10 Things I Learned at the Bullish Conference

Bullish Conference

When I was a wee lass, my grandmother’s common refrain was that I was “a very enterprising young lady.” I used to tell her that when I grew up, I wanted to own newspapers and write novels. As an editor at DailyWorth and a published short story writer, I like to think I’m halfway there.

So, as an enterprising young lady, I was delighted to attend the second annual Bullish Conference — a summit for ambitious women in Miami, Florida, hosted by Get Bullish founder Jen Dziura.

Get Bullish, a career and business advice website, addresses Millennial women who aren’t sure they want to “lean in” to a corporate career or traditional job (especially when there aren’t that many of them anymore).Get Bullish advocates designing your own career by finding fulfilling ways to create value in what you do.

The intimate conference of about 40 ladies (or bullicorns, as they self-identify) allowed for optimal networking, learning, discussion, coaching, and workshopping about the professional world. Here’s what I learned watching them build their empires poolside.

1. When you negotiate, remember that it’s a discussion.   

Jamie Lee reminded us that when negotiating anything, both parties have their objectives. While it’s imperative to prepare for negotiations, the point is not necessarily to blurt out a rehearsed script and then clam up and wait anxiously for your prize. Negotiation is about listening as much as it is about being clear on what you came for — but pivot appropriately based on the response.

Remembering that negotiating is a conversation is also helpful if you stumble into some pushback. “No” doesn’t necessarily mean no until the end of time. “No” is not a rejection of you, Jamie says. Sometimes it simply means “not right now.”

Nevertheless, nobody has time for this.

2. More ways to to ask for more money, money, money.

As senior editor of a lady career website, you’d better believe I have my own running list of talking points when asking for more cash money. But at #BullCon14, I learned six more thanks to Jamie:

“I’d really like to work with you on this. What would be the best way for us to move forward?”

“I’m invested in helping the company grow. How can I take on more responsibilities that will expand my role?”

“What is your philosophy and practice on compensation, raises, and bonuses?”

“I think it’s great that the company believes in fairly compensating its employees. I’d love to hear why you chose me as a candidate for this position.”

“Based on my research, the salary range for this position (in this industry and area) is $X-$Y. What can we do to bring my salary closer to market rate?“

“Would you agree that my contributions have added value to the organization?”

3. We could all use a little vocal training, ladies.

As a writer, I’m constantly looking to refine the power of my own words. However, this should also extend to my physical presence and actual voice — attributes that are generally backburnered as I make my deadlines, read books, and generally look for ways to avoid contact with other humans. I can’t help that I’m an introvert, but I can work on the pandemic that is baby talk, uptalk, and vocal fry.

Vocal coaches and featured speakers Casey Erin Clark and Julie Fogh absolutely agree.

I’m from Los Angeles (like, the Valley), so nobody knows better than me how pervasive these vocal affectations can be. I’ve worked to leave my Valley Girl accent back home, but I could also stand to curb a few more question-statements and cut back on the “likes.”

4. You can be your own assistant (if you have the resources).

Haley Mlotek, editor of The Hairpin, pointed out during her presentation that virtually anything can be automated these days. Assuming you have the resources, you can streamline so many parts of your day with a combination of apps and devices. It’s just a matter of putting the proper systems in place. She advocates aiming for structure and consistency, and not necessarily just a fixed routine.

5. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you should have your hands in everything.

This is challenging for me as much as I’m sure it is for a lot of ambitious women. We didn’t get to where we are by letting other people run the show. Our vision, directives, opinions, and protocols (along with some serious networking) most likely landed us our positions of power. But when you’re the boss, you should be delegating, delegating, delegating. Haley pointed out that when you’re the head of the team, you should either be delegating or automating the work that slows you down.

6. When you’re the boss, you judge what’s working and not working.

We could all use feedback in nearly every professional corner of our lives (from our managing style to our ideas). But when you’re the lady in charge, you and only you decide what the snags in your business/organization/company are. You cannot rely solely on external feedback, Haley pointed out. You, quite literally, decide what is a problem and what isn’t.

For more tips from power players, read on.

7. Quantify everything. Seriously, everything.

Jen has spoken to the importance of quantifying your accomplishments, as have we when it comes to resume crafting. But in addition to putting numbers to your wins in order to impress prospective employers, you should also be quantifying your time. Because the old adage is true: Time is money. And nowhere is this more apparent than when starting a side business.

Femgineer founder Poornima Vijayashanker, one of the founding engineers of Mint, spoke to the importance of quantifying everything, including the no-brainers like units that you’re selling (whether that’s physical goods or article pitches) or the number of people you need to talk to to sell those units.

If you’re starting a side business, or pursuing anything freelance, Poornima’s below are essential:

• How many units do I need to sell to make $X? → price

• How many people do I need to talk to sell Y units? → number of leads & conversions

• How can I reach Z people? → marketing channels

• What do I need to do automate sales?

• What do I need to do to automate lead capture?

• What do I need to do to automate nurturing leads?

8. Bullicorns have fabulous book recommendations!

My favorite ladies are the ones who not only want to make lots of money and run empires, but the ones who also read lots and lots of books. I pride myself on reading across arbitrary labels — chick lit, pop lit, literary — but will also gladly debate the validity of those genres with you over wine.

When I told the bullicorns that I was a fiction writer in addition to a journalist, a handful promptly approached me with book suggestions like The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell and A Different Bed Every Time, by Jac Jemc. I am very much enjoying these and I have the bullicorns to thank for it.

9. Ambitious women are friendly — like me.

When you’re so focused on your own goals, it can be easy to forget that you’re not alone in your climb. I write for an ambitious lady site, work in media, and live in NYC — and even I forget it sometimes. Sure, networking is important, but it’s not just about handing out business cards. Being surrounded by like-minded women who won’t settle for anything is a precious and rare experience.

I can get intimidated in high-pressure “we are all here to network” scenarios, such as capital “C” Conferences. But the Bullish ladies I met were friendly, accessible, and (most importantly) compelling. Their reasons for attendance all varied, but the thread that ran through each was a desire to shape their lives according to their vision.  

10. Speaking of, Jen Dziura is as commanding in person as she is online.

If you’re not reading Jen’s work on DailyWorth or at Get Bullish, you should be. Jen candidly speaks to variety of lady work issues, from the real, real way to think about work-life balance to how to make a ballsy career changes to how to have rational arguments with sexists.

She’s approachable and very smart. This means that you can fangirl out while she discusses the importance of both a quality cocktail and making lots of money. She espouses no-nonsense, gentlewoman living, and tactfully getting what you want.

Details for the 2015 Bullish Conference will be announced in January 2015. Get on the mailing list at getbullish.com.