The Women’s Conference – Part One

by Mark Lovett on October 26, 2008

An Unlikely Scenario

That’s what I was thinking at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 22nd as I headed north from San Diego on my way to the Long Beach Convention Center to spend an exciting day at The Women’s Conference.  I wasn’t planning on attending the event, and appointments already scheduled for the day, but in one of those unforeseen and fortuitous moments, an email had arrived two days before with an invitation.  I was tempted to pass, but then I reviewed the list of speakers.

Be Who You Are, Feel it, Live it, Pass it On

It would be quite a task to mention everyone who spoke, or to cover each of the sessions, but in this series of four posts I’ll cover some personal highlights from the main stage.

  • Deborah Norville and Maria Shriver
  • Chris Matthews, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Warren Buffett
  • Christiane Amanpour
  • Sister Joan Chittister

Setting the Stage

The Convention Center was overrun by an estimated 14,000 female attendees.  That’s not to say the crowd was 100% women, but by my count there may have been 100 men total.  That made for some interesting logistics, as most of the men’s restrooms had been commandeered by sheets of paper taped over the permanent signs – I was appreciative of the Borders bookstore across the street.

The main floor of the arena was covered with row after row of tables and chairs, each accommodating twelve, with countless rows of stadium seats surrounding the perimeter and reaching to the ceiling.  After the presentation of the colors and the performance of the national anthem by Maryilyn McCoo, Deborah Norville took the stage as master of ceremonies.

In many ways, Deborah set the tone for the entire day, as her energy, presence, passion, insights and wisdom would be repeated and expanded upon in every session.  Her initial point for the women streaming into the arena was that this conference would help them, “Draw the road map for your life“, and the question they should be asking themselves throughout the day was, “Who are you?“.

And though she spoke eloquently of figuring out what you want your life to be like, Deborah also made mention of the fact that, “It’s okay to not have it all figured out.”  While directed at the mostly female audience before her, this powerful message, like those below, was universal in nature.

Become the architect of your life.”

Be an architect of change.”

Open your mind, open your heart.”

The First Lady of California

The true name of this conference is the California Governor & First Lady’s Conference on Women, and what is unique about California with regards to our nation’s tumultuous political landscape, is that the elected Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a devout republican, while his wife and California’s First Lady, Maria Shriver is a life-long democrat and a member of the Kennedy family.

And while they admittedly differ on many issues, support different candidates for public office, and propose their own unique solutions to the problems faced by the state and nation, they demonstrate that great things can be accomplished in a non-partisan way by focusing on the problems at hand and devising meaningful solutions that are heart-based, as opposed to politically motivated.

In her mid-day presentation Maria talked at length about facing fear in her life.  As with everyone who we feel has it all together, Maria emphasized that she is no different than the rest of us when it comes to the ever-present journey of personal development.  Her insights were many, and profound.

Fear keeps us from becoming who we really are.

Show up, stand up, say what you believe.

You can’t wait for the fear to go away before taking the action necessary to get rid of the fear.

Fear isn’t weakness, it’s the beginning of strength.

Throughout the day these two amazing women continued to create a foundation of hope and vision for all in attendance, emphasizing our ability to be the master of our lives and architects of change, while always mindful of the need to be inclusive of everyone on the planet.

What are you doing to architect the life you want?

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