There is no question that the slogan “The future is female” is making an impact on women of all ages this year. A few weeks ago, the IAEE’s Women’s Leadership Forum, held at the InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., drew a sold out crowd of more than 220 attendees and focused on topics that included how to avoid burn out, how to be relevant on social media and the differences between men and women in business.
Although many of the topics were unique to women in the exhibitions and events industry, the issues cut across all ages, individual situation or professional status, experience and position.
Marisa Pacheco, director of Exhibit Programs at T3 Expo, attended the sessions and offered her insight into the experience.
What themes were discussed at the forum?
One of my favorite sessions was all about how to be relevant on social platforms and how what you post to social media can certainly define you. You should be posting on social media what you want your brand to demonstrate. It was a bit overwhelming! My social media tells the world that I’m a mom, and I post pictures from holidays, vacations and sporting events –rarely anything else. But, I am a multi-tiered person, and I should be posting pictures to show that I am also a professional and attend forums such as the IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum.
The second day, the keynotes all had a similar focus on technology – but it was almost the opposite of what we discussed on day one. The theme of these discussions focused on how to schedule breaks from technology to refocus in order to tap into your creative side and reconnect with real people. The discussion centered on how social media and technology can become all-consuming sometimes and it often doesn’t allow us to be fully present –present with work, family and even yourself.
What did you take away from these sessions?
I completely related to the keynotes and even took a break from social media while I was at the event (after I posted that I was there, of course, and took a few selfies).
I have started to put the practice of “disconnecting” into practice in my own life — making sure when I am at my kids’ sporting and school events to be fully present in the moment and not on social media or email.
One of the speakers, Anna Akbari, founder of Sociology of Style, shared with us a statistic during her talk about how to find ‘digital happiness.’ She said that most people touch/interact with their phone 85 times a day. I think it is important to be connected, to use social media to communicate and promote your brand and your company’s brand, but it is also equally important to look up from your phone once in a while and have real, meaningful conversations with your colleagues and your children.
Did you share your thoughts with others at T3 Expo?
Yes. I had a conversation with some of our senior leaders at T3 Expo and discussed the theme from the conference called “technology overload.” It was refreshing to hear that many of the leaders at T3 take breaks from email and social to focus on being creative, reconnecting with family and friends and using the time to just think and brainstorm for clients. It is hard to do that if you are in front of a screen all the time.
Having balance definitely prevents burnout in the long term and allows you to really focus on family time, or put your children to bed and to be in the moment.
How will you put into practice at T3 Expo some of what you heard at the event?
I am grateful to work at a place that values so many of the same things I value – creatively, client service and family! The culture at T3 Expo is about having a full life, not just a work life. It is focused on making sure employees spend time with family and friends. It is about having passion for what you do at work and at home. It is about connection, with clients, but also with one another. It is about creating purpose and work – life integration.