Last week, I had the privilege of being part of the launch of the 1st Annual MetroWest Conference for Women.  Not only did I participate in the planning/execution as a Board Member – but I also had the amazing experience of being a member of a panel discussion entitled “Cutting Through the Bullsh*t” where we empowered women to live authentically.

It’s now 5 days after the conference and I’m still referring to it as one of the best days of my life.  Now, I know that’s a heavy statement but hear me out.  This wasn’t your average, stuffy conference where people droned on for hours and you struggled to stay awake.  For many women, this was a journey and a day that they had dedicated to themselves.  Because of the different roles I played throughout the day – I was able to see women at all different points in this journey.  I saw their excitement as they registered.  I sat beside them as they learned something new.  I watched as they hugged a vendor for selling them something beautiful.  I overheard their inspirational conversations as they made a new connection.  I hugged them, as they cried, realizing they weren’t alone in the struggles of being a woman.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what my core learnings were from this surreal experience.  Here’s what I’ve come up with.

If you build it, they will come…..especially if it’s built out of the collective wisdom of women. 

I knew from the very first board meeting that we were going to knock this out of the park.  Every woman (and 1 man) that sat around the table brought with them a unique set of skills, as well as a level of mutual respect for their fellow board members whether they knew them or not.  This level of respect and support for one another continued all the way through the conference.  This is SO important especially in groups of women.  There are times that we are our worst enemy in the fight for women – judging, comparing, competing, etc.  The success of this conference serves as a reminder that we don’t need to do any of that to succeed.  We need to respect that everyone brings something amazing to the table.  Using that collective wisdom can make us unstoppable.  A huge shout out to Jen Maseda, President & CEO for putting together this dream team of individuals.

There is a SERIOUS need to build a society based on work/life integration and NOT balance. 

The panels for this conference were not solely focused on a women’s career like so many others.  There was a range of panels so the challenges that women face could be holistically addressed.  Gone are the days of work/life balance.  We need to refocus our efforts on work/life integration and conferences like this are exactly what is needed to do that!  Balance is an illusion, a buzz word.  In order to be successful, you have to be willing to blur the lines because the different areas of your life will NEVER neatly exist in their own little boxes – not if you’re a woman.  The fact that I could speak with other women about my personal & professional life – all in one place was amazing and refreshing.

No question about it – We Are Stronger Together.

What is more powerful than a room of 550 inspired and empowered women?  Nothing.  Each woman may have come to the conference for a different reason but by the end of that day – was impacted by the collective power of the women around them.  Their eyes were opened to new possibilities, experiences, and connections.  This conference proved that we are stronger together because the MetroWest area (and beyond) will forever be impacted by the attendees.  Because, as a woman, once you realize the potential and power you have – staying small & quiet can no longer be an option.  You fight harder, educate yourself more, look at the world differently, and break down barriers.  You’ve been given permission by your new community to stand up and shout from the rooftops that you are worthy!

Personally, I’m looking forward to building upon the relationships that I formed at the conference and watching the collective impact in our region.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend this year’s conference – please visit the website and sign up for the mailing list.  We need YOU in this community of like-minded women!