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.

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).

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.

"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.

balance panelists.jpg
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.

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.

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.

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?

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