Inspiration at the 3% Conference

Samee1 by Samee Callahan Lincoln, NE twitter: @sameecallie

I find that the best experiences in life are the ones that come out of left field and hit you smack in the back of your head. The ones you have to work your ass off for but still surprise you when your hard work pays off. I was lucky enough to have one of these experiences when I attended the 2014 3% Conference.[divider type="dashed"][dropcap background="yes" color="#333333"]B[/dropcap]ack in October my friend Amanda Walla and I began a journey that took us further than we could have ever expected. As we were researching information about the 3% Conference we stumbled upon the 3% Student Scholarship Competition. To win the competition we had to design a poster celebrating the recent 300% increase of female creative directors while also encouraging people to join the movement. Amanda and I were two of the 20 students that won the competition. The submissions came from students at schools across the country such as Miami Ad School and other creative specific colleges, so you can imagine how excited two girls from Lincoln Nebraska felt.

The prizes were two tickets to the conference and a $250 travel stipend for the both of us. Although the prizes were very generous, Amanda and I both come from lower income families so we weren’t quite sure how we would be able to afford the trip. We quickly put up a GoFundMe page asking for $1,500 to pay for hotel, food, and airline expenses. Thankfully we both have very giving family and friends and we raised $550 through the site and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln’s College of Journalism kindly granted us $1000.[divider type="short"]

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By the beginning of November we were off to San Francisco, California to treat ourselves with my personal favorite kind of people: feminist creatives![divider type="short"]

[dropcap background="yes" color="#333333"]W[/dropcap]e were shaking hands with some of the most important men and women creatives in the nation. To summarize my experience and everything that I learned at the 3% Conference is an impossible task. However, I will explain the importance of mentors, the session that I found most inspiring, and how I took everything I learned and put it to work in my own life.

Throughout the conference there were two Speed Mentoring sessions held. In each Speed Mentoring session, 20 Creative Directors and 20 Creatives met in a fast-paced setting, asking and answering questions, with the option of making a long-term connection. I was incredibly fortunate and got a last-minute spot in the rotation. Agency vet Jane Maas once said in an Ad Week article that women have not yet learned how to support each other the way men do because women have had such a job climbing up the ladder that the more successful a woman is the more she tends not to mentor. I could tell that the 3% mentors have a much better grasp on mentorship that I hope to see more as I continue to climb the ad industry ladder.[divider type="short"]

The conferences closing session was hosted by Cindy Gallop, Founder & CEO of and IfWeRanTheWorld and she is also a TED speaker. Her Keynote presentation was titled, “Why 2015 Won’t Be Like 2015: Changing Our Industry Over the Next 12 Months.” Cindy discusses a list of accelerants, or ways we can aid in changing the industry in 12 months, because we don’t have time to wait for things to change. The first accelerant was to say what you really think the moment you think it. The core of activism is that if nobody speaks up, nothing changes. The second accelerant was communication through demonstration. People value the value you put in yourself and women challenge the status quo because we are never it. The third and final accelerant was to light bulb it. Cindy gave us the pneumonic, “Have you noticed” to highlight positives such as, "Have you noticed that when we have an equal number of men and women on a team the work is much better?"[divider type="short"][pullquote align="right"]During Cindy’s presentation, what she really taught us is to be 100% yourself, without hesitation because that’s what will make a true difference.[/pullquote] [dropcap background="yes" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]he 3% Conference has inspired Amanda and I to start the 3% at UNL group at our University. Teaching prospective advertising creatives topics similar to these accelerants while they’re still students is important. By doing so they come into the industry knowing to always say what they think, to value themselves, and how to point out positives and negatives in a non-threatening way. During Cindy’s presentation, what she really taught us is to be 100% yourself, without hesitation because that’s what will make a true difference.

As long as someone speaks up, something (BIG) can change. [divider type="short"]

The 3% at UNL is holding it’s first official meeting on January 15th, 2015.

[two_first]Amanda and I are both moved to do this because we’ve noticed that within the advertising/PR major female creatives are often told they should work in account services instead. We want to become a support group for these young women to encourage them to pursue their dreams instead of fear them, as well as start a mentorship program.[/two_first]

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We hope to give these young women the "hit you smack in the back of your head" experience and intense inspiration that we received from the 3% Conference. [divider type="thin"]