Networking at 35,000 Feet
The women gathered inside a roped-off area at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. United Airlines staffers, all of them women, handed out bag tags and boarding passes. When a man approached the counter and presented his ID to check in for a flight, he was politely turned away. “Sorry,” a United employee said. “This is a special event.”
Marie Claire magazine’s Power Trip, now in its fourth year, is a business conference for women. It's also an endurance exercise. Over the course of 36 hours, maybe five of which are allotted for sleep, 200 entrepreneurs, executives and investors fly cross-country to meet, collaborate and throw money at each other’s ideas.
《嘉人》（Marie Claire）杂志的“力量之旅”（Power Trip）是专为女性举办的商务会议，已进入第四年。它也是一项耐力练习。在36个小时的过程中，可能只有5个小时用来睡觉，200位企业家、高管和投资者飞越美国，结识、合作并将资金投入于彼此的想法。
This networking sprint is invitation-only and all expenses paid. There’s also, naturally, tons of free stuff from corporate sponsors. In October, about a week before takeoff, each attendee received a Tumi carry-on suitcase filled with stuff they might like to have but probably didn’t need, including a pair of rugged-soled boots, regenerative nighttime serum and dry shampoo.
By most measures, the women invited to this event had already made it. They’d built and bolstered brands in technology, retail, food, finance, fashion and media. They had staffs to oversee, orders to fulfill, emails to send, calls to make, meetings to take, not to mention personal lives. And before they got to the airport, they didn’t know who would be joining them.
So why go?
Of Legacy and Leg Room
In its short lifetime, the Power Trip has developed an outsize reputation among businesswomen of a certain ilk. That’s because its disrupters-on-a-plane premise seems to actually work. After attending in 2016, Moj Mahdara, the CEO of Beautycon, gained a strategic investor and started working with Hillary Clinton. She described the Power Trip as a way for women to share in “the legacy of information” passed down through generations of men.
在其短暂的存在中，“力量之旅”在某种类型的商界女性中间有格外大的名声。这是因为它的这种“产业颠覆者们共乘一架飞机”的设计似乎真的起了作用。在参加了2016年的活动后，Beautycon的首席执行官莫耶·马达拉（Moj Mahdara）获得了一个战略投资者，并且开始和希拉里·克林顿（Hillary Clinton）合作。她形容“力量之旅”是一种让女性得以分享在男性中代代相传的“信息遗产”的方式。
“Unlike my father’s father’s father, who ran something, my grandmother didn’t run anything, my mom didn’t run anything,” Mahdara said in a phone interview. “Things like the Power Trip provide a space for us.”
That space is both figurative and literal. “For me, it’s about the networking opportunities, meeting more founders and courageous souls in business,” said Bertha González Nieves, the CEO of Casa Dragones, a tequila company. She was leaning against a table in the United Airlines lounge, where a preflight breakfast of pink bagels and egg-white frittata was being served.
这既是比喻意义上的空间，也是现实存在的空间。“对我来说，这是建立人脉的机会，是见到更多创业者和商界勇敢人物的机会，“龙舌兰酒公司Casa Dragones的首席执行官伯莎·冈萨雷斯·涅夫斯（Bertha Gonzalez Nieves）坐在联航休息室的桌边，吃着包括粉色贝果和意式蛋白饼的登机前早餐时说。
Last year, González Nieves went to a women’s empowerment conference hosted by another magazine which cost several thousand dollars to attend （one of her investors encouraged her to go and paid for her ticket）. “It was a group of women that had been going for years. They all knew each other, and it was an older generation,” she said, adding: “This seems more energetic.”
The women on this year’s Power Trip ranged in age from 28 to 53. In line at the espresso machine, they smiled politely and made small talk until the machine flashed an error message. Around 8 a.m., Marie Claire’s editor-in-chief, Anne Fulenwider, jumped on a chair to inform the group that she hates conferences and that this one would be different.
参加今年力量之旅的女性年龄在28岁到53岁之间。在意式咖啡机前排队的时候，她们礼貌地微笑、闲聊，直到机器显示了故障信息。8点左右。《Marie Claire》杂志主编安妮·弗兰格尔德（Anne Fulenwider）跳上椅子告诉大家，她讨厌这种大会，而这次的有所不同。
“For the next 36 hours,” she said, “you have no control.”
But First, Self-Care
On the plane, first class had been turned into a makeshift spa: facials in Row 1, makeup touch-ups in Row 2, foot massages in Row 3. “Are you doing this?” asked Deon Hawkins, the social media manager of the cannabis company Cannaclusive, who’d just had a pair of sluglike hydration patches stuck under her eyes. “Because you should totally do this. I don’t know what it is, but it’s crazy.”
Apart from takeoff, landing and 10 minutes of mild turbulence, passengers got up, swapped seats, leaned over headrests and congregated in the aisles as the crew navigated around them, doling out Champagne, chicken and waffles and “superfood” oatmeal.
“The rules are relaxed because it’s not a regular commercial flight, and we want the ladies to feel relaxed,” said Jacqueline Briggs, a flight attendant who also worked last year’s Power Trip. “You don’t want to stop them from enjoying and interacting. It’s part of the experience.”
United began sponsoring the Power Trip two years ago. “It was a no-brainer,” said Jill Kaplan, the airline’s president of operations for New York and New Jersey. She declined to disclose financial details but said that the powers that be didn’t need to be convinced. “How do we not support an extraordinary group of women who are doing remarkable things?”
It also may have been a good PR move. In 2017, United’s image took a hit when an employee barred two teenage girls from boarding because they were wearing leggings and, just a few weeks later, another dragged a man off an overbooked flight. But everyone has their reasons for taking part.
The New Magazine Economy
The Power Trip began as a way for Marie Claire — a publication I’ve written for twice — to “bring the pages of our magazine to life” for its readers, Fulenwider said, while respecting the schedules of modern working women.
“When we started this, I had a 5- and 7-year-old, and it was a big deal to us that we don’t waste anyone’s time,” Fulenwider continued. “A lot of conferences are fabulous, but they’re over three days, no one stays the whole time, there’s a more transient quality. We want a short, concentrated dose. Everyone’s involved. Nothing’s optional. Everyone has to do everything.”
That’s more or less true. Seventy-five San Franciscans and four of the conference’s speakers — actresses Daisy Ridley, Busy Philipps, Awkwafina and Regina King — were absent for the first leg of the trip. （“They asked, ‘Do you want to fly to New York and then fly from New York to San Francisco?’” said Philipps, who lives in Los Angeles. “I was like, ‘Absolutely not, no. That’s never happening.’”）
事实差不多如此。75位旧金山参与者和4位大会讲者——演员黛西·蕾德莉（Daisy Ridley）、贝茜·菲利普斯（Busy Philipps）、奧卡菲娜（Awkwafina）和雷吉娜·金（Regina King）未参与第一站的飞行。（“他们问‘你想飞去纽约然后再从纽约飞回旧金山吗？’”住在洛杉矶的菲利普斯说。“我说‘不，绝 不。门都没有。’”）
Each year, the celebrity speakers are friends of the magazine — former cover stars and interview subjects — and are not paid for their participation. But they’re not the main event. “We keep the panels to a minimum,” Fulenwider said. “The model of listening to the great wise ones onstage is so old. We wanted to blow that up. We know the magic comes from the times in between.”
The trip also helps magazine advertisers connect with the demographics they’re trying to reach. Throughout the flight, the editor-in-chief and her associates got on the in-flight PA system to announce giveaways including a $5,000 Airbnb gift certificate, two first-class United tickets to anywhere and 200 hybrid laptop/tablets from Dell that retail for $1,500 apiece. （They were each encased in sleek black backpack and passed down the aisles like so many bags of pretzels.）
Fashion designer Lela Rose gave away two tickets to her next New York Fashion Week show and $2,500 worth of Lela Rose merchandise that she’ll personally help the winner select. “It’s just a way to give back, because what a unique opportunity to get to be on a trip like this,” Rose said. “I’m not like, ‘Let’s get a whole new customer base.’” Two hours into the flight, she had already met a woman who made the endeavor worth her while.
“Sarah from Blueland,” Rose said, referring to Sarah Paiji Yoo, the founder of a company that makes sustainable home cleaning products. “We’re trying to go more into sustainability, and even though her business has nothing to do with fashion, I think there’s a way to take what she’s learned, what she’s done R&D on, and apply it to our business.”
“Blueland的莎拉，”罗斯说，她指的是莎拉·佩吉·柳（Sarah Paiji Yoo），一家可持续家居清洁用品制造商的创始人。“我们正在努力进一步发展可持续性，尽管她的业务与时尚无关，我认为还是可以把她的经验教训、她研发的东西拿来，用于我们的业务。”
No Sleep Till Sisterhood
By the time the plane touched down at SFO, voices had gone hoarse and inboxes had filled. A bus ride from the tarmac to a hotel in downtown San Francisco offered the women a moment to check in with themselves before they convened with the Power Trip’s San Francisco contingent for two panel discussions, a cocktail hour, a dinner and a “sweet nightcap” that promised an “Insta-worthy cake cutting and sprinkle explosion.”
“If you had a group of men in business in different fields, it would be nothing like this,” Rose, the fashion designer, said. “They would not be sharing or connecting, you wouldn’t have this spirit, this fun. They would be sizing each other up.”
On a bus ride to the headquarters of Lucasfilm, where some of the panels would take place, conversation turned to boarding schools, splitting custody and biking in New York City.
There was hushed silence for panels held in an auditorium, and more socializing once everyone adjourned for cocktails. One attendee excused herself citing period pain. Another claimed other obligations. （“Awkwafina left?” the founder of a skin care line said, dismayed. “I thought she was going to hang with us!”） Topics that some might call NSFW flowed: the pressure to procreate, dealing with jealous co-workers, Instagram interlopers and the isolation of going out on your own.
Six hours later, as the sun rose over San Francisco, some women cried while doing a mindfulness-tinged cardio dance workout in the middle of a baseball stadium. Smiles that had been polite the day before now seemed more sincere. There was a sober, morning-after taking stock of the fact that the person you’d spoken to openly about your goals and dreams was a stranger just 24 hours ago. Other panel discussions touched on data privacy, normalizing parenting at startups and the public’s unanimous love for Regina King. （“I’m sure there is someone out there that does not mirror that sentiment,” the actress said during her discussion with Philipps, “but I think that I create an energy that they won’t let me know.”）
Some women half-listened while tapping out messages on their phones and laptops, but none were called out for taking care of business. Not once did I hear any of the well-meaning but infantilizing terms sometimes used to describe businesswomen: “girlboss,” “femtrepreneur,” “she-e-o.” Everyone in the room had an endgame, but they also seemed to be looking out for each other.
“Networking has such a negative connotation,” Philipps said offstage. “To me, networking is just like, balding white men who sell insurance in a bad hotel somewhere. But the truth is that a sense of community is vital to accelerating your goals. It is imperative that we talk to one another, that we compare notes, stories and dealings with people, so that we can make sure that everyone is getting paid what they’re worth. That is how you rise.”
An hour later, they were back in the air.