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By paulag | July 31, 2009
Hard to believe it has been a week since BlogHer ’09 started in Chicago. Now I’m back after a few days of vacation exploring Chicago (more on that in a future post) it’s way overdue for me to share some reflections from the experience. Firstly, hats off to Elisa, Jory, and Lisa, the founders of BlogHer for creating such an amazing community and conference that is truly unsurpassed. I have to say I’ve been lukewarm to downright cold about conferences in the past (probably the mind-numbing corporate affairs I attended) but BlogHer was red-hot. The many people who are on staff and volunteer truly make it a fast, furious, inclusive, inspiring, riveting, emotional affair. I’m sure I missed some adjectives in there, but I have to say that it’s rare to find people so committed to diversity and creating conversations where all voices are encouraged to be heard. Where else can you go to a conference where the audience is in and of itself a panel member? Where dissension and lively disagreement are encouraged?
Over 1500 people attended this conference and the BlogHers invaded the Sheraton Towers in Chicago. I think the place is still recovering from the high energy crowd. The hotel was really great and it is by far one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in. I never sleep well in hotels, but I was comfy as a baby here.
It was awesome to meet so many of my fellow Contributing Editors from BlogHer as well as so many other cool folks. The stories and talent present over those three days was truly humbling. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about it in the coming week. Just far too overwhelming to put words to all at once. After all writing is supposed to have a coherent thought!
I spoke on Friday morning on the panel “Bloggers as Pioneers in a Post-Employee World” and it was excellent. Once the audio is available I will post a note about it. Meanwhile you can catch a taste of it from the live blog of the panel. Thanks to Jessica Rosenberg for her live blogging talents considering all the wi-fi issues it’s a miracle any live blogging happened. Thanks to excellent co-panelists and moderator: Maggie Fox, Kaveri Subbarao, Melissa Lion, and Karen Rani Bodkin. It was a lively discussion around valuing who you are, charging what you are worth, overcoming fear, taking risks, designing your career and business YOUR way, and protecting your intellectual property.
At lunchtime Friday I was part of a PepsiCo event called the Live with Purpose Tweetup. I was honored to be asked to sit on the panel and truly loved the group of women chosen to have this most important discussion about living with purpose. It was hosted by PepsiCo Chief Marketing Officer Jill Beraud and journalist and author Lee Woodruff. While the space was loud and we had no wi-fi (it was in the basement behind concrete walls) we still had a compelling discussion that was filled with insight, laughter, and tears. I personally loved the one assistant (Adrean) who kept running from out in the lobby (where there was wi-fi) into our panel to share tweets that he wrote on strips of paper. Ah, we are in the technology age, but sometimes we still must improvise and the show must go on.
You can check out all the panelists and their background at the Live with Purpose website. If you’d like to listen to the complete
recording of our discussion on the panel (hint: listen carefully at the introductions so you can recognize voices throughout the conversation) you can get it here at BlogTalk Radio.
For more information on the non-profit organization Lee and her husband Bob Woodruff have to help troops heal the physical and psychological wounds of war, go to Remind.org.
Goodness knows there were tons of panels and so many women with expertise and stories to share. I will definitely be posting about them as I go along. One part of the conference that truly embodies the essence of BlogHer from my perspective is the community keynote. It is an opportunity for selected bloggers to read a chosen post in front of the entire conference audience. The bloggers and posts are chosen by committee ahead of time. I can tell you that while the community keynote was a little long…it really did need a stretch break in there…it was an amazing time. We laughed, we cried, we cringed in horror, we turned away in shame, we rejoiced in possibility. Most importantly voices were heard and we listened. You can read the most phenominal recap (with video) of this time at the conference at Megan’s Minute.
It is rare for me to be sad to see a conference come to an end, I was this time. Sure I needed a bit of a break from the breakneck schedule and non-stop conversation with people (I am an introvert after all!), it was sad to see the community go its separate ways at the end of it all. The cool news is that BlogHer ’10 is in NYC and that is great – only a train or bus ride away. Not to mention maybe I can encourage more of my colleagues to attend. So now all I can say is thanks for the opportunities, the memories and I so look forward to deepening the connections I made while there.