TEDWomen Conference: Humbled. Inspired. Prepared.

The vibrant flare of the Bayou City (New Orleans). The power of 3,500 women gathered to explore, engage and create. The effervescent and contagious energy of speakers from around the globe.

These statements encapsulate my time at TEDWomen, a three-day conference under the TEDTalk platform created specifically for women and girls to convene and offer inspiration and solutions through their personal stories and experiences.

I was HUMBLED to interact with women (and a few men) from as near as New York City to as far as Sydney, Australia. To be in the presence of people who are creators and change-makers contributing significantly to their communities and companies was priceless and rewarding. In hearing from a three-year TEDWomen conference alumna, an architect from Pasadena, California, I was reminded to be present, unplug, focus, engage and create “we-ness” during every breakout session and TEDTalk. She encouraged us to exercise these actions beyond the conference and turn our humility from the experience into a means of purpose in our careers to strengthen connections and form new relationships.

What I learned from a polio survivor and women’s healthcare advocate from India was to develop bold and jaw-dropping self-proclamations. I was INSPIRED by this woman’s courage, compassion and commitment. As an infant, she contracted polio, resulting in the paralysis of her legs. She underwent a series of surgeries and was undeterred by her disability. Instead she used her health challenges as an opportunity to set goals that might seem unrealistic to others. In fact, with only the use of her arms for 140.6 miles, she is the only female hand cyclist to complete four Ironman triathlons. INCREDIBLE! Her story prompted me to take risks without fear and be daring when making declarations.

Being PREPARED at all times is imperative and essential. An African journalist received the opportunity of a lifetime because she was “ready.” Five years ago she crafted a vision statement that focused on exploring the globe to report aspirational stories of people from her native land of Ghana and how they’re making contributions in different parts of the world. She shared her vision with three trusted individuals. One of them connected her with someone searching for a student to complete a writing apprenticeship with the opportunity to temporarily reside in three countries (the U.S., France and England) over the course of six months. The only catch: the apprenticeship program required her to immediately apply for a Visa and be able to travel within one week of approval from the embassy. The lesson in this ― communicate your vision to the right people, and keep your bags packed because your dream opportunity may be closer than you think.