More goodies from Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference

Imagine…by the end of this post you will receive a year’s worth of inspiration, strategies and support.   Would that be enough fuel to keep you going for a while?

It sure was for me.

Last week Women on Fire Event Producer Angela Ittu and I attended the world’s largest gathering of women – Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference – in Long Beach, California.  Women on Fire Melissa Daimler and Randy Kamen-Gredinger also attended and it was terrific to see them.  Plus, we met many of you there who are now joining us here!

Maria Shriver at The Women's Conference
Maria Shriver kicks off Women’s Conference in Long Beach, California

Maria brought together all the “best and brightest” people she knew. Oh, did she ever! More than 100 speakers from Michelle O to  Suze Orman to Oprah — to inspire the 30,000 conference attendees to become “architects of change.”

After two and a half days, I was so filled up I was bursting at the seams to share it all with you.

Many of you followed my hour-by-hour reports of the conference’s happenings on Facebook.  But I saved some of the best information and details for you here.

In their own words, here are excerpts of the highlights from the conference. Every single speaker was impressive and uplifting:

Michelle Obama –  Survey shows that more than half of military families feel they are invisible to their communities. Supporting them is our solemn obligation as a nation.

We’re women. We get it. This is what we do. We show up. We know how to reach out and support each other. If things are bad, we show up with chocolate…and if they’re really bad, we might show up with a bottle of wine!

How can we show up and support these military families? It’s time for each of us to be that architect of change for these families.

Maria Shriver — Don’t wait until you are perfect to change the world.

Deepak Chopra – The greatest leaders are those who can bond.
What kind of world do you want to live in and what do you want your role in it to be?

Suze Orman – Introduced by NBC Today Show Weatherman Al Roker as the “Lady Gaga of Personal Finance,” Suze was her boundless self! Her topic: “It’s Time To Take Charge of Your Finances.”

Recovery is not over. How many of you have debt? (Nearly the entire room stood up.) Pay off your credit cards first before trying to decide what to invest in.

Suze Orman at The Women's Conference
Suze Orman was her bubbly, irrepressible self at the conference

1. Stand in your truth: Women are everyone’s caretakers. Take care of yourself first.

2. Live below your means and within your needs.

3. Sign up for your company’s 401K plan at the maximum match. You’ll have less in your paycheck, but that’s less you’ll spend.  If you ever declare bankruptcy, your 401K is protected. (But don’t borrow against it, because you’ll pay double taxes.)

4. Don’t leave money in CDs, money market or savings accounts that make less than 1% interest. If you have at least a 10-year time frame, invest in high-dividend stocks (with 4-6 % returns), no-load mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

5. Essential documents for every woman: a will, a living revocable trust (which helps guard your assets if you become incapacitated) and durable power of attorney (which allows someone you trust to make health-care decisions, if necessary).

6. Buy only term life insurance (tends to cost less).

7. Use 529 plans, which provide tax advantages when saving for college. is one of the sites that can help you choose the right plan.

8. Trade your bank credit cards for those offered by credit unions, which by law can only charge a maximum 18% interest. To find a credit union near you, go to

9. Get a Roth IRA. Suze says it’s the best retirement account and can also serve as an emergency fund. Roll over your previous employer 401Ks into an Roth IRA.

10. Buy long-term health insurance. One in three people will be in a nursing home after age 65, and the average stay is 2.5 years. Age 59.5 is the ideal time to buy, and you’ll probably use it by age 84. Suze recommends Prudential.

11. If you need to find a caregiver, go to an organization such as that does background checks.

12. Watch your FICO score, which banks use to determine your credit status. Everything is dictated by it – jobs, real estate and more.

13. Wait to buy a home. Prices and interest rates aren’t going up any time soon.

Gift for you: Suze is offering free financial documents, forms and insurance-buying tips for Women’s Conference supporters until November 9. Go to, click on “Must Have Documents” and enter MARIA under “gift code.”

Sally Field – Omega Institute Co-Founder Elizabeth Lesser interviewed her and showed clips of Sally in her triumphant moment in the movie Norma Rae. Watching Sally view the movie clip was very touching.  Afterward, Sally said that when Norma Rae stood up on the table, she freed herself and it was essentially a selfish act. She wanted to free herself from the slavery she had been entrapped in.  Sally said she’s come to realize many years later that when you stand up for yourself, you can change things for others.

Elizabeth Lesser – Part of the reason we don’t have “Norma Rae” moments is our resistance to fear and criticism.

Martha Beck – Your body hates lying. Tune into how you feel.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can cancel!

Tony Robbins — The single force that controls your life is decision.

Tony Robbins at The Women's Conference
Tony Robbins — up close, personal and powerful

From what state do you make decisions?  If you are tired, depressed, sad, angry and you make decisions from that place, you will not be making as good of decisions as when you are in a uplifted, positive frame of mind.  What controls your emotional state? ENERGY!  Get your energy up.

Gayle King — I look out at all the women, the colors and the shapes here and I say, ‘wow, it feels good to be a girl!’

Oprah – Every time they say you can’t, I say you can. My goal now is how can I create programming that matters in people’s lives?  I know I or my team don’t have all the answers. There will be mistakes, stumbles. Nothing new and involved is ever perfect. But I’m not scared…I’m not afraid of what the future holds because I know who holds the future.

Fear is when you trust only in the power of your own little self…not your mighty self.

I trust in the universal force that is divine. I call it God. I know this…if you ask, you shall receive.

Any time you feel abandoned, alone, depressed, waiting for a miracle. The miracle is waiting for you.

What I know for sure is whatever your calling, your ambition, your heart’s desire, if you act in service to something greater than your own will – and in surrender to a higher calling – you will be blessed to be your own (hero) and live your dreams!!

Buddy Valastro –  Angela and I met him at one of Maria’s evening events. You may know him as The Cake Boss whose life running his family’s bakery is a reality show on TLC. I’ve included him because he exemplifies someone very gracious in his new fame…and someone who certainly is following his passion and inspiring others to follow theirs!

Debbie Phillips with Angela Ittu and Buddy Vlasco "The Cake Guy"
Angela Ittu, The Cake Boss and me — he was a real sweetheart and very youthful in person!

I hope you found at least a nugget or two here to help you move into the upcoming week.  I enjoyed sharing with you the best conference I’ve ever attended!

I am always interested in hearing how you are doing.  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.