Sir Branson, Huffington goodness and cupcakes! Oh, yes! #wc09

**Warning, this post is IMAGE heavy. **

Hey All!

So I had the pleasure of attending the California Women’s Conference last week as an attendee and member of the press via the fantastic people at Lean Cuisine.

This week on the Pink Book will be dedicated to some of those lessons learned as well as some of the fun stuff too!

Before we get into any of that, some housekeeping:-

  • The official website http://www.californiawomen.org and the Twitter hash tag is #wc09
  • Click here for the Facebook page and here for the Twitter page.
  • My entire album is here and just like Twitter, in my blog ‘search’ or click the tag “wc09” for all the posts relating to the conference including highlights on the Minerva Award winners as well as insightful commentary from the panels and breakout sessions.

You can read my story below 🙂

With the exception of the ghost or animal, I would assume was living in the AC of my paranormal ocean liner hotel, The Queen Mary, I could safely say that my trip to California for the 2009 Women’s Conference was spectacular!

I’m full of glee as I write this and in complete awe of Maria Shriver for taking the initiative to put on such an event for not one, or two, but six years. From the speakers, to the people, to the exhibits – there was laughter, joy and yes, even a few tears.

I met two of my life’s inspirations in one place so screw it, let’s do it – Sir Branson style, meeting Barbie, some Huffington goodness and cupcakes! Oh, yes!

I left Miami on a sunny day connecting to a dreary day in Dallas/Ft. Worth airport en route to the other sunny state in our Union of these United States. Have you ever been to the Dallas airport? It’s this monstrosity of a complicated complex with intertwining roads, routes and its own metro so to speak.

Arriving in the other sunny state was a pleasant experience met with the brightness of the same day all of 12-hours later. I was whisked away to my hotel, an ex-cruise ship that is supposedly haunted, called The Queen Mary.

After meeting with some of my fellow bloggers for cocktails, our press badges and some girl talk, we found ourselves inside the Night at the Village being greeted by Verizon Wireless’ booth, complete with red velvet cupcakes for the tasting.

And as you well know, I have pink-radar, or more like Barbie radar, and I spotted the Mattel sponsor’s logo immediately upon arriving at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Making our way over the Barbie stand, where they were celebrating a generation and 50 years of a young girl’s best friend, I got my very own pair of Barbie sunglasses, signed my name on the commemorative wall – saying “When I grow up I want to be…PR Barbie” – and by the way, did I mention I met her?

Yes, funny thing about California, you arrive into an airport named after a Hollywood cowboy, John Wayne, and you meet fictional, plastic women who seem to think that because of your height, it’s quite alright to called you “sweetie” and “baby” as if you were 12-years old…at a inspirational women’s conference no less.

One of the best things about the Night at the Village is that it really serves as a teaser for Tuesday’s events. You get to see all the exhibits and really familiarize yourself with the ‘area.’

Mini-makeovers courtesy of Target and Giorgio Armani were available, snacks of all shapes and forms were in mass supply via Safeway, not to mention barbeque pizza at the Lean Cuisine tent (together with a photo opps and necklace making) and if you were me, you took your happy feet over to the Virgin America booth to find out a way to meet your inspiration of the business world, Sir Richard Branson.

“Sasha, you’re a good girl, I shall help you in your mission,” said the invisible powers that be, because that night, after the Butter Goddness of Awesome Life, Paula Deen spoke, I was able to procure the 411 on part of Sir Richard’s whereabouts for Tuesday morning.

A lucky girl I was, yes indeed.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Just because you know where someone will be, doesn’t mean you will meet them.

Is that bad? I was at a women’s conference and was the most excited to see a man?

Nonetheless, I was up at 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, out the door at 6 a.m., one of the first people in line to get my press badge at 6:30 a.m. I had my Screw It, Let’s Do It book in my bag and camera in my hand in hopes of meeting one of the people I admire the most in the world.

Suffice to say, after fifteen minutes, a chilly morning, a granola bar with a quarter bottle of Coca-Cola for breakfast and a warm exhibit hall later…I saw him.

He looked so much like his wax figure from Madame Tussauds that I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.

And for the first time in my entire life, I was rendered speechless.

Sir Richard Branson & I ... I dieee!!! 🙂

With my typical steel nerves feeling rather like pudding, I walked over grinning like an idiot, and said,

“Excuse me, Hi, Richard, I had to say hello, you’re an inspiration to me”

….in some sort of jumbled, fast-paced string of words. I think I said some more stuff afterward, but I don’t remember. I just remember him laughing, saying things like, “Ah luv, how sweet” with his fabulous British accent…etc.

He smiled, kissed my hand like the charismatic, charming man that he is, and we took a picture.

(And yes, Sarah, I *did* in fact kiss his wax statue at Madame Tussauds in London back in 2006…but getting kissed on the hand by the real thing was…epic.)

To say I was gleeful is an understatement.

After a 21-hour day from the day before and being ‘starstruck’ for lack of a better term for the first time in my entire life, I think my brain forgot to function, because I completely forgot to ask him to sign my book, give him my business card and tell him my dream job would be to work for him.

Dear Sir Richard,

if you’re reading this

– please hire me

🙂

Well, when I remembered all of 30-seconds after he walked away from me, he was being whisked away to the press tents.

So I followed — as I was a member of the press 🙂

Suffice to say, the rest of the morning’s event’s were phenomenal, but nothing really compared to meeting one of your idols, until you meet one of your other means of inspiration, well mine at least, the fabulous Arianna Huffington (but that’s later).

First up — Sir Richard Branson (The Virgin Group), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sheila Blair (Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) were on a panel, moderated by Robin Roberts (love her from GMA!) on “Tough Leadership Decisions in Tough Times.”

This was followed by some very interesting and highly insightful mini-speeches by Cheryl Saban (The Women’s Self Worth Foundation), Eve Ensler (V-Day Founder, performer, playwright) and one incredible story from Somaly Mam (founder AFESIP and President of the Somaly Mam Foundation).

My breakout session was really amazing and hosted by the ever so intelligent Dr. Mehmet Oz. I sat behind his wife, realized he was skinner in real life than he looks on television and was quite tickled that he wore a pink tie!

This lead into the lunch session. It was filled with lots of great speakers. But two people stood out for me the most. Katie Couric and the “Once-in-a-Lifetime Conversation: Grief, Healing and Resilience” panel.

It made me cry. The women, Susan Saint James, Maria Shriver, Elizabeth Edwards and Lisa Niemi, spoke about how they dealt with death and moving on.

Well, as the jokes goes, afterwards quite a few of the emotional women went shopping in The Village…at least the California economy was serviced.

I trekked from what felt like one end of the convention center to the other in order to see the Women in Power breakout session. And while The Secretary of Labor of the United States Hilda Solis was there, as well as, The President of Brown University, Dr. Ruth Simmons, and the Editor-in-Chief of Glamour Magazine, Cindi Leive – the one person I really wanted to see was Arianna Huffington.

While, my roommate from college, Keira, encouraged to start a blog, the person who I model myself, and the Little Pink Book PR after is the illustrious and gorgeous Arianna Huffington.

Just being the same room with her was thrilling.

She’s intelligent, funny, encourages you to get more sleep (just like Dr. Oz) and is such a pleasure to listen too. There is so much you can learn and so much to admire about her.

Needless to say, after the panel was over, while everyone was heading to the door, I headed for the stage.

If I couldn’t put my thoughts together to speak to Sir Richard, I wouldn’t make that mistake twice. I would talk to Arianna Huffington; I would, I would, I would!

…and I did!

I walked up to the stage, called our her name very nicely and told her she was one of the inspirational forces for the Little Pink Book PR. As kind and friendly as you see her and I imagined her to be, she took my business card and I hope she emails me! 🙂

The day ended with the Minerva Awards, which were incredible.

You can see a write up of the four winners at {Heal the World} Minerva Award Winners 2009 or click the tag ‘wc09.’

The evening closed with Alicia Keys (my mom’s favourite artist of “today”) singing “Superwoman,” see below:

So yes, I had a fabulous time.

Be an Architect of Change, ladies and gents, pass it on and work for a better tomorrow!

Find out more about the California Women’s Conference here.

***My blog series on this event are:- original post, Be an Architect of Change, Risk & Fear: Tough Leadership in Tough Times and Health Lessons from Dr. Oz. ***

This post has been sponsored by

–

Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima or get a copy of the ‘Little Pink Book’ delivered to your Kindle.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

Comments

  1. RebekahFuentes says

    love it cuz… the fact that youre soo passionate about your job and PR'ing across the USA with smiles from ear to ear… is making me…. hmmm PROUD OF YOU… love cousin Becky from Trinidad

  2. aww, thanks Bex 🙂

  3. Wow I am soooo jealous. Good move on this post, btw.

  4. Wow I am soooo jealous. Good move on this post, btw.

  5. thanks! 🙂

  6. thanks! 🙂