BlogHer 13 – Observations of a Newbie
Late last night I returned home from my first trip to a BlogHer Conference in Chicago. I know I didn’t know about BlogHer until a friend asked me to go with her a few months ago and then the extent of my knowledge: it’s a conference for women who blog. So I was a blank slate when I stepped off the escalator on Thursday and onto the Expo floor.
I am an engineer most of the conferences I have attended in the past had Expo’s with booths from other consulting firms, contractors, drill rig suppliers, pipe suppliers…sorry if I continue the list I may lose you. I mean of course those are the booths you’d see at an Expo for engineers; there were no mock commercials being filmed, no characters dressed up as banana’s or Chuck E. Cheese’s®. However, this EXPO, unlike anything I had seen before, had all of that and more, there were booths for Lean Cuisine®, ULTA, Jamba Juice, St. Martin’s Press, Wild Ophelia®, Trojan®, Coca-Cola®, Windex®, White Cloud® and La-Z-Boy® just to name a few. The atmosphere was playful and fun, my kind of milieu. It couldn’t have been further removed from my previous engineering Expo experience. So in typical fashion I dove in and participated in every crazy contests I stumbled upon; a White Cloud interview, a picture with the La-Z-Boy guys, and video confession my biggest beauty gaff at the ULTA booth. My girlfriend watched, at a safe dignified distance, with amusement and her camera snapping evidence that will be used against me, as I engaged in all this silliness at each booth. I felt like a kid at Halloween, picking up my treats at each stop along the way.
I need to mention, in the spirit of full disclosure, by posting the picture and mentioning La-Z-Boy I am entered into a contest to win $5,000 worth of furniture. I want to share that if I am a lucky winner I will donate the furniture to the Women’s Safe House in St. Louis, a battered women’s shelter. How can you trust that’s what I will do, you can’t, but I will just the same.
Friday morning we started out with a Newbie Breakfast and then we attended the morning session with Ree Drummond the Pioneer Woman, she is to the blogging world what Paul McCartney is to the Rock n’ Roll world, at least that’s what I was told by many, because in all honesty I knew her from her cooking show and not from her blog. In some ways I felt a little like being back in high school where I did not know all the cool people and was a little embarrassed. While sitting at one table I introduced myself and the lovely woman speaking to me very humbly described her blog as if she had 500 followers not a big deal. The woman sitting next to her then interjected she is being too humble and shared that she is frequently featured in The Huffington Post, has over 1 million hits a month and was a retired executive from Campbell. I felt a little foolish I did not know who she was, and each time I would meet these bloggers that were part of the blogging celebrity circle I continued to feel a little out-of-place and awkward that I was not more knowledgeable about the who’s who in the blogoshpere.
I attended several sessions, how to be a social media leader, the business of blogging, the lunch featured a conversation with the author Guy Kawasaki. He is my kind of person, unapologetically authentic. I heard a small group grumbling that they did not like his opinions on publishers and editors. I find people who speak their truth in a respectful and intellectual manner, whether I agree with their opinions or not, extremely refreshing. We all received a certificate for a free copy of his new book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.
Friday evening was one of the highlights and not because Queen Latifah was the host or that I was in the fourth row from the stage, although that certainly added to the experience, it was hearing 12 of the Voices of the Year winners read their blogs. I laughed, I was emotional, I was grossed out, and I was deeply moved. I thought about what it would feel like to stand up there reading a blog I created to a whole room of writers and feeling their approval. How awesome would that be! I was so amazed as each of these bloggers walked on stage and read their blogs, they all looked so confident, and every one of them did a wonderful job. I was particularly moved by two blogs one by Casey Carey-Brown in her blog Life with Roozle titled I Was Saved At Jesus Camp, and the second was by Adrienne Jones in her blog No Points for Style there was no title given for her submission and I cannot find it on her site but it was a moving tribute to the struggle of navigating our medical system with a diagnosis of mental illness.
The final highlight of my newbie BlogHer experience was the session with Sheryl Sandberg author of Lean In and the Lean In Circles. I am grateful to Sheryl for having the courage to speak out about the gender gap in our world and supporting women all over the globe to use their voice and step up and Lean In. She is intelligent, beautiful and eloquent. And thanks to her I will never call my daughter bossy instead I will tell the world she is displaying executive leadership skills!
Posted on July 28, 2013, in Humor, Life and tagged blogher, blogher 13, blogher13, guy kawasaki, la-z-boy, lean in, Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, sheryl sandberg, The Huffington Post, the women's safe house, white cloud. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.