In Hillary Clinton’s first speaking engagement of 2015, Kara Swisher asked Hillary the question on everyone’s mind at Watermark’s inaugural Lead On conference in silicon valley: iPhone or Android? (iPhone, but she also still keeps her Blackberry) In all seriousness, Hillary’s speech at the conference was the most detailed outline to date of Hillary’s potential campaign platform. And instead of shying away from women’s issues as many said she did in her last presidential run, she outlined the many policy issues relevant to women she feels need to be addressed (pay equity, family leave, and others). She also emphasized the unique qualities female leaders possess and highlighted how these qualities are exactly what is needed in our current acrimonious bi-partisan political landscape. Hillary said she would like to bring Republicans from red states and Democrats from blue states into a "nice, warm purple space" where they could try to solve problems.
Hillary implored the 5,000 women in attendance to get involved in their communities and actively engage with other women. "As women, let us do more to help all women ‘lead on’ and lead. What you do doesn't have to be dramatic. You don't have to run for office.” She then paused and smiled mischievously at the audience. “Although if you do, more power to you."
Hillary wasn’t the only amazing woman speaking at the conference. There was a steady stream of amazing speakers both in the keynotes and the break-out sessions — ranging from Diane von Furstenberg to Jill Abramson.
Brene Brown, whose infamous Ted talk went viral, spoke about vulnerability and being seen. She talked about being daring, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking risks, not knowing what the consequences will be. “We choose courage or comfort. We cannot have both.” “The problem with staying small is that it's served up with a side of pissed-offed ness and resentment.” Brene also talked about the importance of promoting yourself — something most women are not very good at. She said, “If you cannot toot your own horn, don’t expect the band to show up.” "No one puts value on your work if you don't put value in your own work."
Perhaps one of the more humorous and ironic moments of the conference was when one of the panelists of the Life Balance Strategies session - Christine Tsai, co-founder of 500 Startups - was 20 minutes late due to the fact she had locked the keys and her son in the car at preschool drop off.
Not surprisingly, several speakers touched on the issue of underrepresentation of women in Silicon Valley. Rosalind Hudnell, Chief Diversity Officer for Intel pointed out, "If there are no seats at the table that's not unconscious bias, that's just bias." And while much of the day was inspiring and positive, there were some who provided a reality check and highlighted areas where female representation is actually going in the wrong direction [representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs, for instance]. Jill Abramson countered some of the more Pollyanna viewpoints by sharply stating, "In some ways, being less satisfied and a little angrier is where we need to be right now.”