We love TEDx Women’s conferences. This year’s theme was Bold + Brilliant. Bold + Brilliant was designed to explore how women can act in bold and brilliant ways without apology. The theme also celebrates the women who are taking big risks, innovating in new ways and who are advocating in certain causes.
While I sat in the beautiful hall of the Chateau St. Michele Winery in Woodinville, I couldn’t help but be electrified vibrant energy of the women who came from all around Seattle to attend the talks. Eager to be inspired and challenged, I began engaging with women around me. They came from all walks of life and business, from Starbucks and Google, from their own small businesses and start-ups, from real-estate and retail and more. Our commonality was that we’d all come to explore what Bold and Beautiful meant to each of us.
The speaker line-up was full of amazing women who each brought a message of authenticity and bold-thinking. They all possessed brilliance of character, ingenuity, and humor. It filled the afternoon with purpose.
The first speaker wasMaura O'Neill, the first Chief Innovation Officer, and former Senior Counselor to the Administrator at the US Agency for International Development. Maura spoke to us of narrow-mindedness.
She shared that she believes that narrow-mindedness blocks ingenuity and that causes us to miss opportunities to change and grow. She suggested that this narrow-mindedness is a fantastic coping mechanism in our high-volume, information age, but that it must be intentionally combatted to allow innovation and change.
She encouraged us to open our minds instead of closing them. She offered three brilliant strategies to cultivate open-mindedness:
- Be Voraciously Curios
- Question the Status Quo
- Embrace Diversity and Dissent
Her final message to us all was this for women to remember, “Narrow-Mindedness – It’s Not Them, It’s Us.”
The next speaker was Renee Holiday, an accomplished singer and songstress.Renee Holiday had a brilliant moment when the music system she was relying on for a performance failed and she had no choice but to perform the song acapella. The vulnerability and poignancy of her love song to herself, sung from bravery and trust, had many in the audience wiping our eyes.
Following Renee were Cheryl and Tiffany. Cheryl Platz and Tiffany Hitt foundedUnexpected Productions. Unexpected Productions is a theatre group that uses improv to educate and entertain. The ladies made us laugh as they demonstrated how to present our best selves within the social hierarchy of our communities showing us bold skills in conversation building and active listening with humor.
After Cheryl and Tiffany came Ranae (who just happens to be one of Macala’s most favorite people). Ranae is a scientist who’sbeen searching for Big Foot in the PNW. Ranae thoroughly entertained us with her life long relationship with Big Foot and how the scientist remains fascinated despite the lack of evidence. She encouraged us to cultivate our curiosity about information, especially people and suggested that a skeptical mind (without cynicism) is our most valuable tool to view the world with.
Following Ranae came Rosalie. As the youngest woman on the stage,Rosalie Fish may have had the biggest impact. At 18, Rosalie spoke to us about an epidemic in our country, the unseen and unspoken blight that is affecting our Indigenous women.
A competitive runner, State Champion with multiple medals and a member of the Cowlitz Tribe, Rosalie uses her visibility and platform to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous Women. As she shared horrific statistics about how many Indigenous women go missing each year, as well as her own personal story, her clear, articulate and steady voice spoke to my soul. Her passionate message was palpable and her strength of voice will continue to raise awareness for her people and enact change as a result.
My personal favorite wasTanmeet Sethi and her message about gratitude. A daily gratitude practice is widely accepted as a wise, enlightened endeavor. Its ability to add perspective, calm the nervous system and create space for hope is well documented and yet, Tanmeet offered an even more profound perspective of gratitude as pain relief and medicine.
She suggested that gratitude’s most powerful impact could be felt when we are able to thank the pain itself. Rather than being grateful for the ability to breathe, in spite of facing a painful situation, she says to be grateful for the pain, to fully feel the pain, to be with it and to thank it. In this way, gratitude allows us to accept what is which lowers our resistance and our suffering in the pain –– both physical and emotional.
In the end, I was inspired by the brilliance of these women and their messages. In the midst of technical snafus (this is Seattle! Isn’t our city built on functional technology?), not one woman was thrown off her game. The power of women joined together for a purpose and sharing their voices truly inspired and I am left pondering how bold and brilliant female leadership will continue to evolve into the coming decade and how I may raise my own bold and brilliant voice to join the chorus.
Photos courtesy of TEDxSeattle