I can hardly believe elaConf was a month ago, today! It's about time I finish my recap blog post (and hopefully kickstart a blogging habit for 2017). This lady-led, women-empowerment conference has easily become one of my favorite parts of 2016 (last year's was a highlight of 2015!). The empowerment high I always leave with is impossible to explain or compare to the other conferences, talks and meet ups I've attended this year; the level of motivation, the desire to do good and build community... it's incredible and has me bringing this gif back into my life:
I was a bit bummed to have missed out on Friday night's lightning talks, but Saturday's all day programming more than made up for it (even when Philly traffic threatened to make me late!). The sense of belonging and 'girl, you can do anything you put your mind' to was everywhere, and honestly, pretty darn needed in my book. I started a new job the following Monday, and was ready for my yearly dose of encouragement and empowerment (have you ever noticed how empowered women radiate empowerment? It's Shine theory. I swear).
elaConf exists to empower and build a community of women who support one another. Can't find a woman to speak at your conference? There's a list for that. The entire conference is powered by women passionate about finding their place in tech and creating leadership. Mary Scotton, of Salesforce, gave the morning's keynote on 5 leadership lessons she's learned from her son, Nicole Zhu talked to us about squads (Lancaster, I'm forming one - let's go), I moderated a panel on self care (with some wonderful, wonderful ladies sharing their favorite tips for preventing burn out and taking care of yourself!), Ruthie Floats had a perfectly timed talk on handling rude folks, Lisa Yoder talked about getting involved and giving back, and Adrienne Lowe closed the evening with a talk on taking up space and being you in that space. And I missed out on Friday night! There were even more talks then. And I didn't even list the break out sessions, lunch talks and post-conference conversations. Honestly, I could use a bit of elaConf every month (thank goodness for Slack).
Talking Self Care
In the days leading up to elaConf, I finished up my last two weeks at my previous job, and took a few days for me. I had considered applying to speak at elaConf, but knew this year would be a busy one, and instead signed up as a volunteer. One of my 2016 goals was to talk and create conversations in places that matter more, so when I was asked to moderate a panel, of course I said yes.
Working with the women on the panel to form questions, and address all the things they included in their inspiring abstracts had me so excited to take a seat with them on stage. We talked favorite self care strategies, how their employers promote self care, how to advocate for yourself and take the time you need, when you need it, how to get through a multi-day conference, without neglecting yourself and more. By the end of the panel, I think the whole room was brimming with Sunday plans to practice some self care.
Shout out to Alyssa Dill for these beautiful sketch notes!
So, I got inspired, got motivated, now what? The blow of the election stole a good bit of that motivation (what a rollercoaster), but I'm back on the up and up. I'm starting small.
A reoccurring theme throughout the day was the idea of taking inventory of what you've done, what you're learning and what you want to do, aka, keep a list of every single victory, big or small and use it! Stuck in a rut? Reflect. Make a mistake at work? Look back on your list. That list is your bragging rights. As women, we need to stop minimizing victories! We do amazing things, every day, so damn right, we deserve to celebrate them. Do something everyday that you consider to be a win (getting out of bed counts!) and build up that proof for yourself that you do belong.
Additionally, two talks in the morning in, and I was itching to get a community going in Lancaster and the surrounding areas of women supporting other women in technology and STEM Fields. So, I started these two little tools in the meantime, that I'll be building up in the coming months: Shine Lancaster and Lancaster Ladies in Tech Slack. I'm ready to have conversations, empower women, and radiate shine theory.
Footnote: Feeling that FOMO, or missing the empowerment? There's a storify for that.