10,000 Strong

It had been on my bucket list for years. The hardest part was being strategic, and a little rude on the day tickets went on sale, April 2nd. Tickets sell out in fifteen minutes, so one must be deliberate to succeed. While having coffee with a woman with whom I hardly ever get quality time, I excused myself to focus on my phone and secure two tickets. It worked! When I bought the tickets, I did not know who would attend with me, but my cousin Jeanine, the executive director of the Juvenile Justice Center of Philadelphia, did. I am thrilled we shared our first #PENNWOMEN event together! Coming from different work histories contributed to the richness of sharing the experience.

The Strategy

We attended the Workplace Summit, which is a half-day, followed by the full-day Conference. Attending both events was an excellent way to “show up” in mind, body, and soul for the experience. No matter how well I plan, life inevitably goes haywire before closing shop and leaving home to attend a conference for a couple of days. The half-day session helped me acclimate to what was coming.

Attendees were advised that security would open at 6:30 a.m. for the full-day conference, and to expect long lines and bag checks. It would be wise to get through security before the exhibit hall opened at 7 a.m. To enjoy our quality cousin time and maximize our quality rest time, we stayed at the adjoining #Marriottdowntownphilly. It is a large and busy hotel with amicable and helpful employees and a Starbucks that opens at 4:30 a.m. We did notice later that there is also a Dunkin Donuts in the adjoining building, accessible from the overpass.

The ultimate convenience of the conference being at the convention center is that the suburban train lines run directly underground. This simplifies travel with luggage, especially when thousands of other men and women were coming into town. Yes, men attend as well! As you’ll notice in the photos, the conference has many corporate sponsors. Some of the sponsor spokespeople, presenters, and attendees were men. And that was wonderful. Except, it may have been challenging to find a “men’s room.” Most were re-labeled as “women’s rooms” for the day.

Key Takeaways

  • @CelesteHeadlee, the host of #WomenAmplified, emphasized the importance of communicating verbally. “The voice humanizes us to others. And if we learned nothing about the other person, then we did not have a conversation.”
  • @JamesClear, the author of #AtomicHabits, pointed out that “winners and losers have the same goals. Habits are the systems that get us there.”
  • @AbbyWambach, a two-time Olympic goal medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, taught us that “fear can’t stand proximity.” She reminded us that “we can be disappointed and respond well.”
  • @TamalaEdwards shared the impact of changing her vocabulary from “I want to be a reporter to I am a reporter.”
  • @DanielleWeisberg and @CarlyZakin from @TheSkimm demonstrated their non-partisan social activism by registering 100K women to vote in 2016 and getting 200K women to vote in 2018.
  • @ElizabethGilbert asked us, “what are we willing to give up to have the life we are pretending to want?” Liz talked deeply about how many women never learn how to set priorities until a disaster or catastrophe forces them to. “That is when we choose who and what is in our circle.”
  • @JesmynWard, the first woman to win two National Book Awards, inspired us with her deeply personal story to “commit to lifelong education, compassion, and persistence.”
  • @AvaDuVernay, the highest-grossing Black female director in domestic box-office history, suggested that female directors need “fangirls” as supporters. Male directors have fanboys who support them on every front. #AvaDuVernayfangirls
My cousin bought this for me at the Exhibit Hall from the National Museum of American Jewish History. And, it’s made in Ann Arbor, Michigan!


There was a multitude of break-out sessions that led to the fear of missing out. I did not attend the session on resilience with @AnneGrady. Honestly, I hadn’t even seen the description in the program. And when I returned to our table for lunch, my cousin and several other women raved about the resilience break-out. I was bummed to have missed it. UNTIL TODAY! The conference link was distributed today with the break-out session recordings! I can’t wait to catch up on what I missed and reconnect to the “conference glow.” https://www.paconferenceforwomen.org/2019-conference/

The SWAG Bag

Small Business Round Tables

After waiting in line for a half-hour, I attended a round table discussion on content creation and curation, led by @AshleyBasla, founder of #Sugarpeel.

Meeting Ashley was one of those moments when you realize that life and your intention has positioned you to meet a like-minded person.

As mentioned earlier, there was a long line to meet with Ashley and other round-table facilitators. When Ashley introduced herself as committed to sustainability, as well as to featuring women-led businesses, I smiled from the inside out with gratitude for having an opportunity to meet with her one-on-one.

Ashley gave every one of her round-table attendees two copies of her beautiful magazine and her business card.

Next Year

This article will help remind me of how to strategize my approach for next year. The backbone of my plan will be:

1. Buy tickets for only a few people

I suspect that we had such excellent seats because there were only two of us. I understand the appeal of getting ten besties together to attend. But, I hypothesize that there’s a higher chance of ending up at a table in the back of the room if you reserve with a full table of ten people.

2. Suggest that the excellent speakers I know throw their hats in the ring

There is a multitude of opportunities for speakers at the #PENNWOMEN. There are keynotes, of course, but also breakout sessions, panels, and exhibit hall roundtables. Not to mention, exhibit hall vendors and one-on-one coaching. I know many talented speakers and plan to learn more about the process of accessing opportunities at #PENNWOMEN. I will update this article and reach out to people as I learn more.

3. Review the preliminary agendas in advance and with purpose

I now know how important it is to identify your preferences for break-out sessions. The program does change minimally, but it is still worth the investment of time to read the session descriptions in advance and go in with a game-plan.

4. Permit yourself to change your mind

During one of the afternoon break-out sessions, a woman in front of me told her friend that if she doesn’t like a session, she leaves and finds a different one. At first, that sounded a little harsh to me. But, about five minutes later, I walked out of a session and into a different one. There are some repetitive themes, depending on your focus. This is another example of why knowing the session descriptions helps you quickly pivot and get the most out of your investment.

Especially if you’re in PA, NY or NJ, the #PENNWOMEN is worth considering for incorporation into your conference line-up.

Feel free to click the link below and ask any follow-up questions you may have. https://nichepartnershipconsulting.net/contact-us/

Mary Beth Simón

Mary Beth Simón

Contingency Plan Guide | Strategic Planner | Keynote Speaker & Workshop Facilitator

The best time to plan for an emergency is when life is good, not when an emergency happens. Unexpected life events require all your energy and attention. Having a plan ready before it's needed relieves stress and allows you to face challenges with calm, presence, and confidence.

As the founder of NPC, Mary Beth works with her clients to create a roadmap that their business partner, team, or loved one can follow to keep business and life running smoothly in an emergency.

There's no better time than now to start creating your plan. Book a Free Consult Today or download my free Contingency Planning Kit.