indianapolis, I opened Women’s Health and read an inspiring note from the Editor-in-Chief, Michele Promaulayko. She talks about clearing the confidence hurdle. One of my favorite quotes is, “even the mega successful [women] aren’t fearless – they’ve just been brave enough to push past that fear of failure.”
Life rarely hands you the perfect opportunity without you putting forth some kind of effort, but if you take chances and do the work, you have a chance to be successful at something you’re passionate about. I’m ready to dive back into my work and to do impactful work that aligns with my passions. You should get out of your own way and get to work doing what makes you happy, too.
*A few books I recommend if you’re looking: The Confidence Code, Lean In, How to Communicate with Confidence, Womenomics and anything by Deborah Tannen.