In the moments before dinner begins, there is a familiar chatter. It grows through the night and culminates in a grand, filling encounter that must only be understood as the product of charisma, wit, and fascination. I’d like to imagine that the speakers of The Women’s Network join together in one such dinner party, for it would truly be a memorable night.
“Think about connections and over-commitment; the more you are connected, the less you are committed. The most successful people I know are the most connected people I know.”
Dr. Adaira Landry puts it nicely, and so this dinner must occur. It must cultivate a conglomerate of women who, in their growing connectedness, save time for such events. Commitment, they’d say, is something that need not be overwhelming, and I’d smile with them at this table and remember the times that a simple email or inquiry could have saved hours.
“Opportunities are scarce, and you have to take them. It doesn’t matter if it’s not directly what you want, as long as you stay true to your dream, you’ll make what you want happen.”
Lilia Luciano understands the importance of grit and confidence alike. None of the women at this dinner party tonight have been handed opportunities or dropped into success. Rather, it’s been tireless work and networking that has brought them to ‘stardom.’ It can be so easy, they’d say, to dismiss small positions because greatness awaits, and I know that this is true. Nonetheless, taking each opportunity only builds experience and connections, and it is from those that grander career moves may be born. We must each sit in confidence, and not perfection, and part of that begins with the recognition that each job or opportunity, no matter how small or seemingly unrelated, is a chance to demonstrate work ethic and intelligence.
“Women tend to explain their successes away by ascribing them to things like ‘luck,’ ‘hard work’ or ‘help from others’ rather than the innate ability or intelligence that men often cite.”
Jessica Bennett’s words ring loud and clear at this table. As we women step into roles, both minor and major, we must luxuriate in the greatness we’ve cultivated. There is no reason, however, to pretend that is greatness is not natural. It is. It is possible to engage in healthy, hard work while also recognizing that innate ability and intelligence may play a factor. And that’s alright. I’d celebrate with these women as we each name something we’re good at. Dr. Adaira Landry might point to her academic successes and Lilia Luciano, to her articulate nature. We all would nod and smile, for praise of natural ability is just as fun as praise of the learned.
Jamie Vinick celebrates, too. She celebrates her ambition and the way it’s led her to success and achievement, but she celebrates the ambition of the women around her as well. There is something dreary to accomplishing alone, so she pulls other women with her to this arena from which they can begin to flourish. Shared encouragement serves as the dessert now, and though each person at this table is full with connections and advice, they make space to dig into the words that will sit heavy later that night. They celebrate the lengths they’ve come and those they will go to achieve their dreams, and it is the mutual support that nourishes these women and their work and fills them with admiration and hope.