I spent the last week of March in beautiful Palm Springs, California, attending the Altitude Summit, one of the nation’s top conferences for female creatives and entrepreneurs.
From meeting Chicago-based Candice Blansett-Cummins who finally clarified for me what the heck “masterminds” really are (oh yeah, and she runs 15 social impact companies), to finding my conference buddy-turned-lifelong friend in Anderson Street TV founder and host Victoria Cumberbatch (take a gander at her provocative web series on YouTube and Instagram), for me, Alt was about making connections and affirming my recent choice to launch my own business. It also forced me to take the important step of leaving my two-year-old son home with Dad for five whole nights. (Spoiler alert: We all survived).
Between bouncing between gorgeous mid-century modern hotels where Alt hosted breakout sessions, keynotes (yes, Joanna Gaines and I were in the same room), and roundtables on topics ranging from SEO to finding your calling, my brain and heart are full. Here are three lessons that will stick with me now that I’m back home.
Lesson #1: Be yourself. My phone was down to 1% battery life, and I needed an Uber to get back to my hotel. A friendly lady with curly hair and a big smile approached me in the conference hotel roundabout and insisted that she would give me a ride. As I got into her very normal-looking Prius, I briefly considered whether or not she would murder me, but I figured anyone attending this conference was probably pretty cool. On the 15-minute drive, she asked all sorts of questions about my background and business, and I told her, truthfully, how I’d just started Full Swing, and while things are hopping, setting out on a new course can be scary AF.
When we arrived at my hotel, she handed me her card. Turns out, she’s the president of television for a major L.A. based studio. Had I known what a high-powered job she had, I might have been afraid to bring my full self to our conversation. But because I was authentic, she took to me and now I have an incredible professional contact who is also a pretty great human. Win-win.
Lesson #2: Just create the damn content. One of the things I really wanted to focus on at Alt was podcasting. I’m not necessarily creating one for myself, but I may be co-producing one with a client, and I find myself pitching a lot of podcasts these days. I was thrilled to learn how easy it is, not to mention affordable, to get started. That $40 mic on Amazon.com? Totally sufficient. Thanks to the co-founders of Rock Your Wedding Biz for leading such a great session on how to get started.
Lesson #3: Ditch the excuses when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. And, when in doubt, buy the sequin pants (diversity speaker and trainer Monique Melton rocked a fantastic pair). For a white woman, I fancy myself pretty up to speed on when it comes to the impact of systemic oppression in our country having worked with intersectional organizations like the YWCA, Pride Foundation, and Philanthropy Northwest.
Yet home base for me is Idaho, which is 93% white. When you consider that for every 91 white friends a white person has, they have just one black friend, the consequences of calling a state like Idaho home become pretty apparent.
Then consider how many white people find jobs because of someone in our (mostly white) network, and you start to connect the dots around why economic, social, and political inequality persists. Besides hiring Monique to help your company improve, one of my favorite personal resources for identifying and combatting white fragility and thought-provoking reading on topics like racial justice and performative allyship is Layla Saad. We can all do better.
What’s the best women’s leadership conference you’ve attended? Will you be at Alt Summit next year? If you can’t wait that long for your next women’s leadership fix, I highly recommend registering for the Athena Pack in Bozeman, Montana, May 1-2.