September 20, 2006

Enter Entrepreneur: Women in Business Conference reflection

Though it has been a while since the event, it is still very blog worthy. On Thursday, September 14, I attended the Pennsylvania Governor's Conference for Women at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

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Before the women came

In the wee morning hours, we loaded onto buses and put on our volunteer shirts. (Some put their shirts on while riding the bus--an interesting co-ed experience I'm sure, but I didn't see anything--I was riding in the front).

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Happy volunteers

After a short orientation, we received our volunteer badges and were sent to our duties. I was a human arrow. I really didn't know which way was which, but I had a marvelous time acting like I did.

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"I'd be happy to direct you." (laughs maniacally)

The day was not all volunteer direction, however. I attended most of the presentations, and attended two "breakout" sessions with a panel of speakers.

I particularly enjoyed the morning panel with Ann Crittenden, entitled "Striving for a Life of Balance". The insightful responses from women who are obviously successful as mothers, wives and business people (usually in that order), was encouraging for me.

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Balance panel with Ann Crittenden.

As I get closer to graduation, I'm realizing that a life of balance is something to be striven for, not necessarily attained to perfection. Perhaps the most valuable thing I took away from that session is the importance of having a set of standards that cannot change, no matter the position, the place or the time in your life. Some of these standards are, for example, that one will not compromise a pregnancy leave, taking time off once a year for vacation, or Sundays off for church.

This really spoke to me because I sometimes get caught up in work. I enjoy work and I enjoy time with friends at work, but I also enjoy time with family and friends outside of a work setting, and sometimes that gets the backseat, for example, during Setonian productions, when I have a freelance article due or I am working with a client on her logo. Time is fluid when I am working, and I admit I have in the past put work ahead of the priorities like family and friends that should mean more to me.

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Keynote speaker-Linda Ellerbee

Amid the mass of over 5,000 women who attended the conference, I didn't feel oddly or beneath them; I saw myself as one of them. E-Magnify was the propelling force behind my prescence at the conference. I was invited to not only volunteer, but to network as an equal.

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Five thousand women breaking bread

I appreciated the opportunity, not only to be there, but to pass out my resume at the various booths at center. I was an entrepreneur--of myself. This isn't the first time, however, I've worked experienced entrepreneurial intiative.

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Company Set-ups-Time to network!
en‧tre‧pre‧neur  /ˌɑntrəprəˈnɜr, -ˈnʊr; Fr. ɑ̃trəprəˈnúr/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ahn-truh-pruh-nur, -noor; Fr. ahn-truh-pruh-núr] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, plural -neurs /-ˈnɜrz, -ˈnʊrz; Fr. -ˈnúr/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[-nurz, -noorz; Fr. -núr] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation, verb Ėnoun 1. a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, esp. a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

When I sit in a meeting with the Setonian staff of over 50 people and they are all looking at me for direction; I am an entrepreneur. When discussing website design with a board of directors and create signage, brochures and present to small children at the Mount Pleasant Library; I am an entrepreneur. When I put my heart on paper and solicit my work to Eye Contact; I am an entrepreneur. When I write on my blog in what spare time I have, risking my reputation; I am an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur in my book isn't someone who goes with the flow. This person has an attitude that reaches out and demands change, pushing the boundaries of the norm. I think I am an entrepreneur. I think being a student at Seton Hill demands this, and the profession(s) I have selected also require the same spirit.

Though risks of corrections in the newspaper, rounds with a board that pays my way through school and possibly screwing up children, criticism, and the possibility of even losing my job because of my blog, are all real, I am not dwelling on the risks--only the possibility that I can make a difference in my school, my hometown, my church, my loved ones, and the world through my actions for Good.

Someone once told me that anything worth doing has risks and a price. That is the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit. And as I step out into the world, I see that I have already risked much, begun paying my dues, and gained so much more than I deserve. I am an equal of those women at the conference. We are all just trying to make our way.

Oh, and a little p.s., not many men were there, and the ones who were, were either looking for a restroom (because most men's rooms had been turned into female restrooms), or putting up arrangements for the conference. Alternative universe, no?

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Flower men
Posted by Amanda Cochran at September 20, 2006 11:41 AM | TrackBack
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