What to Do When Your Plans Encounter a Pandemic

young woman pinning notes on a bulletin board to keep track of plans

Now that at least some of the shock of living in a global pandemic is diminishing, it may be time to ask: How do we pick up the pieces and start thinking creatively about next steps—or, perhaps, even how to re-invent ourselves in a new world?

But before even beginning to try to answer that, it may be helpful to recall Anne Lamott’s classic insight into the creative process.

In Bird by Bird, Lamott writes: “the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.” There are no “good second drafts and terrific third drafts” for anyone, she says, without that first messy step.

That truth about creativity, like innovation, prompted us to talk recently with Mary Laura Philpott, Conference for Women speaker and bestselling author of I Miss You When I Blink.

“Now, and moving forward with every passing week, we have to be even more creative because we’re not coasting on novelty anymore,” said Philpott, who has been compared to Nora Ephron. “We can’t coast on the excuses we had in the beginning, when there was a snow day-like feeling. We have to figure it out.”

If You Feel Blocked

But what if you feel like you don’t have it in you to create what comes next?

“What I always tell younger writers who ask me about how to overcome writer’s block is that there is no such thing. It’s a label we give to fear, when we are afraid of what we have to do or it is difficult,” says Philpott.

The same applies to innovation in business settings, she says. “There is no such thing as innovation block. There is fear. There is exhaustion. But we can do it.”

“I know many women in this audience are planners by nature and visionaries,” Philpott continued. “So many women at these conferences have told me what they were working on now, and what they were planning for five years from now.”

“I know it can be deeply demoralizing to someone who has that visionary tendency to hit an obstacle, and an obstacle that drags on a long time like this one. But we need to remember that time keeps moving forward. This is not life forever. This is life right now.”

Obviously, she added, we still have to focus on how to get through this moment. But don’t give up on your plan or vision in the process. “Save a little time every day to think about it.”


More from the May 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Transitions, Goals & Priorities, Innovation Tagged , |

Who Do You Want to Be When This Is Over?

Indian businesswoman thinking about the future

There’s a difference between being a go-getter and being gutsy, Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code, observes in her book, Brave Not Perfect.

“So many women stick to doing only the things at which they excel, rarely going beyond what makes them feel confident and comfortable,” she writes.

But what happens when we’re outside our comfort zones—either by choice or by circumstances, such as the challenging ones we now find ourselves in?

That’s where being brave comes in. And, that’s why we thought it a good time to catch up with Reshma, a bravery expert, and hear how she is navigating these times at home with her husband, eight-week-old baby and five-year-old son with whom she’s making time to master TikTok dances. One of several things that she said is helping her is asking the question: “Who do you want to be when this is over?” Read the interview here.

In this month’s episode of “Women Amplified,” Reshma also joins another amazing woman, Laysha Ward, executive vice president and chief external engagement officer for Target, for a dynamic conversation about why we need to give up on perfectionism to find our courage. Tune in here.

Finally, in case you missed it, here are some new resources and initiative we launched last month:

Stay strong, friends! And, if you found this helpful, please share it with someone.


More from the May 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Transitions, Goals & Priorities Tagged , , |

What Everyone Needs in the Face of a Great Challenge

two friends practicing social distancing while smiling and hiking up a mountain

Our friend and happiness expert Shawn Achor once shared that if you view a mountain by yourself, your brain will perceive it to be 10 to 20 percent steeper than if you view it while standing next to a friend who is going to climb it with you.

Well, friends, we’re standing next to you (from six feet away, of course) as you view what might feel like a mountain of new challenges. Think of us as the friendly crew that’s helping find the best guides, tips, and inspiration to help you succeed.

That’s why this month we launched these new resources and initiatives:

We’ve also increased the frequency of our newsletter to keep you informed and connected to this vital community of women supporting women. If you know a friend or colleague who could benefit from joining us, please share this newsletter with them. New readers, sign up here.

Two final notes:

  • Young women from underserved communities who are prospective college students need our help now. Please consider giving to our partner, ScholarMatch.
  • The 2020 Conference will go on, and registration will begin in June. Read our statement.

More from the April 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Latest News, Embrace the Unknown Tagged |

How to Stay Meaningfully Connected

a cheerful young woman staying connected and chatting via laptop while enjoying a bite to eat on the balcony

During another crazy time in our world, Emily Morgan had a newborn and a husband suddenly out of work because of the financial crash of 2007-2008. She’d been working at the University of Pennsylvania but wanted to give remote work a try. Twelve years later, she is a successful entrepreneur who leads a team of 40—and an expert in the remote work that has suddenly become a reality for so many.

Here are five suggestions from Morgan, a Conference for Women speaker, about how to stay connected in meaningful ways and be a leader in times like this—followed by tips from the Conferences for Women team on how to make working at home work.

  • Create brief opportunities for everyone to see each other. Her entire team comes together over Zoom for 15 minutes once a week, with various team members taking a turn hosting. They cover core values, one positive development, organizational updates, shared learnings, and a story of values in action.
  • Offer small, more in-depth chances to connect. Morgan’s team is divided into packs of five to seven who meet on Zoom one hour a week where they have an opportunity to share—including, as she puts it, to “complain to and encourage”—one another. This, she says, helps create the culture they would have if working in the office together.
  • Think creatively about how you can support your team now. For example, she is organizing a virtual camp where volunteers teach topics that will aim to keep children engaged while their parents focus on work.
  • Establish clear boundaries and expectations. Being clear about metrics the team should be focused on over the next 30, 60 and 90 days. This helps everyone stay focused on priorities and know what they are accountable for.
  • Try to model calmness. Morgan says she meditates, limits her news intake, and reflects on whether how she is leading and acting is aligned with how she wants to see others act. “I don’t,” she adds, “want to be leading from a place of reaction.”

Morgan is the founder and CEO of Delegate Solutions, which offers premium-level virtual assistant services for entrepreneurs.


More from the April 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance Tagged |

10 Work-at-Home Tips from the CFW Team

Mother using digital tablet to work from home while Father and son use laptop. They are sitting at the kitchen table

Since the Conferences for Women team is a remote one, we thought it might be useful to share some of the lessons we have learned in how to work effectively at home. Here are some highlights from our team:

  1. Shower and dress in real clothes every day. I’ve done the “It’s 5 p.m. and I’m still in my PJs” and have learned it’s just not good for my energy or my family’s. (Laura H.)
  2. Don’t watch or listen to the news during work hours. That’s tough especially now. But world events are not going to change just because I am watching them happen real-time. (Laura H.)
  3. Pick up the phone and talk. It’s easy to get isolated by just emailing all day. It’s a simple thing, but picking up the phone to talk to a colleague for 10 minutes helps more than you would think! (Michelle V.)
  4. With kids, make a routine just like a school day. They have to wake up and shower and eat breakfast at a normal time. Depending on their age, morning is for school work then getting outside. After lunch, they can watch a movie and play computer games or go on social media. Then they help make dinner and, after dinner, is family time. I’m also all for keeping a normal bed time. When my son was in the hospital on and off for a year, routine was so important. We had reading time, movie time, music time, video game time, art time, normal bed time. I taped the schedule on the wall. It was everything. (Laura H.)
  5. Do your best to communicate clear boundaries to your children regarding your work time and space. Try color-coded signs to hang on your office door, or come up with hand signals to let them know when you shouldn’t be disturbed. (Danielle L.)
  6. Take advantage of breaktime with kids around. Don’t eat lunch in front of your computer. Eat with your family, take 10 minutes to play, or go for a walk together. (Carolyn G.)
  7. Find “safe spaces” when needed. When all else fails and its chaos at home with the kids being nuts, I can be found in my bathroom with locked doors hiding to conduct a call. HAHA. Wish I was joking but I am not. (Jess B.)
  8. Tap your friends and neighbors to entertain the kids via video chat. Set up a schedule and take turns leading. (Sarah S.)
  9. Shut down your computer at night. My desk is in the living room in a small house and if I hear or see emails come in, I will head to the computer instead of spending time with my family. Last fall my kids commented they had only seen the back of my head for days on end.  I started shutting down for real; if I still have work to do at night it is after kids are in bed. (Laura H.)
  10. Give yourself grace. It’s OK if your kids eat mac-n-cheese three nights in a row and watch too much TV if it gets your family through the day. (Laura H.)

What are you discovering works for you? Please send your tips  to [email protected], and we’ll pass along highlights in our next newsletter. 


More from the April 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance Tagged |

How to Cultivate the Resilience We Need Now

Anne Grady

“If you’re naturally one of those super, über-productive people who are wondering why in the world you’re not getting a ton done or how to get it done, take a couple deep breaths. Reset your nervous system.”

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Posted in Embrace the Unknown, Health & Wellness, Podcasts, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged |

Tips for Managing Stress

Alice Boyes, Conference for Women speaker and author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit

How do we, as a community of working women, best deal with the growing stress that has suddenly been unleashed in our lives as a result of the coronavirus? To answer that question, we spoke with Alice Boyes, Conference for Women speaker and author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit. Here are her suggestions—followed by links to 3 sessions we hope you find helpful now:

  • “You generally want to control everything you can and accept everything you can’t.” For example, washing your hands is in your control. School closures are not. “People who do well in these scenarios,” she explained, “are people who can be flexible. They can problem-solve but also be accepting where being accepting is the only option.”
  • Make a short list of high-impact actions you can take to reduce your risk. Remember that too many ideas can lead to overwhelm. Then focus on emotional coping—things that help you keep calm and carry on. One of her favorites, for example, is restorative yoga.
  • Refrain from personalizing the impact of this crisis. “Whatever dilemmas you’re having, you’re not the only one.” We’re in this together and, in fact, it helps to remember your community and how we can help each other.
  • Be creative. If you were planning a spring break trip that you have to reschedule for the fall, consider your alternatives. For example, Boyes has been pitching a tent in the backyard with her four-year-old.
  • Finally, she suggested, remember that this is not our first rodeo. Crises are part of the human experience. And humans are remarkable about responding to them. In the end, they tend to bring out the best in us.

Do you have helpful thoughts to share with the Conference for Women community? Please send them to [email protected], and we’ll pass along highlights in our next newsletter.

THREE TALKS FOR THESE TIMES. With many of us now working from home, children out of school, fluctuations in the stock market, and all the other uncertainty we’re facing, we sorely need our community and wise words from women who know what it takes to be brave, resilient and even happy in difficult times. Here are links to 3 sessions we hope lift your spirits:

RESTORATIVE YOGA. Also, don’t miss these relaxing and restorative yoga moves to help you to slow down and get back to YOU!


More from the March 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance Tagged , |

Here’s How to Be Happier Now

Nataly Kogan

“So many people are so stressed out and so overwhelmed that they can’t even, and I say this from personal experience, they cannot even allow themselves to pause and recognize that they’re running at an unacceptable pace.”

Scroll down and click Play to listen in your browser. Or subscribe to Women Amplified wherever you get your podcasts, and take advantage of Conference for Women speakers year-round!

 

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Posted in Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities, Podcasts Tagged , , |

A Conversation on How to Skimm Your Life | 2019 Session

Navigating life isn’t easy, but theSkimm founders, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin make it a lot more fun. This fireside chat will deliver the Skimm’s trademark mix of real talk, humor, and inspirational messaging to take all of the daunting, cumbersome and frankly unsexy parts of being an adult, and break them down in the same way they break down a complicated news story every morning in our inbox. 

Join this session to learn how to navigate the noteworthy moments in your lives, not just your days. Attendees will leave armed with advice, information and hacks to help you make the most informed life and career decisions. 

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Posted in Embrace the Unknown, Breakout Session Tagged , , , , |

Navigating Conflict & Difficult Conversations | 2019 Session

We all want to work with people who are polite, considerate and kind. But it’s possible to be too nice: failing to disagree when it’s important to do so, or holding back from surfacing new ideas and innovations. Healthy, constructive conflicts are an essential part of producing good work; yet many people don’t have the skills to disagree in a professional, productive way. In this session, Amy Gallo combines management research and practical insights to provide straightforward advice on how to navigate difficult conversations so you can develop collaborative resolutions and be more effective at work.  Attendees will learn how to:

  • Recognize whether you and others tend to seek or avoid conflict
  • Assess your options for addressing a disagreement and knowing when to walk away
  • Manage your emotions
  • Prepare for and engage in difficult conversations.

Read More

Posted in Embrace the Unknown, Communication Skills, Breakout Session Tagged , , |
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