As you may have seen from our social media accounts, Patricia and I attended the Create and Cultivate conference this week in LA.
The conference brought together over 800 women in business who are interested in female entrepreneurship. I traveled from Philadelphia to attend the conference to learn from the panelists, mostly female executives who started their own companies. I also wanted to learn from the attendees, who were all looking to create the career of their dreams. Plus, similar to our retreat, it gave Patricia and I some time to plan for exciting new Workr Beeing initiatives! The conference was really jam-packed with information and I feel like I learned a lot. So, we thought it would be great for us to each recount our lessons learned. That way, we can share the wealth with you! Patricia will be posting her recap next. Below I’ll outline my 5 biggest takeaways from the day.
Create a career that reflects what you do well.
One of my biggest takeaways was that everyone should try to focus on highlighting what they do well at work. This means that you have to know what you truly do well. While you might know exactly what you’re good at already, this is an easy blindspot for people. One great way to figure out what you’re best at is to ask people what they feel you are known for at work. Find some people you trust and ask them what they feel are your strongest suits. If you focus on what you’re good at, you know that you’ll be able to deliver. This doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue something that is a stretch for you. But, the closer you can get to honing in on what you really excel at, the more you’ll stand out in what you do.
Being authentic at work is important.
However, another takeaway from the sessions that I attended was that you have to balance expertise with passion. Of course, you should do something that you’re really good at. But, you also need to create a career that you love. While no job is perfect, it’s really important that you have a connection with the work that you do. One good way to figure out what you’re passionate about is to think about when you feel like you’re in “flow”. When do you feel happiest at work? When do you feel most energized?
Then ask yourself another question – what do you do for fun? What do you feel excited about outside of work? Now look for threads between the two. If you can find a common denominator between what you are passionate about at work and outside of work, you can try to find more of this in your job. For example, maybe you really like training others at work. Maybe you’re also passionate about volunteering at a community center outside of work. In that case, you might hone in on developing others’ talents as your passion.
Don’t try to go it alone – find allies.
Another great takeaway was that you need to find your community at work and outside of work. This helps you to get advice from folks who care about you and who want you to succeed. It can be lonely sometimes at work – especially if you work remotely or if you are trying to create your own business. Finding a community that supports your goals, both personal and professional, can contribute to your success.
For example, if your goal is to start an accounting firm, finding other folks who have started accounting firms can be invaluable. In fact, one of the women I met said that she had 80 coffee meetings in 2 months when she was starting her business. While that might be a bit extreme, she met a community of people who gave her really great advice along the way. Every one of those 80 people might not become a great resource. But, even if you make 5 good contacts that you’ll hold onto in the long-term, it’s worth it.
Inclusivity is a top leadership priority.
The next big takeaway that I took from the conference is that being able to create inclusive work environments is top of mind for employers looking for the next generation of leaders. One of the strongest messages sent by panelists in the sessions that I attended was that diversity and inclusion is paramount to being a successful leader. Also, attendees strongly expressed their desire to work for companies that were focused on creating equitable work environments.
These days, there are so many resources available for educating yourself on diversity and inclusion. So, you can start by trying to read as many online articles on the topic as possible. Try to particularly read those written by people of color, members of the LGBT community, religious minorities, disabled individuals, and other groups that are historically underrepresented at work. Cultural competence is also vastly important. So, looking for articles written by immigrants, those working in a country that is different from yours, or by experts in cultural flexibility or adaptability, can also help.
We all want to be welcomed and to feel comfortable at work, and employees are increasingly looking for clear messages that companies are doing this. Gaining a skill set in this area will make you more valuable to any business – and will make you a better friend and community member along the way.
Doing good while doing well is key.
Finally, the panelists really stressed that giving back and being aware of how your work affects the world is key to being happy in the long-term. How can you find ways to give back at work? Can you help others who are just starting out? Are you able to join employee resource groups that support inclusion at work? Think about how the job you do affects others around you. Try to make the impact of your work as positive as possible. Maybe you can cut down on waste to improve the environment. Or you can make sure that the vendors you’re using are only adhering to the highest ethical standards.
Giving back to others makes us feel better about what we do and about ourselves as people. Plus, it creates positive change in society. Everyone can give back through their work in some way. So, brainstorming about how you can do this in your work is really important.
Overall the conference was time well-spent. We had a great time learning from the panelists and keynote speakers. I’m happy that I can bring what I learned to you. But, the learning doesn’t have to stop with the conference. Please leave comments below about what you’re doing to create and cultivate the career you want. We would love to hear from you!