It’s been a whirlwind of travel the past few months, with what feels like more time in the air than at my desk. However, the extra sky miles have afforded me an opportunity to break out of the typical commute for new views and spend time with amazing industry friends. Last week’s stop; the Women in Residential Construction conference in Scottsdale, AZ.
The WIRC festivities took place at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort and set the stage for what felt less work/more vacation. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is explore Map My Run to find a morning run route. It forces me to explore roughly 3 miles of new territory and experience a city at its most basic level. I’m going to state (on the record) that there is nothing more invigorating than heading straight into a sunrise over the mountains. Just watch out for the cacti.
The conference kicked off on Wednesday evening with a warm welcome from Professional Builder Magazine Editorial Director Denise Dersen and team, as well as a fun Kahoot! trivia ice breaker. While atypical of an event with an attendee list of roughly 200 women, we all got the chance to personally introduce ourselves, our company, and our role to the entire room. This exercise was an invaluable way to connect, break barriers, and start conversations over the course of the event.
Thursday started early, but Radical Candor’s Amy Sandler energized the room with an introspective keynote on providing feedback. This leadership topic is a favorite of mine and, admittedly, where I seek to the improve the most both personally and professionally.
The morning was rounded out by some takeaways from Barbara Miller of Neil Kelley Co. on how to measure and improve team performance, as well as a heads up from Google’s Chelsea Collyer that Millennials are poised an ready to take over the world with their mounting buying power and transfer of wealth.
After lunch and some vitamin D on the patio, there was plenty of content on the docket. The remodelers in the crowd enjoyed several tract-specific breakout sessions, while I sat in on the jam-packed agenda of speakers in the main ballroom. Carol Morgan of Denim Marketing brought the crowd back to life after lunch with a peek into her professional (and personal) evolution, while Rachel Brown of Rachel Brown Homes gave a fun and dynamic presentation on how to level the playing field with our male peers.
If you’ve ever thought your house is making you sick, Jillian Pritchard Cooke, founder of Wellness Within Your Walls and a panel of wellness experts confirmed you’re probably right. However, with programs, education and advocacy builders can help advance change toward healthier homes and ultimately, healthier living.
If I had to choose, my vote for hardest job of the day goes to bringing it home with the last session. Even the extroverted of extroverts are a little zapped by 4pm and the trail mix buzz has worn off a bit. Molly Elkman of Group Two mightily took on this task and she. crushed. it. Building a business, a brand and a culture is tricky business. Doing all of the above while upholding a legacy and a family of her own, Molly certainly made her case for superhero status.
The rest of Thursday evening was filled with great food and conversation, a lot of laughs with some prizes mixed in. All in all, a pretty awesome day.
Even though the conference adjourned at 10am on Friday that left plenty of time for one more keynote from Leyah Valgardson to help us find our Leader’s Voice, something I think we all could use a lesson in. The show wrapped with a few words of wisdom from some of the women who do it best (shout out to Angela McKay!).
Whew. I’m a little tired just reliving it!
Anyone notice the women’s movement going on in the world? Not to make light of a very bright time of empowerment for my female friends, but we’re having a bit of a glow up right now and you could feel it in full effect at WIRC. What impressed me was that the energy wasn’t exploitative of the current social climate. It embrace the idea that women have been humbly paving the way in our industry for a long time and they should be applauded. Interesting fact: women currently represent 10% of this vertical and it’s 2019. This 1992 New York Times article cites percentages around 2% of women in the building trades in 1992. There were women in the audience who have been in the residential construction industry for over 40 years! Thanks ladies, you are the real unicorns.
Oh and a really cool swag bag, but biggest takeaways? Humility and gratitude.
See you at WIRC 2020! I’m bringing a few more friends next year.