Dear Conference Newbie,
Now that you have attended a giant, 2-day conference without your Dears, you can throw that one into the 'Done' bucket. You just didn't have any idea how it was going to KICK YOUR BUTT. You also didn't expect a whole lotta other things as well. Oh, and by you I mean this person in the reflection, wide-eyed and taking a selfie when no one was looking. <Clears throat>.
|Our room with a view|
But there were many a things I did not assume would happen. And here are the #TopTen things I didn't expect at BlogHer13:
10. Keynote Speakers. I had known the list of keynote speakers, but I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy their talks. To kick-off the conference, Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman gave a talk (and sang a song) with a slideshow of her blogging career. She was lovely, charming, and hysterical. I simply adored her.
Next, Guy Kawasaki, an author, speaker, and business advisor, talked to an audience of bloggers and writers about the how-tos of self-publishing with his newest book, APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur): How to Publish a Book. He further spoke about the relevance of the social platform, Google+, as well as his love for Android. He was both entertaining and tech-geeky, and gave out free copies of his ebook!
I missed out on two speakers (Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook CEO and author of Lean In, and Gale Anne Hurd, producer of The Walking Dead, among other fine works) and was very bummed . But as of now the transcripts of the conference are live, and I need to go catch up. But I did get to hear Lourds Lane, singer/songwriter and creator of a Broadway-bound show, who gave us a heartfelt and inspirational storytelling and musical performance about the superhero inside of her. *Tears*.
9. Dresses. So that nifty convertible dress I bought for the conference? And the burgundy spaghetti-strap tank dress I dug out from the depth of my closet? Didn't wear them. Didn't even come close. The entire event was so casual and tight-scheduled that it seemed almost silly to go change into a dress and heels. I was also lazy and tired. But it was all good. I'm sure my feet are thankful to have lived three days in my crotchet Toms flats. #MyToesDidntGetToSeeTheLightOfDayEither
8. Swag. Oh. The. Swag. Vendors came to this event armed with their products to thrust at the attendees. Official and unofficial BlogHer sponsors were exceedingly generous with their stuff. They want to get the word out via bloggers, so they gave out free samples, had drawings, and enticed with prizes. To thank the brands, I tweeted about products/causes that I really liked or were important to me. It was staggering how much stuff was in the luggage-check room. Stuff! #StuffWeAllGet
7. Meeting people. I hadn't expected talking to total strangers could actually be pleasant and not too intimidating. I met many wonderful women and
6. Starstruck. I didn't expect--well, a little bit, maybe--to meet a "famous" blogger, except to see them on stage. But going down an escalator, I realized that Zakary of Raising Colorado was in front of me, talking to a friend. I had just moments to think this through. Do I miss out on a chance to say hello to someone I've been following for years, or just swallow my pounding heart about to jump out of my throat so I won't have to be coherent and seemingly normal? We got off the escalator, and I followed her for about ten seconds and then hesitantly poked my index finger on her arm. I stepped out of my bubble and said hello. She was so nice and lovely (and tall)! She was going to speak at Voices of the Year that evening, and I wasn't going to miss it. I wasn't altogether intelligible but it wasn't a complete disaster, so I was really proud of myself and my little poke. #FistPumpNumberOne
5. Share at a session. Furthermore, I actually spoke into a microphone at a breakout session. Yes, little quiet me. I couldn't believe it either. At every session, I sat in the back and asked no questions and made no comments. But at my very last one, the speaker asked us to write a six-word memoir in three minutes. I wrote one, and felt that I really needed to do something I hadn't done yet. So I raised my hand and shared my words. Again, I wasn't totally articulate (the transcript even proves it), but I think the audience caught my drift and the speaker nodded many times. #FistPumpNumberTwo
4. VOTY. Each year, 100 bloggers are honored for a piece they wrote, first nominated and then selected by a panel for Voices of the Year. Then 12 are chosen to be keynote readers for VOTY. I had heard that as a newbie, the one thing one must attend is this reading, because the words will make you laugh and make you cry. I laughed and I cried. I loved it. I was simply captivated by their voices and words. VOTY had invariably exceeded my expectations and moved the ground under me. Added bonus, Queen Latifah was the emcee for this event. #RemarkableWomanWithPhenomenalWords
3. Sessions. I had gone to this conference ready to learn. Since I wasn't particularly there to work with brands, and I didn't need to be more techy with my blog, I was drawn to many of the writing sessions, hoping to gain some insights into better writing. Interestingly, I found that what the panel or speaker presented was not new to me. In other words, I realized that I was already doing what the experts were telling us. At first I felt a little gypped about not learning anything new. But then I realized that I was walking out of the sessions a little taller, my shoulders pulled back an inch more. I actually felt good about my writing from this seemingly disappointing aspect of the event. No boasting here; I'm just telling the honest truth. It was actually quite a telling moment for me. #WarmFuzzyFeeling
2. Exhaustion. BlogHer KICKED. MY. BUTT. I cannot believe how fatigue took me by my excitement and gave me its medicine to match. The walking, in a place as giant as The McCormick Place (convention center); the late nights, schmoozing and girl-talking at our 40-Somethings Slumber Party; my eyes, wearing my gas permeable contacts for 16+ hours a day; and don't judge--the carrying, as in swag. It's [partly] how I missed Sheryl Sandberg's talk. It's how I felt every single muscle in my body ache after I returned home. It's how I couldn't feel any less zombified for two days after the conference. But I wasn't the only one. All across Twitter and blog posts, attendees all claimed such lethargy as if it were an honorable BlogHer specialty swag. #YourTakeHomeSouvenir
|Cheers! from my roomie and me|
So, Dear Conference Newbie, from the meals and drinks to the swag and your confidence, you sure got your money's worth out of this conference! You can even now be promoted from BlogHer Newbie to Oldbie--swanky! (I can't wait to find out where BlogHer14 will be. Maybe I'll have less of a deer-in-headlights look next time.)