This is a guest post by Olivia Van, staff attorney at C.A.R.
When I first started at C.A.R., I didn't know what WomanUP!® was, so I asked around and received a few interesting—but confusing—definitions.
1. "WomanUP!® is when Leslie and Sara go to a convention center with a bunch of ladies."
2. "You know the saying, 'DUDE!! MAN UP!' Yeah, it's like that, but … like … for women."
3. "What's WomanUP? You know, I don’t really know. To be precise, I have absolutely no idea."
So last Friday, when I drove down to my first WomanUP!® event … I wasn't sure what to expect.
Would it be like REImagine? With breakout rooms and classes and everyone saying, "Oh, you're a lawyer! That's nice. Where's Gov?"
Would people be scrambling over each other to get more stamps on a card or chips for a contest?
Would vendors hustle me to sign up for the best new lead generator or app or contact management whatevermajiggy thing?
Would that one face cream vendor be there, trying to spread $400 lotion on my forehead? She was Rafiki, and I was momentarily Simmmbaa.
Heading to San Diego, I prepared to look peppy and on-point, like a receptionist in my WomanUP!® t-shirt. I was ready to help members find the coffee (on the terrace) ... and the food (donut wall to your left) ... and the bathroom (down the hall, to the right). I expected to sit with my notebook in the corner like a scientist, observing C.A.R. members in their natural habitat of “NETWORKING.”
I did NOT expect, when I walked into the main ballroom, to feel so much excitement, buzz, ENERGY …
I didn't expect to think, "Goodness me! What's this warm, glowy feeling in the air? Why is everyone being so NICE to each other?" I didn't expect to see rows and rows of women and men looking attentively at the stage instead of looking down at their phones. I didn't know there'd be panelists and speakers who made me go, "WOW." I didn't expect to lean forward in my chair, mesmerized when I heard, "Take charge!" and "Take risks!" and "You can do it!"
It's not like these messages are new. They're all over podcasts and aspirational corners of the internet. I’ve heard them before.
But at WomanUP!® I listened … and I believed!
There was practical advice on how to start a business, how to build your business, how to sell a business, how to create community, how to find a mentor.
How to support each other.
How to say, “Yes, Universe. YES!”
How to convince your boss to give you things that will make you better at your job.
How to ask for bigger cuts and raises.
People smiled, laughed, and had real conversations about their businesses and lives, instead of just trading business cards, yelling, "Call me!" and then rushing off to Google how much the other agent sold last year.
I heard them telling each other, "You're so smart" and “You’re so gorgeous” and “Your panel blew my mind,” and I knew by the light in their eyes they meant it!
I saw people moved to tears, watched them reach into their purses and hand each other tissues.