Picture this. A young woman recently purchased an electrical and mechanical contracting company with her partner. She is not a tradesperson, she does not have a business or finance background. She gave lots of notice before quitting her job as a Marketing and eCommerce Coordinator for a large company she had been at for 5 years. It has been 10 days since she stepped into her new role as owner/operator. She is lost and overwhelmed – the newest person on the team. She doesn’t know the processes or procedures, she does not know where anything is kept, she is trying to breathe and not be overwhelmed from constantly “drinking from the fire hose.” She sits in the open office and worries everyone thinks she is not contributing to the team. She gets invited to a conference/event by her new bank account manager, who she barely knows. The event is supposed to have over 1000 people in attendance and the main theme is successful networking. Breath. Just breath. Everything will be OK. This event was SHEday 2017.
It has now been over a year since that first large-scale event and a year since I have been in the position of Owner (a shared responsibility with my partner). I have to confess that in my first 3 months of making this career transition, I was constantly overwhelmed, frustrated, and fearful that I had made a very terrible mistake… Then, something happened. My partner got sick. He got the flu. He couldn’t come into the office; he couldn’t get out of bed. Something else happened. I decided not to be scared anymore and decided that I just needed to get things done. What’s amazing was that in the week or so that I was “on my own”, I flourished. I kept asking a lot of questions, I figured things out, I made decisions, things got done. My knowledge and skills didn’t suddenly increase or change in that week. What changed was my attitude and confidence. It was sink or swim and I decided to swim.
SHEday2017 was a powerful event for me. I had never seen so many successful and inspiring women in one place. I took a ton of notes and tried to implement as many of the ideas and pieces of advice that resonated with me. A year later, SHEday2018 was coming up and I wanted to pay-it-forward. I gained so much from attending last year’s conference, that I wanted to bring other women with me that would benefit from hearing all of the empowering stories and speakers. So that is what I did – our Accounting & Payroll Administrator attending, as did a friend who sells her vegan baking at farmer’s markets (Sweet as Sinnamon, a shameless plug for her and her business).
When you walk through the door of opportunity, leave the door open and bring through the next person. Look for who is missing from the conversation and bring them to the table.
This year’s theme was Building Your Story. Hopefully the story I told at the start of this post engaged your senses and you could easily understand the challenge I was faced with and the outcome of my actions.
There were a lot of great speakers and topics but the ones that really resonated with me were the following (you can see the entire agenda HERE):
- Story Works! Know Your Story, Show Your Value, Plant The Seeds Of Connection.
- Crucial Conversations: Crucial conversations are critical to the success of any relationship – be it personal or professional. You CAN create better relationships with crucial conversations that build trust – Sharon Harrald.Think about what conversations are you avoiding having because you don’t want to deal with the results? These are crucial conversations (opinions vary, stakes are high, emotions are strong). Intent and impact from body language and tone are much higher than the actual verbal content and being in a position of power will amplify this.
A common theme that came up over and over again was confidence. Here are some of the most powerful statements that I heard at SHEday2018, most of them dealing with this topic.
- Remember your moments of rejection and grow from them. Mourn it. It’s hard. You might question your worth. But it’s critical to learn from these moments.
- Big goals require big actions – rethink, relocate, relearn, refine your skills.
- Too many women do the “anti-sell” when they are approached about a new project, new position – “Oh, but I’m not really trained in…” “I’m not sure I can do this…”
- An empowered woman does not condemn other women for her successes
- Be aligned with your corporate culture – do what you say you’re going to do
- You can’t believe everything you think
- Men will apply for jobs when they think they are 60% qualified. Women won’t apply unless they think they are 90% qualified.
After reading my story and some of the topics, I hope that you reflect on your own story. I hope that you share this with other people and talk about some of the ideas mentioned here. Have discussions with your coworkers, family, and friends about confidence, their moment of success, and failures. Good luck to you all.