My Day at the Florida Conference for Women

by Melanie Edwards on May 15, 2009 · 8 comments

in Women

I considered splitting this up into multiple posts since I didn’t want it to be too long. But, in the end, I don’t want the subject of the conference to drag out over too many days, so here it all goes. It’s worth it, though. Promise.

Florida Conference for Women

This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Florida Conference for Women. I have to say a big THANK YOU to Anne Hebert who approached me with the offer to attend the conference on their dime and provided an extra ticket for one of my readers.

So how was the conference? How did the day go? Here’s the breakdown of the day.

The Nonexistent Tweetup

Since many conference attendees were on twitter, a few of us asked if there might be a central place at the conference where we could meet each other and have an informal tweetup. The conference organizers agreed and spread word about an informal tweetup to be had first thing in the morning in the exhibit hall.

Now, when I got there, there were no other twitterers to be found. The conference volunteers had no clue what I was talking about. They gave me the whole “twitter what?” look. So, I tweeted about how I was looking for the noexistent tweetup. A bit after that, @ElizabethB showed up with phone in hand looking around. And so finally the (very small) tweetup formed as @peglegpug, @elsaodette, and @eggmarketing joined us.

Opening Keynote

Tory Johnson (@toryjohnson) –

Tory JohnsonWhen I heard Tory speak, I immediately thought “I have to meet her.” She is the author of the book Will Work From Home: Earn Cash Without the Commute, which sounds like a book I need to read seeing as how I’m working towards my goal of working from home. One of the quotes that stood out for me from her speech was, “You’re only an official contributor when you’re paid for it.” In other words, don’t work for free. Something else Tory said is something I truly need to work on, especially with BlogHer ’09 coming soon. And that is to introduce yourself to people and talk to them about what you do. Sometimes it might turn into nothing, but other times it might turn out to be a great connection.

Tory was the only speaker from the sessions I attended that mentioned twitter. So of course, our twitter-filled table smiled and even tweeted about her shout out. Later Tory replied about the lack of twitter talk at the conference. Taking on Tory’s own advice about introducing yourself to people to build a network, Kelly and I later introduced ourselves and exchanged cards with Tory.

Ariane de Bonvoisin –

Ariane was a great speaker. So great that apparently I didn’t really take any notes from her speech and only wrote down her link and that she had a book. I was paying attention to all the great stuff she had to say that I forgot to write it down! Basically, though, she’s all about change. Loving change. Embracing change. And dealing with change. Her book is The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making any Change Easier.

I later attended her break-out session and I know I took more notes during that presentation, so keep reading.

Session I: Reinvent Yourself! – Strategies for Having the Career You Want

Pamela Mitchell –

I went to this session hoping to get some insight on how to make a switch from the standard 9-5 job to working from home. After all, that *is* reinventing yourself – at least for me. The speaker provided lots of of good information and key questions to get you thinking about how to get started with reinventing yourself. A few key points I liked from her presentation:

  • Ask yourself, “What do people come to me for?” The answers are talents you can get paid for.
  • Think of your favorite excuse for not reinventing yourself and come up with three possible ways to overcome it.
  • Ask how instead of can it be done. If you ask yourself how, your brain starts to think differently and attempts to solve the problem.
  • For your resume: List your titles first instead of the companies you worked for. Be sure to also use a “Summary of Qualifications” in order to present your skills from the get-go.
  • And finally, you must tell people what you want to do. Otherwise, how will anyone know?

Session II: The Tools of Change

Ariane de Bonvoisin –

Since Ariane had done a great job during the keynote, I wanted to hear more of what she had to say. Overall, the information she gave is probably things we all already know. HOWEVER, it’s stuff we need to hear…again and again. Plus, she categorized it all into nice little bullets.

9 Principles of Change

People who successfully navigate change…

  1. have positive beliefs.
  2. know that something good will come from that change.
  3. know they’re stronger.
  4. don’t get stuck in an emotional pattern.
  5. accept change.
  6. know what they can and can’t control.
  7. know that there’s something bigger going on.
  8. are not alone.
  9. take action!

These same principles of change are posted on her site in a nicer format and with more information.

Keynote Luncheon

Julie Stav –

I’ll be honest. Scheduling Julie Stav to speak during the lunch was probably the smartest thing the conference coordinators could have done. She was so entertaining, lively, and funny that she definitely woke up the room and snapped all of us out of that all-too-familiar afternoon rut.

Julie mostly talked about investing in the stock market, but also talked about empowerment and general inspiration of interest to women. As a Latina, she also focused on how Hispanic/Latina women need to take control instead of waiting for things to happen. I definitely need to get in contact with her and see if she’ll be willing to do an interview.

Kelly Corrigan –

Kelly is the author of the book The Middle Place. She’s a mom and breast cancer survivor. Several conference attendees were spotted tearing up or full out crying as Kelly read some passages from her book. I’m thinking I need to pick it up myself.

Session III: What Happy Working Mothers Know

Panel: Renee Trudeau (, Jayne Rager Garcia de Valseca, Lisa Hein (
Moderator: Cathy Greenberg –

I went to this session thinking I’d get some great information on being a working mom or even some tips for how to balance it all. I guess I thought that’s what a working mother would want to know in order to be happy. Instead, I got three very different stories on how each panelist found their own happiness. In their own special ways.

Renee found happiness through balancing her life and connecting with other moms. Jayne found her happiness through forgiveness (and believe me, she had major forgiveness to do). Lisa found happiness through learning to let go of her son and taking a step back as a parent.

Jayne’s story of cancer, then having her husband kidnapped, then cancer again, was very inspirational and surreal. After hearing that I felt this small for complaining about everyday things.

Key quotes from this session:

  • Be a parent, not a friend. – Lisa Hein
  • Happiness is a science and a choice. – Cathy Greenberg
  • Forgiveness is for you. – Jayne Rager Garcia de Valseca
  • Ask your children, “What kind of day do you want to have?” – Renee Trudeau
  • Start your day with stillness. – Renee Trudeau

Wrapping Up

After the last session, there was a career fair, along with some door prizes. I didn’t stick around for long, but did find Tory Johnson and introduced myself.

Overall it was a good conference. Some great stories, good motivation and inspiration, and lots of women to network with. Thanks again Florida Conference for Women! You can also follow the twitter conversation on the conference for more highlights.

Did you attend the conference? Which session(s) did you enjoy the most?

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1 Susan Payton May 15, 2009 at 7:27 am

It was really an amazing conference. I was blown away. And then I saw Kelly Corrigan in Good Housekeeping. Small world!

2 Melanie (Modern Mami) May 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm

@Susan Payton, Really? Small world indeed.

3 Jennifer May 19, 2009 at 7:23 am

Thanks for the insight into the conference. Would have loved to attended.

4 Melanie (Modern Mami) May 21, 2009 at 6:41 am

@Jennifer, I believe they’re going to do this annually, so maybe you can make it next year!

5 @mami2mommy May 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm

@Melanie (Modern Mami), By next year my son will be a little over a year old so maybe I’ll just bring him! – Jennifer

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