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.
I heard a woman say, "I've always wanted to start my own brokerage. But it’s scary going out on your own. If she can do it, what about me?”
There was an extra wavelength behind the voices, like a soft whisper permeating the hall repeating, “Believe! Believe! Believe!”
When one speaker asked, I joined as the entire ballroom stood together, swaying with hands in the air like we were at a concert, feeling the rhythm of the music and pulse of collaborative intention.
So. What IS WomanUP!®?
If someone asked me that today, I'd tell ‘em the truth.
Leslie and Sara do go to a hotel with a bunch of ladies…
and they DO throw a giant party there …
and at that party, something extraordinary happens.
Women begin to remember their dreams. They wonder if those dreams could come true. They ask themselves, "What if I release what's holding me back?” They confront their doubts, the myths they've been told about what is or isn't possible. They challenge each other.
"You gonna do it? Yeah? You go girl! Come back next year and you tell me all about it!"
The thing about WomanUP!® is, when members leave the conference, they leave with a few more friends …
… a new mentor or two
… a few more goals and the beginnings of a plan to get there
… a little more wonder
… a little more hope
… a little more faith that they already have INSIDE all the things they need
To go up …
and up …
Olivia Van is an attorney at C.A.R. who was once a real estate agent herself. She studied violin performance and journalism in Australia during college and then got a Master’s from Boston University. She then earned her JD from UCLA School of Law and became licensed in California and Washington. Prior to joining C.A.R., she was in court often practicing commercial litigation.Currently, Olivia enjoys counseling agents and brokers on complex transactions. She also specializes in creating legal education for busy agents on-the-go.