Coming to 10th annual Blog Her conference, BlogHer ’14 San Jose was something I decided last minute. I was swamped with a-lot-more-than-usual content from the J-Pop Summit 2014, and it was a day before Fashion On The Square 2014 finale show. The week was already crazy and my time schedule only allowed me to spend half a day at the BlogHer ’14 conference on Saturday, July 26, 2014. If not for Skype Moments for sponsoring my attendance, I would’ve missed out on a great experience completely. So thank you Skype, for giving me the opportunity to attend my first ever blogger conference! When I drove back home that Sunday, I was puzzled why I didn’t attend these conferences more often.
Attending the 9 am keynotes that Saturday, I found myself in an ocean of strangers seated at round tables at the San Jose Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom. After grabbing a seat at a not-fully-occupied round table (and greeting the table’s other occupants, of course), I scanned the room. Gosh, an entire room governed by women. Some of them younger, a lot of them older, but all of them genuine story tellers of diverse topics, genius writers, and driven individuals wanting to make a difference. Of course, there’s a few number of male attendees, too. From the moment I sat down with fellow writers until the last minutes I spent at the Expo Hall, I found myself most relaxed while watching keynotes and eating lunch with friendly strangers. Just like Linda Smith, I was not looking for a tribe, I was there for the experience. And good experience I did get. Here are my experience highlights from that Saturday on Blog Her ’14:
1. Listening to Arianna Huffington and Guy Kawasaki
The strong chemistry between the two of them were contagious during the morning keynote session “Future of Social Web”. Guy Kawasaki warned the audience from the get-go that from his past experience interviewing Arianna, she liked to say whatever she wanted to say regardless of the questions asked. And that’s exactly what happened. But far from a haphazard conversation, listening to the back-and-forth banter between Arianna Huffington and Guy Kawasaki was a gem. She’s a very charming, funny, and sharp quote-dropping machine, and Guy matched her energy in his effortless and masterful interviewing moderator.
Arianna was there to promote her book “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” and the singular theme she brought home that day was for us to stop worrying and get more sleep. She encouraged us to stop glamorizing “being busy” and do digital detoxification, because we are more attentive to our smartphones than our own well-beings!
They were so insightful and entertaining that I wished they could talk forever on the stage. Alas, Arianna had to have a book signing session at the Expo Hall (and there were more things BlogHer ’14 had to offer!) so it’s natural they got a standing ovation after the session was done. If you haven’t heard Arianna Huffington talk, you should. She’s just too amazing for words.
2. Going to Expo Hall (first visit)
I almost immediately got to see Skype Moments booth / deconstructed trailer / cozy-looking hub. They’re also giving away free stuff (aprons, bags, sunglasses) in exchange of your pledge to create with Skype. Awesome!
But the main draw was obviously Arianna Huffington’s book signing session, which has a long line in front of several booths, including Skype’s.
My time was limited in this first visit to Expo Hall, so I did a Yoplait v. Chobani yogurt blind test and got a pretty flower at the end! Yay!
3. Breakout Sessions and Mini-Cons Hopping
It’s a bit of a gamble to choose one 1.25 hour breakout session and stayed there from start to finish, especially if there were multiple topics that were interesting. Therefore, I decided to hop around three breakout sessions and spend the most time in one that I thought was most captivating. I started with “Visual Web: Tools to Analyze Reader Behavior & DIY Mobile Optimization” session, but after seeing a Crazyegg heatmap (been there, done that) and a rather disengaging panel, I went to the breakout session next door “New Rules for New Tools.” It was packed and people were sitting on the floor and standing near the door, so I joined them. The panel was giving a Pinterest tip about joining and pinning to relevant group boards to boost traffic. There were great things, but my feet were getting tired so I went next door (again) to attend “Blogging Pivot: When It’s Time to Change”. This is for bloggers who wanted to change their blogger persona completely, and I found this topic intriguing. Great, engaging panel, too!
Later that afternoon, I found out that THE session to go to was “Social Media Optimization (SMO) and Social Advertising”. Dang it! So congrats for people who attended that session, because apparently it’s the single best session ever in Blog Her history. It’s OK, I can follow Peg Fitzpatrick! One more thing to self-note: I’ll probably try out the Geek Bar next time.
As for Mini-Cons, I first went to Style Mini-Con but it took a while for the panel to get to the good stuff, so eventually I went next door (notice a pattern here?) to attend the Craft Mini-Con, which I found immensely interesting since they got to business in a snap.
4. Having Lunch with Friendly Strangers and Listening to Kerry Washington
I think having lunch with the ladies was a greater experience than listening to Kerry Washington. Yes, the Kerry interview by Demetria Lucas was heavy on “Scandal” and her status as TV leading lady, but it was light on everything else, but thankfully the audience Q&A session brought some topic balance to Kerry’s philantropic work. But more than seeing in person how gorgeous Kerry Washington was, my companions Linda, Janice, Meredith, and Sherice (plus three more ladies) brought forth so much energy and excitement that transcended our salad lunch.
Just look at the enthusiasm people had over Kerry’s attempted “group selfie”. So many hand models in the Grand Ballroom!
5. Visiting the Expo Hall for the second (and last) time
My second visit to the Expo Hall brought me to Hairfinity booth, and….Khloe Kardashian. I’m not particularly a fan of the K-Klan, but there’s no denying they’re genius at monetizing everything they do. Khloe actually looked really lovely here, but unfortunately her security guard missed the “lovely” memo. He prohibited anybody who’s not an approved videographer/photographer to take pictures of her either from the front or her left side from OUTSIDE of the Hairfinity booth. I saw some girls got annoyed about being suddenly yelled at for trying to do something so normal. Maybe he missed lunch and was rather cranky. Yoplait should’ve given him some yogurt to chill out, yo!
And those who attended lunch found “The Mirror” / “I’m Enough” campaign captivating. There were no dry eyes in Grand Ballroom when the video below played. Get your tissue box ready and see for yourself what it’s all about:
So it’s only proper for me to snap a picture of the all-female band who performed their “I’m Enough” song earlier, The Mrs.! I loved those graphic pants and sheer-paneled pencil skirt. Gorgeous!
So, after seeing local BlogHer ’14 attendees snagged free toilet rolls like there’s no tomorrow, I closed my first blogging conference experience. Thank you once again for Skype Moments for counting me as one of their BlogHer ’14 moment makers! I had a great time and will definitely check out conferences like these again in the future.
Thank you for reading, until next time,