Four powerful women were able to move a crowd of more than 1,300 men and women by speaking their mind and changing their worlds at the Art of Leadership Conference, Oct. 24 at the Telus Convention Centre.

By the time Seonaid Charlesworth walked on stage, there was only standing room despite the $500 cost of general admission. Charlesworth, the vice president of Executive Assessments and Succession at Lee Hecht Harrison, turned to the crowd and asked, “How do you make your mind up about people?” This launched into an hour-long discussion about how to be more mindful in professional and personal decision-making.

Mindfulness was the overarching theme in the day’s speeches, with Brigid Schulte asking the audience to think about the idea of contaminated time. Schulte is director of the Better Life Lab at New America, a former Washington Post journalist and author of the book Overwhelmed.

Schulte said with help of a time management expert, she realized she had 30 hours of so-called “leisure time” each week when she felt she had none. By practicing mindfulness she was able to start participating fully in her downtime and in turn, began enjoying her life more.

Amanda Lang, an award-winning business journalist who currently hosts Bloomberg North, also touched on the importance of being mindful when in the process of change. Lang believes people laugh less as we age and she blames this on a lack of curiosity.  

Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama’s former senior advisor, stepped on stage after Lang. She spoke about the importance of being conscious of what we consume through the media.

“Young girls can’t be what they can’t see,” she said.

Through increasing positive representation in pop culture and media, there would be a culture shift. She said the number one reason women leave science and computer programs is the culture.

Jarrett also highlighted the importance of diversity within the workplace and her attempts to instill that in the White House through the construction of the Women and Girls Committee.

“Employers need to create a culture where they realize diversity is strength,” Jarrett said.Monique Rinkel, administrative coordinator for Alberta Parks, is new to a supervisor position and thought it would be a good idea to attend.

“I’ve already asked my supervisor if it comes around next year if we can go and possibly bring other members of my team for it,” she said.  

“Young girls can’t be what they can’t see,” she said.

For more information about the Art of Leadership for Women conference, please visit the Art of Website.

kcrighton@cjournal.ca

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Editor: Andrea Fulton | afulton@cjournal.ca