What I learned from Brene Brown, Victoria Pynchon, and Danielle LaPorte at the Texas Conference for Women in Austin

The Texas Conference for Women is a yearly event hosted by the State's First Lady. I learned about it from Brené Brown's speaking tour page, and promptly proceeded to a) put a proposal in myself, and b) buy a ticket. My break-out session for using Interaction Styles didn't get picked, but you know what that meant? More time to meet and learn from other inspiring rockstars - and sharing that here with you!  My trip began the day before, driving down from Dallas with my friend Megan. We chatted the whole way, sang out loud in the car, and had a great time bar-hopping on 6th Street, listening to live bands (favorite: Nothing Left), and yes: riding a mechanical bull. Yeehaw, my thighs are still sore.

The morning of the conference started beautifully - my cab didn't show, but two lovely ladies from the hotel gave me a lift. Generous spirits, I thank thee.

We made it in time to hear bits of the morning keynote and find the room for Brené's 10.00 am session "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love and Lead." In case you've been in a coma or living in a place that doesn't get TED, her blog is ordinarycourage.com.

I finished her book last week and LOVE the piece on using her findings in corporations, as well as the chapter on grounded theory. That's what I'm using over on www.expatsmbti.com as well, and when she signed my bookmark her best tips for finding impactful descriptors were using constant comparison and feeding it back to the people. Good advice.

And you know the absolute stand-out head and shoulders above best thing she does? Greeting people with a handshake, a smile, and a "hi, I'm Brené." Even super excited and girl crush star-struck lil ol' me who got all flustered and didn't know where to look. :-)

Here are my notes from her session:

  • I have the right to say: This is what I need right now. 
  • Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure;
  • it's also the birthplace of faith joy love belonging courage trust creativity gratitude hope and any other positive emotion
  • Innovation doesn't happen without it
  • Courage is underpinned by it
  • How can we make engagement and passion cool again?
  • What do you do when you're vulnerable? Women tend to go into pleasing performing perfecting proving mode.
  • What's your definition of success?
  • It's ok to put some things/people/comments in the SUCK IT column.
  • Connection = having people who help dust you off and say, "sorry it didn't work out, but you were brave to try."
  • #1 reason people leave work is no feedback
  • Blame = discharge of pain & discomfort, part of the "anger" family
  • Vulnerability always has boundaries - share with appropriate people in appropriate contexts

Next up: Victoria Pynchon from shenegotiates.com telling us about "Knowing Your Value and Negotiating Your Worth." Hadn't planned on going but was pleasantly surprised - not just because I won one of her books!

My favorite reframes were a) that it's not selfish to ask for a raise or receive more money. When you ask women what they'd do with money, they invariably respond along the lines of helping out friends, family, and philanthropy. Most men, on the other hand, cite commercial objects like "buy a ferrari". We've already seen this in Half the Sky - give women money and they'll find a way to feed it back to society, and that has to be the opposite of selfish.

And b): "Negotiation is just a conversation leading to agreement." Boo yah.

My notes from this session:

  • We negotiate everyday; it's the peace we make in the world.
  • Research shows that women work 22 % longer and 10 % faster for the same reward.
  • We are all part of the wage gap and need to take it personally, because it doesn't only affect us in the short term - it also influences our retirement.
  • Example: female doctors make $350,000 less than men over a 30-year career.
  • Don't make yourself too small or too big - find the right size by being authentic.
  • Don't let yourself be treated like a servant.
  • Don't persist too much: Walking away is a valid and effective negotiation tactic. 
  • Recognize empty threats - and don't make them.
  • Disproportionate conflict resolution strategies don't work.
  • People are strange - don't assume you know what they're thinking.
  • ASK ASK ASK - learn what people want and match that up with your goals or offer something in exchange.
  • You can be happy AND rich. 
  • Make your first number aggressive to allow room for negotiation - people are more satisfied when they receive concessions.
  • We're not a bargaining culture, prepare to be accused of bad faith after 3 rounds of negotiation.
  • Recognize negotiation opportunities - every time to take out your wallet.
  • Men use distributive bargaining (how much of the pie?)
  • Women create value (and bake more pies so there's enough for everyone.)
  • Yielding / Integration = it's ok to use your female strengths, lead with what you're giving.
  • Shaming = potential dispute resolution tactic but inappropriate basically everywhere (see above or read Dr. Brown's books).
  • Persuasive argument = people make gut decisions and then backtrack to find logical argument.
  • Promise of future action = don't think of getting a raise as asking, you're exchanging benefits and delivering something in return
  • Threats of future action = you need to feel that you deserve to be there
  • Economic power is the game changer. Giving women economic power benefits society and culture as a whole due to their more collaborative approach to sharing the wealth.
  • Negotiation is just a conversation leading to agreement.
  • Ask diagnostic questions - what is it the other really wants?
  • Learn to self promote and do the dance of I'm really good at what I do.
  • Learn what your market value is at glassdoor.com

Lunch was a little interrupted since I had to go outside to find a vegan meal - the chefs weren't able to accommodate. At least I didn't miss Brené's keynote - she actually had us all laughing, singing, dancing, and posing - I'll never forget the sound of 5,000 scraping chairs. It effectively demonstrated the neurobiological connection between movement and human connection as opposed to rigid stances when we're being cool and in control. There's simply no growth without movement, and vulnerability becomes that much harder when we're facing people in the rigid mindsets and body language.


Last but never least - Danielle LaPorte and her totally laid back and relaxed, tailored to the audience's questions session on "Your Big Beautiful Book Plan: How to Create a NY Times Bestseller". She was super gracious before the session, posed for pictures and signed books.

I finally bought a copy of The Fire Starter Sessions. It's a precious and beautiful piece of work, practical with the large margins and artistic in its layout. Eye and brain candy to boot.

Here are my notes from her session:

  • Be careful about who owns your content. Read the fine print!
  • There are many models to use, the factory model feeds search engines and can be monetized with ads.
  • Your Life Is Your Content. 
  • When looking for agents, publishing houses, designers... start at the top.
  • Put your book concept into two sentences. Be specific.
  • Cover letters have specs. If you break them, your creativity better be awesome.
  • Subscribe to mediabistro.com
  • Some publishers open their doors to unsolicited material for one week of the year, check it out.
  • Be aware of your repurpose and e-rights before you sign anything.
  • Calculate your advance minus 15 % agent fee, minus 13 - 30 % taxes, and it's distributed in installments over several years.
  • Have a platform to help with marketing and proving you'll be able to sell to readers. 
  • Online content is most useful for "how to"s
  • How do you want your readers / customers to feel?
  • Getting on the NY Times Bestseller list is a science. Launch dates matter.
  • Look at your first book as your starter book.
  • 50 % of your book proposal content needs to be about marketing. 
  • If you decide to print yourself, you're in the publishing business and need licenses, codes, permissions etc.
  • Collect your stories on your blog. Share their message.
  • Polish it and lift it up!
  • Kids books only work as franchises and series.
  • Teen books may be interesting for parents, too. Mother-daughter connections.
  • Offer reader guides.
  • Get The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
  • You know it's good enough when you get positive feedback on your blog from people other than your family and friends.
  • Push the boat out slowly.
  • Integrate and have one umbrella. Collapse it.
  • People come to your site for your energy. 
  • Have integrity and passion about your products.
  • Talk about your stuff where your people gather. Guest blog. 
  • Promote your products on your own website.
Let's see who they'll get as speakers for next year - I certainly enjoyed a day of learning and inspiration, refreshers and skill boosts, smiles and good vibes.
What did you take away? Please link to your blogs in the comments section so I can read your goodies. :-)
Blessin's, y'all.