BlogHer14 – 20 Observations & Reflections upon Re-Entry
I always look forward to the annual BlogHer Conference. This was my 4th year attending. In no particular order, here are 20 observation and reflections about my experience last weekend at BlogHer14 in San Jose, CA.....
1. Tig Notaro Stand Up Set & Interview - Tig is a stand up comedian. If you don't know her story, it's best to hear it from her. But, in a nutshell, in a span of 4 months she was hospitalized for pneumonia, again for C-diff, broke up with her girlfriend, followed by the unexpected death of her mother, and finally was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer that required a double mastectomy. In August of 2012, a day or so after learning her cancer diagnosis, Tig performed at Largo in Los Angeles. Her set was taped, released on LouisCK.net and went on to be nominated for a Grammy. How someone who searches out humor for a living, talks about and deals with these misfortunes, is tear inducing, yet funny. If you haven't heard "Live", the set recorded that night at Largo, download it on Amazon for $5.99
2. Guy Kawasaki interviewing Arianna Huffington - seriously these two need a sit-com or maybe a reality show. The Arianna & Guy show had me laughing. The woman sounds just like Naseem Pedrad's SNL parody and speaks in soundbites, delivered in that Lisa from Green Acres accent. She dispensed practical advice that I will keep at heart.
- Don't glamorize being busy
- No is a complete sentence
- Sleep your way to the top (i.e. get enough rest so you can be more effective)
Guy Kawasaki is a legend of Tech (and a personal hero of mine). He held the epic job title of Chief Evangelist for Apple Computer. I've followed him for years (not like a stalker, or anything), and seeing him out in the wild in the Expo Hall (at the Canva booth where he is the Chief Evangelist) was a thrill. Of course, I am way too shy to ask for a photo. (Note: As a blogger whose blog is monetized, I don't consider myself a writer. Many writer/bloggers take issue with the fact the The Huffington Post is basically made up of a collection of work that they don't pay for, instead promising that by appearing on HuffPo, the writers will benefit by seeing more traffic to their own blogs. I understand why my blogging peers take issue with Arianna and the methods of The Huffington Post. But, I wasn't really aware of this until reading other BlogHer14 recaps)
3. Kara Swisher - An impressive woman with a long career in Tech. I remembered her interview with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for All Things Digital in 2007. Here, at BlogHer, she was interviewing some Twitter executive. I guess I could look it up, but yeah...no. That's not what made the interview memorable.
4. The Bloggess - Wearing hair extensions purchased in Colorado (because she couldn't buy marijuana?) that might have come from a corpse, Jenny Lawson remains the patron saint of Bloggers everywhere. Her keynote/interview was charming, funny, inspiring and very hard to hear from the back of the room. Still a thrill to see her, even more than when she followed me on Twitter!
5. The Skype phone charger - The best and most coveted SWAG. I liked it so much I picked up a few. (they are meant to be disposable, right? ;) )
6. Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Wheel o' Prizes- A blogger in front of me won a Disney Cruise. I won a Scrabble board game
8. Iced Coffee Stations presented by Baileys Coffee Creamers - THIS. This was a godsend.
9. Speaking of coffee, I won a Nescafe Dolce Gusto Coffee Maker - yay me! This things rocks, but the capsules/pods are a bit pricey (and I couldn't snag additional boxes from the booth).
10. The Party formerly known as CheeseburgHER. - I'm not usually a fan as in previous years it's been held in a dark hotel ballroom with few places to sit and hours old McDonald's cheeseburgers and soggy fries. This year's "BlogHer14 Closing Party" was held in an outdoor space. Rather than heat trays full of cheeseburgers and fries, we had a McDonalds Food truck on hand... and even table service for the truly lazy bloggers! Someone at our table even convinced a McDonald's server to bring us a bottle of wine! Not to mention Rev Run of Run-DMC at the turntables.
11. Conference Breakout sessions. Although I had planned to attend every session that interested me (since there was no conflict with sponsored parties), I only ended up attending one. "The Visual Web | Get Started in Video: Easy Tools and Strategies" lived up to it's name. While I am no means a veteran of YouTube (please, subscribe to my channel!), the content provided was aimed at someone who has considered making videos but has yet to take the plunge. Still, the panelists were engaging, helpful and inspiring. I wish I had stayed until the end to learn more about Google+ Hangouts On Air from Jyl Johnson Pattee from Mom it Forward, but Tig Notaro's keynote was happening and I wanted to make sure to get a good seat.
12. Khloe Kardashian appeared at the Hair Infinity booth with 4-6 bodyguards in tow...seriously? Although, I must say, if I was forced to be locked in a room with a Kardashian, it'd be Khloe.
13. With 4 locations designated as host hotels, there wasn't that overall BlogHer buzz. There was hardly any activity in the lobby of The Hilton San Jose and very little in the way of signage that a BlogHer Conference was taking place. Even the short indoor walk to the Conference space seemed quiet.
14. Room drops. - We received a single mini cupcake. Possibly made from Lentils. I'll never know.
15. Sponsored BlogHer approved events - In past years, I've attended some great events. The problem is that these were staged outside the official conference, with brands piggybacking off the influence that is BlogHer. This, while not paying the sponsorships fees required to be an official sponsor. And, we're talking some big brand hosting these outboard parties.
In my mind, to compensate, this year, BlogHer offered up some official invite-only events. I attended 2, held in hotel conference rooms. Each event probably had less than 50 invited attendees. These were less like parties and more like mini product showcases.
Honestly, I was a little disappointed that the Magisto App was billed as: Video Editing With Magisto at BlogHer '14 when in fact it is an automated App that takes your video and photos and puts them into a video, complete with transitions, filters and music. Fun app, but not really hands on video editing.
The 2nd event I attended was the Pets Add Life (PAL) Reception. PAL is a non-profit organization established by the American Pet Products Association (made up of over 1000 pet product manufacturers, their representatives, importers and livestock suppliers) Their message is that Pets Add Life and celebrating the bonds and other rewards associated with pets of all types. I really like their PAL Campaign for National Get a PAL For Your Pet Day (November 19) that showcase the benefits of multiple pet ownership. Check out their Talking Pets YouTube video clips here.
16. Open House Suite Parties - On Friday night, we were invited to attend 5 different parties held in suites on different floors at The Hilton. Funniest moment was the 2 teenage boys and their father trapped in an elevator with about 10 - 15 excited women. The older boy looked mortified while the younger one (probably about 12) had a huge grin on his face. The father just kept his eyes on the ceiling. The parties themselves were small gatherings, most had less than 100 bloggers at the time I visited. And the only one that had a real party vibe was Queerosphere... maybe because it had an open bar? I cut out early for some social media catch-up.
17. I have never attended the Voices of the Year event. Each year I plan on going, but something (usually hunger) gets in the way. Next year I will attend.
18. Packing. I always overpack, but this time I only ended up wearing about 1/3rd of what I brought with me. At most, all I really need is 6 outfits (3 for day/3 for night), but for options, I probably brought 10. Next year, I am going to hold myself to traveling yoga pants/t-shirt combo, another yoga pants/t-shirt combo for pajamas, 2 pairs of jeans, a pair of black pants, a pair of leggings, a dress and no more than 7 tops total. And flats. always flats.
19. Speaking of flats, every time I got dressed, I longed for these, my Sketchers GoWalk 2's... purchased expressly for BlogHer and then forgot while packing. Fugly, maybe, but roomy as all get out while feeling like you're walking on clouds. Highly recommended.
20. Selfiebration - SO MANY SELFIES. I took so many damn pictures of myself, I'm lacking in actual pictures from the conference. :(
Final Thought - Even though BlogHer doesn't seem to exude the glamor it once held for me, I still like the conference and will probably continue to attend. My focus will be the keynotes and community sessions but I'll probably skip the breakouts unless there is a topic being presented that I feel would be beneficial to my growth. I appreciate being in a like-minded group of mostly women that join together every year to celebrate what we do. I look forward to seeing people that I admire, along with making new friends and meeting up with existing ones.
Here's to #BlogHer15 in ????