Empowering Insights: Lessons from The Girl Gang

By Joanna Barrett, LMHC

Attending a day-long women’s conference is, well, simply put: my dream day.  It’s my happy place.  It’s where I get to step outside of my comfort zone, and experience a new reality → one where women support one another, cheer each other on, learn from each other, and leave the day with tighter hugs and genuinely bigger smiles.  

Because this wasn’t necessarily my reality growing up with clicky, mean girls in school (but ahem, that’s a blog for another time), I had to write about my empowering day at the first annual Girl Gang Association’s Connections Conference!

Created by two visionary women, Susan Davis and Melissa Smith, they (and their team!) inspired me all day long!  The program of speakers (so inspirational and helpful), experiential activities (who doesn’t love a good goal-setting worksheet?), exhibitor tables (shopping, giveaways, and freebies!), self-care offerings (free massages and headshots!), and interactive networking was all impeccably planned.  Every detail that Susan and Melissa had, from the custom cookies and coffee flavors to the take-home swag bags, to the group photo, to the freebies of massages and headshots, down to the music and A/V system – everything was beautifully experienced as an attendee. 

The former Event Manager in me knows how much goes into planning these events, (and if there were any issues, they handled them behind the scenes with grace – I didn’t notice anything!). The day was fun and educational, full of new and deeper connections, and key takeaways → exactly what I wanted as an attendee!

Create genuine connections with new people,  That means sitting at a table where you don’t know anyone, introducing yourself to people you don’t know, and being genuinely interested in what they have to say.  

Ask questions from a place of curiosity and wanting to learn more about a person.  There are always commonalities and ways to learn, help, and support one another.

I don’t care how many years you’ve been in business or how old you are, we can all support one another with our words and actions (and even our thoughts – I’m holding a vision for one of them women to be accepted to a graduate program of her choice!).

Many stories are deeply inspirational from our lived experiences.  AND, those don’t define us.  I see beyond the stories; I see the soul of the woman.  We are resilient, strong, courageous (and vulnerable, tender humans, too), and we can make aligned actions out of our adversity.  

You never truly know what someone is going through or what goes on behind closed doors.  I met a woman who recently had just been informed of tragic news.  We were chatting, and she vulnerably shared with me about the situation.  As we hugged at the end of our conversation, I sent “metta” (loving-kindness) to her and all those involved with the devastating situation. 

I was selected to be a representative from my table to go on stage to speak (at the microphone, in front of everyone).  Instead of resisting and denying the experience, I leaned into the discomfort, paused and took a deep breath, and went on stage.  I grounded and presenced myself, and it was an amazing experience, to see all the women looking at me and listening to my moment at the microphone.  I’m honored the women at my table saw something in me and chose me to represent them.  

Being open, vulnerable, and authentic myself gives others the full opportunity to do so, too.  No, we don’t have to share our deepest, darkest shameful secrets (that’s not necessarily true vulnerability anyway), but to be real about ourselves offers conversations that we can relate to. Be human, in all that humanity has to offer. 

There are women in Massachusetts creating products, tech, and services to help the greater good.  Together, we are more powerful with our thoughts, feelings, and voices.  We can change the world (check out Unicorn for proof of how girls’ and women’s lives are changing by having period products in bathroom stalls!  Need more proof, check out Love Life Now Foundation for domestic violence resources and support, and read Lovern Gordon’s book, “The Legacy He Left Me.”).

Always believe something amazing is going to happen.  Why?  Because it happens all the time!  All you need to do is shift your mindset (I know, I know: easier said than done).  I had hoped to have the opportunity to speak to several women before the day was over, and the universe (of course) put us in front of each other with divine timing.  Whether on the stairs, in the back of the room, at the same table, on stage, or by the exhibitor tables, I spoke to many of the women I was eyeing and wanted to say hello to!

The day was full of firsts (I even tried bone broth for the first time and LOVED it; thank you Hale Bone Broth for the delish offering!).  Every moment is a new beginning.  It’s always a fresh start, and trying new things is what helps us grow and learn, expand and deepen.     

Big thanks to the vision from  SHD Marketing and Girl Gang Association!  Feeling so inspired and lit up throughout the day at the conference and into the evening at home, I created one of my first speaking videos for social media (big thanks to Social by Sinead for the nudge). As many of us are well aware, the journey of business ownership as a woman can often feel isolating and limiting.  However, together, we can and do shatter glass ceilings, shining brightly with the support of respectful, encouraging, and supportive people cheering us on. I truly feel it.

Girl Gang Association

May 26, 2024

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