#IAmWomanUP!: Takeaways from the Best – and My First Virtual – Conference Experience
COVID shmo-vid, WomanUP! can’t stop the feeling. Literally. The feeling of deep support. The feeling of empowerment and fierce determination. The feeling that we are thrivers. Period.
WomanUP! is a California Association of REALTORS® Initiative with a mission to support the journey of women as they rise to the top of their careers. They provide resources, training, mentorship, and so much more, because while 60% of all real estate agents in the US are women, only 32% of the Real Trends 500 are led by women (this is actually up from 26% in 2011!).
This week WomanUP! did it again, hosting the three-day WomanUP! 2020 Virtual Experience, the first virtual conference of its kind and the first virtual conference I’ve ever attended. After designing my avatar, I was taken to WomanUP! world, a private island complete with an auditorium, board rooms for breakouts, a conference hall, networking spaces, a rooftop music venue, and a beach. I saw some people I know and many whom I was meeting for the first time. The speakers were amazing. And I can certainly say this was not what I expected real estate events to look like this Fall!
My top takeaways from the event (some new, some that were simply good reminders!) are:
- The power of simply stating our truth – we have just lived through the end of the world as we know it. It must be acknowledged. Nothing is the same. And we need to decide whether we are going to survive, or thrive. I will be a thriver. Period.
- Preparation is essential to dealing with the unknown (separately, read On the Edge by Alison Levine if you’re looking for an amazing story and leadership lessons from one of the best athletes and speakers – I saw her speak years ago and have followed her ever since, she’s that amazing).
- The only way you truly fail is if you never try.
- Some things have to die for other beautiful things to grow.
- Right now, the US ranks 81st out of all countries in the world in terms of female representation in government.
- In 2019, 32% of the Real Trends 500 were led by women – this was up from 26% in 2011 and there’s still a huge gap.
- It’s not enough to tell people to lean in, we have to lean out to make room for others.
There were many powerful moments for me – from hearing Leslie Appleton-Young’s daughters introduce her (Lucy, I know you’re only two, but I hope you do that for me someday – it was magical!) to listen to Heidi Jones and Anna Visioli’s stories about conquering adversity (with their husband and infant’s lives on the line, respectively). If I had to pick one though, I’d say the most powerful moment for me was on day one, listening to Christine George. Christine almost canceled her mammogram this summer because of COVID – she ultimately went and they discovered a tumor in her breast. Her breast cancer was the early stage, easily treatable, less aggressive type, and she’s most likely going to be fine. What I took from her story were two things – firstly, my family has a deep history of cancer, as do many. And we’re not good about prioritizing our health. When Christine pleaded with us to get your mammograms, I know she was talking to me, to my mom, to my aunts, and to all women!!! The second big thing is that fear, in this case, the very real fear caused by the pandemic, literally almost led to her early death. We never know the full extent of what would happen if we had made different decisions and we do have a lot more control than we think, especially overtaking action in our lives. Christine took action to take care of herself, without ever knowing just how critical that self-care was. The takeaway here for me (besides calling my mom to see when her last mammogram was) was a question – what am I letting fear stop me from doing now?
There were so many other amazing speakers and valuable lessons that I won’t do them justice by summarizing them here. All I can say is check out WomanUP!, follow them on Facebook, attend their events (WomanUP! is for everyone, not just women!), and prepare to be informed, inspired, and uplifted.
And now for a few snapshots –
This is the stage in the auditorium. There was a live chat that was constantly filled with “a ha!” moments and encouragement for the speakers. And you could also private chat with others to say hi and connect.
This is us during a dance break to some Justin Timberlake (yes, our avatars could dance, shake hands, wave, and more!).
Thank you WomanUP!, Debra Trappen, Sara Sutachan, Leslie Appleton-Young and all of the amazing speakers and women who attended!