It’s been a little over one week since returning from BlogHer’12 in New York City, and I am still going through the colorful business cards, action lists and notes capturing my BlogHer’12 takeaways. I’ve been noodling over the lessons learned from the conference and distilling them to answer the most popular question I received upon my return: “What did you learn?”. As this blog is a family affair- writing with my sister and tween daughter and tween niece – the takeaways morphed into life lessons to share with my tween. I hope you find inspiration to share these with your family, too.
Before going into lessons learned from BlogHer’12 and why I am still thinking about this a week later – you need to appreciate the magnitude of this 3-day conference. My sister, Pauline, captured our journey through pictures in her post last week. Our days were filled with panel-led topics covering all aspects of blogging – including technical tips, brand-blogger connections and writing workshops. Our large group sessions for all 5,000 attendees featured inspirational speeches and Q&A with President Barack Obama (via telecast), Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, Soledad O’Brien, Christy Turlington Burns and Malaak Compton-Rock. Pauline and I traveled cross-country for this event to get inspired, make connections with other bloggers, and to figure out how to take Club ChicaCircle to the next level to share more crafty and creative ideas for mom-tween connections.
Now for the lessons…lessons I am sharing with my tween:
1) Be Authentic – This lesson came through many of the panel sessions when discussing how to share your voice through your blog. Write from your own perspective and on your own topics of interest without the filter of trying to please everyone. Katie Couric gave the best example of this when sharing that upon joining the Today Show she first thought about learning more about sports to keep up with Bryant Gumbel who was well-versed. She was much happier coming to the realization that she was best just being herself (and playing up her own strengths).
- For my tween: Remember that you have strength in listening to your own voice. Respect other opinions and tastes, but realize you have your own. If you would rather meet star chefs (like Chef Charlie Ayers) vs. Justin Bieber – it’s ok!
2) Dress for the Blog (Life) You Want to Be – One of my favorite panel sessions (and one of the most hilarious) was the Pro Tips Panel led by Mandy Morrison (Harpers Happenings), Gina Crosley-Corcoran (The Feminist Breeder), Jill Krause (Baby Rabies) and Charlie Capen (How to Be a Dad). From a blogging perspective, the panel recognized ‘content is king’ – but stressed the importance of investing in a design resource to have the strong visual impact and to commit to posting regularly if you want your blog to be taken seriously. (Note to self: Post more frequently than once every two months!)
- For my tween: You love soccer and want to be honored as a strong player. Show up to practices and games ready in full uniform. (Yes- that means checking that you have both shin guards in your soccer bag.) Arrive well hydrated and energized. You will be more prepared to take on those tough plays and to be recognized as a serious player.
3) Turn Disappointments into Opportunities – My sister and I usually reallllly good about schedules. We had each day planned out so we knew which sessions to attend and where to go. But- somehow we but managed to mess up the timing of the BanShe party. On Friday, we primped and prepared for the party (although all prep was lost in the humidity after making our way through 10 blocks of a hot and super crowded Times Square). We arrived to find the party venue empty. After realizing our tickets were for Saturday, we debated about going back to the hotel to wait for the Sparklecorn party or ….making a snap decision to buy last minute tickets to the neighboring theater to see a Broadway Show. How could we fly all the way to NYC and not catch a show? This was our chance and we took it. We took our seats as the house lights dimmed. We gave our achey feet and minds a wonderful break – and still made it back to the hotel to enjoy Sparkelcorn!
- For my tween: For every disappointment and challenge, there is an opportunity for growth or other adventures. I think back to the truly horrible summer last year which you spent in the hospital and I see how much stronger you are now after coming out of that ordeal.
4) Take Time for Yourself to Reenergize – My love for chocolate is almost unparalleled – so braving the long waits for the elevator to find the Hershey’s Sponsor Suite on the 42nd floor was an easy choice to make. Pauline shared my excitement as she loves to craft with food (and has posted many times on s’mores variations). With back to back panel sessions and activities- we had to carve out time to take a chocolate break. It was well worth it and we spontaneously decided to toast each other with our toasted marshmallow s’mores. The break (plus the sugar) gave us the spark we needed to continue with the packed schedule. (Kudos to the Hershey’s and WalMart teams for transforming a hotel room into an outdoor Camp Bondfire scene).
- For my tween: Your summer is almost over and the schedule is going to get crazy again with homework, violin, soccer, and Mexican dance lessons. Take a breather when needed -and help me to help you find time to do so. Look out our windows with your favorite snack (berries) and absorb the calm of nature. (Better yet- let’s go outside and take mini-breaks together.)
5) We Each Have a Voice to Share – BlogHer’12 gathered together bloggers covering any and every topic you can think of under one roof. The conference goes beyond education and networking to celebrate the diversity of voices. The Voices of the Year Keynote celebrated posts that resonated with readers- touching our hearts through humor and/or tears. I didn’t plan on getting emotional- but found myself reaching for the conveniently placed tissues as Elizabeth McGuire of Peace, Love and Guacamole read her post on her own tween daughter growing up and turning 9. The wish she shared for her daughter is one that I have for mine…
- For my tween: You have the power to achieve any and all of your dreams. The dreams will change over time as you discover new worlds and new possibilities. Just keep dreaming. One key to achieving your dreams is believing in your own voice and sharing it. Others may try to drown out your voice with their own confidence or tenor – but listen to your gut, be authentic (see #1) and share your voice. Your voice matters!!!
- BloghHer’12 Virtual Conference – Liveblog posts, podcasts, pictures
- KatieCouric.com – Learn about Katie’s new show
- Camp Bondfire – Hershey’s Facebook page sharing s’mores ideas, giveaways & coupons
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