A few weeks ago I attended the Girlboss Rally, a "Noah's Ark of Ambitious Women", for the first time. I've followed Sophia Amoruso, the founder and owner of Nasty Gal, for years - from her first book "#Girlboss" to her podcast. After receiving multiple accolades, such as richest self-made woman by Forbes, she resigned as executive chairwoman when her company filed for bankruptcy in 2016, followed by a divorce from her husband of two years. Despite her "failure" as a female entrepreneur, she still has impressed and inspired me with what she did next. She took some time, reevaluated what her mission was, and focused on using Girlboss as a platform for all aspiring female entrepreneurs.
The Girlboss Rally (this past one was the fourth) has evolved over the years to become more than a typical conference. In fact, I'd say it was the most anti-conference conference I've been to, from the flash tattoos and tarot card readings to discussions about self-care, embracing failure, and the declaration that a personal brand isn't everything and social media could be doing more harm than good. It also had the most diverse attendees, speakers, and panelists I've ever seen at a conference. The panels focused on topics that redefined what it meant to be an entrepreneur and how success is completely subjective. After a year of wondering what the next step is in my life and career, it was exactly what I needed to hear and where I need to be.
Some of my biggest takeaways from the Girlboss Rally were:
1. You can't leave your personal life at home, you have to bring your whole self to work.
You can try to compartmentalize the personal from the professional, but eventually one has to give away to the other. I've had to work over holidays and weekends as much as I've had to take days off to attend a friend's wedding or sadly, a funeral. It's about finding a balance and showing your co-workers you're human (and your loved ones you keep it professional).
2.The 24 hour hustle is over. Entrepreneurs need to take care of themselves holistically in order to perform at their full potential.
The day before the rally, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian (who invested in the Girlboss Rally) was quoted talking about the death of "hustle porn", which Sophia referenced during her opening keynote. Throughout the conference, there was emphasis that self-care was not just a trendy concept, especially during a fireside chat between Sophia and Arianna Huffington where both women discussed the need for some basic essentials: sleep and mindfulness.
3. Your best mentor could be your own peers around you.
My favorite panel by far was "I See Me", which had the amazing co-founder of TheLi.st Rachel Sklar moderating a discussion about representation in the media. Amani Al-Khatathbeh, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Muslim Girl, blew me away when she addressed that being "the first ____" brings immense pressure to that individual since they're paving the way for anyone else to follow them. It led me to think about how many women I know say they don't have a "real mentor", despite the fact (or because) they are trailblazers in their field and don't meet a lot of leaders with their same experience. Bozoma Saint John, CMO of Endeavor and hands down one of the coolest people in marketing today, then said something completely astounding: that your current peers may be the most valuable relationships you'll have in your career, not someone multiple years ahead of you. In a time where many of us are "firsts" (first to graduate college, first to get a corporate job, first to get married), we firsts need to stick to and support one another.
I've had a lot of big life changes in the past year: turning 30, getting a new job, and getting married. Even now I feel I'm at a crossroads of where I want my professional career to go next. While I've tried to figure it out on my own, it's certainly a better idea (and far less lonely) to talk to your own peers. Girlboss Rally definitely inspired me to think about the direction I want to go in, but in all honesty, I got the most value talking to other attendees. Despite the fact they were complete strangers, they all gave me some of the best advice I've ever received.
Overall, whatever stage of your career you're in, don't be afraid to invest in something that will benefit your future career.
The most important people to connect with are your peers. Our generations is changing and challenging norms the norms of work and the culture that comes with it. Your peers can also be your mentors.