Sometimes your week contains patterns that you don’t normally see in your everyday life. I had that experience last week — overlapping both my professional and personal worlds — during Inman Connect New York (ICNY).
This is not intended to be a political post. However, the timing of these events can’t be ignored.
ICNY’s 2017 speaker schedule was packed full of dynamic speakers.
Unlike some other heavily tech-focused conferences, many of the speakers were women. Accomplished and intelligent and passionate women. Props to Inman for taking the lead in changing the mix in our industry conferences!
I have chosen to profile three who took the stage at ICNY because each spoke to me in a different way.
Molly Sauter, Valerie Garcia and Diana Nyad all crushed it! They come from varied backgrounds with clear voices to offer us their individual perspectives, and what they had to say continues to resonate with me after the event.
Starting with Hacker Connect on Monday, we heard from Molly Sauter.
Per her LinkedIn profile, Sauter is “a researcher with interests in technologically-mediated sub-cultures, social movements, depictions of technology in the media, and STS.”
Truthfully, I can’t tell you exactly what that means. I can tell you she is the right combination of smart and geeky girl, funny woman and relatable speaker. Sauter makes technology tangible to the rest of us who are, shall we say, “less geeky” than she.
During her talk, Sauter spoke about smart home technology, emphasizing why we should resist the shiny object that our clients are clamoring for and think practically about the fact that smart homes have real security issues.
Think Alexa! Remember, Alexa is always listening.
Sauter has her own witty style. I look forward to hearing more from her. (Hopefully on the main stage at Inman Connect San Francisco?)
On Wednesday we heard from Valerie Garcia. Her conversation about bravery is something that we can all relate to if we are honest with ourselves.
She began with the acknowledgement that we are all afraid. Let’s face it: We are. Every day. We are worried about what others might say.
Get past the voices in your own head, Garcia advised. Be brave.
Remember how clearly your vision was when you were a kid? Who you wanted to be then? Garcia urged that it should still be that clear now.
She stated that to help each other to be brave again, we need to create a culture of bravery and, within that culture, we need to be willing to fail and to support others when they fail too. In that vein, failure becomes an awesome teacher.
Garcia threw down challenges to the audience: Where are you going to start? How are you going to convince others to do the same? Embrace fear in ourselves and in our industry. Fail forward.
Thank you, Valerie! I will.
Connect’s keynote speaker on Thursday morning was the Diana Nyad, long distance swimmer with no equal.
OMG! An amazing storyteller with a magical story to tell.
She drew us all in from the beginning by painting a picture of her father waking her whole family up in the middle of the night to see the beauty of the moonlight on the ocean. She had the audience imagining that it was as beautiful as a Rembrandt.
She learned at a very early age that her last name, Nyad, means “water nymph” in Greek. Her life followed a very determined, yet magical path.
Her personal motto, “I couldn’t have done it a fingernail faster,” dared us to give it all we have, to push ourselves as far as possible — and then a little bit more. She said that if we can say we gave it our all, we can walk away with no regrets.
Nyad is a testament to fanatically believing in oneself and one’s dreams. Be the person who never ever gives up!
The odds of completing her swim from Cuba to the U.S. were less than 0.02 percent — yet she did it! She completed this seemingly impossible journey by sheer will and determination, and by singing “Me and Bobby McGee” over 1,000 times!
So direct and so sure of who she is, how could you not help but to fall in love with her just a little bit?
Diana Nyad tried. She failed. She learned. She grew. Ultimately, she succeeded!
At the end of Nyad’s most enjoyable storytelling, she concluded with her dynamic statement: I refuse to let a day go by and say, I couldn’t have done it a fingernail better. That is determination for you.
Having your own voice, being brave, succeed through determination: These three women embody what I saw happening around the world on Saturday.
As I was leaving New York, I saw many people — of all ages and genders — coming into the city to be a part of the Women’s March.
It all felt connected to me. I have been inspired by women, on stage and off, who acknowledge that we have come so far, but still have far to go.
As I said in the beginning, this is not a political post. However, the timing of these events can’t be ignored.