by Holland-Mark | December 14, 2009

This past Thursday I attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women with the majority of my female coworkers from Holland-Mark. This was the first women’s conference I have ever been to and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was honestly thinking it would be a great place to network, but was also picturing a bunch of boring seminars that would allow for some serious doodling time. For the most part I was wrong about that last statement although some doodling did occur (I just can’t help it). The crowd was huge and slightly overwhelming, you can get a good idea of the size by the picture below, and there were rows of tables behind us!

The Opening Keynote speakers were really engaging, especially Marcus Buckingham (his accent and good looks helped some) and Tory Johnson. They were so great, in fact, that I went to both of their breakout sessions, taking my coworker Liz’s advice that no matter how interesting the titles of the sessions sound, if the person speaking sucks then the whole thing will undoubtedly put you to sleep (not her words, but that’s the idea). She was right because I really enjoyed the first two sessions with Marcus and Torey, and left the third session early because it wasn’t holding my attention at all.

Marcus’s seminar was called “Finding Your Strongest Life” (also the name of his book he is promoting). It’s sort of funny to me that a man is telling women how to be happy, but he made some really interesting and good points. The idea is simple, find moments in your life that invigorate you and pay attention to them, “cradle” them, and make them into something you can do every day. He made the point that happy women don’t multi-task, juggle, or strive for balance, because those goals are all impossible and only means you aren’t paying attention to your tasks 100%. He presented many statistics and facts that made me really think about my own life.

Tory’s seminar was not unlike Marcus’s although it focused a little more on what to do if you lose your job and how to bounce back. She explained that in order to figure out what you really should be doing for a career you need to write down moments of passion or moments where you feel you are “on fire”. Also, you need to be visible; she told her story about when she was fired from her job she sat around her apartment for eight months eating ice cream until she made herself get out and network. She said she had a hard time at first because she would go to events and only talk to her friends, which wasn’t productive at all. She encouraged all of us to meet at least three new people at the event. Although I find walking up to complete strangers hard to do and it’s something I need to work on, this women’s conference was a great place to start.

One comment I have about the seminars I attended is I feel like they catered to women in their late thirties and over. There was a lot of talk about marriage, kids, career changes after being a stay-at-home mom, etc. I absolutely understand that those topics are common for many women, but what about the twenty-somethings who are just getting their career on track? There was one point when Tory asked the audience “who is on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter?”, and MAYBE seven people (including me) raised their hand.

During lunch Suze Orman lectured/screamed at us about money. I find her to be intelligent and obviously knowledgeable in finance, but I honestly had a headache after she was done. I am not one who knows a whole lot about the finance world (definitely have an artist’s brain), and am constantly trying to figure out what I need to be saving for retirement or what I should be putting towards stocks, so I was excited when I got her free book.

Overall I really enjoyed attending the conference. I felt rejuvenated and inspired, feeling as if I could really do anything my heart desired as long as I am doing something I love to do. I know I wouldn’t have attended this conference if it wasn’t for the support of Holland-Mark. Whenever an opportunity arises where we can learn or experience something new, Holland-Mark encourages us to participate and I am thankful for being able to attend an event like this one.