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7 lessons from kickass females

Five femmes: Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, Maine Manalansan, Arriane Serafico, Reese Lansangan, Marla Miniano and Shaira Luna (not in photo) shared the stage and inspired young female go-getters in last week’s DesignHerStory conference.

MANILA, Philippines - From dreaming big to simply taking a leap of faith, learn from the ladies of the DesignHerStory conference to use design as a tool for development.

The world often portrays girls as insecure, shallow, and self-centered. It is in this world that a congregation of smart, wide-eyed, and multi-passionate girls who have a lot of heart for the issues in their community begged to differ. Many of them gathered in Century City Mall’s events hall last Aug. 2, armed with their earnest creative nature, hope for something better, and a whole lot of courage to learn from five female go-getters: Maine Manalansan of Young STAR and Stache magazine, photographer Shaira Luna, Marla Miniano of Candy magazine, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches, and Arriane Serafico of Wanderrgirl.com — in the first DesignHerStory Conference.

Established by Arriane Serafico with the help of her friends and interns in Wanderrgirl.com, DesignHerStory seeks to bring these women in touch with their passions and create a space where they can share, discuss, and bring to life their ideas through design thinking. It elevates design by encouraging girls to use it as a tool to solve everyday problems and turn them into opportunities and solutions. In a way, the conference is DesignHerStory’s first step to help young dreamers out there to make a stand for themselves and contribute to community-building.

And it was truly a day of enlightenment and inspiration. As the project maestro of the conference, here are the seven highlights that I think everyone should jot down on Post-its and stick somewhere they can see every day for recurring #notestoself:

1. Never let anybody tell you that your dreams are too big.

This has been said over and over again but not a lot of people take this to heart. DesignHerStory was created out of the Wanderrgirl community’s dreams of having not just an online space for girls who care about the world, but an actual, real-life group where people can collaborate together and design a better world. If we thought this was too large and daunting of a task, there would have been no DesignHerStory at all.

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2. Look at problems as opportunities.

Sometimes, all it takes is just a shift in perspective. The things that we complain about every day — Metro Manila traffic, online trolls, and sexism — can be an opportunity for some breakthrough we’ve yet to make. Let’s challenge ourselves to look at the world with eyes that search for a solution. After all, the things that annoy us can inspire us to create some brilliant innovation that can eventually help society.

3. Don’t be too pressured to have a plan.

I’m guilty of this. I like planning a lot, be it through the trusty pen and paper combo or Excel sheets turned Gantt charts. But once everything has been settled and organized, I find myself immobilized, staring at the plan I so meticulously crafted. I start thinking that the plan won’t work or it isn’t good enough yet. Don’t let the need to plan paralyze you. It’s okay to push through with a half-baked action proposal. The important thing is to get the idea out there as quickly as possible and just learn along the way.

4. We can be whatever we want.

We can be hyphenators, as said during the conference, and not limit ourselves to the idea that we have to be good at just one thing. Be a poet-painter-musician-food photographer, if that’s what really tugs at your heart. But if you haven’t found your niche, keep trying everything to discover the things that make you passionate.

5. Community is everything.

DesignHerStory was primarily built on this insight. To keep moving forward and become better designers of the world, we all need a support system. That’s why we should make it a goal to engage ourselves with life, find like-minded people who share our causes and desires, and collaborate to make great things together.

6. Have a rootedness in the why and a commitment to the how.

Planning the conference was hard work, especially since everyone on the team was balancing it with their personal life, school, and work. But I think what kept us going was we never failed to remind ourselves of the reason we were creating DesignHerStory: we just wanted girls like us to find and belong to a community of people who get it. In the midst of all the deadlines and long action steps after every almost-midnight meeting, our whys guided us to the right path. And we never stopped pushing for excellence as we worked towards the goal.

7. Go for it!

If the five-hour event could be summed up in three words, this would be it. All the speakers stressed this. They didn’t get to where they are today without committing themselves to what they want to do. To everyone out there who dreams of changing the world: less talk, more do.

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Want in on the movement? Check out http://designherstory.com or http://facebook.com/DesignHerStory.

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