Sunday, June 16, 2013

When It Rains It Surely Pours... Thoughts on SHE Summit, Same Sky and The Athena Phenomenon- Part 2

My epiphany came to me in the hazy interface of sleep and wake this morning, as I turned over and gently pressed the "on" button to my waking thoughts.

I am happiest when:
I am engaged in some doable (note: NOT All-Consuming) project,
I have thought-provoking and mentally/physically involving events to attend,
I have caught up with all the people I wanted to check in with,
I am singing (, props to Jared and Jason for bringing that one to the surface!),
I have reading material, in the form of great web and print-based articles, a recommended book or two, even an unexpected handwritten card or letter, and
When my creative side has been stroked and encouraged to make a therapeutic reemergence.

The second day of SHE Summit seemed to be about 50% less attendance, but this in no way diminished the buzz, the echoes of excited and engaged women (and a few men) talking. The community-driven spirit of the event was palpable.

Day 2 was all about Women Investing in Women; Women & Media Consciousness; Women & Science; Mentorship and Sponsorship; Return on Investment (Self-Care & Wellness); and Success Stories from working Moms. Every topic was exciting and eye-opening in how the panelists highlighted the issues, related their own personal anecdotes to the audience, and promoted themselves and other women confidently. They were real women (mostly white, a few of color, but I'm not hating, just relating) of different ages, backgrounds, sizes and perspectives. Some, like the triumphant Cindy Gallop, had an awesome stage presence, her voice peppered with passion when she spoke. I wrote and tweeted so many of her quotes  that my carpal tunnel started acting up! By far, the one I want to repeat and re-read over and over again was, "There is a huge amount of money to be made by taking women seriously", which she said during a discussion about how women are represented by the almost 97% of male ad creators in the United States. According to Ms. Gallop who totally makes me want to get back on my gallant horse of life, pun intended!), women are the majority users of social media (I'm talking to you, Lady LittleFoot!), and they influence 90% of technology sales (whether they are used to sell them to other women or not, I presume). Another spot-on thing she said was " we are constantly played back to ourselves through the male gaze". Boom. There it is.

I really appreciated learning about John Gerzema yesterday, although I didn't get to attend his conversation because I was volunteering at the registration desk, I did chat him up when he was leaving and got him to sign a copy of his book, The Athena Doctrine. What I overheard got me excited, because he highlights the value of so-called feminine traits in leadership around the world, with clear statistics. He even went as far as to say that these are areas that men could and should adopt in order to be more effective as co-leaders with women in The World of Right Now and Tomorrow.

It's so funny because all last year I had purposed to design and achieve another meaningful tattoo to commemorate my 30th birthday and reflect on life since I was 20 years old studying in Australia. I didn't get it (yet), just like I didn't start locking my hair, another endeavor re-evaluated for strength of purpose. But, just being at this conference, making the decisions that I made in the past two weeks and the past three months at this new job have affirmed what I knew last year. The image that I couldn't get out of my head when I thought about it was a woman pulling back a bow an arrow, placed right on my left shoulder blade. I wanted to incorporate not just Athena, Goddess of Craft and Wisdom, but also Nzinga, Warrior Queen of Matamba.

Tattoos and Dreads, you say... what kind of girl is this? Well, let me be one to say that both of these forms of physical self-expression are older than the internet, and have long been part of my ancestral heritage, as well as about 95% of human beings anywhere on this globe, in some form or other. This is not a hard statistic, and is mostly based on my own travels, conversations and literary investigations. I have my reserved, slightly conservative side, and I have my creative, expressive and open-minded self inhabiting the same body. My Body. My Mind to expand and share with others, my Lips to speak positively and supportively, defensively and with confident authority or even with a measured rebuke, if so warranted.

All of this, and I still want to be a U.S. Diplomat, so help me. MA and I have both signed up to take the FSOT in October, me my third time will be a charm!

Some quotes from the SHE Summit:

"We need new role models of what masculinity is, there is a global crisis of masculinity"

"End the backlog of untested rape kits in the U.S.- 400,000, The Human Rights Watch says it is the biggest violation to American women"- Julie Smolyanski, CEO & Director of Lifeway Foods

"Only 2 cents of every development dollar goes to girls"- Maz Kessler, Catapult

"People assume that the U.S. is investing in girls... we give more money to animal causes"- Ruma Bose, Innovator's Fund Partner

"There are times when pushing the women's story is problematic... you have to get men interested"- Carol Hymowitz, Bloomberg Editor-at-Large

"Women challenge the status quo because we are never IT"- Cindy Gallop, CEO IfWeRanTheWorld

"If we inspire the next generation to become scientists, some will practice hard science...the rest will practice the scientific method, so everyone wins"- Rita J. King, EVP for Business Development @ Science House Foundation
"Instead of asking for an opportunity, tell someone what you can do for them...amplify your own ability to succeed by connecting:- Rita J. King

On Mentorship vs. Sponsorship:

"The Godfather Principle...If you only associate with people on your level, you are doing yourself a disservice"

"Lead by giving; be indispensable; create goodwill to make someone want to take an interest in you; take the initiative"

"We need to stop judging each other, because we are holding each other back with reinforcing perceptions"- Caroline Ghosn, Co-founder & CEO Levo Lounge

"Take B Vitamins to lower your carb cravings!"

"A man is not a financial plan...the lizard brain we have...that someone will be there to take care of us" Manisha Thakor, Founder & CEO Moneyzen Wealth Management

And for the ever-learning writer in all of us, a matter of contention to be cleared up...semicolon versus colon!

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