Recap: San Diego Kick Off Town Hall
Getting together with over sixty lady strangers can be a little uncomfortable. Immediately diving into vulnerable, intimate, important conversations about money can cause even further discomfort. Luckily, the six panelists, five organizers, and more than sixty attendees at San Diego’s first Ladies Get Paid Town Hall all arrived with dedication to creating a safe space to have these difficult discussions.
Our night at Union Cowork East Village, just across the street from the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park, was the perfect introduction to why having the real and tough talks about our worth in the workplace truly matters. And the timing could not have been more perfect: we made our introduction to the women of San Diego on the eve of International Women’s Day.
The night featured mingling, connecting, and an opportunity for our six panelists to share what they’ve learned on their journeys navigating the professional community in San Diego. There was a common thread tied throughout that we must continue to lift each other up through active networking for self and for others — encouraging healthy discussions in the workplace, and being real about the amount of time we want to give versus the amount of time we have to give.
Our Key Takeaways:
1. HAVE THE WHEREWITHALL TO SAY NO (AND NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE). Author and thought leader Ann marie Houghtailing reminded attendees that our time is the most precious resource we have. As professional women, it’s easy to say “yes” just because it’s what’s expected of us. You don’t have to explain why you’re saying no; that is enough. Women often fall victim to having excessive gratitude in the workplace (and in life… think about how many times you hear #blessed). It can obscure our understanding of our true value with the feeling that we should feel lucky just to have jobs. This holds us back from pushing for more out of fear that we’ll come across too demanding or ungrateful.
2. STAND IN THE FACE OF YOUR COMPETITION...AND BUY THEM A DRINK. It doesn’t help you to fear leaders in your industry. Instead, cozy up to them and learn from their experience. Co-founder of a high-end San Diego hair salon and founder of The WE Society, Laura Rice explained that you can gain so much knowledge when you sit down and learn from other industry leaders. Jealousy is just a dangerous distraction on the way to success, don’t let it hinder your climb.
3. CHANGE THE CONVERSATION IN HER FAVOR. Kara Defrias, most recently with The White House (Obama Administration), played out the ever-familiar situation where after a woman brings a great idea to the table, a man on the team will reword it and take credit for it. We cannot let this happen and we have the power to change it. Kara also gave attendees a three part “template” for how to get the most out of networking: 1) Explain what you’re looking for through a series of what you’re great at and how you like to work; 2) Provide a sample blurb meets recommendation that spells out exactly what you hope your friend will make happen for you; and, 3) Make a clear offering of what you can give in return whether it’s resume reviewing, graphic design, or house sitting.
4. "FAILURE" IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE MATTERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS. What our male counterparts describe as failure can actually be a blessing in disguise. Founder of Hera Hub, a co-working space for woman led startups, Felena Hanson opened up about how she was laid off three times in the start-up world before realizing she would never find a nurturing environment for lady professionals unless she created it. It’s true that we don’t all have the privilege to be able to leave everything and build from square one, but it’s critical that we enable ourselves to see how we can reshape the professional environment around us.
5. DON'T BURN BRIDGES; BUILD THEM. While it’s easy to say “screw you” in demeaning professional situations, Saundra Moton learned over the course of her human resources careers with six different Fortune 50 companies that who you know changes everything. Qualifications only get you so far. Without strong relationships, it’s impossible to pass the mid-level management plateau that so many women fall into. Be mindful as you develop your leadership skills.
6. STRATEGIZING YOUR PROFESSIONAL RISK TAKING PAYS OFF. Brook Larios, co-founder of PlainClairity, gave us real reasons to being strategic risk takers in the work place. While taking a risk can be a balancing act, Brook shared a classic example when she made a daring pitch to a tough writer infamously known in the industry for dismissing pitches. Intent on getting noticed, Brook made the subject line of her pitch email, “fuck you, read this,” which was met with an immediate response and offer to write the story. Of course taking risk is incumbent on familial and financial responsibilities, but when able, calculated risk really pays off. She’s not saying to lead with risk every time – there’s a right place to do it; it’s a balancing act.
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