My Experience at the Inspiring Women Leaders Conference

By: Natalie Benson, SDSU Chapter Member

On the 6th of March, the WSS- SDSU Chapter’s Leadership Team embarked on a trip to Gainesville, Florida to attend the Inspiring Women Leaders Conference. After a full day of travel, we were all exhausted and hungry, so we went straight to Waffle House and excitedly discussed what we hoped to take away from the conference over hashbrowns and chocolate chip 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, all attending different sessions and taking away various messages. At the end of the conference, we had talked among each other about 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 leader in all of us. There was no single session or keynote that explicitly stated these words, however, it was a reoccurring implicit theme that I picked up on. 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 had self-categorized myself as a follower, yet lo and behold, I am now part of the PR Committee, making me a member of a leadership team.

Sessions titled “How to Radiate Confidence” and “Navigating the Networking Nightmare”  left me feeling as though I was walking away with a powerful introduction that I could use in networking situations, an idea blueprint to ensure that I am proactive with my goals, and so many other tools I can keep in my back pocket.

My favorite part of the conference was the session about radiating confidence, where Jennifer Webb engaged the audience with magic tricks throughout her talk, and discussed some ways in which we could all emulate confidence through controlling our perception, attitude, and courage. In short, she taught us that perception is reality, you should forgive people for your own sake, and break you must your own restrictive rules in order to reach your maximum potential.

I realize that must not make much sense without context, so let me do my best to shine a little  more light on her talk for you: Jennifer explained that every person you meet has a perceived idea of who you are, and every single one of these different versions of yourself is valid and is a reality for that person. In short, you are the person people perceive you to be, even if you do not think it is true- you have allowed that perception of yourself to be a reality for that person. You are who you put out into the world.

Jennifer 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 in the long run.  Lastly, Jennifer talked about how everyone subconsciously creates their own set of rules for themselves. These rules are extremely limiting and it is important to break those rules and ste out of your comfort zone in order to succeed.

 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!

Overall, celebrating international women’s day at this conference with such inspiring women was an unforgettable and empowering experience. I had a blast learning how to turn myself into a leader, or better yet- develop the existing leader within me- at the Inspiring Women Leaders Conference, and cannot wait to implement what I learned into my day to day life, and into my role as a leader of the WSS- SDSU Chapter.

©2018 by Women in Science Society, Inc.

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