From the moment I was accepted as a registrant to the very first TED Women Conference last week in Washington DC (yes you have to apply and be chosen to attend) I knew it would be an experience I would never forget. I know that sounds a little juvenile but there is really no other way to describe it. I don’t ever remember having been in the company of over 700 women (and a few men) during my career and the energy was, to put it mildly, powerful. There are many conferences where you can just pop in and out of sessions, but TED is not one of them. To miss any part of this event would have been sacrilegious.
Early in my career I attended a conference within my industry that had a very powerful impact on my career. Each day of that event I made sure I was there early enough to secure a front row seat. TED Women had the same effect and in fact I managed to sit in the second row for most of the event.
The conference was themed as a symphony with each session and speaker taking you through highs and lows as they shared their stories. It didn’t take long for me to realize as accomplished I think I am, I have a long way to go. TED has a way of swallowing you up as you swim through a sea of emotions throughout the event.
Yes there were well known speakers including Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Nancy Pelosi, Donna Karan, Arianna Huffington and others. They were all outstanding, superb and inspiring but the heart and soul of the conference came from courageous speakers who had overcome huge challenges and are sharing their stories to help other women.
If there were any barriers at the beginning of the event, they quickly came down, and the level of communicating, collaborating and sharing was one I had never experienced. Nobody felt alone, nobody was alone. It was a great end to my year of living dangerously.
As the conference concluded and TED gently pushed us back out into our own realities, I vow to try to make more of a difference, keep in touch with the women I truly connected with at the event and hope that TED decides to make TEDWomen an annual event. I will be first in line to sign up.