Texas Conference for Women 2020: “Improving Ourselves and the World We Live In”

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For many women working at Tasktop, October 2020 kicked off on the best possible foot! Courtesy of our Austin-based partner Planview, one of this year’s sponsors of the Texas Conference for Women, we had the pleasure of attending the virtual conference as a group. 

Our CPO Nicole Bryan got the word out to our leadership: Tasktop ladies would not be working today! Instead, we kicked up our feet, planted our computers on our laps, and let ourselves be inspired by poets, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, executives and authors. And we were not alone. We felt the warmth of the 6,000 attendees, all sharing good vibes and supportive comments in the live chat that accompanied each session. 

We are a diverse group of women here at Tasktop. We come from different countries, cultures, religions and professions. We share our passion for our company’s success and for each other’s well being. And at this conference, we think we discovered a few more ways to improve ourselves and the world we live in.  

Rebecca Dobbin, Associate Product Manager: I was grateful to have the opportunity to take a break from my day-to-day job to focus on learning from the incredible leaders who spoke at the Texas Conference for Women 2020. A favorite moment was Elizabeth Acevedo’s keynote, which encouraged us to question our assumptions about whose experiences we consider legitimate or worthy of respect. Through her poem, “For the Poet Who Told Me Rats Aren’t Noble Enough Creatures for a Poem,” she questions why the deer is considered a valid muse for poetry, but not the rat, an animal with whom city dwellers have vastly more experience. This questioning and rejection of the status quo is an attitude we should take with us as we navigate our work-life — questioning assumptions about which applicants are qualified (and what types of experience we believe prepare someone for the job), presuppositions about the right “culture fit” for the company, and more. We need to get out of our narrow worldview to fully appreciate the diversity of wisdom, experience, and talent that is out there.

Armaan Bajwa, Software Engineer 2: I enjoyed the whole conference, my favorite parts being:

  • Author James Clear’s session about Atomic Habits on how to make tiny changes to your habits. The statement ‘Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become’ really hit home for me and really inspired me!
  • Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, spoke about choosing bravery over perfectionism. Every single sentence was relatable. I’m often guilty of choosing perfection no matter what. The talk inspired me to take risks and not feel guilty about doing things for myself!
  • The entirety of poet Elizabeth Acevedo’s keynote, especially her poem ‘You Mean You Don’t Weep at the Nail Salon’. Everything that she said about her experiences, and how we have to understand that our experiences aren’t universal, and what others experience is just as valid as what we do!

Paninya Masrangsan, Flow Advisor: I really enjoyed the day, especially because I was able to experience it with other Tasktopians. My two most impactful speakers were Elizabeth Acevedo and Priya Parker.

  • Elizabeth Acevedo’s keynote blew me away. I am so impressed by her ability to describe the pain of being a member of a minority group in such a relatable and poignant way. I will be looking up more of her spoken word performances and poetry books later!
  • After hearing Priya Parker, the author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet, I’ll have to examine the meetings on my calendar. She pointed out that meetings are often too vague and diluted to be useful. For every meeting I’ll schedule, I’ll first ask questions like “why are we meeting?” or “how will these people be different because they experienced this together?”. I hope that this will lead to a more impactful and enjoyable experience for all involved.

Lori Hagewood, Sr. Manager, Technical Account Mgmt: After attending the inspiring keynotes and insightful breakouts, I reflected on how the conference had left me better off than before. Most of all, I truly feel like this gave me some time for self-care. It was a break from the throws, needs, extra responsibilities, and stress of today’s new normal, and I was able to focus on improving “me” — even if just for a handful of hours. That was priceless, and an unexpected and uplifting surprise!  I’m so thankful for everyone who worked hard to put this together!

Ashley Fong, Product Analyst:  This conference was an amazing way to wrap up this busy week! My favorite break-out session was Reshma Saujani’s, where she talked about her book Brave, Not Perfect. It was so enlightening to hear relatable situations that women go through every day to appear “perfect”. Reshma challenged us to be brave, send an email with an intentional typo, learn that it doesn’t matter, and challenge the stigma of being perfect. Connecting with other women in the networking chat rooms was amazing, as well as internally at Tasktop!

Tina Dankwart, Value Stream Architect: Elizabeth Acevedo made me realize that I need more poetry in my life, and combined with Reshma Saujani’s talk — I have put on my ‘list’ to actually WRITE some poetry and do something ‘artsy’ (yikes!) So many important things I took away from this for myself: the perfectionism, combined with women’s unpaid and unrecognized labor, as described by Melinda Gates, even more so during COVID. During lockdown I did all of the homeschooling, looking after two children on my own whilst working full time, trying to stay fit and healthy, trying to keep them fit and healthy…and I still berated myself for not getting it perfectly right, their meals weren’t nutritious enough, they didn’t exercise enough, I didn’t get enough work done, I didn’t exercise enough myself, I was irritated and annoyed sometimes, they didn’t do enough or interesting enough school work…Never good enough. Hearing Melinda actually voice that brought me to tears. We do so much, so many things, and yet are constantly at war with ourselves (or is that just me?) The call for ‘more bravery, less perfectionism’ and the talk about atomic habits also made me question who I am and who I want to be…I laughed, I cried, I got hungry, but most of all — it deeply thought-provoking stuff. 

Naomi Lurie, Sr Director of Product Marketing: My absolute favorite part of the conference were the ten mesmerizing minutes spent with poet Elizabeth Acevedo. I had no idea what to expect, but she immediately drew me into her world, her experience, her art. I was blown away by her brilliance, the glory of her delivery of ‘You Mean You Don’t Weep at the Nail Salon, which brought me to tears in 165 words. 

Thank you #TXConfWomen — to all the organizers and speakers — and to Planview once again. We hope to be back next year!  

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