Lessons Learned at the Play Like a Girl Women’s Leadership Summit

Play Like a Girl traded in pre-recorded videos and webinar-style meetings with muted participants for our first-ever hybrid event. On March 19, hundreds of women and a few male allies made the long commute to their living rooms for the inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit, celebrating Women’s History Month.

Meanwhile, a small but devoted crowd gathered in Nashville for the taping of the livestreamed event. These diehard supporters traveled from as far as Memphis, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, and New York City – just to be in the room. They had their temperature checked upon arrival, greeted one another with a fist bump, and kept their distance–all while smiling behind face masks. Why? They came to reconnect and look onward together (though still six feet or more apart).

In a year filled with many challenges and uncertainties, we knew our community needed us now more than ever so we worked hard to show up for them in ways that matter. And it is no coincidence we chose the theme ‘New Rules for a New World’. We even designed the live, virtual experience to include a guided breathing exercise, lightning talks, the keynote, two fireside chats, live Q&As, a DIY charcuterie board workshop, panel discussion, virtual mentorship training, and even a disc jockey.

Attendees left with their notebooks filled to the brim with empowering quotes and messages of strength, resilience and ‘you got this, girl’! We’ve rounded up the 5 new rules now plastered to all our bathroom mirrors:

“Everything you need is inside of you.” – Katie Goyette, TC Restaurant Group

A former “professional people pleaser,” Katie Goyette used to derive a lot of her self-worth from other people’s expectations. You can’t fault her for it—it’s a very common practice for women on the fast track to professional success. But eventually, she says, using others to fill you up will lead to burnout. It happened to her, and she has spent the past four years on a journey of self-discovery that led her to firewalking school. But, as she shared at the summit, you don’t need a certificate in firewalking to discover this important truth:

“Everything I needed was already in me,” she says. “I am enough. I am enough—as I am and how I am. I don’t need to achieve more unless I choose to. Doing things that others wanted me to do was depleting. I now ask myself, ‘What do I want?’”

 “Don’t discount the small steps.” – Amy Bream, One Leg to Stand On

Amy Bream hasn’t always been a competitive athlete. Born with a limb deficiency, she used her prosthetic leg as an excuse for not being able to do so many things. So, how did she become an accomplished CrossFit athlete who now competes at an international level? It started by setting a phone reminder three times a day. When the alarm went off, it was time for Amy to say something encouraging to herself.

“You can hear that and think it sounds so simple and even roll your eyes, but a year later I was living a completely different life. Don’t discount the small steps and don’t discount yourself. If you have a bad day, just come back the next day.”

“If you can imagine it, you can be it.” – Merary Simeon, PepsiCo

In her keynote speech about the importance of taking the long view, Merary Simeon shared a bit about her background. She grew up poor in Puerto Rico. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. The odds were stacked against her, but through the power of imagination, she was able to defy those odds.

“I decided I was going to beat poverty,” she says. “I decided I was going to graduate from high school. If you can imagine it, you can be it. No one owns your narrative but you.”

But, of course, reaching your full potential in life requires more than imagination alone. Taking the long view also requires strength for the journey. “Someone said I wasn’t smart enough—I believed it,” she says. “Someone else put limits on my career. I believed that too. Unlike me [at that point in my life], you have to respect yourself and love yourself. It has to start with you.”

“Your timeline is not their timeline.” – Maria Donnel, Beautycounter

How do you respond when you see someone else succeed? If they’re achieving something you want to achieve, it can be really easy to feel bad about yourself. But not when you keep this quote from Maria Donnel close by. “Your timeline is not their timeline,” she says.

“If you see someone winning, it’s OK to celebrate. Their win is not going to stop you from your wins. Their win doesn’t mean you’re not going to get there, too. It’s not the end of your story just because she’s ahead of you. It’s great to celebrate each other and cheer each other on. You’re going to win, too.”

“Being silent is being complicit.” – Dr. Mark Clay, HCA/Medical City Children’s – Dallas

Discrimination against women in the workplace can be very subtle, so subtle, in fact, that it can go undetected. But you won’t get away with it around Dr. Mark Clay, husband to Play Like a Girl founder Dr. Kimberly Clay and director of the congenital cardiac intensive care program at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

As an ally, Dr. Clay sees it as his duty to “see something, say something.” Like that time at a staff recognition event when he noticed his female colleagues were being called by their first names while his male colleagues addressed one another by their titles. Or, other instances involving senior leadership.

“This is the person who signs off on the employment agreements,” he reflects. “I thought: ‘If this level of unconscious bias exists, what does it mean [for women] when it comes down to salary negotiations?’” So many of us can recognize this as wrong and say, ‘I would never do that,’ but that’s not enough, he says.

“Being silent is being complicit. As [male] allies, our role has to be to speak up and call out inequities. Don’t be a part of the problem; make sure you’re a part of the solution,” says Dr. Clay.”

Raise both hands if you’re inspired!? Hit rewind with the @Home Experience and get to posting reminders like these to your mirror too.