This talk distills Anca’s two decades of experience navigating a male-dominated industry into actionable insights and strategies. In the talk she delves deep into the unique challenges that many women working in male-dominated niches face, learning practical methods to overcome gender biases, and establishing a framework to build confidence, sharpen communication skills, and cultivate a robust professional network. This is much more than just a talk; it’s a collaborative journey to empower each woman with the knowledge and tools to shatter the glass ceiling. We genuinely look forward to sharing this energy with you!

WATCH THE FULL REPLAY HERE (transcript available below as well)




Recently our founder, Anca Platon Trifan had the honor to talk at the Alvest Women’s Network Summit, and give a powerful talk about shattering the glass ceiling and navigating male-dominated industries. Her insights are especially relevant for women who are striving to advance their careers and achieve their professional goals in fields that are traditionally dominated by men.

During her talk, Anca emphasized the importance of embracing your authentic self. She explained that it is essential for women to fully embrace their unique qualities and celebrate their femininity instead of trying to fit in by leaning into masculine energy. Authenticity is key to cultivating the confidence and resilience that are essential qualities for success.

Strategic networking is also crucial to success in male-dominated industries. According to Anca, women should seek out people who inspire them and express interest in their experiences, especially on platforms like LinkedIn and at industry conferences. Building a network of supportive and like-minded individuals can provide women with valuable insights, feedback, and guidance that will help them navigate the challenges of their field.

Anca also stressed the importance of finding mentors and sponsors to advance their careers. She recommended women to look for individuals who align with their career path, values, and skills. Mentors provide guidance and feedback, while sponsors use their influence to advance their career. Both can offer invaluable support to help women reach their full potential.

Check out the other talks presented by Anca Platon Trifan and hosted by Idaho Women’s Business Center:

Financial independence is also crucial for women in male-dominated industries. Anca pointed out that financial stability not only provides a safety net, but it also bolsters confidence, reduces stress, and empowers women to negotiate for better pay, closing the gender wealth gap. By taking charge of their finances and building their own financial stability, women can gain the freedom and flexibility they need to pursue their personal and professional goals.

Confidence is another key ingredient to success in male-dominated industries. Anca suggests that competence and resilience, combined with effective communication skills and self-advocacy, are the building blocks of confidence. Women can also build confidence with the help of like-minded communities and networks. By recognizing their own worth and potential, women can harness their confidence to overcome any obstacles that come their way.

Finally, Anca emphasized the importance of shattering the glass ceiling and paving the way for future generations of women leaders. She believes that each challenge overcome and each barrier broken brings us closer to an equitable, inclusive future. By shattering the glass ceiling and paving the way for future generations of women leaders, women can create a more just and equitable world for all.

These are just a few of the key takeaways from Anca’s talk. Whether you are just starting out in your career or seeking to take your career to the next level, these insights can help you achieve your professional goals and thrive in your field. By embracing your authentic self, networking strategically, finding mentors and sponsors, achieving financial independence, and building confidence, you can shatter the glass ceiling and pave the way for future generations of women leaders.



Looking to foster a conversation on women’s advancement in your organization or at an upcoming event?

Anca is currently open to speaking engagements through the end of the year. Let’s empower, inspire, and support each other.


Swell AI Transcript: Shattering the Glass Ceiling

00:00 Emcee Kat Ladies, we’re going to get started with our speaker if you can take your seats, please. Our first speaker for this summit is Anca Platon Trifan. Anca is the CEO, creator, and strategist of Tree-Fan Events, a local to Treasure Valley Women-owned and operated boutique event planning and production agency. She is a certified event professional, a digital event strategist, recipient of the several event industry awards and accolades. Anca is also the producer and host of Events Demystified Podcast and founder of the online community Women Behind the Scenes and Events. She is a fascinating entrepreneur and motivational speaker, a passionate thought leader, and a bold advocate for women in male-dominated industries. A natural bodybuilder competitor with a passion for mental and physical fitness for small business owners, women, and event professionals. Please welcome Anca. 

01:04 Anca Trifan Thank you, Kat. I don’t know who that person is, so if you guys know her, please send my regards. Okay, first off, it’s going to be really hard to follow after the leadership executive panel, okay? If you look at me to give you some amazing insight, you already got what you needed to go and be successful. So I am super happy to be here. I wanted to start with this, I guess, preface of the fact that that’s a pretty bold picture, right? So this concept of the glass ceiling, which is what I’m going to talk about, is something that has been so vivid in my upbringing in Romania. I actually come from a different country, if you can tell by my accent, and Romania is a country that was steeped in a lot of religious and tradition and poverty, and this idea of a glass ceiling, although we didn’t call it like that, it was very much imprinted in my psyche from a very, very young age. So with that, it was this idea of something that would be so hard to reach, especially for someone that comes from humble backgrounds, particularly women and marginalized communities, and from a very young age, I remember wanting to understand more about this, because if you wanted to reach your full potential, there was this taunting challenge that it felt like it was clouding any dreams of choosing to pursue a career, maybe over starting a family right away, and maybe pursuing certain leadership roles, and despite having a really solid work ethic or maybe qualifications and achievements, this glass ceiling was casting this frustrating divide between potential and realization, being this clear yet impermeable presence of something that you knew that exists, and how would you be able to break through? So that’s basically the preface of something that I’m going to talk about.

We’re going to skip over this part because you guys heard all about this one person, and what I wanted to just highlight here is the fact that the reason why I am super passionate about this topic is because I have technically built my career in a very male-dominated industry, and for the last 20 years, I have worked behind the scenes being many times, and for many years, the only female on an AV production team, and if you think of all the events that you’ve been to, probably if you ever look behind the scenes, you’re not going to see a lot of women. So I’ve always been that one woman, either leading group of men or surrounded by men, and always had to figure out my place in this world. Now I also am going to say this is not going to be a message against men. Actually men have been my greatest supporters in this industry. They have been my only mentors that I’ve had for a very long time, and the fact that I have someone next to me that is a partner, that is a man, is just highlighting the fact that this is the reality, but yet we can make it work in our advantage. So with that, I will, I guess, just give you a preview of what we’re going to do really this week. I’m going to share my journey of, you know, I like to call my journey of courage, resilience, and grit, because it really took like almost like scratching your nails against like this pit that you need to climb your way out of, just to get to a point where I am today. And I wanted to just share a little bit of what that meant for me in order to shatter this glass ceiling that stood in my way. Also I want to bring to light some of the challenges that we face as women in male-dominated industries. There’s gender biases that a lot of us face, and you know, there’s a lot of questions, there were really good questions that were asked earlier. So it goes to say that it’s not easy to be a woman in a field that is so male-dominated. And for all of you that are here, I mean, all my respect to you, because I understand what it takes to strive in an environment like this. So we’re also going to talk about not just challenges, but also some strategies to make sure that we overcome what stays in our way.

We cultivate a robust professional network. We lean on mentorship and sponsorship. And we also look at the role of financial independence and stability, especially for us women when it comes to make our way in such an environment. And with that, I am going to give you a bit of context into my journey, and we’re going to take you on the memory lane all the way to the 17-year-old me, very shy, introverted.

That was me when I was 17. And those are all my siblings. I’m actually the oldest of 10. And you don’t even see all of them there, but this is like the one image that I have from that era. And at the time, I was actually working in the only radio station in my small hometown, because somehow, after working a lot of odd jobs, I got my way into this place, and I loved every single moment of it. Because not only did it give me opportunity to learn new things, but it was also a break from the nonstop commotion at home, and most importantly, a means to support myself and my family. That was about the time when I fell in love for the first time, not with someone in flesh and bones, but with this little mixing board that you see over there. It’s a Mackie 1604, and it was basically the switchboard that we used in the radio to mix audio, the audio inputs that were coming in and that were going out.

And it was honestly love at first slide. That mixer still has such a tender spot in my heart. And now around that time, the radio was putting on this yearly festival, and it was kind of like a 4th of July festival that was taking all over our small downtown square, and I thought to myself, this will be the best opportunity, perfect opportunity to get my hands dirty and go and shadow some of the AV techs and learn everything there is to learn about audio engineering and AV productions. And I remember being so excited about it, because I was super hungry to learn. And they said humble, hungry, and I don’t know what the third one was, but I was hungry. Of all of those things, maybe I wasn’t very humble, but I was definitely hungry. And

I was excited about it. Unfortunately, I was the only one excited about it, because when I went and I talked to the AV production owner of that company that was putting on this festival, and I told him my intention, he pretty much laughed in my face. He then proceeded to literally measure me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, look at me again, and say in so many words, if I’m merely blowing a direction, you’re going to fly away. Do you see all these capable women over here that are, those are the kind of people that I’m looking for. Someone like you, women, they don’t belong here. Go and find something else to do, go and find a husband, get married, start a family, whatever.

And unfortunately, sadly, that mentality is still very much king in many parts of the world, including my hometown, and sadly, many parts of the US. Yet, how many of you know that obstacles are opportunities in disguise? That was the day when I decided I’m going to prove him wrong and the whole status quo. So what I did, although I don’t even remember his name right now, one thing I do remember is those words that he said, because those are the words that really fueled and made that fire to want to go and do the things that he said I wouldn’t be able to do. Obviously, the advice that he gave was not really advice that I cared to follow right away. So after completing my degree, my journey into this male-dominated field started with that one spark that was kindled by this person in my home country when I decided I’m going to leave my family, my home country behind, and I’m going to go and look for better opportunities for myself. And I had less than $200 in my pocket, and I just left to pursue my dream in AV Productions, which is very much a male-dominated field to this day. The sad reality is that 20 years later, we still have to talk about the importance of female representation in this field and also talk about diversity and equity, and those are topics that I’m super passionate about, and I talk about those things quite often, not just on my podcast, but at industry events and at conferences. But this gender imbalance is not something that’s unique to just the production industry that I’m part of.

Unfortunately, it’s a new issue across the spectrum in all other male-dominated industries, and if you don’t believe me, let’s just visit some of the statistics. As of 2021, only 28% of women made up the workforce in male-dominated industries, and women, especially women of color, are underrepresented in every level in corporate America, despite earning more degrees, college degrees, than men for 30 years and counting.

Only about 20% of women are taking, really, representation in tech jobs. Women hold just 24% of STEM roles worldwide. In the manufacturing industry, we have women account for only 29% of the total workforce. Also when it comes to promotion, I think this is so important. For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired, which means that women are less likely to end up on the path to leadership and receive the first critical promotion to a manager, and they are less likely to be hired into senior positions. Why did we have a panel that was just men? And that’s not just the reality of this one industry. It’s the reality of many other industries. 60% of women in male-dominated industries have experienced some type of gender discrimination, and sadly, 50% of women have experienced or reported sexual harassment, and we all know that not everything that happens actually gets reported. So what does this mean is that why is it troublesome?

Well, the reason why it’s troublesome is because it creates this imbalance, which means that certain voices get amplified while other voices don’t. The isolation, in fact, is a byproduct of this imbalance. Being one of the few women in my field, as it was my experience for at least 12 years that I can count, that can lead to feelings of isolation and tokenism when some of our contributions are often overlooked or maybe even appropriated despite knowledge and expertise. Some of the prejudices and stereotypes in these industries are not just overt actions. They can be things that manifest either as subtle biases, maybe expectations to confront to a certain masculine type of leadership. There’s casual sexism that’s masked as humor. I’m sure many of you have experienced. And microaggressions that are disguised as business as usual, which can all be part of the unspoken rulebook. Now with all of these experiences, and when you hear about that, that can be disheartening, but they can also serve as a awakening and galvanizing type of force because while they underline the reality of the glass ceiling and the institutional biases that uphold it, they also have the potential to kindle a determination to resist some of the imbalance, to fight some of those inequalities, and shatter those invisible barriers that exist in some of the places that we take space. I have personally experienced many times before, and I have my share of gender biases and discrimination within my own industry, and I recall being the only woman in a production meeting, and many times I was perceived as the note taker or maybe the coffee maker. I go and make coffee, right? Easily overlooked despite my knowledge and my expertise.

There are countless instances where some of my ideas were dismissed based on accent alone or even worse, appropriated by some of my male counterparts without much acknowledgement at all. However, I firmly believe that in understanding both the reality and the existence and the impact that this glass ceiling has, we can better than equip ourselves to dismantle it, and the good news is there’s hope. I have seen change happen in my industry just in the last few years alone. Now recognition and awareness are the first steps towards this change. It’s about pushing back against prejudice and advocating. Somebody said, what’s the best way we can, you know, whatever, get a promotion?

Advocate for equal opportunities. Reshape the narrative around women and leadership. Each time we women overcome biases, counter stereotypes, and assert our rightful places in these spaces, we chip away at that glass ceiling. We paved the way for future generations, ensured that they won’t have to fight and navigate around invisible barriers all the time just to realize their full potential. And really, at the end of the day, that’s the real work, isn’t it? Not just to break through the glass ceiling for ourselves, but to ensure that it’s rendered obsolete for those who follow. As I reflect on my own career and journey in event productions, I am struck by the many times I had to stand my ground. I had to stand firm and confident in my expertise. I had to speak out and I had to advocate for myself and many times for others too. In a sector that is dominated by male voices, asserting one’s word and contributions and perspectives often becomes not just a matter of necessity, but a survival tactic. And we talked about advocacy.

The role of self-advocacy is in essence the act of standing up for oneself, of asserting our needs, our desires, and our worth. It’s about tracking and promoting our achievements. How do we get a promotion? You better track it so then you can promote it, so you can talk about it and you can say, this is what I’ve done for this company. This is what my vision is for this role, negotiating for better conditions and higher pay and persistently requesting equal opportunities of advancement. Advocating for oneself isn’t easy. I know it takes a lot of courage. It takes resilience and a strong belief in our experience, in our knowledge, our capabilities. Yet it is a tool for making our voices heard, our contributions recognized, and our potential realized. In a world that often undermines the abilities and capabilities of women, self-evocacy becomes our lifeline. We owe it to ourself to be our biggest advocate. After that, if we don’t value and fight for our own worth, who will? One of the key strategies in effective self-advocacy is clarity in communication because effective communication forms the backbone of all of our work and negotiations. Cutting the art of communication is magnified tenfold in male-dominated industries where a woman’s voice often needs to cut through many layers of preconceived notions and biases just to convey our competence and assert our worth and advocate for our needs and our ideas. Now, we all say that we communicate, but when we can articulate our thoughts and express our needs without getting emotional, and we are able to do so confidently and unapologetically, we send a clear message that we value our work and our worth and expect others to do the same.

By embracing effective communication strategies, we can then empower ourselves to challenge the existing norms and all the expectations that there are and dismantle some of the gender biases that have been there for maybe generations, shatter this glass ceiling, and pave the way for greater gender equality and opportunities for women in this traditionally male-dominated field. Developing strong communication skills isn’t just about being heard. It’s about being understood, respected, and valued. Clear and assertive communication is particularly vital. It’s not about aggression or dominance. Rather, it’s about clarity, respect, and confidence. So here are a few things that I personally had to, in my own journey, learn and implement in order to express my needs and my thoughts and do it in a way that is ambiguous and unambiguous, respectful and confident. Now, as women, we love to talk. Like, don’t show me a woman that doesn’t like to talk yet. In an industry where sometimes time comes at a premium, clarity and brevity are valued. Sure, you can be sweet and nice, but speak with integrity, get straight to the point, try to avoid jargon, and ensure that your message is easy to understand.

Be clear and concise. Communication, like I said, is not just about speaking. It’s about also listening and demonstrating the type of understanding and respect for other people’s viewpoints only fosters mutual respect. It’s crucial to stand up for our ideas and our rights, but let’s remember to do so in a way that is respectful. Don’t make assumptions, get curious, inquire further, maybe ask clarification, clarifying questions, so you can just respond on point. Assert yourself respectfully. Nonverbal cues can reinforce or undermine a message, and that’s something that I needed to learn, and I’m still learning as a speaker because I have to try to keep eye contact and use open body language and all the things, just being aware how even my tone and volume can have such a different impact than my words. All of that matters, especially when we communicate in situations where our body language says one thing and our words say something else. Also, we have to, as we were going back to the words of being humble and hungry, we’ve got to pulse check our ego. Too often when we receive constructive criticism, it raises this defensive mechanism in us, and we no longer take that as an opportunity to grow. Instead, we get pretty much shut down and stop listening. So keep that in mind. And the last point, prepare and rehearse.

Okay, so in the events world, the secret sauce to the success of any event is excellent pre-planning rehearsing. And if you don’t believe that, ask Kat, because she’s going to tell you how many hours of planning she’s put into this event alone. Same applies to our communication strategy, especially if a lot of things hang in the balance. Maybe you’re going for a promotion, or maybe you have to advocate for yourself in a certain situation. Practice makes perfect. So you technically, what I would recommend you do, because I’ve done it myself, practice in front of a meter, or maybe in front of a trusted colleague, to just build confidence in your ability to express your thoughts clearly. Anticipate potential questions or objections, and make sure that you’re prepared to respond in advance without getting emotional or taken by surprise. Stay objective, and don’t take anything personally, which I know, it’s easier said than done.

I remember a pivotal time in my career when I had to do all of those things. I had to underscore how I was going to communicate specifically to this one person, a stakeholder, that was pushing for some major changes for an event that was going to risk not just the event’s timeline, but also the success of the event. This particular person was a very intimidated prospect that nobody wanted to confront. They were like, no, we don’t want to talk to him. No, no, no, we don’t want to confront them. So I was put in a position to face them. So what I did is, in the little time that I had, prepare what I could as well as I could. I gathered some supporters around me for morale, and I arranged this meeting. As I was outlining some of the steps that underscored the power of communication, I just facilitated a productive discussion at the end of the day that ultimately saved everyone’s interest, because everything was going to cost so much more, and everybody was not going to be happy to have to work 48 hours nonstop.

So this particular experience only reinforced in me this idea that mastering communication skills and being able to stay objective and being able to be prepared and assess yourself in a way that you can talk without getting emotional not only empowers us to advocate for ourselves, but it also fostered this inclusive, respectful, and a successful work environment, because we all have situations where we have to talk to some of our colleagues that maybe they just annoy us, and maybe it’s something that you need to address, and it’s hard to address things that might hurt someone if you don’t do it in the right way. At the same time, as we look at those ways of addressing things in a way that is powerful, it also chips away, going back to that glass ceiling, and it chips away at long-standing biases in this type of environment.

Now, in our quest to shatter this glass ceiling, it’s also essential to build and surround ourselves with a strong support network, a community that understands and validates our experiences. And as I was talking to Kat, I was learning more about the women’s network that you’re part of, and I was excited that this is a type of network that exists in this field, because not everybody has the benefit of actually being part of a women’s network within a male-dominated industry, and I didn’t. I had to create my own network. I had to figure out my own way of how am I going to surround myself with a supporting system of women that were dealing with the same challenges that I had in my career that I was. Now, if you’re also like a third-fourth of the women in leadership roles, professional women, that were surveyed in a recent study by KPMG on the imposter syndrome, then you have at one point or another, or maybe even now, you’re dealing with the imposter syndrome in professional settings. I know that I have dealt with it myself. Actually, as a matter of fact, I’m dealing with it as we speak. I’m like, what am I doing here? I’m supposed to be behind the scenes. I’m also writing this book, and it’s such an undertaking. Let me tell you, it’s almost like this monster that keeps at it and just tries to take me down. So what I’ve, for myself, found that in order to navigate this disease, because that’s what I want to call it, is to surround yourself with a supportive network, a community that speaks your name in rooms you deserve to be in and reinforces your ability and your credibility to give you the confidence that you need to own your seat at the table.

When we connect with other women who share similar experiences, face similar challenges, not only do we gain practical insight and wisdom and advice, but it also fosters a sense of belonging and mutual empowerment. One of my most favorite authors, Brenna Brown, she is very strong on belonging, and in her concept of belonging, there is acceptance of one’s true self, even when different, or maybe when you’re standing out, which resonated a whole lot with my own journey in a male-dominated field, because I was trying to fit in, and I initially, as I was trying to do that, I leaned into my masculine energy, but it just led to a lot of disconnection. So when I realized that fitting in is unsustainable and only through belonging will foster that deeper connection and fulfillment that I was after, I embarked on a new path, and that was just to embrace my authentic self, my femininity, even in a traditionally masculine space, and that had to do with the way I dress, the way I put makeup on, the way I show up, and celebrate the unique qualities that I bring to the table. In doing so, not only have I fostered a sense of belonging to myself, but also sought to empower other women, and those are women that I got to bring on to events and put them in leadership roles and in charge with big parts of the event, because I’ve helped them to also find their belonging, their authentic belonging, and also is what really led me during COVID when it was like, we’re all going to die, where I created this community of women behind the scenes.

It’s really an empowered community that provided not just a sense of belonging but of collective resources and knowledge and strength. It reinforced the idea that when one woman succeeds, it smooths the path for all of us, advancing our quest for equality and success in whatever male dominant field we’re in. Now, in order to establish such a community of true belonging that embraces diversity and values differences, strategic networking is crucial. I follow people that inspire me, and I reach out to strange individuals, especially on LinkedIn, whose work I admire, and I express interest in their experiences, and I have found so many valuable friends and mentors that way. If you’re open, curious, and most importantly, yourself, if you’re genuine, you will seek that which you look after. And with that, not only will you seek that, but you’ll foster this type of environment of inclusivity, respect, and mutual success. Navigating a career in male dominant fields can often feel like, at least to me, felt a whole lot like charting into some kind of wilderness.

Anyone else been there? It’s like this kind of journey where you feel like there’s challenges, there are detours, there are hidden trails, and in such environment, having mentors and having supporters that can become true members of your support system, not only will it give invaluable guides and offer you direction and insight, but also be that support network that you need in order to succeed. Now, mentors provide guidance, they provide wisdom, they can provide feedback to help grow personally and professionally, while sponsors, they use their influence to advance your career, championing some of the abilities that you might not even know that you have, and championing into the decision makers which you might not have access to, which only increases your visibility. To find mentors, look for individuals who align with your career path and your values and your skills, and I have discovered many mentors on social media platforms like LinkedIn and industry conferences. Sponsors are typically found in either your organization or maybe a wider industry network, and my experience with sponsors has been that if, you know, you show them your potential, but more than the potential, you want to show them your dedication and your skills and your career ambitions, and if they can support you, you know, they can say yay or nay, but if you don’t ask, you don’t know. In my 20 years’ career, I’ve unfortunately lacked the privilege of a female mentor, but I have benefited immensely from male mentors, and I have had several accomplished event professionals whose resilience, creativity, resourcefulness really inspire me.

Now, remember, seeking mentorship and sponsorship is not a weakness. It’s actually an act of empowerment, and as we advance in our careers, also keep in mind the people that are coming after and extend our hands becoming mentors and sponsors ourselves for those that are the next generation of women leaders. When I was 12, I had this postcard of the Statue of Liberty, and to me that equal freedom more than anything else did. This postcard became my vision board before I knew what a vision board really was. So there’s this quote by the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., which I’m not going to try to pronounce her name because I’m sure I’m going to butcher it, and it says that liberty for a woman comes from the ability to make financial decisions for her life, and this is not a high-tech solution. It’s a low-tech solution for a low-tech problem that has a high impact, and the reason why I like this is because the topic of financial independence and stability is often overlooked in discussions about gender inequality in male-dominated industries, and actually I like that in your packet there is a budget. I saw that. I’m like, oh, this is amazing. I think it was provided. Let me see. Who was it provided by? I think it was Black River and Rockwood Stone. Yep. So this budget guide. That’s fantastic. I’m like super—I was super-fun to see that. I’m like excited about it. Now—and I think I just moved my slides while I was doing that, just for good measure. I’m on the right one. Good.

Now, why is that important? It’s because financial stability secures a woman’s future by providing her not just with a safety net, because we like that, but it also enhances confidence and it reduces unnecessary stress, empowers us to negotiate for better pay, which in turn contributes to closing this gender wealth gap, and often is very much essential to maintaining our personal and professional well-being. In male-dominated industries, I feel like it’s even more important because women many times face wage gaps and fewer opportunities for advancement, and then financial stability becomes even more critical because it offers us the ability to not just have freedom and make choices and pursue unique passions, ambitions, whatever it is that might be, but it also impacts your life, your family, and your community. For me, financial stability is something that also helps women take risks, and I know that for myself. I haven’t always been a business owner, but being a business owner and having to take risks without having some type of financial stability to support my risk-taking, that’s a scary place to be in. So having that, it’s so important because it’s not just about earning money and saving money, but making money work for you. Do you like my outfit, Seventeen? Do you see me dress like this?

So when I was 14, without any financial education, and I’m such an advocate for financial education in our schools because I didn’t have any of that, but somehow I innately understood that if I were to break free from poverty and from my conditions at the time, I needed to figure out how to manage even the littlest money I was making at the time and I was earning. I didn’t have any knowledge at the time, again, about financial literacy, what is it, the budget, your checkbook, whatever. I didn’t have a checkbook. What I did have was a small notebook that I basically separated in two different columns, and on one column I was writing everything that I was able to make from the little odd jobs that I was working at the time, and then on the other column I was putting everything that I was spending, like either for, I don’t know, school supplies, necessities, and that was what helped me to save three years’ worth of Romanian annual income, and this is back in 2000, to purchase that airline ticket, which was really my ticket to freedom that I needed to get to U.S. and still have about $200 to my name. Now, according to Oprah, money won’t create success, but they will give you the freedom to make choices that will eventually lead to success in many areas of your life, including financial independence. For me, as I’m looking back at my journey, I’m so grateful that I had that journey of having to raise myself from all the way back there so that I understand and I can teach my kids how important financial independence is and how not only that it provides that safety net that I mentioned earlier and bolsters the confidence, but also it helps take risk and live a life, a life that you always wanted to pursue, and not just pursue work, but also pursue other passions and hope is, like for me, I pursue bodybuilding full time, and let me tell you, it’s not a cheap activity.

It takes a lot of training, a lot of coaching, a lot of nutrition, and it has to be done right if you want to show up anywhere on stage. For me, that confidence is what really kept me going during COVID with a lot of events being canceled, actually all of the events eventually getting canceled, a lot of event professionals going out of business. So my encouragement to you is let’s make financial literacy a cornerstone of our career advancement strategy and don’t just let that checkbook to be balanced by the husband. Take charge of it. See what comes in and what goes out. I’m not going to go on and on on this, but it’s such a topic that I’m so passionate about just because one of my sisters is tied in a situation where she makes all the money, her husband doesn’t work, but he controls the money. And I’m like, I can’t even, like, I’m not going to go there.

Let’s just go back to the next thing. You’re going to lose me. In male-dominated industries, standing as the only woman in a room many times, you are faced with resistance and dismissal. So confidence is our armor and our driving force, enabling us to assert our rightful place. Confidence and persistence are more than just advantages, they’re necessities, and those are the things that many times they turn the tide. Yet it’s a journey, not an overnight achievement, which entails that we must remind ourselves consistently and recognize our worth and the potential that we have and the skills that we possess and have bravery to learn, grow, and bounce back. Confidence is what anchors us on this path to success, which can turn setbacks into comebacks despite maybe a lot of naysayers. Confidence is not a shield against failure, however, it does empower us to look at those setbacks in our careers and instead of seeing them as defining moments, just look at them as stepping stones. It is recognizing our unique and valuable female contributions and perspective, forging a strong self-identity, establishing respect, and advocating for ourselves, our growth, our ideas, our contributions and worth, our skills, and our potentials. In my journey, I had to learn the hard way that confidence is not about just replicating masculinity or trying to feed a mold and be like the guys, but it’s more about embracing your true authenticity. When more authentic, our confidence becomes contagious, it becomes a beacon that encourages other women to claim their space and build their confidence, which only creates that inclusive environment that I mentioned earlier where we can all thrive and we can all leave our mark in the world. As I come to a close here, because I’ve been talking nonstop and I want to have you ladies involved a little bit, I just want to recap really quick what we’ve covered so far and reflect on the path ahead in this male-dominated industry.

I’ve personally seen and experienced myself the resilience and the grit of so many women that have been striving to shatter barriers and reshape norms as a testament to the key elements that we just touched on earlier, such as confidence, which is built on competence and resilience combined with effective communication skills, which forms the foundation for influencing and leading. Self-advocacy, supported by like-minded networks and community, which encourages us to collectively advocate and also grow professionally, enhanced also by mentorship and sponsorship that can open doors. Financial independence, a vital tool which empowers us to manage risk and grow both professionally and personally. Despite setbacks and biases, each one of those steps makes us stronger, fostering resilience in the end. This path, though challenging, is ripe with opportunity for growth and transformation, and it has been paved by other amazing women. And I just took a few that I highlighted here, and I know there’s a lot of words on the slide, but those are some amazing women that broke their glass ceiling. Each challenge overcome, each barrier broken brings us closer to an equitable, inclusive future. Let’s not just shatter the glass ceiling, but ensure that it remains broken, striving not just as individuals, but as a united front for change, because as we shatter it, we’re not just achieving some kind of a personal victory, we’re setting the stage for future generations of women.

And that’s something that I’m very passionate, and you’re going to hear me talk about again and again, like the main theme of all the things that I say, because that’s really what, at the end of the day, what the journey should be about. And now, on to the fun part. Who likes to engage in role-playing activities? Now, don’t get kinky on me, just saying. My favorite author, Brenette Brown, going back to her, she believes that play is at the core of creativity and innovation. So, in order to practice the strategies that I just mentioned earlier, we’re going to engage in one easy role-play scenario. I had three of them, but I mean, in the interest of time, I’m just going to make it one, and I will pick the one, let’s see, navigating the professional landscape, that’s the one I’m going to pick. Now, even if you’re the most introverted person there is, all I’m asking that you do not leave the room on the pretext that you need to use the bathroom, or maybe take an important call that just happened to come right now. I can see some of you checking your phones. So, here’s how it’s going to go. We, I promise it’s not hard, it’s easy. I will provide direction for each one of the steps. So, what we’re going to do, we’re going to divide into pairs, and each pair will have a, did I switch the slide? Each pair will have a mentor and a mentee. Okay, there we go. And we’re going to have a few prompts, they’re going to be on the screen, and as you are engaging in this role-playing exercise, you, if you’re the mentee, you are going to ask this question of the more advanced in their career mentor, and the mentor is, their job is to respond to the mentee’s assertion.

If you’re on Zoom, we’re going to actually have a breakout created, which is going to be divided in pairs, five minutes. I’m going to put a timer on the screen, and if you’re part of a group, because I know some of the Zoom rooms are actually groups, divide within your group, your space in pairs, and then just have one person on Zoom join as the representation of that group, because if you end up in a breakout session with somebody else, we don’t want that breakout session to have just one person. So, take as much time as you want to mingle and divide into this pair. Again, this is a role-playing exercise. It’s not painful, I promise, and just do your best to engage in this activity, and the timer is going to be five minutes starting now. Maybe we should play some music in the background when we get a chance. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Two more minutes to go. I had to take my selfie so I can prove to my husband that I actually spoke in front of you ladies. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. All right. Less than 30 seconds to go. I think we can close the Zoom room. And the time is up.

So, what we’re going to do now, really quick, because we’re also running out of time, but I think I have five extra minutes because we started late. We’re going to, again, because this exercise was intended more like a stimulated real-life professional scenario, I just wanted to give you an opportunity to maybe practice this exercise. So, what I would love to know from any of you that would like to share, if you learn something new during this one role play scenario, again, I had three that I wanted to actually share with you ladies, but we’re going to have to do those another time next year in South Carolina. If you would like to share something, you can pick any of those questions either if you learn something or if something that was discussed really stood out or maybe a practical way that you can apply something that was communicated. I would love to hear from you. And we’re going to have a mic to run to you. And don’t be shy. I promise it doesn’t go outside of this room. Only to Zoom. So, anything that you learned that was during your communication in the mentor or mentee

53:00 Emcee Karen that just stood out and was like, oh, that was cool. That was kind of exciting. There we go. It’s breaking the ice. Awesome. Please state your name and if you’re from anyone else but Boise, we’d love to hear. My name is Diana and I work at Arrow here in Boise. I took on the mentor role in our role play and one of the things that I realized after we finished was thinking about if I’m going to go to my mentor or my manager and ask these types of questions, what are the things that they’re going to ask me in response and to be ready for those types of questions?

53:39 Anca Trifan I love that. Let’s remember as we are going to conclude today’s talk because you have some very exciting things that are coming up next. Together, we’re not just going to merely navigate our industries. We are going to reshape them. We’re not just here to windex the glass ceiling. We’re here to create more cracks in the glass, which will only inch us closer to maybe hopefully crossing fingers, shattering it completely through our collective efforts. And when that happens, let’s make sure that it remains broken for those who follow us. And in real closing, my call to action to all of you is to just start owning your collective stories, champion each other, strive for success, and reshape the industry that you’re in by redrawing the contours of your professional worlds. And as we’re facing the future, I know that it’s not going to be an easy journey, but it’s a rewarding journey.

It can be transformative not just for us and our own careers, but for the future generations of women. And I’ll leave it with this Brene Brown quote. I think all my quotes are from Brene Brown aside from some unknown ones. But again, you can tell I read all her books and I’m a little big on her. But I love this one because owning your story can be hard. It’s true. But it’s nearly as difficult as spending a life running from it and embracing your vulnerability, although it is something that can feel risky at first, is not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy, the experiences that really make us the most vulnerable and also help us live life fully to the max.

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our life. And with that, thank you so much for joining me in today’s talk. I really hope that you will continue the conversation. And if you’d like to connect with me, that’s a QR code for my website. I would love to hear from you on LinkedIn and share your stories. And for the rest of the afternoon, have a wonderful dinner and whatever it is that Kat and the team prepared for you. Thank you for having me. I really, really enjoy my time here.

Emcee Karen: Everybody give it up for Anka. Thank you so much, Anka.