Learnings from the Women Leadership Conference

I went to a conference on women corporate leadership this week. I was mostly proud I attended an event and did not succumb to the usual last minute cold-feet of being too busy. If you are wondering, I hit a very minimal mark on the networking front. Looking back, some talks resonated with me more than others so I reflect on my 3 favourite ones.

The world in 2030

You know I like vision-casting. The keynote speaker was Javier Diaz-Giménez, IESE professor, who tried to have us look at a crystal ball and imagine the future. Not really.

In fact, like any economist would do, we spent a lot of time talking about the past, isn’t that the best way to predict the future? Not quite, especially as the pace of transformation has accelerated in a remarkable way. He spent a fair amount of time talking about the large macro trends that will indeed affect the future – digitalisation, globalisation (or not), sustainability and climate change, demographics and economics, inequality and poverty. On technology, it is hard to believe that the innovation that produced a real transformation in the ways of living was a smartphone, more than probably fire, industrial revolution or the wheel. And it is also hard to imagine a world that will ever go back on it. We did not figure out the future but we had homework, one that perhaps you care to join in?

Every week, do 30 minutes less of email and 30 minutes more of thinking – what will I manage in 2032? What will my business look like? What could the world be?

Mental health and Burnout

Psychologist and Sports coach Ana Ramires hosted an interactive talk about burnout, which was also meant to cover multi-tasking. On the latter she only shared a sentence:

‘Multi-tasking is a fancy way to lose focus”

She then proceeded to explain how Portugal held the top ranks for bad mental health. This happy place in the corner of the earth, can you even imagine? It is in that moment that she grabs the event host, a famous TV entertainer and they have a non-planned chat about her prior struggle, the early signs of burn-out and how to bring yourself back.  Whilst each example is a different one (I had too much appetite instead of loss of appetite), there is no doubt there is commonality in the solutions. Most of it requires a fair amount of space, good boundaries and the famous self-care. All in all, she describes LOVE to be at the centre of the solution – for ourselves and the ones we truly care about. It took me back to the talk I gave for world mental health day at Nova recently:

‘The 168 hours concept by Laura Vanderkam was an eye opener for me.  It was the moment I realised I did have a choice. So no, I am not going to blurb out 10 tips and tricks for productivity. Today is about awareness – awareness that we are too busy, awareness that busy does not work, awareness that we are most often than not unaware. Because it is awareness that we lack in our busy lives. As we rush through life via to-do lists and obligations, our sense of being is so distant that sometimes we don’t know who we really are. And suddenly, we find ourselves over the edge unexpectedly, in a state of depression, anxiety, and much more. ‘


‘We are not role models, we are projects under development’

This was definitely a top 3 talk for me. Ana, VP at Teleperformance and Claudia, General Director at P&G Portugal clearly represented 2 generations but came to the stage as one front. You would have thought they had known each other for years,  but in fact they only met while preparing this talk. The fun interaction had more noteworthy soundbites than those I could write down in terms of how to reconcile home and work life. 3 ideas from them

Work-Life Sway

There are no 2 separate personas. You need to be the same person at home and work, and not waste energy switching between these. In fact, as I read through Power Mums this week, this is a characteristic from so-called  ‘wave 2 power mums’ (those in my generation) whilst the trailblazers from the 80s and 90s had to go through big efforts to pretend the home life did not exist and did not constitute an obstacle to them performing like a man. The work-life sway expression is from the book by the way (rather than work-life balance, the mythical concept).

It takes a village

It takes a village is an expression that we should not use only in the figurative sense. The communal living allowed families to have a network of support for child raising. Over time, and as people migrated to the cities, many of these structures melted and it just took ‘a mother’ to raise a child. Claudia heavily recommends knowing all neighbours and school friend’s parents so you can ensure you can still enlist community help in a world that is so turned inwards. And if some of that village is paid help and you can afford it, that works too, without judgement.

Perfectionism and Guilt

‘Guilt is a pet we feed every day’

It always surprises me the amount of guilt and guilt management I have to do, no matter how much I believe that I am most of the times acting per my values and priorities. Whilst I feel like I have improved in the last 6 months, no doubt it is a constant talk in my head that I have to quiet down. The only guilt I have very little of is with myself. However, when we look back in our lives, the person we certainly do not want to have failed is ourselves. So when do we start having a bit more kindness towards our own acts and cut ourselves some slack?

Women Leadership

All in all, it was weird but nice to attend a 500 people conference. Especially one in Portuguese. I felt like I did not know how to write and think my notes mix different languages as my brain does not process information as easily in my mother tongue. I felt I was the only one that did not know anyone in the room or any of the speakers for that matter. But I was pleased to see such a full room of women wanting to push their careers forward. #inspiringwomen

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