I just woke up from a mind-blowing 14 hour sleep after returning from a weekend with my city crush, New York City, and already I think I am ready for a nap.
My catalyst for travel was Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Fun Fearless Life conference. I attended the inaugural event last year, and found it worth another pilgrimage.
(Cosmopolitan.com Editor, Amy Odell and a conference-goer to my left. Don’t they totally look like they are dishing on an amazing outfit across the room? Lol)
Over the course of 8 hours at the Hearst Tower, celebrity speakers led by Editor-in-Chief, Joanna Coles, used their charisma to dazzle a room full of mid-twenties women hungry to get closer to knowing what a dream job tastes like. This year’s lineup of stardom included a few names such as Chelsea Handler, Laverne Cox, Aliza Licht, Stacey London, and Ivanka Trump. Each one had something quotable to say about a different facet of 21-century female ass-kickery. During breaks, Cosmo editors floated around in matching “Fearless” shirts graciously making small talk and accepting the wannabe’s business cards. Photo-op ready installations were at every turn. Maybelline makeup artists were lined up in a mock dressing room swiping powders on the wide-eyed event goer’s cheeks. The day ended with a red-or-white wine bar and sequin-clad DJ cocktail party. At this time, guests could make those last minute card swaps and maybe catch a selfie with an event speaker. ((I may or may not have gotten mine with smokeshow dating expert Matthew Hussey. Obviously. ))
Just as I was about to leave the building (or collapse in need of a slice of pizza), I stopped to say hi to a couple more of the ladies in the “Fearless” t-shirts. Once they heard I was from Iowa their eyes lit up and they said “well you have to meet one of our editors– she is from Iowa!” They called over an infectiously high-energy woman named Leslie Yazel, who I had seen interviewing a speaker earlier. We snapped a pic and chatted for a minute about our home state how I’m looking to move from IA to NYC. I passed on a business card and we hugged goodbye. I really appreciated the gesture, and I hope the tables turn someday so I am able to do the same.
The day was sort of dream-like in the way that it is both full of delights and full of confusion. The obvious delight was the lineup of speakers. Some of them were the best speakers I’ve ever heard. Not only did they sound the part, but they looked the part. The outfits, the hair, the makeup, oh my! The confusion came from attending an event by myself in a room full of people I wished were my co-workers. Which people do I introduce myself to? What do I say? Are they annoyed to be working on a Saturday? Eating means I can’t talk– do I throw out this sandwich? Did that last conversation go okay? Shit, I hate that I just said that… how can I recover? I’m standing alone, who should I say hi to now? When should I leave?
At all times I felt like I was playing a game of Operation. ZZZztt!
Say what you will about NYC, Cosmopolitan, or my fashion industry fantasies, but I couldn’t be more grateful for how much I learn each time I go. I’m also thrilled I found this random and fabulous conference to lure me to the Google Flights page to make it happen. Every time I go to the city I feel like I learn more in two days than I do in two years. Some of this is because NYC runs on it’s own set of rules, and some is because I feel like I have no idea what the hell I’m doing and I am forced into learning situations.
Before I forget again, I think I better write them down. In the spirit of sharing (as always), here are The Top 5 Lessons NYC Taught Me [This Time…]:
- Ask for other people’s information, don’t just give yours. I met a bunch of people this weekend, and some gave me their card, some didn’t. Guess who it is more likely I’ll be in touch with? The ones that are in my control to connect with. I can’t expect to have impressed someone so much that they are falling over themselves to email me.
- Any misstep in New York City is going to cost you money. Forgot your metro card? Minus $10. Get caught up in smalltalk and forget to check the time? Looks like you are taking a cab instead of a train to the airport. Cha-ching.
- For the love of God, say “hi”. Because of this little two-letter word, I was able to turn a night having a cocktail by myself into making some amazing new friends I hung out with two nights in a row, I met professionals who said they want to help me get started in NYC, and I even found out that I was sitting next to someone from Iowa. I love coincidence 🙂
- Know how to introduce yourself. I realized the hard way that I have a terrible elevator pitch. I don’t care what they say about sounding too rehearsed, what’s worse is when you know you didn’t rehearse enough.
- Embrace the word “no”. I went into 8 dry cleaners on Broadway trying to find a steamer before someone told me yes. If someone doesn’t have what you want, somewhere in that city it exists. If you keep hearing no, it is okay to change because people respect growth. In a city like NYC, everyone has to fail to learn, and even if you fail you can recover.
I left NYC with new friends, a stack of business cards, throbbing feet, a new wave of self-confidence, and a much needed reality check.
Next time I go to NYC will be on a one-way ticket.
Cheers! To thigh-high boots not made for walking, and all the lessons to be learned in the city that never sleeps.