Today was my first day at the BlogHer ’12 conference. It’s technically not the first day of the conference, it’s actually a “pre” conference day, but two specialised streams of the conference took place that I did not attend and the most awesome thing I have ever seen – a live video cross with POTUS himself – I did.
The trip in to the Hilton New York on 6th Ave takes around half an hour on the M-train (walk included) and I figured I should get to the conference by 3.30 to give myself time for registration and a bit of the old faffing around. A reasonable combination of nerves, excitement and general nerdiness contributed to my 2pm arrival despite a pit stop at the most awesome bakery I have ever eaten in.
For the uninitiated, the Magnolia Bakery is like mecca for cupcake lovers, where you should go if you’d like to know what it would feel like to have an angel shart in your mouth. I won’t explain what sharting is because there are ladies reading this, but just be happy with the angel reference. I had a vanilla cupcake with vanilla bean frosting (blue) and sprinkles (multicolour) and of course, my new favourite beverage, iced coffee.
Nutritious requirements for the day fulfilled, I proceeded to trounce up 6th Ave (or down, I’m not sure which is the correct vernacular) and on the way spotted this awesome place. The design of the signs in this city just blow me away.
I also passed NBC studios (sweet) but I’m saving that pic for the day I catch someone awesome walking out. Or maybe tomorrow. It was too much excitement for one day and I didn’t want to peak too early on Instagram.
The Hilton New York is a grand old dame, a little brassy but not without it’s charm. The actual conference itself is in it’s 8th year and now has around 4000 blogettes attending, plus a handful of male blogettes, which equals a lot of very excited and slightly tipsy women (and some men) snatching up a giant motherload of product samples and wifi usage.
Registration was so fast (bonus points for efficiency!) I barely had time to whip out my NSW driver’s license before I had a lanyard and program. The great part of that was it left me with plenty of time to wander the halls and wonder what on earth I have gotten myself into.
You see, attending the BlogHer conference wasn’t part of my grand plan. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I really should attend. Yes, there is my recent blogging activity. My long standing obsession with social media. My PR background and interest in all things marketing. My looking for a job. The abundant opportunities to network. My love of hotel buffets. And wanting to make new friends here in NYC. All good reasons to attend.
So you can imagine my delight when I found out that the President of the United States (POTUS!) himself would be addressing the conference LIVE via satellite link.
And you can also imagine my horror and impending sense of doom at being at a conference of thousands of (mostly) women, recreating a scenario not unlike the all-female school-type institutions I attended. I’m one of those people that shudders when people say “school – ah the best years of your life” because if you paid me $10,000,000 to go back to school I would say no thanks and stay happily in my 30s – in fact, I’d possibly even take an additional 10 year penalty and go into my 40s, just to further distance myself from it.
Why the melodrama, Adriana? I think it’s summed up with a few more A-words: awkward, acne, anxiety, adolescence and also just being told what to think and how to be by teachers, parents, and mostly peers frankly sucks. Alright, so I don’t have the acne (just the scars) anymore and I’m not an adolescent, so this should be a cinch? Hmm. If female-dominated workplaces have taught me anything it’s that women, en masse, require Survivor-like skills to be endured. Sadly western culture and the glass ceiling have not done great things to the sisterhood. Corporate life teaches us “eat or be eaten”. Some decide they didn’t get enough of the popularity contest in high-school and keep recreating their sorority in each new environment they encounter. The bitching endemic in mostly female workplaces kills me.
So you can imagine my (pleasant) surprise when nobody I encountered today was even remotely like the people I’m referring to. My first encounter whilst waiting (an hour early) for POTUS-link to commence, was with a lovely lass, a health writer for a medical website from San Francisco. My response to her question “Can I sit here” was “Yes please!” and quickly trickled into a lovely discussion about the state of FDA regulations in the US and the fact that you only have to prove your product DOESN’T kill anyone, not that it does. And the fact that San Fran really does seem lovely and she was staying recently in Nantucket which I thought must have just been a funny hick-town’s name they put in a limerick but it turns out it’s actually an island.
Crazy. The next women I met were both contemplating a glass of wine after POTUS-link at the bar. We each drank a glass of white wine and discussed the state of our careers and what we wanted out of our blogs, which was all rather different but as it turns out we all had sage advice to share, and really if you think about it, most women do a wonderful job of being nurturing so why the hell don’t we nurture each other more rather than tearing each other down?
DIGRESSION! (I just re-read Catcher in the Rye, so if you don’t understand the reference, you could read it. Or you could guess what that means. You’d be right)
President Obama filled the grand ballroom at the Hilton New York today. Actually his projected image on 3 video screens did. President Obama also won me a $10 Starbucks gift card (THANKS, MR. PRESIDENT!) because I was the first person in that entire ballroom to live-tweet a picture of his head on Twitter.
THE FIRST! In a whole ballroom of bloggers.
I didn’t even know there was a competition on.. But I can guarantee you that seeing as I have finally received the remuneration I deserve for my rapid and unrelenting social media over-sharing, that I will surely continue it, and then some.
Mr. President Obama’s speech mainly addressed the female health aspects of his campaign, pointing out that Romney is planning on closing down Planned Parenthood (BOO). Several grown women hollered out “I love you Obama” like he was a rockstar. He also acknowledged the term “Obamacare” was thrust upon him but that he was glad to accept it as he was proud of the reforms he has been able to bring in. Lots of people stood up after his speech and clapped the video monitors.
And the most beautiful part of it was that the two event organisers that were there – Lisa and Elise – both hugged each other afterwards, because for them it had meant the achievement of something really special – to have established a community of bloggers so highly regarded that the President himself would bother to address them.
Really inspirational stuff.
We then had a couple of hours to explore the exhibitors stands which, let me tell you, are equal parts marketer’s dream and nightmare.
I will regale you with more stories about the loot later but here’s the loot so far:
And just because I cannot understand what they were thinking, booby prize goes to this effort from Poise:
Tomorrow I have to be up early to take full advantage of the buffet breakfast before a full day of workshops/seminars so I’m going to sign off now.