This year, the Professional BusinessWomen of California saw its 31st annual conference conducted in an entirely new way. The three-day, virtual experience continued with the mission of inspiring women to be a force for good in their own careers, their organizations, and their communities. Focused on speaking truth and lifting others up, the conference mantra was this: “What’s good for women is good for us all.”
Throughout the experience, attendees heard from speakers across industries and leadership levels. Key topics included leading with authenticity, creating change through storytelling, and advocating for diversity and inclusion. Below we share highlights from some of our favorite sessions.
Creating a Foundation for Good
The conference kicked off with a message on the importance of leading with authenticity and knowing that life doesn’t always go as planned. Rep. Jackie Speier shared two traumatizing personal experiences: nearly losing her life when rescuing cult members in Jonestown in the 1970s, and her husband’s fatal car accident in the 1990s while she was pregnant. She urged attendees to keep moving forward through challenging times. She said, “There’s a plan for each of us, we just don’t know it up front.”
Carla Harris, vice chairman and managing director at Morgan Stanley, noted, “Nobody can be you the way you can be you.” And said, “Be comfortable with taking risks because change is the one guarantee in your personal and professional life.” She talked about the need to overcome fear of failure because “fear has no place in your success equation,” and “failure always brings you a gift.”
Inclusive Leadership Begins with Narrative Intelligence
Founder and chief story strategist of The New Quo, Christina Blacken, discussed the power of narrative intelligence, which she explained is “the ability to create patterns, attach meaning to the events happening around us, and influence the behavior of others through story.” She added that story is “the most powerful tool for persuasion, influence, culture building, and genuine inclusion” and advocated for using storytelling to break down barriers and promote diversity.
Blacken added that all employees have the power to influence their organizations by sharing their stories and listening to the stories of others. “Regardless of what your title is, you have the capability of genuine transformation, of reaching your fullest, most creative potential through narrative intelligence and transformational leadership.”
How to Avoid Workplace Burnout
Jen Fisher, U.S. chief well-being officer at Deloitte, discussed overcoming burnout and her role in promoting well-being and authenticity. When experiencing burnout herself, she felt she had to keep pushing through despite feeling overloaded. Fisher said managing burnout ultimately starts with reconnecting with who you are and evaluating priorities, and that everyone is responsible for being intentional with their time and setting boundaries. Fisher shared that self care, far from being selfish, is necessary to bring the best version of ourselves to work.