Most times, when one goes through the same event more than once, it is a repetitive experience. Fortunately for me, such was definitely not the case at this past weekend’s OpEd Project seminar in Chicago.
Like the last seminar in October, the Jan 15th. event was attended by a range of talented and successful women from a variety of sectors. With 26 participants, including one man, the seminar was completely booked and the seats filled. Michele Weldon and Deborah Siegel were the leaders, but they engaged with the participants like friends.
The day was stimulating in a variety of ways, not least of which was the dynamic variety of people in the room. A documentarian who had traveled the world, a financial manager of multi-million dollar accounts, entrepreneurs – these people and more filled the room with great ideas and energy. During a heated discussion that pushed others to think deeply, I believe there was even a joking middle finger directed at one of the leaders. It was quite a rousing session, to say the least.
New themes that I personally picked up from this session were debates between personal and professional expertise – a point raised by several participants. When is one’s personal experienced considered sufficient enough to qualify one as an expert? Which is more important in offering a well-informed opinion? We discussed this and more themes crucial to both op-ed publication and knowing one’s own strengths, two seemingly distinct topics that are actually closely linked.
Happy Hour at the Elephant and Castle afterward was a great moment for – of course – happy drinking, along with networking. I am always struck by the accomplishments of the women in the OpEd Project, and what better way to really get to know others than over a couple beers? After hearing about everyone’s experiences throughout the seminar, this was the perfect time to connect with those on the same paths as ourselves. For instance, I heard two women make a connection over Afghanistan, as one of them was moving there for a job and the other had a friend who lived there who could offer her advice. I heard a publisher enticing people in traditionally non-writing careers to write for her. I myself met a wonderful person who offered me her knowledge and experience in starting a business.
Needles to say, I’m already looking forward to our next session on April 28th. Cheers to that.