7 Takeaways from the 2017 Watermark Conference

16729254_1249455835120810_7966223222509934396_nWe are still talking about how awesome the 2017 Watermark Conference held in February which had over 6,500 dynamic women in attendance!

In one day, we were able to see amazing leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Shawn Achor, Sheryl Sandberg, Kara Swisher, Viola Davis, Luvvie Ajayi and the list of amazingness goes on and on and on.

The day was electrifying and even weeks after the experience, we reference the following messages that really resonated:

  1. Be Optimistic! – “We must be optimistic! Hope is the fuel for social change. When we don’t have hope we give up. We have faced big challenges before and we have overcome before, we will overcome again” ~Sheryl Sandberg
  2. Choose Joy! – Shawn Achor taught that negative energy, stress, anxiety, etc. are more harmful than second hand smoke.
  3. Say it with an “!” – During one of the breakouts for the Young Women’s Program, Luvvie Ajayi spoke about confidence. She spoke of the importance of saying it with an “!” not a “?”.
  4. Own your story – Viola Davis was exceptional. She shared with the audience her life story, her journey and her perspective. Along the way, the emphasized the criticality of “owning your story”. {A few weeks after the conference it was absolutely amazing to watch Viola accept an Academy Award!}
  5. Embrace your Education – Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright spoke of the importance of education and the necessity to support each other, to look for developing human potential and to love learning.
  6. Seek Mentors – Condoleezza Rice and Madeline Albright also spoke of the importance of seeking mentors and role models to help you navigate. The value of an advocate is priceless, it’s critical that you find someone who believes in you. What was amazing was to see the friendship that Condolezza and Madeline have, we learned that despite their political differences, they are dear friends and Madeline has been a mentor to Condolezza for years.
  7. Stories Connect – Many of the speakers and conference participants highlighted the role and value of stories:
    1. When sharing a bit about recovering from the devastation of loosing her husband, Sheryl Sandberg shares that along with, her friend and Option B co-author, Adam Grant, they “looked for answers to recovery through other peoples stories”
    2. Viola Davis shared that “the power in owning our story is that it deeply connects. Shame doesn’t exist when we share our stories.” She says everyone has a story worth telling, “as long as you have breath you have a story – and your story matters, so own it
    3. Together Condolezza and Madeline spoke about how connected we all really are as we live on this planet together during this time.

It was the second year AIWA-SF was selected as one of the organizations to partner with Watermark Conference for Women in selecting and nominating young talented women from the Armenian community into a leadership development program. .The Young Women’s Program provides high school junior and senior girls with the opportunity to attend the conference and participate in a seminar track designing especially for them. Lusine Yeghiazaryan,  AIWA SF executive committee member and partnership chair shares,  “This unique program enables our next generation of student leaders to hear from dynamic speakers, exchange ideas and begin to chart their own paths, both professionally and with respect to their involvement and future contributions to the Armenian community.”

In the years to come, “AIWA SF is working with Watermark to expand the outreach and the number of qualifying students from the Armenian – American community around the US” shares Lusine.   The Watermark’s Conference for Women offers the community and connection, the information and inspiration, the motivation and momentum to help talented women discover their skills, focus, mission and ambition. The conference features nationally recognized speakers who share their wisdom and expertise on a wide range of personal and professional development topics.

The Armenian International Women’s Association is dedicated to the empowerment and leadership of women worldwide. San Francisco affiliate President Christine Soussa says,  “I look forward to the Watermark Conference every year! I particularly value the exposure and opportunity this gives the next generation of leaders.  The experience and takeaways are amazing!”

A crucial AIWA-SF focus is empowerment. Such programs are quite special and impactful.  To contribute,  please click on the donate link on the top right corner of our home page: https://aiwasanfrancisco.com.   To learn more about AIWA, please visit http://www.aiwainternational.org. To get involved with the AIWA-SF affiliate, please visit http://www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com.


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