Photo May 04, 8 13 11 AM

5 Takeaways from the Council for Professional Women in Business and Finance Conference

By Kathy Walsh, Director of Marketing

Recently, I was fortunate to attend the Maryland Bankers Association‘s Council of Professional Women in Banking and Finance (CPWBF) Fifth Annual Conference, and while I’m not a banking or finance professional, I still walked away from the day with pages full of tips gleaned from their impressive line-up of speakers. While I could write an entire blog post on each of the incredible presenters, out of respect for our readers’ time, I’ve whittled them down to the top five takeaways from the day that I’ll be putting into action in my personal and professional life!

  1. Engage your team. Among the many fascinating workforce statistics shared by Dr. Shirley Davis, CSP, President and CEO of SDS Global Enterprises, was this: only 32% of U.S. employees say they are “actively engaged” at work. 52% report being disengaged while another 16% consider themselves “actively disengaged.” What are we doing to ensure our organizations are in that elusive top third? This is even more important as millennials are poised to become the majority of the workforce and as Generation Z enters the picture.
  2. Balance “fight or flight” with “rest and digest.” According to Dr. Jyothi Rao of Shakthi Health and Wellness Center, our bodies’ stress response causes inflammation associated with virtually all chronic illnesses. To counteract this, Dr. Rao recommends tactics including healthy eating, sleep, getting 10,000 steps a day and mind/body techniques such as yoga and meditation. One immediate action I plan to implement: downloading the free Headspace app she recommended as a great way to get in 10 minutes of meditation a day.
  3. Spend each day focused on what matters most. I’ve written about balance before, and it sounds obvious, but at the end of the day, it won’t matter what you achieve in your career if you don’t invest the same energy in nurturing the relationships you have outside of work. I was reminded of this as I learned about London’s Legacy, a nonprofit which delivers comforting blankets and care packages to pediatric intensive care units and which was the beneficiary of MBA’s 2017 Philanthropic Initiative. Take a few minutes to read the story behind this organization and be reminded about what really matters.
  4. Avoid “download data dump” meetings. This was one of the lessons I couldn’t wait to bring back to my own organization. AmyK Hutchens, owner of executive development firm AmyK International Inc., suggests maximizing your team’s brain power by asking attendees to send a brief report before a meeting that summarizes information the group needs to know and identifies areas in which they need the team’s brainpower. Then allocate ¼ of the meeting to reviewing the data and spend the remaining ¾ problem solving. Genius, right?
  5. Make your difficulties desirable. These words of wisdom came from the extraordinary Melissa Stockwell, the first female soldier to lose a limb in active combat and a recipient of both the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Both a patriot and athlete from a very young age, when Melissa awoke from her injury and subsequent surgery, she immediately realized she had a choice in how to react, and dedicated her life to turning tragedy into triumph. Melissa went on to compete in both the Beijing and Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, receiving a bronze medal for her triathlon performance in Rio and being selected by her fellow Team USA athletes to carry the flag in the closing ceremony in Beijing. Today, she runs Dare2tri, a nonprofit that provides opportunities to youth athletes with physical disabilities and visual impairments. She attributes her success to a promise she made: to live her life for those who no longer could. Her “I get to” rather than “I have to” attitude is one we should all emulate.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day spent with some incredible women professionals, and hope you are able to glean some practical advice from this blog that you can apply to your daily life.