Last week I had the pleasure of attending the first day of the Smart Girls Conference, hosted by the Smart Girls Group. This conference brought together young women from all across the country to hear from many inspiring women in various fields on how to be a "smart girl," how they use their particular smarts to empower themselves and others. I was inspired by so much of what I heard and there were many recurring themes throughout the day such as empowerment, leadership, passion, and professional development. However, as I look back on all my notes, one theme stood out to me - the importance of perseverance and persistence. Directly and indirectly all of the women I heard from spoke of never giving up despite fear, hardships, or uncertainty, and it's those stories that I want to share.
- "Commit to one thing that you're truly passionate about and stick with it." Soraya Darabi, founder of Zady.com, kicked off the day by bringing up the point that a lot of us try to do everything and be a "jack of all trades." Her suggestion was to instead find just one thing that you love and persevere, no matter how long it takes to reach your goals.
- "Obstacles are opportunities," shared Kendall Ciesemier, founder of Kids Caring 4 Kids. While going through a struggle of her own, she found a way to get through it by helping others and thus her non-profit was born and continues to thrive under guidance.
- "Prove the 'naysayers' wrong." When asked how she consistently found motivation, She's the First founder Tammy Tibbetts said that it's in the determination to do what people once said she couldn't do.
- "You can't let yourself think you can't do it - look in the mirror every morning and say, 'I will succeed.'" The same way that we were encouraged all morning to keep at the things we're passionate about, D'Arcy Rudnay, CCO of Comcast Corporation encouraged us to be persistent with our own development as well.
- "This can't just be a moment. This has to be a turning point in history." Shiza Shahid inspired us all when talking about turning the I Am Malala social media campaign into the Malala Fund and being persistent about putting women's education on the global agenda. Hashtag advocacy has become very commonplace and it's important that we all continuously support the causes we care about on the ground and not just online.
- "If we want to change the conversation, it's up to us, and the cool thing is we have the opportunity to change it." Stephanie Ruhle, anchor at Bloomberg TV was a rockstar keynote to close out the first day. She emphasized how important it was for women to work hard, as a group, to continue moving past the roadblocks we have in front of us.
And if you're still in need of some more inspiration, cue Kayla Webley's intern experience. She's always been a go-getter, but before she became the Senior Editor at Marie Claire, Kayla interned for TIME Magazine's Asia HQ. She decided to try and pitch some stories because, why not? She pitched idea after idea, never giving up though she was an intern. Lo and behold, she was given the go ahead on one of her stories which went on to be published online on TIME.com, then in print in Asia and finally in print in the United States, a rare feat for an intern!
Next time you're thinking about throwing in the the towel on your internship search, class assignment, or "crazy" idea, remember these women and keep pushing forward - you can do it!