As a still-recovering corporate human resources and professional development leader, I found the theme for NAPW's National Networking Conference on Friday, April 26th near and dear to my heart: "SPARK. Ignite Your Network." Workshop topics for this National Association of Professional Women's event included reinvention, transformation and balance. I felt right at home.
Let's just say that host Star Jones, Spokeswoman for the National Association of Professional Women, knew how to work it, from her pink dress to her glittery footwear. Her message: "Choose not to live with regret," and "focus on the future with reinvention."
For most us, that's easier said than done. A lot easier. How did Jones, who had a rough ride when she was on "The View," do it? Advice from her father helped Jones follow and realize her dreams: "Find something you love to do and find a way to get paid for it." Women draw strength from their network and from connecting with and hearing from the wisdom of others. And if they don't? "There is a special place in Hell for women who don't help other women," Jones blurted. Amen.
Keynote speaker Arianna Huffington told the amped-up crowd: "I do believe that this is our time. Not just to succeed in the male world, but to change it."
And she began by her altering own life. After a fainting spell due to her grueling schedule and lack of rest, Huffington shared that she has been "rediscovering sleep." Color me jealous when she said that, "Unapologetically, I strive to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night."
Most of us skate by on a few hours, opting to watch TV or fixate on work. I can tell you from personal experience that chronic lack of sleep is debilitating. Getting quality shut-eye is the single best thing that we can do each day to regularly renew our energy for sustained performance and good health. Among many other effects, too little sleep can impair concentration and judgment, and can lead to serious health issues, like headaches, vision problems and massive amounts of stress.
Bosses, take note: Huffington built her company's new offices with two nap rooms, which have turned out to be quite popular among her 850 journalists. "They are always full. We need to install another one." I can't help but wonder how much more productive I might have been with the luxury of a nap room during my twenty sleep-deprived years in corporate America, burning the candle at both ends. I have often wondered, "Why does the nap have to stop when we are 5?" And, most recently, "Why doesn't my 3-year-old want to take a nap??"
And Huffington was all about estrogen in the workplace. "We want to change the world -- it's screwed up. If Lehman Brothers was 'Lehman Brothers and Sisters,' they might still be in business!" Point taken, lady, point taken. And well said.
According to Forbes' 2012 World's Most Powerful Women in Business, "It [was] a standout year for women in business. For the first time in history, there are now 20 female CEOs at the 500 biggest U.S. corporations." We need even more women leaders if you look at a recent study from McMaster University, published in the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, "which found that women tend to be better corporate leaders because of the their decision-making abilities" because they "[tend] to shirk tradition, consider the interests of all stakeholders, cooperate, and be more inquisitive".
We do need a balance of energies in leadership and in business. Women can be powerful and feminine at the same time. Feminine energy is receptive, approachable, interested, sensitive, responsive and sharp. And that's good Feng Shui for business.