I had never traveled for work before this trip. My friends talk casually about the 24 hours they spent in New York for business, my sister frequently jets back and forth from Chicago to Denver, and my mom spent the majority of her career regularly attending conferences and events around the country—and even abroad. It seemed like a measure of success to represent your company outside of the office, not to mention a fun change of pace from the weekday grind.
I was thrilled when I learned I’d be traveling to LA for RISE, a women’s conference led by Rachel Hollis, and writing a story about the experience for the blog. The event coincided with my 30th birthday—and while I hadn’t imagined I’d spend the occasion working, I decided a few days in LA wouldn’t be the worst way to kick off a new decade. And as it turned out, I came home with a lot more than a dose of Vitamin D to take into my thirties.
Thursday: Garden Party at Rach’s House
Six inches of snow had fallen in Minneapolis the week of our trip, and we landed in LA on Thursday morning giddy from sunshine and a change of scenery. We headed over to Rachel’s for a garden party designed for conference attendees to get to know each other. Tucked under lush trees on a winding road, guests mingled and snapped selfies, browsed our pop-up and snacked on sliders and mini mac ‘n cheese cups. Katie and I spent most of the evening styling guests at the pop-up—everyone wanted a new top or jacket to wear to the conference or dinner with friends afterward.This moto jacket, ruana and cropped denim sold out right away, and the time flew by as we processed orders, wrapped up purchases and chatted with women from around the country.
As dusk fell, Rachel gathered everyone around her porch to set the tone for the weekend: community. “I don’t need one more fan,” Rachel admitted, explaining that RISE isn’t about her own promotion. “RISE is a space where women can come together to be inspired, supported and enveloped in a community. Tomorrow, expect to be energized and motivated. To reconnect with your dreams and your goals, and then get after them. Expect to RISE.”
Friday: RISE Day 1, Own Your Past
Rachel uses music to keep her mood up at work and at home, so it was no surprise when she shimmied into the Alex Theatre on day one to Backstreet Boys and Britney while the crowd bumped along. While it was an upbeat day overall, there were some emotional moments. The theme of the day was owning your past, and we covered tough topics. Attendees shared struggles with demons, self-doubt, miscarriage, infertility and abuse. It was therapeutic for everyone to let go of what they’d been holding in, identify common experiences and then learn how to stand on top of it all instead of letting it define us and drag us down. As Rachel said, “Your stuff is the mountain you can stand on.” Here are more of the moments that stuck with me.
RACHEL HOLLIS @msrachelhollis
on attitude: “You get to decide if life is happening to you or for you. Not everything happens for a reason, but it’s possible to find meaning in everything. If you only focus on the bad, you lose the gift of your life. You didn’t come this far to only come this far—your stuff is the mountain you can stand on.”
Rach’s tip: Make a playlist that makes you feel like Beyoncé in a black leotard (and changes your mood in a moment).
on gratitude: “Being grateful will change your life. It’s impossible to be negative and grateful at the same time. Remember when you prayed for the things you have now—your job, your kids—and they stress you out? Someone is praying for something that you have.”
Rach’s tip: Spend five minutes in the morning writing down what you’re grateful for right now.
Katie and I let everything sink in over dinner at Pump, the restaurant that appears on the Bravo show Vanderpump Rules (guilty pleasure alert). Unfortunately, there were no celebrity sightings, but dinner at the garden-inspired Santa Monica Boulevard hot spot definitely made us feel like we weren’t in Kansas (Minnesota) anymore. From there, we headed over to The Laugh Factory, the Hollywood landmark known for seasoned and emerging stand-up acts, to laugh it out at the end of a long and emotional day.
Saturday: RISE Day 2, Own Your Future
On Rachel: Spanx Moto Leggings
While day one was about owning your past, day two was focused on owning your future. We discussed how to achieve a goal, the importance of personal style and a panel of successful entrepreneurs and businesswomen shared their experiences in chasing their passions. Here are the most memorable soundbites from day two.
TOI SWEENEY @toisweeney
on personal style: “Dress the way you want to be addressed—it matters how you show up because it affects how you feel. Be unapologetically yourself and wear cute shoes.”
RACHEL HOLLIS @msrachelhollis
on mindful consumption: “Be intentional about what you consume and stop doing the things that make you feel like crap.”
on goals: “If you don’t know where the target is, how do you know where to aim? Regularly take time to think about and visualize where you want to be.”
RACHEL AND DAVE HOLLIS Q&A
on making an effort: “You have to take moments to see your partner the way other people see them, at their best—dressed up doing their thing at work—and remember there’s a person apart from the one you veg out with at home.”
Rach’s tip: Choose a night of the week for date night and stick to it—it doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money; it can be as simple as going for a walk and taking time to connect. And if you do it every week, your kids will learn to expect it and won’t feel neglected.
ELIZABETH LASCAZE @two_blue_fish
on confidence at work: “Don’t wish your way to where you want to be. Ask for what you need—with more backbone, less wishbone.”
Rachel wrapped up the day discussing One Thing, the book by Gary Keller, and the notion that you can chase one thing at a time. Ask yourself: what is the one thing you can focus on that would help you get to your goal faster? Here’s how to figure it out: make a list of all the things you could do to realize your vision or dream. Pinpoint the one thing that would get you there the fastest, then spend one hour Monday through Friday working on that one thing. With so many people “side hustling,” I found it really validating for someone to acknowledge that it’s OK not to do everything.
Before dancing off the stage at the end of the afternoon, Rachel asked everyone to picture the best version of themselves in five or 10 years, and to write down the one word that represents that image. There’s power in visualizing what you want and writing it down. Rachel’s word is MOGUL. What’s your power word?
The final song ended, and we stepped out into the LA sun feeling filled up—and oddly accomplished—even though we hadn’t really done anything except listen and absorb. Simply contemplating goals and visualizing our ideal selves is exhausting, apparently!
Sunday: Back Home to Minneapolis
We landed back in Minneapolis just after noon on Sunday, greeted by flurries and that familiar early-April chill—but somehow the cold didn’t seem quite so biting. It sounds obvious, but the weekend at RISE helped me realize that I’m in control of so much more than I had previously given myself credit for. Despite all the outside forces, I have the power to change my mood, my attitude and my habits—and I don’t need to go on a fancy work trip to feel successful in what I do every day.
I’ve created my personal power playlist, started spending a few minutes every morning recording what I’m grateful for (from silly things like not having to scrape ice from my car windshield to bigger things like good health), and have been more mindful of what I consume, replacing social media scrolling with books and mindless radio chatter with podcasts that motivate and inspire me (I love Goal Digger and NPR’s How I Built This). I’m still working on my power word—but if nothing else, I’ve learned that having this conversation with myself and acknowledging that I’m capable of whatever word I land on is powerful in itself.
What a way to RISE.