TED Women 2015 was an inspiring night full of powerful women speaking about momentum: how to build it, sustain it, and recover it when it is lost.
Sandra de Castro Buffington, the Founding Director of the UCLA Global Media Center for Social Impact, spoke about how the discovery of her personal “superpower” fuels her momentum. Just like all superpowers, hers came from heartbreak. Buffington told of her search for meaning among the indigenous peoples of northeast Brazil. There she befriended a neighbor, who broke Buffington’s heart when she died a preventable death during the birth of her twelfth child. That heartbreak fueled Buffington’s journey to bring healthcare to the global community, and eventually she created an award-winning public health program to promote vasectomies in Brazil.
Erika Green Swafford ’99, writer and producer on the hit ABC show How to Get Away with Murder, opened her talk by claiming she isn’t supposed to be where she is now. While her education and professional experience trained her to manage luxury hotels, the fact that she stood before us as a television writer can be traced back to a personal rut. In a period of inertia, she maintained that it is important to engage in unstructured play in order to find your rhythm, because it is your rhythm that will lead you to your passion. In her “rut,” Swafford discovered her love of creative expression. She urged all attendees to honor their “rut” as a landmark on their personal journey.
Following the two speakers was an engaging panel discussion about creating the momentum to change your career and life, moderated by Anderson Dean Judy Olian. Panelists included Gretchen Humbert ’89, CFO of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, DeAnne Steele ’99, Managing Director and West Investment Executive at U.S. Trust/Bank of America Private Wealth, Lisa Adams, Designer and CEO of LA Closet Design, and Ginny Chien ’10, Executive Director of Global Consumer Marketing for Smashbox Cosmetics/Estée Lauder Companies. Panelists touched on significant moments in their careers when they pivoted and changed the direction of their momentum, what they did when they stalled out, who they surround themselves with, how to deal with change, and creating balance in their lives.