The audience for the Art of Leadership for Women in Toronto was filled with people like me looking for those little nuggets to inspire change and growth. Luckily, this conference featured a roster of entertaining, relevant speakers who shared useful tidbits to help us shift perspective and strategies for business and in life.
Martha Stewart was candid and brash, sharing tales of her rise to one of the most successful self-made female entrepreneurs. Hockey Olympic Medalist Haley Wickenheiser regaled us with tales of life of an elite athlete. My favourite speaker was BBC Anchorwoman Katty Kay who focused on why women continue to lack confidence. I left the conference with her book The Confidence Code, and have been recommending it to everyone.
Because YMC was one of the sponsors of the event, I was able to invite a group of influential women in the social space to sit with me. At the end of the day, I asked each to share their favourite learnings to share with you. Here's what they took away from the conference:
Tammy Mitchell, InRDreams.com, on the 3 to 1 rule
Katty Kay spoke about women's pursuit of perfectionism, which is holding back our confidence. Conversely, men tend to let things roll of their shoulders. I liked Katty's "3 to 1 rule"—when a negative thought holds you back, replace it with 3 positive ones. We need to remind ourselves of our successes, not our failures. Act More. Think Less. Be Authentic.
Julie Cole, Baby Machine blogger and Mabels Labels, on Martha Stewart's leadership style
When Martha Stewart was asked if being a woman made her a different kind of leader, she responded with, “Well, no, being Martha makes me a different kind of leader.” We need to embrace our own unique leadership styles, and not be defined by our gender.
Laura Berg, My Smart Hands, on Confidence vs Competence
My favourite moment was when Katty Kay talked about confidence and competence being different. I've always been confident to jump into things and I've learned how to be competent on the way—flying by the seat of my pants sometimes. Confident people fake it 'til they make it. ;)
Paula Shuck, Thrifty Mom Media, learned we need to be surrounded by the smartest people
Twice during the day at The Art of Leadership for Women I heard variations of this theme—surround yourself with smart people in order to succeed, and if you are the smartest person in the room, find a different room. The actual quote from Michael Dell is,"Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room." I have been struggling with outsourcing and building my team of contracted employees and writers for the last year. I know I need to surround myself with smart people and make my team stronger.
Maija Craig, Canned Soup Mom, was inspired to be "leaderful"
"Rest is a Weapon"—words that Hailey Wickenheiser's hockey coach told her resonated with me as a woman and a mom. I need to remember to take better care of myself. I also loved her term "leaderful team," which she described as a team with many people capable of leading, not just one or two.
Alanna McGuinn, Good Night Sleep Site, is giving up Perfectionism
Katty Kay explained how perfectionism is killing our confidence and why it's okay to fail. This spoke to me on so many levels. I think we connect failure with defeat, when really we should be learning why we failed, pinpoint mistakes, and apply these lessons to our business to grow rather than give up. We don't have to be perfect. The Hewlett Packard internal study showed that women will only apply to a position if they have 100% of the qualifications, whereas men apply with only 60%. I think we as women need more of the mentality of "fake it till you make it." Grab every opportunity that comes at you and don't be scared if you don't know it all at that moment. With hard work and determination, you will learn and master it.
I will focus on not overthinking and do a little more risk-taking
There were several ideas that connected with my world view. Katty Kay spoke about women ruminating to a fault. We tend to overthink a situation and become frozen. We are so conditioned to be perfect, but when you strive for perfection, it's a standard you'll never reach. This inhibits risk-taking and limits one's rise in the business world. My favourite line from her was, "Confidence is taking action on things you don't know if you can do." Boom!
I walked out the Art of Leadership for Women reinvigorated, determined to take on challenges I've been putting off. If I fail, I'll chalk it up to a learning experience. Amazing how a tidbit of insight can inspire action.
What about you? Does any of this connect with you? If so, what are you going to do about it?
Looking for some more inspiration? Check out these amazing Mompreneurs!