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Pennsylvania Conference for Women Recap #PennWomen .@PennWomen

The Pennsylvania Conference for Women was exactly the shot in the arm of motivation and inspiration that I needed.  At PennWomen, amazing, powerful and INSPIRATIONAL women shared their insight for making the most out of your career and your life. This conference was all CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT. It was quite a lot to be packed into one day, and far too much for me to recap effectively in a blog post.

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The morning kicked off with Charlotte Beers, advertising executive powerhouse and former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She shared the story of her ascent to success, and explained that in the business world, women need to focus not on acting “womanly” but instead focus on being “leaderly.” That, yes, there are differences in how women and men perceive and do things, but for career success, a woman should approach challenges from a perspective of leadership and fearlessness. I know a number of the keynote speakers were recorded, and I really hope that Charlotte’s talk is shared on the website, because it was phenomenally inspirational.

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Cheryl Strayed sharing her amazing story, explored more fully in her memoir “Wild”

I also loved the panel discussion between Alexis Sclamberg, Trenesa Danuser, Brenda Dennis and Lauren Berger about defining “success” for yourself. They discussed how success is a personalized definition, and steps that they have taken to reach their career goals. Trenesa, an executive with Estee Lauder, gave some phenomenal insight into how to balance family with a high-powered position that requires frequent international travel. My biggest takeaway from that panel was when Alexis shared that she has attended numerous conferences full of super-power executive women, and even they, at the highest rungs of business, don’t feel like they have made it to success. Those words made me realize how success can’t be an end goal, it has to be a process or a state of being.

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Cathie Black and Emily Bennington’s discussion on “Executive Presence” was also amazing. Cathie emphasized the importance of appearance– that you must look the way you want to be treated. If you want to be treated like a professional, you must dress like a professional. This is an issue I’ve been working on lately. I have a terrible habit of picking out my outfits in the morning when I am exhausted, and the only thing I want to wear is yoga pants and a hoodie. Although I manage to pick out passable attire, it’s not nearly as polished as the presence I would like to project. I’m making a habit of keeping my nails polished, and I need to pick out my outfits before I go to bed at night, when my energy is (marginally) higher. Cathie emphasized that when things get tough, put on some lipstick, because that’s when people are going to be watching. She also pointed out that women have a “gratitude problem.” I know that I am completely guilty of this. Women who ascend to a new position or meet a goal get wrapped up in being so grateful for getting there that they stunt their forward progress. Men, however, tend to meet that goal and immediately ask “ok, what’s next?” As women, we need to work on always looking forward, and not letting ourselves fall behind by getting so wrapped up in reaching the previous goal.

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Tory Johnson and Barbara Bradley Baekgaard chat about Baekgaard’s founding of the Vera Bradley company.

I felt like I had so much more in common with the women at this conference than the women at BlogHer. PennWomen is a career focused conference, and I’m definitely a career focused person. I definitely will attend next year (and the year after and the year after). The only downside I saw to the conference was that there was so much amazing content, it was hard to find the time to really get to talk with people. I think this conference would really benefit by a short speed networking session in the morning, where we can all have an opportunity to quickly meet people and exchange cards. The short period before the opening keynotes was intended for networking, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it remarkably intimidating to go into a room full of literally thousands of people and just start chatting it up. Speed networking would be awesome.

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This conference is an amazing experience, and it would be equally beneficial for men as for women. It is a jam-packed day, but it will motivate and inspire you like nothing else. On my drive home, I was full of energy and ready to go! I was ready to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!! Of course when my alarm went off the following morning, the energy had faded, but a number of the meaningful takeaways continue to bounce around in my head.

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Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia

A few years ago, Sandy and I went to this AMAZING vegan gourmet restaurant in Philly called Horizons. Seriously, the meal there was up in my top 10 list of best meals I’ve had. Then Horizons closed, and it broke my heart. But then, the owners opened a new enterprise– VEDGE in Center City.

People look at me in surprise when I put the words “vegan” and “gourmet” together. I suppose people equate vegan foods with salads and gritty lentil dishes, but Vedge proves that vegan cuisine is so, so much more than that.

My friend Aubrey and I ventured to Vedge on Monday evening.  I took pictures of our selections. The shame is, the photos do not adequately convey the amazingness that are Vedge’s brilliant dishes. The flavors are so savory and complex. The textures are phenomenal. Amazing, simply amazing amazing amazing.

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Olives and pickles platter

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Sweet potato pate, and chard with carrots and tomatoes

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Mushrooms (left) and beets (right)

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These dishes were the true standouts of the evening! On the left is eggplant brasciole– hearty and savory and perfectly seasoned! On the right are brussels sprouts.  When the dish arrived at the table, I was disappointed by the appearance. I thought it was going to be some blah brussels sprouts slaw. Oh NO.  These are AMAZING.  They’re shredded and roasted and smokey and perfect.  I could eat these two dishes all day, every day for the rest of my life.

The prices were reasonable for a truly gourmet meal.  Despite our meal containing no meat, dairy, or eggs, we were truly stuffed when we left.  Vedge is perfect for a date night, or just a special meal.  No joke, I’d drive all the way back across the state just to have another meal there.

 
Vedge Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Pennsylvania Conference for Women

I just got back home from the Pennsylvania Conference for Women– what an AMAZING experience!  I’ll have more to say once I’ve had a few minutes to collect my thoughts, but for now suffice it to say that in comparison to the BlogHer conference when I felt like I didn’t quite “fit in,” the women at the Penn Women conference are exactly the kind of women I seek to surround myself with.  These women are intelligent, ambitious and driven.  They take their careers seriously, and strive to be leaders and mentors. What an inspiration!

The biggest treat of the day was Sonia Sanchez sharing her poetry.  Her poetry stars as a story, then the words surround you, and you see every word she speaks.  Her art is so beautiful.

These are the gems of wisdom I collected today:

  • You sell yourself first, your company second, and your product third.
  • Your failures may be precisely what you need in order for everything else to go right.
  • Failure is the stepping stone to success.
  • Make the best first impression, you do not have an opportunity to make a good second impression.
  • Carry yourself like you know where you’re going.
  • Guard your reputation, it is your life.
  • One of the gifts of a bad economy is that we are forced to be really creative.
  • What happens to our best work in the world really isn’t up to us.
  • You have that moment where you have a weight to lift that is unbearable. And in that moment, you have two decisions: You either lift it, or you don’t.
  • Learn to speak clearly, memorably, and persuasively.
  • Leadership is having the quality of persuading others to follow you.
  • You are not the same person at work as you are at home. Accept that and be liberated.
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Hello City of Brotherly Love!

I arrived in Philly last night. I worked in my firm’s Philly office today, and tomorrow I’m off to the Pennsylvania Conference for Women! YAAAAY! I’m super excited!

I’m staying with a friend from law school, and when we arrived last night, we stopped for a drink and a bite at her neighborhood bar, The Devil’s Den. They have an impressive selection of beers on tap, and tasty tavern food.

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Spicy BBQ duck flatbread and a pumpkin ale!

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Philly Cheesesteak– this was really excellent!

I have never really had a “neighborhood bar” where I’ve been a regular. The closest I’ve had to that is maybe when I took up residence at various Pittsburgh coffee houses while studying for the bar exam. I am also so obsessed with trying out new places that it doesn’t leave much time for returning to the same place over and over.

Are you a “regular” at any particular restaurant or bar? What watering hole do you call “home”?
Devil's Den on Urbanspoon

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Father’s Day in Philly

We finished up our trip today in Philly with breakfast at Reading Terminal Market.  I feel like I lived there this weekend, but it was about 2 steps away from the hotel, and offered way better fare than stale Starbucks pound cake at the hotel, so it was a natural choice.

I had an everything bagel with lox and cream cheese from the deli. Yum!

Although not a traditional breakfast choice, Mr. Beez had a cajun alfredo.

I had a bite and really liked it.  Regular alfredo is usually too heavy for me, but the spices in this cajun alfredo gave it a little kick, so that you don’t feel like you have a brick in your stomach from eating a whole plate of butter and cream.

Next, we spent the lovely summer morning on a double decker bus tour!  Baby Beez LOVES buses, and squeals “BUUUUS! BEEP BEEP!” when she sees them go by, and then asks for “MORE! MORE!”  When I dropped her off at daycare the other day, three buses came down the street one after another, and she about exploded with excitement, so getting to ride in a double decker bus was a big deal for her!

The tour guide was funny and knowledgeable, and the tour was a great way to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time.  Afterward, we met my pal Atarah for lunch at Sidecar.  I was too busy catching up with Atarah and trying to keep the snarling, thrashing little beastie child under control (the gremlin instructions for toddlers include “do not bring into a restaurant”), so I didn’t take any food pictures. It’s a fun, laid back hipster-type brunch place.  The food was definitely good, and I appreciated that the brunch menu included salads and sandwiches alongside more traditional breakfast fare.

After lunch it was time to head back to the ‘burgh.  We did take one little detour out to the Weavers Way Co-Op.  Weavers Way was the host for the CCMA conference, and Mr. Beez was eager to check out their store.

The store is in a very charming residential neighborhood.  The store itself is in a very small building, so the products are virtually stacked floor to ceiling.  They had a lot of variety for such a small place.  Weavers Way also has a 2nd store, and a pet store, so they’ve had a lot of success.  We picked up some yogurt for Baby Beez (who was very excited to sit on a bench outside and eat it, while chattering to the dogs who passed by), and some delicious chocolate chip cookies to snack on for the ride home.

Then it was time to go home.  Goodbye Philly! Hope to see you again soon!