What began as a somber day turned into a celebration of strength, hope, power, and even joy at the 17th annual Texas Conference for Women at the Austin Convention Center. Yes, there was plenty of discussion, debate, and disappointment about the defeat of the first woman running for the highest office of the land, but the focus was on empowerment and action through education and networking.
The theme of the conference, "The Power of Us: Amplify Your Voice," seemed poignant and appropriate for the historical moment and environment women now find themselves facing. The event was powerful indeed, featuring the star power of Amal Clooney, the human rights lawyer who spoke plainly and eloquently on the treatment of women throughout the world who find themselves without a voice. Other inspiring keynote speakers included fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg; Olympian and World Cup champion Abby Wambach; Annie Clark, founder of End Rape on Campus; Nina Tassler, former chairman of CBS Entertainment; and Linda Cliatt-Waymen, prominent educator and principal of the Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia, once one of the most dangerous schools in America.
The conference also featured more than 100 experts in the fields of entrepreneurship, health, leadership, philanthropy, finance, social media, technology, branding, and personal development. The following are the most inspiring and eye-opening take-away quotes from the day.
Amal Clooney: “As women, there is a bond we all share. It’s not a bond of geography or culture, but of shared experience. There are struggles that only women face. The worst thing we can do as women is not stand up for each other. [But] if we are united, if we keep up the fight for each other’s rights, there is no limit to what we can do.”
Nina Tassler: “Learning to accept and deal with fear can be empowering. Accepting fear head on can be freeing. As my hero Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘When you have the strength, courage, and confidence to look fear in the face you are able to say to yourself, I have lived through this horror and I can take the next thing that comes along.’ The best antidote for fear is your curiosity, passion, and creativity.”
Annie Clark: “1-in-5 women and 1-in-16 men will graduate from college, transfer, or take their own life as a victim of sexual assault. This is a felony and yet it is one of the only crimes where the victim is consistently blamed for the crime that has been committed. This problem is not isolated to the ivory tower of college campuses. This is about a larger cultural problem.”
Abby Wambach: “Every time you fall down it gives you an opportunity to question yourself, question your integrity, your character, and your personality. The decisions you made leading up to the event — were they good enough? Those are the things I learned most about myself when I have failed. It is not about the actual failure. It is about how you respond to it.”
Nely Galan: “In this political climate the answer is with us. Women have to watch each other’s backs because we are all we’ve got. I learned early on that there is no Prince Charming. No one is coming to save you. You have to build your own brand. Make fear and failure your best friends. You have to make sacrifices to succeed. You have to be the cake and everyone else has to be the icing. To be chosen you have to choose yourself first. Women diminish themselves, but if you want something you have to declare it. Loudly.
"Declare your intention. If you want to become self-made you have to do it yourself. You have to find your power and create financial independence first. Financial independence is the key to having it all. Then you can have a truly rich life — a life where you are out of survival mode; work because you want to and not because you have to. A life where you can reward yourself and your family. A life where you can sleep at night knowing you are empowered, self-reliant, and self-made.”
Mallik Chopra: “My father made us repeat this phrase as we were growing up, ‘I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience and set the goals I will achieve. Everything that seems to happen to me I ask for and receive as I have asked.’
"He also told us to ask for love, connection, inspiration, and a sense of purpose. We were taught as children on a daily basis to ask for the qualities of life that would make us happier, healthier, and more connected and of purpose. That is what intents are. They come from the soul — from the deepest place when we ask ourselves who am I; what do I want; and how can I serve?”
Jody Greenstone Miller: “Here are the things you will need to develop in order to navigate today’s career challenge: No. 1: You must be a futurist. Know where the word is going and how you can fit into it. No. 2: Become a self-analyst. Know what you want and monitor it regularly and be aware when it changes. No. 3: You have to be a life-long skill builder. You cannot expect to graduate from college and know the things that will be relevant even five years from now. You have to take advantage of the endless opportunities to educate yourself through online courses, apprentice ships, boot camps. You have to be learning agile as well.
"No. 4: Develop relationships. You have to have people who know you, care about you, and will be there for you when you call and ask for the next job. It is important to have depth as well as breadth in relationships. No. 5: Storytelling. You have to connect the dots of your story. You have to explain your story and sell your story. No. 6: Risk and uncertainty. You have to be comfortable with taking risks and with the times when you are in between jobs and know that it is going to be okay.”
Diane von Furstenberg: “Be very curious and give everything a chance. The most important relationship you will ever have in life is the one you have with yourself. When that relationship is good every other relationship is a plus and not a must. All women are strong. You don’t have to show your strength all of the time. You just have to know that you have it. This is my gift to you. If you only practice your power you fail. If you only practice your energy you stagnate, but if you practice your intention and you spend a lot of time on why and how and your purpose then you will get the energy and the power to make your intention happen.”
Linda Cliatt-Wayman: “If you are standing in one spot and afraid to move left or right and afraid of what will happen if you choose the wrong direction, do not worry about directional order. Just be sure to move. Move one step closer to that dream you have always had for yourself. Visualize it day and night. See yourself doing exactly what you have always wanted to do. Be an innovator. You have created the breakthrough idea in your head a million times. You’ve got it so go get it! Take some risks and I promise it will be worth it.”
Diane von Furstenberg speaks at the Texas Conference for Women:
Must read bestsellers from Texas Conference for Women authors:
- Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy, by Mallika Chopra. Hands-down the most sought-after book of the conference. She shares her journey to becoming the CEO of Intent.com and the power of living a mindful and purposeful life with humor and wisdom.
- Self Made, by Nely Galan. Determined to educate and empower women to make their financial health and well-being their priority, she preaches the gospel of self-care so that you can take care of everything else.
- Forward: A Memoir, by Abby Wambach. If you ever wondered what it takes to be an Olympian and a World Cup champion, look no further than Wambach’s honest and gut-wrenching account.
- Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, by Jenny Blake. A rarity in the genre of business books, this one combines practicality, relevance, and action with an enjoyable and engaging format. Proactive and useful exercises point the way to successful career moves.
- The Woman I Wanted to Be, by Diane von Furstenberg. Diane von Furstenberg achieved her goals by becoming a fashion icon, philanthropist, and outspoken feminist. Her memoir is just as fascinating as the woman herself.
- Leading From the Front: No-Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women, by Angie Morgan. Morgan is a former Marine, and it shows in her tough-talking get-ahead approach to leadership.
- The Sweet Spot: How To Find Your Groove at Home and Work by Christine Carter. Christine Carter is a happiness expert, and her book provides a roadmap for women to successfully learn to prioritize and balance work, health, and family.