Last week I attended SAP’s premier customer event in Orlando – Sapphire Now. It is a feast of presentations, discussions, forums and workshops. There are keynote sessions, luncheons, chance meetings and conference floor demonstrations – and around 50,000 people in three locations – Orlando, Frankfurt and online via the SapphireNow virtual conference platform.

As with most conferences, it is not always about the mainstage. For example, SAP ran a Women’s Executive Leadership Breakfast event where attendees were treated to a conversation with Jeanne Ross, the director of MIT Sloan School’s Center for Information Systems Research. Tara Degler writes that rather than leading in with a raft of presentation slides, Jeanne shared her story – leaving the audience with three important actionable insights:

  1. Work smarter – It is one thing to be busy – but quite another to be “productive.” When you multiply this across your organization, the effect can be profound.
  2. Empower your people – Make sure that each and every role in your business is professionalized. Provide the structure to help make your teams successful and give them the power to achieve.
  3. Create the space for unlearning – Old habits die hard, so when you want to transform your business and they way that people work, remember that it takes time to unlearn.

But how do you apply this thinking to your own situation? Are you working smarter? Are you empowering yourself? Are you able to unlearn?

Take a look at this brief interview with Shari Temple from Aidmatrix where she talks about the challenges of finding a mentor. While things have changed over the last 20 years, one of the most important steps we can take is (as Art Petty says), ask for a mentor. After all, as this breakfast demonstrates, there is no dearth of women leadership talent.

Nina Nets It Out: It’s great to attend events and be inspired by those you hear and those you meet. The challenge is taking your learnings back into the office with you. If you don’t have a mentor, think about reaching out to someone you respect. It could change your career.