Over a month ago 15 members of the SEER team attended the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference. It was...oh my God, was that over a month ago? And I’m just writing my blog post now?! What is wrong with me? I’m sure there have been a ton of blogs on this already published. That will be way better than this one. Why did I even get invited to the conference? It must have been a mistake. I’m the worst employee SEER has ever had.
That. That is my inner critic. And if it sounds familiar, it’s because we all have one. Our inner critics are there to make sure we don’t take any risks, over-achieve, or God forbid, speak up.
Learning to silence our inner critics (or trying to) was just one of the many takeaways the SEER team gained last month at the Women’s Conference. Takeaways that, believe it or not, apply to both women and (gasp) men! Though all of SEER attendees were women, the lessons we brought back are not just for the ladies.
Once returned from the conference, my colleagues and I put our heads together to pool our favorite stand out lessons of the day. Though these lessons don’t pass any link juice, they are just as valuable as those learned at any digital marketing conference. So take a moment from your day-to-day tasks and check out these notable takeaways that will help you squash the inner critic we all have inside and take on your workload like a total boss.
1. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you you can’t do it (even yourself!)
I talked earlier about the inner critic. This was the topic of discussion with speaker Tara Sophia Mohr. Mohr described the inner critic as the voice inside our heads telling us not to speak up, not to try new things, not to “go for it.” Our inner critics are our friends; trying to keep us safe and from looking stupid in front of others. Unfortunately, that gets us nowhere. Mohr made it clear that while our inner critics will never go away completely, we must recognize their voice - and do our best to silence it. Or, better yet, Mohr suggested personifying our inner voices, assigning them characters, so we can immediately recognize it when it comes out. Pro tip: Don’t make it your mother.
Our key takeaway: “The feedback you receive doesn't tell you anything about yourself, it tells you about the person giving it.” - Tara Sophia Mohr
2. Men and Women are Different - so let’s work with that!
John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, held a session on “Bridging the Cross-Gender Communication Gap”. This session gave us some insight into the biological reasons why men and women work and act in different ways. For example, women have eight times more blood flow to the emotional center of the brain when stressed, while men’s stress hormones pull blood away from the emotional center of the brain. See where I’m going with this? Ever wonder why (most) men never ask for directions? When stressed, women seek external resources for help and support; men search for this internally.
Our key takeaway: The more women and men know how and why they act differently, the better we can all understand each other and work in harmony.
3. Find Your Brand
A panel of experts, lead by Cindy Ratzlaff, spoke about finding your personal brand. Anyone can cultivate their own brand and the key is to be consistent. Find what strengths are at your core and how people perceive you - and stick to it. These are the ingredients to your personal brand. Try to narrow down your brand to three to five words. Think about what is most important? It is only when you truly understand your brand that you can communicate it to others.
Our key takeaway: Personal branding doesn't have to be a super self-centered approach to your success in the workplace, rather a way of understanding yourself and what is important to you and using that to help guide your professional or personal life (or both!).
4. Innovation is Not Just For The Creative
Sunni Brown, aka “Dr. Doodle”, reminded us that “innovation is available to all of us…”, not just the uber creative. The key, is to know the tools to help the process along. Dr. Doodle facilitated a variety of brainstorms, a personal favorite being the combination of random nouns to help invent a new candy. The SEER genius creation? Penguin flavored gummy candy...mmm. (We had some better ideas, I promise). The funny thing was, there were some really good ideas that came out of the group as a whole. Which brings us back to Dr. Doodle and her philosophy on why doodling and other tools that lead to creative thinking matter:
- elevates focus and concentration
- increases info retention
- heightens engagementoffic
- big-picture awareness
- breaks habitual thinking
Our key takeaway: Doodling exercises “prime” the mind and participants for innovation and strategy - the goal is to free the mind and be non-judgmental.
After a day of these inspiring sessions (and more!) the SEER team was able to return to the office feeling, yeah I’ll say it, empowered! Learning from some of the most influential women in the country allowed us to think outside our day-to-day tasks and spend some quality time focusing on a hugely important issue - and bring it back to the team. So, go on, shut down your inner critic, find your brand, allow yourself some creative thinking, and run the world. Or, just the office!