Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like the odd man (or woman) out? Ever been in a room where you felt as though you weren’t smart enough to be there? Has there been a time that you needed advice but didn’t know who to go to that would understand the circumstances?
Many reading this have probably found themselves in one of these scenarios and that is why conferences like Women Breaking the Mold are so important. In this blog, Darien Dierksen talks about her experience and shares some learnings to encourage others to break the mold.
Women Breaking the Mold is an annual conference held by Plastics News for women in the plastics and rubber industry. Its mission is to help support and nurture the growth of women into leadership positions in the industry. Each year has a unique theme which provides attendees sessions focused on navigating the workplace, using soft skills to grow relationships and even in-depth breakout tracks that will help women prepare for additional success.
This year there were several impactful messages from the speakers including:
Verbal vs. Physical Language
Did you know that when you are presenting to a group of people, the verbal language that you are saying only accounts for 10% of the impact on that group?? Kristin Kelly explained that the other 90% is a combination of your physical language and speech. So, the next time you are nervous about tripping up on the words on your slides, remember this statistic and stay confident and power through because YOU are the message, not those slides.
Manage or Lead
As many know all too well, managing a team of diverse personalities can be difficult. There was a panel that highlighted the big difference between managing a team and leading a team. A favorite quote from this panel was “show them you’re a human and they will help push that boulder up the hill with you”. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of a team like this!
Meena Banasiak spoke over releasing regrets. She said, “show yourself the same kind of grace that you would show others”. This comment really struck home for most of the women in the room because we tend to be our own harshest critic. We all need to remember this comment every time we start to judge ourselves for not being three places at once or when life happens.
Seat at the Table
Finally, Anoosheh Oskouian talked about having a seat at the table. She touched on different things from imposter syndrome, getting a seat, keeping that seat & using that seat at the table to help others. The quote that resonated was “once I had a seat at the table, I never let myself quit speaking up for those who haven’t gotten their seat yet”. Not only does this quote show humility but it exemplifies the type of leader we should all aspire to be.
These types of conferences are important. Each and every human on this earth has something that makes them different. Those differences are what we should be embracing and celebrating. If we as individuals, companies and as an industry continue to strive for an environment that is accepting of everyone, then we will truly be at our strongest. Forums such as this, that acknowledge that subpopulations (women, in this case) face adversity and provide space to learn and drive growth and change, are essential.
“I am leaving this conference inspired, educated, and motivated to make a difference”, Darien said, “I hope that wherever you may be these learnings will help you make a difference as well!”