You know that feeling you have when you wake up the next morning after a great night out? When your feet are sore from dancing, or your voice is hoarse from laughing, or your body is literally exhausted from feeling so full of happiness? Today, I woke up like this.

Last night we hosted the MPLS MadWomen event on confidence – affectionately titled #OwnItMpls. To say it exceeded our expectations would be the understatement of the century. The energy, feedback, and engagement in the room and on the interwebs was incredible. It clearly struck a chord with everyone who came in contact with the event.

Confidence seemed like an obvious topic choice from the beginning – not only because it needs constant work, but also because it needs constant support and an environment to help it flourish. The speakers and attendees of the event extended far past the agency set; not limited to gender, age, title, or personal goals, the topic of confidence became a great equalizer for everyone in attendance. As I reflected on last night, I compiled three takeaways that I will carry forward for not only myself, but also those around me:

  1. Find your tribe. Every speaker commented on the people around them that helped them find their confident self. For Laura Nelli it was figuring out she needed a fan club that would, “Support me, but call me on my shit.” For Alex Steinman it was reaching out to other coworkers with similar experiences who she felt comfortable talking with. For Jana Shortal it was relying on friends to help her find the humor in difficult feedback, focusing on what mattered and laughing at what didn’t. Your tribe may not be obvious to you now, it is something that takes years to craft and could include everyone from your partner to your coworkers, friends, mentors, or peers. Your tribe may shift throughout your life – but always make sure your tribe provides you this: an undying willingness to see you succeed through support, candor, or foresight of knowing what you can achieve – even when you don’t.
  2. Confidence takes practice. Last night six women got on stage and were arguably the best version of themselves. Sweaty and nervous yes, but confident as fuck. But it wasn’t by accident, they worked hard to get there, investing time and energy, sharing insights, gathering feedback and refining the approach to this event. We created a tribe of our own, leaning on one another and countless others to improve upon the goal at hand – to help others with confidence through sharing our own experiences. As Meghan Wilker wisely said, “It’s not the magic level you unlock and suddenly always have.” You have to work on it, always.
  3. If the system is broken. Build your own. As the night came to a close the speakers reflected on how their own experiences, definitions, and expectations of being a feminist in the “working world.” As the speakers shared their insights, I kept coming around to my personal struggle with the term feminist, my own work to embrace it, embody it, and share its value with others. This feeling intersected with our insights on confidence; Natalie Lutz stated, “The definition of confidence is different for everyone… the opportunity lies in helping other people see their confidence and their possibilities.” By bringing our own baggage or expectations of how women should act, feel, speak, present – we’re inherently dragging our feet on progress, we’re inherently operating within a broken system. The brilliant Jen Sinkler wrapped the evening with, “If the system is broken. Build your own.”

Last night was a lot of things: it was an honest conversation, an inspirational lightning rod, it was at times heartbreaking, it was a commiseration. But I left with this: last night was a call to arms. To recognize the system of confidence is a tricky one, especially for women, but banded together we can build a better system. I’m excited to be a part of this growth in the months and years to come. Ladies of Minneapolis – let’s own this together.


Check out the full video from last night, including speakers: Laura Nelli, Zeus Jones, @msmadeco; Meghan Wilker, Clockwork Active Media, @irishgirl; Alex Steinman, Fallon @AlexRWest; Jana Shortal, Reporter Kare11, @janashortal; Natalie Lutz, Mirum; and Jen Sinkler, MovementMN, @jensinkler.


Photo credit: Bethany Birnie