Last week, I woke up before the sun had a chance to shine because I was too excited about attending the Texas Diversity Council's Women in Leadership Symposium at the University of Texas. Plus, I wanted to avoid that psychotic morning traffic from Round Rock to downtown Austin. That traffic is no joke.
I arrived almost an hour early and had some time to take in what I was walking into. I was preparing myself for the connections, opportunities, and inspiration I knew I would leave with. How did I prepare? I sat in silence. Being still and silent helps me make space for gratitude and calm. Otherwise, I'm opening the door for anxiety and that little annoying imposter syndrome to show up. That morning, I didn't open that door but instead ushered in the truth: "I belong here."
I had the privilege of sitting at the table with a diverse group of women, including TXDC's CEO Angeles Martinez Valenciano. She is graceful, and her presence is inviting. I was beaming. The room was light, open, and uplifting, and the energy was also. We all took tons of photos in the photo booth and enjoyed conversations over coffee. We exchanged business cards and scanned enough LinkedIn QR codes to last us a lifetime. It was magical. I saw comforting, familiar faces but also met new ones. Across the board, we exchanged warm hugs and a plethora of compliments. We shared ideas and discussed what we were passionate about with smiles. Every smile echoed, "I'm happy you're here." It felt like a sisterhood. It was divine.
"Friends. Sisters. Mothers. Professors. When women affirm women, it unlocks our power. It gives us permission to shine brighter". - Elaine Welteroth
Besides the time we spent connecting and networking, sitting and soaking up everything the speakers had to share was fulfilling. I'm a church girl, so I know preaching when I hear it. Every woman I heard speak spoke words that touched my soul. I could not stop taking notes. To hear women in corporate leadership positions share relatable, authentic, and personal messages was a breath of fresh air. Romona Arora (VP of Global Talent Development and Chief Learning Officer at Dell Technologies), Linda Hackelman (VP of Human Resources at Trellis Company), Nichele Lindstrom (VP of E-Commerce at Whole Foods Market), Suzanne Plummer (Fellow and CVP, Technical Diversity and Development at Advanced Micro Devices), and Yesenia Hernadez Plascencia (Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Visa) were void of egos or "I'm better than you" attitudes. Instead, we heard from women who encouraged us to focus on BEing better together. They leveled the playing field for every woman in that room by providing tools, advice, ideas, and comedic references that helped us all feel we belonged there. Even though I had to leave a little early, the symposium was impactful. I arrived feeling good, but I left feeling GREAT.
I want to share ten digestible gems I received from this symposium that will be in my treasure box forever. Why digestible? Because they are short, sweet, and so good. I'm sharing what resonated with me, hoping it will plant purposeful seeds in you.
"No" is a full sentence.
Establish strong and consistent boundaries that are rooted in your values.
Some things are important to you (willing to be flexible), and there are non-negotiables (not budging on). An example of a non-negotiable may be taking a lunch break, but you're willing to be flexible on whether you take a 30-min break or a full hour. Either way, TAKE A BREAK!
Help other women create their boundaries and hold true to them.
"What got you here, won't get you there". - Marshall Goldsmith
Building wealth gives you a choice.
Hold your values sacred.
Educate your environment.
We need to advocate for each other and ourselves.
We have some learning and unlearning to do.
A special thank you to Olga Adler, CEO of Austin Business Woman, for inviting me to be a part of this fantastic celebration of Women's History Month! Also, thank you to the phenomenal panel and TXDC for being transparent and committed to fixing our crowns. I look forward to participating in more Texas Diversity Council events and initiatives as they continue to create spaces where everyone belongs. #diversity #resilience
To learn more about TXDC, visit their website at http://txdc.org/.