Sunday, November 1, 2009

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

One of the young women on our US Swimming Club (North Bay Aquatics) was fortunate to be recruited and accepted at UCLA this fall. Her coach is Cyndi Gallagher. Cyndi is credited with having the #3 recruiting class in the nation this past year and has reloaded her team nicely; watch for fast swimming from the Bruins!

Cyndi was afforded the opportunity to attend the impressive 2009 Women’s Conference just recently. We thank you Cyndi for allowing us to share your comments from what was obviously an inspiring gathering of highly energized people.

One of the cornerstones of our coaching is to share what we have in hopes of making our sport more meaningful to all who are involved. Please feel free to share this posting with your swimmers, fellow coaches, parents and officials.

2009 Women's Conference, hosted by the First Lady of California, Maria Shriver.
Cyndi Gallagher's notes from the conference:

I was lucky enough to be a guest of Kristin Gibbs, the director of marketing for Lean Cuisine, one of the major sponsors of The Women's Conference. Kristin had the honor of introducing Maria Shriver - a big step from being a UCLA student-athlete and assistant coach at UCLA! It was an amazing day filled with emotions and inspiration. I walked away a different women - a better woman and so grateful to have been able to attend.

The mission of the Women’s Conference is to recognize your own voice, your own power and have the courage to be who you are. The conference is held to inspire, empower and educate women so they can be the architects of change in their own lives and the lives of others.

A few of the speakers last years were: Condoleeza Rice, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, Warren Buffett and celebrities Sally Field, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Lopez with Bonnie Raitt performing. A few years back, Dalai Lama and Michelle Obama were speakers.

Some of the speakers this year were Katie Couric, Madeleine Albright (first women secretary of state), Richard Branson (founder/president of the Virgin Group- airline/records-employees over 50,000 people), Eve Ensler (of the Vagina Monologs - hysterical!), Caroline Kennedy, Geena Davis, and Alicia Keys performed.

There were three topics presented in the program along with breakout sessions. The three conversations were “Tough Leadership Decisions in Tough Times”, “How A Women’s Nation Changes Everything” and the most powerful sessions for me was “Grief, Healing and Resilience”. It was moderated by Maria Shriver who is suffering from the loss of her mother and uncle Teddy and the three speakers were Elizabeth Edwards, who is currently battling breast cancer and lost her first son, 14 years ago, Susan St. James who lost her 16 year old son in a plane crash and Lisa Niemi, who lost her husband, Patrick Swayze, a few weeks ago. They are all in different stages of grief.

Another wonderful thing about the conference is the award ceremony called The Minerva Award. Minerva is the Roman Goddess of wisdom who is the tireless warrior and goddess of peace. The four women where honored from everything for tutoring homeless children (school on wheels) to having a pediatric hospice (George Mark Children's House) for families that are going through the devastation of a dying child. Their stories, and the lives that they have affected, are amazing.

Here are some of my notes from the conference:
  • If you want something - work hard and take opportunities – you can make it happen

  • Embrace change and give up the need to know

  • Be grateful – list the reasons your life is right.

  • Practice gratitude everyday.

  • Robin Roberts’ mother’s mantra: “Make your mess your message to help others”

  • You’re not too old, too young or too busy to serve. Find your passion to help the world, to serve

Good decision making:
  • Get opinions – ask others

  • Do not be afraid to try things and fall on your face

  • Do not take NO for an answer

  • Understand what the risks are and take calculated risks – protect downside!

  • Inaction is not an option

  • The more you make daily decisions, the easier it will become

  • Approach things positively, not with fear of failure

  • To be good in business be good in math or hire someone who is!

Good leaders: “Just be yourself, everyone else is already taken”
  • Listen

  • Make it fun for people who work for you

  • Have courage


  • Focus on solutions, not problems

  • Decide whether you want to be liked or admired

  • People change on what they feel (emotions), not what they know. Make the message inspirational

  • Leaders show their true selves in times of challenge. Courage and Wisdom

Build a team through good times and bad times. Zero tolerance for backstabbing. Be willing and able to agree and disagree with each other – saying it with respect.

Trailblazers: Madeleine Albright – the 64th Secretary of State and first women ever to hold that position. “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help women”
  • Don’t impose your values (spending more time with children, working less) on your spouse or judge choices of others (stay at home mom vs. working mom). Every woman has the right to choose

  • You are always evolving – communicate with your spouse, boss, and children

  • You define success for yourself – choose who you want to be

  • You can be what you envision – dream it and visualize it

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