On May 20th, the American Staffing Association held its first 2020 Advancing Women Leaders in Staffing event virtually. It didn’t take long to realize this was going to be one for the books.  Very quickly, the energy and excitement could be felt through attendees’ screens as over 230 women began to connect with one another in a new way. Attendees were encouraged to interact via live chat and in breakout rooms during the afternoon filled with virtual sessions. Before we knew it, a thread of hundreds of questions and responses, comments and feedback left attendees more connected than if they had been sitting together at a conference

  Along with the overwhelming feeling of collaboration and community, the event had three incredible speakers who covered the following topics:

  • The habits holding women back from rising up 
  • The power that listening to yourself has over your personal evolution
  • The struggle of finding balance in your personal and professional lives 

ClearEdge Marketing was proud to sponsor the event and is already looking forward to the next one. In case you missed it, we’ve recapped the key takeaways from each of the sessions. 


Session 1: Are Your Key Habits and Behaviors Holding You Back?

We all have habits we wish we didn’t – the midnight snack, finishing people’s sentences, binge watching too much Netflix – but could a set of workplace habits be holding you back from advancing in your career? That’s the question Teresa Carroll, former Kelly Services president and staffing industry thought leader, helped attendees think through and answer for themselves in the day’s first session. Teresa spoke about the 12 habits that hold women back outlined in the book How Women Rise by Sally Helgeson and Marshall Goldsmith. These range from putting your job before your career to being reluctant to claim your achievements. 

While men can struggle with the habits Helgeson and Goldsmith outline in their book, research supports the theory that the habits are most often practiced by women. Interestingly – though probably not surprising – is that the two most common habits that women struggle with are “the perfection trap” and “minimizing.” The perfection trap refers to the feeling that you need everything to be perfect or else you can’t succeed. For example, a woman may not apply for a job because she only meets 9 of the 10 job requirements, even though she knows she is capable of succeeding in the role. 

The second most common habit women practice is minimizing themselves and their work with a word or two. For example, women often say things like “I just need 5 minutes of your time.” This minimizes the value of their time and what they have to talk about. The message here = your time, ideas, and needs have incredible value. Take the space and time you need and don’t apologize for it. Another key point about minimizing is shrinking your space. For example, if you’re sitting at a conference table and there aren’t any seats. When someone walks in, do you give up your spot or make your space smaller to fit them in? 

In addition to outlining the common habits holding women back, Teresa asked attendees to determine which two of the 12 habits they struggled with the most and focus on fixing those. And to help instill change, she recommended finding an accountability partner to help you hold yourself accountable to changing your habits.

So, what habits are holding you back?


Session 2: How to Listen to Yourself—Using Your Power of Choice to Evolve With Intention

In the second session, Kelly Irons, CEO of developUs Worldwide, introduced the idea of somatic learning. She explained somatic learning as “using information from your body as a source of knowledge that changes your behavior, builds skills and forms new habits.” You can “let your body be the teacher” by listening to your body’s response to different triggers. By doing so, you become more self-aware, which is the key to unlocking choice. Knowing you have a choice as to how you respond to situations gives you power. Recognizing your body’s response and creating a plan for when you feel this way gives you control and can help you respond in the most productive way. 

That’s a lot, right? You almost have to read it a few times to digest the concept. Kelly helped illustrate it in an example many of us can probably relate to though. For example, when someone talks over you, you feel something. Maybe you feel frustrated, but you let it go. Then, it happens again. You feel a little more frustrated and maybe you begin to tense up. But, again, you don’t respond. The next time it happens, you react. You snap back at them. At this point, you have lost your ability to choose how to respond. We have the power to choose our response when we listen to our bodies. If you had listened when you first felt frustrated, you could have chosen how to react versus acting on emotion. 

In one of the breakout sessions, Kelly asked participants to answer two questions:

  • What do you want to be different about your life a year from now?
  • What needs to be different about YOU in order to achieve that?

The second question is a difficult one. The question isn’t “What do you need to DO to achieve [insert goal]?” It’s asking what you need to change about yourself. How do you need to evolve to get where you want to be? Take a minute to think about that. We often think about the next step, not how we need to change to get there. 


Session 3: Juggling Priorities and Achieving Balance

In times like these when the lines between home and work begin to blend, finding a balance between your personal and professional life can feel like walking a tightrope. (Not to mention how hard it can be to find time for yourself.) Joanie Bily Courtney, Chief Workforce Analyst of EmployBridge and President of RemX division, spoke about how the balancing act of juggling family life, work-life, and self-care can feel like a 3-ring circus. Joanie’s tips were so good, we’ve put them here verbatim:

Be the Ringmaster – Take the time to identify your priorities and set realistic goals for yourself. Again, we are reminded to take time to think holistically about what we want and need. 

Prepare for the Main EventCreate a plan by breaking your goals down into specific steps/actions including the resources you need to get there.

Take an Intermission Every Day – Easier said than done. Self-care is so important, but it’s often an afterthought. Taking the time to care for yourself can make you a better ringmaster, a happier person, and a more productive employee. 

It’s ShowtimeRecognize your emotions and keep them in check. Listen to your body and give yourself the power to choose the best way to respond in any situation.

Practice Gratitude & Joy – It’s easy to get caught up in the to-do lists, projects, and messes, but take the time to step back and see all the beautiful, positive things around you.

When looking at this list, setting aside time for yourself shows up over and over. Whether it’s to set goals, care for yourself, or recognize the wonderful things around you, give yourself the time and space you need. 


Virtual Happy Hour with a Twist

Following the speaker sessions, ClearEdge Marketing CEO Leslie Vickrey was thrilled to co-host and sponsor a virtual happy hour, along with industry friends Robin Mee, CEO & Founder, Mee Derby and Ericka Hyson, President, WorkN, for attendees including a specialty drink — the Boss Lady, which was whatever drink you wanted, because you’re the boss — and DJ Megan Taylor playing a custom playlist created just for the event (get it now on Spotify). In the words of Joyce Russell – the Happy Hour with a specialty drink, DJ and playlist was definitely the Cherry on Top! It was in this time of community that it was clear how special this event was. ASA managed to take the virtual out of a virtual event. Attendees were able to connect with each other in a new and refreshing way. No stress over trying to remember everyone’s name or looking around the room to find someone to talk to. 

In all three sessions, we were told to take time (and space) for ourselves, unapologetically in order to listen to our bodies, to break bad habits and to create a holistic plan for ourselves. It will give you the power to evolve into who you need to be to get where you want to go. The event brought together women from all corners of the industry while being thousands of miles apart during a time when many feel isolated. This event evolved into something more. It strengthened our community and will, in turn, strengthen the entire industry.