A week ago last Thursday, I attended the St. Louis Business Journal Women's Conference.
I don't want to say it changed my life, because that sounds way over the top, but it kind of did.
I had amazing food (the Hyatt Regency makes a great breakfast, lunch, snack, cocktail and appetizer buffet, I must admit!) and learned a ton - about work and myself.
The first keynote was Maxine Clark, the lady in charge of Build-a-Bear. She spoke about how she lost her own teddy bear when she was ten and has been looking for him ever since and has found him 80 million times over - that's the number of bears made in their stores!
My first session was with Valerie Burton, of life coach fame. I took away the idea that we can't control the thoughts that enter our mind but we CAN control what we deal with/obsess over/worry about. That may seem like a simple concept, but it was absolutely eye-opening to me.
It made me go to her website and follow her blog, plus pick up her latest book about how we've become so busy as working women. I'll let you know what I think of it once I read it.
After the session with Valerie, I decided to attend a moderated panel with three physicians - an internist, OB-GYN and a neurologist. There were around 150 women in the room just firing questions at the female doctors left and right. It was great because with so many ages represented, we had a pretty good gamut of questions.
I even ran into the doctors later in the day in the vendor booth area, and got their cards. I would LOVE to have them as my physicians but they are all based in a suburb which is about 30 miles away from the house. It's just not practical to have a doctor that far away from the house and work, when I usually have to get appointments during the day.
The lunch speaker was Claire Guadiani. Her speech was absolutely amazing. She speaks about the power of the American woman and how we can change the world, because we've already done so. As women, we have inherited such a wonderful tradition - did you know that it was American woman who created the first bake sale? It was to help widows in the community who couldn't support their families. Her thirty minute presentation was not long enough! I wanted to hear so much more, so I'm going to look into getting her book.
After an amazing lunch we had time to wander through the vendor booths and I met a few business contacts, so it was a good time.
In the afternoon, I went to a customer service session presented by the CVC. She spoke about how you start good customer service by giving the employee some kind of benefit in order for them to give good service - they want to be happy with customers when they get something like a salary or some other tangible something. Hearing it spelled out step-by-step (even though I knew most of it intuitively), it was great to hear it.
The final keynote was Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
It was amazing to hear her story about her life from the Jim Crow south to apartheid South Africa. It's sometimes hard to remember that some people living today have had such a drastically different experience in their lives than I have. I mean, Ms. Hunter-Gault was the first black woman to attend the University of Georgia. I'm not sure I would have had the strength to do that, if I was faced with that situation. The strength of character and the resolve is staggering and so inspiring to me. Definitely a great end to the day!
I'm really looking forward to next year's Conference. If you have an opportunity to attend something like this, for both personal and work development, I highly suggest you go! It was a wonderful day to recharge and reconnect.