I’ve recently returned from a stellar line up of women all speaking on the personal themes of women and leadership at this years Emerging Women Live Conference in San Francisco. The keynotes included notable luminaries and thought leaders of the moment Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jane Goodall and completed with an inspiring and heart filled closing speech by Dr Tererai Trent one of the most internationally recognized voices for quality education and women’s empowerment.
But the content of the conference was made even better through the line up of women who spoke under the category of Emerging Shorts. Speakers like the impressive Guru Jagat a senior teacher of Kundalini yoga, Promise Phelon CEO of TapInfluence and Sahar Paz author of ‘Find Your Voice.’
These pioneering women leaders working on the ground shared compelling stories of their lives and the ways in which they are empowering women’s lives. The line up of presenters all weekend was refreshingly culturally diverse. Saturday’s line up included an excellent panel discussion, Uncovering Blind Spots: How Unconscious Bias Limits Connection, Creativity and Profits. The panel line up included Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale a diversity and inclusion consultant and educator, Regina Lawless a VP, Talent management consultant and career coach and Pamela Mattson an international leadership development consultant.
Founder and CEO Chantal Pierrat, who was previously VP of Sales and Marketing at Sounds True, founded emerging Women in 2012. To meet Chantal is like walking up to a model on the runway except this woman oozes a current of confidence that flows from the inside out in an undeniable way. The fact that she’s a former dancer and the founder of Soul Sweat was not wasted when after her elegant and fun hosting for two days she led the entire conference in a soul sweat dance work out before the conference party got underway that left me crawling for my bed. Girlfriend can work it.
The message that sung out loud and clear from the conference is that women are taking leadership under their own wings and doing it for themselves. Many of the presenters on the programme are movers and shakers who are creating global and local movements for women and girls across the world. These are women who are no longer accepting ‘No’ when pitching for funding and instead have set about creating crowd funding and financial revenue streams for women start up’s in a big way. As one of the speakers Angels founder, Natalia Oberti-Noguera #leadinglookslike reminded us in her talk, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring your own chair.”
There was not one presenter for the entire conference who didn’t hold her own authentically on the stage. It was beauty and grace to watch them all flower as they spoke from the heart. This was Ted.com for women in business but with more spirit and soul. There was a free live stream that is now available on demand from Sounds True here http://live.soundstrue.com/emergingwomen15/
The presenter that really struck a deep chord with me was psychotherapist Esther Perel. Her work on the ‘erotic and ‘desire’ is literally breaking women open for the better. Half of the conference poured into her workshop on the Saturday afternoon.
I experienced a big shift in her workshop as another piece of the jigsaw in my healing process fitted together. As a former victim of early childhood sexual abuse the experience shut down my healthy relationship with the ‘erotic and desire.’ Of course it did. Listening to Esther’s talk made sense. Shutting down on the ‘erotic and desire’ also shut down many of my pathways to my own aliveness.
Many people who know me may not realise that I am incredibly shy and incredibly sensitive. But because I also was resilient to this earlier trauma I also need to remind myself of my own courage and braveness I accessed at the time.
Now having hit my fifties things are shifting big time. I’m at that point in my life when to be honest who cares what other people think, Esther’s workshop and talk put everything in perspective. By the time het talk was nearly over and I headed in the direction of the bookshop at the back of the auditorium all of her books had gone! Want to learn more then get hold of her book, Mating in Captivity, Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic or watch one of her Ted talks herehttps://www.ted.com/speakers/esther_perel
Each presenter on the stage shared valuable content, a line, a story or a quote that struck home. Here are a few of the memorable one’s I captured in my notebook:
Former US physician Neha Sangwan encouraged us all to, “Take the 18 inch journey from your head to your heart.”
Elizabeth Gilbert described, “Perfectionism is fear in high heels and a mink coat acting funny.”
Elizabeth Gilbert again on celebrating the good stuff, “It’s okay to celebrate when wonderful things happen, because they don’t happen enough.”
On the subject of creativity Brené Brown said, “Unused Creativity is not benign.”
Silicon Valley thought leader Promise Phelon, “Grit can only exist in the absence of shame.”
Dr Jane Goodall, “When nature flourishes, we flourish,” and “My mother encouraged me to explore my dreams and in doing so allowed my dreams a chance to grow.”
Communication’s expert Wokie Nwabueze story of having to retrieve boxes from a dumpster after her husband thought he was helping out by clearing their garage when she was away one weekend was gripping. His thoughtful gesture resulted in removing several boxes containing many of her personal items from childhood including a hoard of her personal journals. The boxes had been dumped in the garage when they moved into the house and had remained untouched for several years. You could feel the electricity in the room as women sat on the edge of their chairs listening intently as she retold the story.
A thought leader on courage whose also a communication and conflict resolution expert this gem (one of many) from her talk stood out for me, “It’s easy to miss the moment we betray ourselves. We look good on the outside, we make choices inspired by others, and we put ourselves in boxes. People start to label our boxes … we forget that we are suffocating under the praise.”
Chantal Pierrat, Founder of Emerging Women shared a Sikh saying at the start of the conference,“Our truth is as strong as sixteen suns.”
You can learn more about Emerging Women and sign up to their content rich podcast conversations each month with women global thought leaders who are just like you and me:http://www.emergingwomen.com/about/