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Women, Thinkers, Conferences!
A Glorious Gallery
Cristiana Collu, the young Q3er who runs Rome’s contemporary art museum, La Galleria Nazionale, has a truly unique gift. She hangs art in a way I’ve never seen done quite so skilfully. It’s revelatory. Like discovering art anew. Suddenly, the pictures and sculptures are in conversation not just with you, but with each other. You walk into a room, and you’re hit with a powerful series of messages and expressions being emitted and exchanged across centuries, cultures and (very much) genders. Boy, do big art museums change when women run them. Suddenly, you feel an almost constant commentary on the gender of the gazer, the artist and their time. It’s exhilarating and profoundly innovative.
Others have dabbled in this kind of thing of course. But never have I seen it so powerfully used to enhance the experience of ‘looking.’ … regale yourself with a short virtual visit. You’ll get the idea. It’s worth a trip to Rome (not to mention the tomatoes).
The WIN Conference - Cross-Generational Conversations
I had the joy of doing the opening keynote for my favourite women’s conference, run by the ever-gracious Kristin Engvig, now in its 26th year. That means its entering Q2! The audience was dominated by Q2ers and a healthy dose of Q3ers, who lapped up the news of 4-Quarter Lives in what has now become a remarkably consistent way. A few hundred women, many of whom gave me lots of feedback that they’d never heard anything about what I was talking about, confirming that we aren’t ready for the ageing reality we are entering. And that it was both revelation and relief.
For Q2ers, the feedback I got was that it gave them “a bit of a breather,” especially for the ambitious ones who are trying to achieve everything in the impossible-to-navigate 30s. For those reaching the end of Q2, into their later 40s, it normalises the itchy feet and “restless yearnings for change” they say they are feeling - a natural feature of the end of Q2.
For Q3ers, it’s a huge relief to name the extraordinary new chapter of life we’ve all been given. And to realise that they have time and freedom to design a new chapter, but that they have to prepare and ‘lean in’ - ready for the ageism, incomprehension and incredulity they may confront and challenge. But aware that time is on their side.
After years talking about gender issues, and fighting the good fight to build more balance, it’s fun to talk about a topic that is less controversial. Everyone seems interested in longevity - since everyone is facing the reality of longer lives, no matter what their age, gender, background or identity. It’s a joyfully unifying theme, and I’m enjoying carrying it. (Although it shares many characteristics with the gender theme, in that it will impact every career, company and country…)
4 Phases of Women’s Careers
I also did a longer workshop with a group of cross-cultural women from across Europe. As so often when I work with women inter-generationally, I felt like they were a living, breathing demonstration of themes I’ve been writing about for years. The result was worthy of a doctorate on life phases and adult evolution.
I warmed them up by splitting them into groups by decade, and getting them to discuss what their current life priorities were. When they presented back to each other, you could gradually see a large lightbulb going off in the room. Each decade was describing quite distinct preoccupations, with a lot of alignment within each group. And a pretty predictable evolution across them.
This kind of inter-generational conversation and exchange is hugely helpful to all involved. The younger bunch realise that their current questions and wanderings aren’t going to calm any time soon… that many will be trying to figure life out for quite some time. The 40-year-olds suddenly discover that their questions, doubts and feelings that something’s-gotta-change are common to many. And the 50+ discover that they share a commitment to their passions, priorities and making an impact on a broader level. It’s like a wave of adult development wafts visibly across the room and everyone suddenly sees ageing in action. Very cool.
Thinkers50 Celebrations - Q3 in Action
Finally, I had a joyful online meeting/ webinar with the other inductees of this year’s Thinkers50 Hall of Fame. And a more delightful group of humans would be hard to find. All deep thinkers in the full maturity of Q3, the discussion resonated with the delightful candour of people who have nothing left to prove, and the kindness of elders who have everything to give.
I’ll share the recording when it gets distributed. I particularly loved when Stew Friedman was asked if he was working on another book. And he laughed and said ‘no way.’ That on the cusp of Q4, he was too busy with grandchildren, gardening and growing spiritually to add to the pile of his existing publications - of which there are already many. This group is like a mini-publishing empire in itself. But Stew admitted it was just too hard and all-consuming, at an age where he no longer wants to be consumed. I share that feeling. (But i will gift his latest book, Parents Who Lead, to my son. ‘Cause right now, it may be the 2-year old granddaughter who has grabbed the leading role.)
“One of the greatest privileges of being on one’s own is the flattering illusion that one is, in truth, really quite an easy person to live with.”
A delightful quote from the always beautifully written articles from Alain De Botton and his School of Life. This one on his favourite theme of why we always end up marrying the wrong people (at least the first time round, and sometimes the subsequent rounds too). Cause we have little to no self-awareness at that age and stage. More here.
Thanks to my Boston-based friend Ali for forwarding this charming and self-deprecating piece on ageing from Robert Reich.
How Does China See the UK? A wonderful summary in a short video clip of Andrew Marr interviewing a CCP spokesperson, laughing at the idea that the UK is any kind of competitor to China. That would be a serious ‘over-estimation’ of its relative significance. Brutal. Essential. Stay humble.
Have a good Sunday!
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