‘You’re more than medals’: Simone Biles to Pennsylvania women on redefining success

Simone Biles smiles on the red carpet

Simone Biles arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

This year’s virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women featured more than 100 speakers sharing inspirational stories and leading seminars on the issues like personal finance, leadership, business, and entrepreneurial skills.

Speaker Laverne Cox delved into the lesser-discussed topics of mental health and self-care. She spoke about the importance of resilience and accepting imperfections, especially when the pressure at work is mounting.

“I didn’t know how to work without stress. That there was always this kind of narrative in my head, that you have to work four times as hard as everyone else, that you’re trans, and you’re Black, and you’re a woman. And so you have to be perfect and you have to be above reproach and you have to go harder than everyone else.”

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Over 6,000 people tuned in to hear Cox speak. Later, Olympic gymnast and advocate Simone Biles delivered a keynote speech.

Glenn Close shared stories of mental illness, compassion in the workplace, and day-to-today life, while Simone Biles — the most decorated Olympic gymnast of all time — told her story at the conference, on how she began loving the sport and wanted to see how far she could go.

She explained how scholarships were the first motivating factor, but eventually, a spot at the Olympics became a real possibility. However as the expectations to push harder grew, Biles recalled the moment, at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, when she decided to press the brakes.

“Everybody celebrated that I took the courage and I made the right decision and I was smart about it … because at the end of the day, I realized you’re more than a medal.”

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It was a lesson to everyone at the conference — that it’s not about how you achieve success or how you become the best — but about how you redefine what those things look like.

Gender discrimination and pay equity issues continue to plague workplaces. Since the first Women’s Conference in 2004, it has grown to attract more than 10,000 attendees who use the resource to network for professional and personal growth.

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