I attended Deutschebank’s Women on Wall Street conference on Monday and Citibank’s Women & Co. breakfast this morning. Here are my favorite takeaways from each event.

1. From Steven Berlin Johnson, the WOWS keynote speaker:

a.  Most inspiration doesn’t come from a Eureka moment but through a “slow burn”.  It’s more of an incubation process than a gut instinct.  The man who invented the worldwide web didn’t set out to invent a world-changing media.  He had an idea that he tinkered with over years.  He’d set it down and then keep returning to it.

b.  People who are unusually innovative have friends from a variety of professions.  Being around an interesting group of people makes you think more creatively, and with Twitter, anyone can have this sort of network.  Interestingly, I just checked Johnson’s Twitter page and see that although he has over a million followers, he himself only follows 94.  He must actually like to be able to read the tweets, like I do.

2. Linda Descano, President of Women & Co., told about how she wanted to major in geology in college.  The department head looked at her and said, “You’re fat and you’re Italian.  You’re just going to get married, cook and have babies.  Why should I let you into my department?”  She let herself cry and then got a 4.0 GPA that she used to convince the department head to admit her.  Years later at an alumni event, the same department head told her, “You’re still fat.”  She smiled and told him, “You haven’t changed either.”

3.  After the jump, two pieces of advice that WOWS panelist Alexandra Lebenthal never listens to.

a. Don’t sweat the small stuff; and
b. It’s not personal. It’s business.

What do you think? She even admits that sweating the small stuff could drive a person crazy. I’d certainly hate to work for someone with this approach, but I’d love to have them working for me.