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Updated: Apr 15, 2019

On the 6th of March, the leadership team embarked on a trip to Gainesville, Florida to attend the Inspiring Women Leaders Conference. After a day full of travel our group was exhausted, slightly delusional, but mostly hungry, which lead to our journey of stuffing ourselves full of Waffle House. There we excitedly discussed what we hope to take away from the conference over our hashbrowns and waffles. Bright and early the next morning, we all wobbled downstairs in our heels, grabbed some amazing quiche, and settled into our seats with anticipation.

From that moment on, we absorbed as much as we could throughout the conference attending different sessions and taking away various messages. At the end of the conference, we had a chance to share the specific ideas that resonated most with each of us.

Personally, the big idea I took away from the conference was that there is a little bit of a leader in everybody. There was no single session or keynote that explicitly stated these words, however, it was a reoccurring implicit theme. Each session was structured around the idea of bettering yourself as a leader, not figuring out if you are a leader. I always thought there were strictly two types of people, leaders and followers. I then self-categorized myself as a follower and I never really thought I was cut out for a leadership role, yet lo and behold, here I am.

There were many sessions offered covering topics ranging from “How to Radiate Confidence,” to “Navigating the Networking Nightmare.” The sessions were very interactive, and I walked away with a powerful introduction for networking situations, an idea blueprint to ensure that I am proactive with my ideas, as well as many other tools to keep in my back pocket.

A highlight of the conference was the session about radiating confidence. Jennifer Webb was the speaker for this session and right away we could tell that she was a captivating, passionate women leader. Jennifer is a motivational speaker who specializes in communication issues and overall positivity. She engaged the audience with magic tricks and with every trick our jaws dropped lower and lower. She also discussed some keys to radiate confidence- perception, attitude, and courage. Perception is reality, forgive people for your own sake, and break your own restrictive rules.

I realize those “keys” do not make much sense without context, so let me do my best to shine a little light on them for you. Jennifer explained how every person you meet has a perceived idea of who you are. Every single one of these different “versions” of yourself is valid and is a reality for that person. You are the person you put out in the world.

She also emphasized how important forgiveness is. She explained how sometimes people do not deserve to be forgiven, however, it is important to do so for your own sake. Holding grudges is a burden and can hinder your personal growth.

Lastly, she talked about how everyone subconsciously creates their own set of rules for themselves. These rules are extremely limiting and it is important to break them. I evaluated the rules I had created in my own mind, specifically those that categorized myself as a follower and nothing more, and determined that those sorts of rules are definitely made to be broken.

Celebrating international women’s day in the company of inspirational women was an unforgettable and empowering experience. Overall, I had a blast learning how to turn myself into a leader, or better yet- develop the existing leader within me.

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