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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

BlogHer’11 Recap

Annnnnd I’m back! I’ve been lazy procrastinating sleeping on Mia’s floor at 9pm every night instead of blogging, editing pictures and crafting. Bad habit, I know. But I enjoyed sleeping at a decent hour for a month once. The other day Doug said that my blogging career is over. And to that I say, HMPH! So where was I? Oh yes, BlogHer…month old news by now, but here goes so I can move on with my blogging life!
Thanks to PaperCulture, my United Miles and Doug’s Hilton Points, I was all set to go to a women’s blogging conference. In four days. By myself. Among 3,500+ other attendees! I was both nervous and anxious…Who am I going to talk to? What am I going to do for dinner? Will I just be a loner standing in the corner of a room full of confident women who already knew each other? However, reading other people’s posts about past BlogHer conferences reassured me that everyone had these same pre-conference jitters

I arrived Thursday night and headed straight for the first BlogHer cocktail party at the Marriott. Then first thing Friday morning was the newbie breakfast. It was reassuring to know that there was such a large number of first time conference goers. Throughout the next two days, I attended seminars on:

Writing/editing - Along with pracitcal writing/editing tips, I was advised to "Never trust a person that doesn’t say sh*t."

Penny de los Santos on food photography – I watched one of her live streaming workshops, told you about her here, and was so excited to hear her in person. It was more than how to photograph food (which disinterested some attendees), growing as a photographer, finding mentors, and showing your work to anyone who can give constructive feedback.  It was about a way of life. Capturing human moments. Connecting. Transporting people to a place to feel something. Finding places in your life that inspires you. Telling a story. Reacting to your instincts. Surrounding yourself with people that challenge you. Penny is such a humble and inspiring speaker. I need to refresh myself of these objectives as I strive to make beautiful photographs.

Great blog design – This was such a fast moving, visual, straight to the point seminar. So many helpful tips and keep your attention personality from Cynthia. Get the full resource list here

Local heroes – I mentioned before how I loved seeing how Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen got her “money” shot of her food. So I was glad to her as a panelist.  I heard how she and others made it “big” from being a nobody. Jaden doesn’t have a culinary background, but by doing her research, becoming an expert in her field, and finding her unique point of view, she has two cookbooks, is a columnist for Discovery Health and TLC and has been featured on a ton of TV shows and websites.  All from contacting a small newspaper and TV show to write/appear for free. To practice. And bigger and bigger papers and TV shows called. It’s amazing to hear how determined women are to get to where they want to be.

Just like most attendees, I went to BlogHer to be inspired. That is after all, what I love most about the blogging community. Everyone is supportive of each other’s ideas/businesses and wants to spread the love to see others grow and succeed.

My most inspiring takeaway came from Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, also known as the #1 most powerful woman in business by Fortune Magazine from 2006-2010.  Aside from hearing her views on how companies and governments should work together, Pepsi’s balanced portfolio, society and obesity, and the five necessities to being a leader (1 competency - being a lifelong student, 2 courage and confidence - to speak out, 3 communication skills, 4 consistency, and 5 integrity), this is what I’ll remember most:

Being raised in India, she studied all the time due to a strict upbringing where she had to be the top of the class. Her mother wanted her to dream, yet be married off at a young age as custom would have it. But her mother decided that if she got good grades, she could delay marriage. So Indra went on to Yale’s Businesss school, then the Boston Consulting Group, Motorola and others before arriving at Pepsi. Indra shared a story on how she kept missing a parent coffee hour with her daughter’s classmates. After her daughter brought this up, Indra replied,

“Do you want me to quit and stay home?” (In a positive, I’ll do what you need me to do, kind of way.)

Her daughter replied, “No, Mom. You worked so hard to get where you are today. Follow your dreams.”

What resonated so deep with me is how Indra’s mother instilled the value of following your dreams, and the message ran deep through to her own daughters. There’s a high probability that Doug and I will disagree with where Mia wants to go to college and with what major she will choose. (Yes, we are aware that is faaaaar from now.)  But I hope we can agree to raise our children to do whatever it is that makes them happy, no matter how far reaching and irregardless of the financial compensation. Catch Indra's full keynote here. Thanks for making it through this post and my month long hiatus!