You know those experiences that make you feel buoyant? You realize your cheeks hurt because you’re smiling so much, and your mind is brimming with ideas and inspiration and gratitude and excitement? And you feel connected and energized by the people around you?
Well. BullCon17 was like that.
What Made BullCon17 Incredible
It was my third year attending the conference, and this year’s conference blew. it. out. of. the. park. Not only because it was in a beautiful hotel (who knew the Embassy Row in Dupont Circle was decorated in a turquoise, yellow and silver palette with contemporary-but-not-showy geometric patterns and inviting spaces to linger in and furniture that was appealing rather than overstuffed!?). Or because sessions were diverse, fascinating and actionable. Or even the fact that the weather happened to be beautiful for November in DC. It was all of those things AAAAAAND… the people.
Oh, the people! Nearly 100 incredible, ambitious, interesting, feminist career women who are so cool and supportive and enthusiastic and helpful. I could go on, but that’s enough adjectives to get my point across.
I already credit BullCon with introducing me to a close friend (hi Sarah!). For two years of conferences, one great friend is good ROI. And this year I met so many people I want to befriend! Not to mention all the women who offered to help me with my career, answer my questions, and be accountability partners.
But back to the content. This year’s conference offered several thematic tracks, including Slay at Work, Side Hustle Sisterhood, and Personal Development Powerhouse. I love having options, although so many of the sessions sounded great that I wanted to be in two places at once almost the whole time. Below are my favorite takeaways from the sessions I attended (and a few that I didn’t):
BullCon17 Roundup: Notes, Ideas, Quotes, Memes
How YOU Can Help Create Gender Equality in the Workplace and Further Your Career at the Same Time – Romy Newman
Romy shared a TON of graphs and studies about how having women at ALL levels in all companies makes LITERALLY EVERYTHING BETTER.
- Favorite quote: “Should you put a woman in charge? Only if you want record revenue.” – Romy Newman
- Favorite suggestion: get thee a personal Board of Directors for your career. #OnIt
How to Recover After Life Punches You in the Face – Mariah MacCarthy
Somehow I took no notes on this session. Because I was too riveted. I loved the crowdshare that happened after Mariah’s presentation. We talked ways to prepare for challenging life events like having a baby, and ways to support others during challenging times:
- Prepare: make a list of all your household chores, grocery list, favorite pizza order, and anything else you can think of before you have/adopt a baby (or experience another life-changing event). That way, when people offer to help, you can tell them to pick something off the list.
- Prepare: if asking for help is hard for you – or if you don’t have the energy to manage your helpers – appoint a friend or relative to be your Help Coordinator.
- Support: of course you want to help if someone is going through a challenging time. But the last thing they need is to micromanage you. Instead of asking “what can I do,” offer to do specific things: “I’m going to the store to get stuff for dinner. May I come over and make it at your place?”
You Already Have Your First Client You Just Don’t Know It – Ijeoma Nwatu Enemanna
What I LOVED hearing about this session is that Ijeoma asked attendees to think about the skills they have to offer, then actually offer them.
One woman shared how she wrote a template email about her resume and cover-letting reviewing skills and sent it to several friends asking them for referrals and sharing her prices. I AM GOING TO DO THIS.
You’ve Got This – Practical Advice For New Managers – Caro Griffin
Part of the fun of this workshop was commiserating about the terrible managers we’ve all had in the past. But it wasn’t just kvetching: we discussed how crucial it is to make expectations clear; that you must be willing to do your employees’ jobs sometimes (don’t delegate all the shitty stuff); invest in on-boarding; don’t hire yourself; and 1-on-1’s are invaluable (and you must take notes during them!).
Caro shared great managing resources including Lara Hogan and Cate Huston’s blogs. She also urged us to build a “management squad” – i.e. a group of professionals you can go to with your management questions and concerns.
I’d like to have a squad for all my endeavors.
Entrepreneurship, Freelance and Side Hustle Q&A, Jennifer Dziura
I didn’t attend this Q&A but as a #JenDziuraFangirl I wasn’t surprised to hear that it was excellent. Jen reviewed the concepts she shares in one of my FAVORITE GetBullish articles, The Best Business Strategy is the One That Makes You Money. I reread this article at least twice a year.
Investing Like a Badass – Lillian Karabaic
Lillian’s presentation was great because she built in time to deal with any financially-related-panic in the room, of which there was plenty. I loved how she explained the ins and outs of investing in a way that was simple and not-intimidating. It turns out that Lillian is also a Mustachian, so no wonder I liked her presentation!
I’ve downloaded 4 episodes of her podcast, Oh My Dollar! And now I want to ask her like seventeen questions.
From “Token” to “Asset”, How to use being different to your advantage – Janice Omadeke
Janice is a friend and I had so much fun seeing her at the conference. I didn’t attend her session but I heard these notes, which I love. Solid career advice:
- Dig into something boring
- Become an expert at it
- Become indispensable
Also: Create an elevator pitch for what you do for the company (so when you’re in the elevator with someone from the C-suite, you can speak confidently about the value you bring to the company).
Side Hustle Queens – Starting and Balancing your Side Hustle and Life – Jasmine Smith, Chianti Lomax, and Dominique Broadway
Attendees of this session shared a great point from these women: “focus on sales or marketing instead of making things pretty.”
(Hi Jasmine! It was so fun to see you at the conference!)
How to Write the Best Goddamn Interoffice Memo the World Has Ever Seen – Kathryne Dunlap
THIS SESSION WAS SO GREAT. At first I thought “hmmm?” because I don’t work in an office, but Kathryne completely sold me on the value of quantifying what you do visually, through infographics.
She also reminded us to record our accomplishments more than semi-annually. Duh. But I needed that reminder.
Go here for enjoyable advice about lying.
Tools, Systems and Processes: a quietly profane, rambling ode to keep as little stuff as possible in your head because you might get hit by a bus or just not want to think about it – Emily Chapman
This session was fun, funny, and practical. From password managers to Google Calendar to Text Expander to BeeMinder, Emily and the room shared tons of resources and ideas for how to use tech to improve your life.
- (Example: apparently you can set up a Zap so that when you include a certain hashtag in an Instagram post, the picture is automatically emailed to your parents!)
I plan to write more thoroughly on this topic, but suffice to say it made me much more excited about apps than I usually am.
Emily also gets credit for introducing me to WordSwag, a terrific app for creating quote memes for Instagram. #Obsessed
Energizing, Inspiring, and Actionable
In addition to all the reasons above, BullCon17 also gets my appreciation for the pacing. There was a balance of sessions, socializing, and downtime built in to the weekend. I was able to get to know lots of women, listen to dynamic speakers, and spend time alone between sessions to recharge.
The speakers were diverse in background, experience, and expertise. I got SO MANY ideas and inspiration for my home life to my professional life to my reading life to my exercise life to my social life. And best of all, these ideas aren’t intimidating or overwhelming!
Everything I learned feels doable. There was a lack of posturing at this conference. The women I met were an appealing blend of confident in their skills and sincere about their learning curves and their next steps. They were warm, friendly, and appropriately irreverent.
I’m proud that I attended the first BullCon in 2013, and I’ve been on an odd-year rotation since then. But this year’s conference was so great that I might just break my rhythm and show up at Palm Springs for BullCon18.