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    « Picture this: A little perspective | Main | Meeting the Queen, plus GRAND Social No. 63 »

    10 non-blogging things I learned at BlogHer '13

    BlogHer '13 offered multiple and myriad sessions for gleaning new tips and tricks for the business of posting and publishing. I learned much beyond nitty gritty techniques to add to my blogging toolbox, though, things such as the following.


    BlogHer '13

    1. Don't be afraid to look foolish. BlogHer sponsors offer plenty of opportunities to look like a fool. I say "Do it!" Once you've donned fisherman gear or kicked back on a mattress in the center of a crowded conference hall, there's nothing else to fear others might see you do.

    BlogHer '13 brands

    (One caveat: With all the free booze flowing, you don't want to look foolish and passed out in the hotel lobby for all to see. Pacing yourself — or abstaining — is key.)

    2. The coolest swag comes from unexpected places. Brands offer more than ways to look foolish. They hand out piles and piles of goodies (so much so that yes, the second suitcase is a necessity for the trip home). While the big brands hand out must-have items, I found my favorite to be from a pest control company. Yes, you read that right. Pest-control company Rescue! gave out mini kaleidoscopes. I love kaleidoscopes. Kaleidoscopes are cool.

    Rescue! kaleidoscope

    3. Brands are becoming more receptive to the baby boomer demographic. Speaking of brands, I was impressed by the number of brands who seemed sincerely excited about partnering with me — a baby boomer, empty-nester, grandma blogger. The most enthusiastic responses came from, FoodSaver, Bernina (at a non-BlogHer event), Serta, Chuck E. Cheese's, Cosmo Camp (also at a non-BlogHer event) and the reps for the National Restaurant Association's Kids Live Well program, to name just a few.

    4. Lean Cuisine rocks frozen meals in unexpected ways. Still speaking of brands, I was invited to a luncheon sponsored by Lean Cuisine in celebration and promotion of their new line, Honestly Good. All I can say is Wow! And Yum! I'll say more later in a longer post specifically about Lean Cuisine's incredible chefs (real chefs, restaurant-owning chefs!) and dedication to fresh and healthy ingredients. It was an impressive luncheon accompanied by an informative — and tasty — presentation.

    Honestly Good 

    5. Next time, arrive the day before the conference begins. I didn't do this, which meant I had no time to experience what Chicago — a city I've never been to before — has to offer. Which meant other than photos taken of the Chicago River from my hotel room, this is my only touristy shot:

    Chicago intersection

    6. The best sessions have little to do with blogging and brands. Time with friends provided the most memorable moments.

    Gino's Pizza 

    7. Don't be afraid to go it alone. I chose to arrive late to breakfast one day and was a bit anxious about taking the shuttle without my friends and arriving late to the conference hall by myself. Going it alone, though, turned out to be unexpectedly rewarding when my shuttle seat mate turned out to be among the most enjoyable of women I met all weekend. Karen Malone Wright and I talked all the way to the conference hall, and we shared a breakfast table. We then ran into one another again at a party the next night, where Karen proceeded to be forever in my favor thanks to her gushing about how much I looked like Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day. How could I not forever appreciate such flattery?

    8. The BlogHer Voice of the Year signs cost more to ship home than it would to make your own. The late-night antics that led to that realization? Priceless and memorable — and unmentionable in a public forum.

    Voices of the Year sign

    9. I want to be Tracy Beckerman. With her syndicated column running in 400 weekly community newspapers and her book, Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir, climbing the charts, what freelance writer and blogger wouldn't want to be Tracy Beckerman? Alas, I settled for her session on syndicating your work — one of my favorite sessions of BlogHer '13, in which Tracy explained how to be just like her. Stayed tuned for my transformation.

    Lost in Suburbia

    10. Conferences — and life! — are so much better when enjoyed with friends. Especially when those friends are (left to right) Jane Gassner, Sandra Sallin, Cathy Chester, Connie McLeod, Ruth Curran, Lois Alter Mark, Helene Cohen Bludman and Janie Emaus, all of whom — along with every other #GenFab member I hugged while there — made my BlogHer '13 experience so much more delightful than I ever hoped it might be.

    BlogHer '13 friends

    Today's question:

    Which of the points above would you like to hear more about? (I just may write a separate post based on your interest.)

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    Reader Comments (29)

    Sounds like you had a great time. I hope Gino's East awning in the background means that you had some time for Chicago style pizza...the only way to go :)

    Since still frustrated at trade shows, I'm most interested to hear about the receptive brands you encountered. However, Chuck E. Cheese doesn't surprise me...more Grandparents than parents there during our last visit. haha!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNonnie Kelly

    It does sound like you had a wonderful time! All of us really appreciate your willingness to share, too! I'm like Nonnie Kelly -- I'm interested in hearing about the receptive brands -- especially since some of them are on my favorite products list -- love my FoodSaver! Really want a Bernina -- what Grandma wouldn't if they sew! Can't wait to hear more. Welcome back!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    All great points - and that picture of all of you is priceless. So glad you enjoyed!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharon Greenthal

    I LOVED spending time with you, Lisa. What a great time we all had. Like we had known each other forever.

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelene Cohen Bludman

    Lisa, so happy to have finally met you although our paths crossed so little at BlogHer. Hope we get another chance, soon, with a little less frenzy. Great photos!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrown and Flown

    All of this is so true! Meeting you was one of the absolute highlights of BlogHer for me, and you know I'm still laughing over some of our adventures. Can't wait to see you again! xoxo

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLois Alter Mark

    I would love to hear more about the brands that want to target our demographic. I feel like we are a lost or forgotten demographic so it is nice to see some companies waking up and taking note. It seems like you go from your kids leaving the house to being a senior citizen and "old".

    I knew this would happen. I was very happy with my choice to skip Blogher this year after already attending 3 times and knew if would be costly going to Chicago. But now that I am reading all the posts about the great times had by everyone, I'm sad to have missed it. Hopefully we will all be together at another conference soon.

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Wagner

    We did have a great time, didn't we? And I so wanted my poster!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanie Emaus

    What a fun recap! I"m beating myself up for missing this year, the one year where Boomers came together in a big way. Next yr for sure!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Cassara

    Love all your pictures, especially like you in fisherman's gear. And, that sign about your piece "Grandma in a Box"--it's HUGE! So glad you had such a good time and met so many nice people.

    Glad to have you back, though, and would like to hear more about the products that especially impressed you as good stuff.

    P.S. See, you wouldn't believe me when I told you how much you look like Andie McDowell!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    Meeting you (finally) was the icing on my cake. I am so glad you wrote this post. I enjoyed re-living our time together. Wonderful, Lisa. You are a true gem.

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

    I've learned that being brave is the best advice anyone can have when going to any type of conference. You can be safe at home. If you are going to spend the time and money, make the most out of it. Then there will be no regrets. Sounds like you definitely have no regrets Lisa!!!

    So nice to live vicariously through this post. Ok, not entirely...I am a bit jealous:) I MUST not miss next year's events!!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersheryl

    It was a pleasure meeting you IRL, Lisa. Our pizza escapade at Ginos East was a classic! Looking forward to seeing you again...I may just have to come to CO so I can see that amazing house you live in!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermindy trotta

    Having never attended a blogging conference, I'm interested in hearing about all of it.

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristi

    Congrats on your award, and on a fun conference. Yes, Chicago is well worth seeing - been there for a flying visit myself and want to spend more time someday.

    Sounds like a fun and productive trip.

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly Diehl

    Good stuff, Lisa! Thanks--and since you asked, I'd love to learn more about #9.
    Sounds like you had a fantastic time, so thank you for sharing your words of wisdom with those of us who couldn't make it to Chicago.

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRisa

    First, congrats for all of the brand interest you stirred up. And I'd love to hear more about the syndication of work. Thanks.

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Froman

    Great post! I went to BlogHer as a newbie this year, and luckily met Lori Jo, who introduced me to GenFeb. I am, so glad she did. It's nice to play with kids my own age ;)

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Morgan

    Learned that my blogging friends are even better in real life. And that BlogHer does not last long enough--what a whirlwind!

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrown and Flown


    glad you had such an enjoyable time—i'd love to hear more about what tracy beckerman shared.

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda

    I've never done BlogHer. I guess I should try it. I'm sorry you missed out on exploring Chicago. It is one of my favorite cities. As for what you should write more about -- about looking foolish, of course! That's everyone's favorite topic as long as it is someone else with pie on their face. (You don't look foolish at all. You just look cute!)

    July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Adcox

    Thank you for reading and the grand comments, everyone! Yes, it was a fun, productive, chaotic, stressful, enjoyable and memorable time! I was delighted by every single person I met there, most of whom I've known online for a long time, people I can now truly call my friends. Definitely the best part of the experience, an experience I hope to one day have with all of you reading and commenting here.

    I sincerely appreciate the kind words from all I had the pleasure of meeting as well as the suggestions from others on what topics to expand on in the coming weeks. I'll keep your suggestions in mind as I come up with posts.

    NonnieKelly: Yes! Chicago-style pizza at Gino's!

    GrandmaKc: Ah, the FoodSaver was to die for! I want one more than ever now.

    Mindy: You are welcome at my house any time! I'll give you the full tour, ghost stories and all.

    Debbie Morgan: I'm thrilled you are now part of #GenFab. I look forward to getting to know you!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, every single one of you, reading and commenting! ♥

    great advice for me... a person who plans to attend next year! thanks for sharing, lisa....

    July 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdaphne

    Great post! Very helpful. My only suggestion is plan to arrive TWO DAYS before the conference. I didn't get one piece of pizza.

    July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChloe Jeffreys

    I'm so jealous! All my years living in NYC and I never attended a BlogHer Convention! I think I am too frugal at heart to spend the $ to buy a ticket and I was too shy to go alone. If they ever come to Denver I'm "in"! :) Congrats for being a "Voice of the Year for humor! That was so well deserved, Lisa!

    PS: I feel sad you didn't take an extra day to enjoy Chicago! I was only there once but I loved the part of the city you were staying in. I have some Chicago posts on my blog that will show you what you missed. In fact, I noticed a tremendous spike in my stats about those posts that week, especially the one about the artifacts on the Tribune building walls, so I believe a lot of convention goers were reading those posts.

    I would be interesting in learning how to be a writer and blogger like Lisa Carpenter . . . oh . . . and Tracy Beckerman, too.

    August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNina Lewis

    So great meeting you last weekend, though wished we had more time to chat! I too wish I could have spent more time enjoying beautiful Chicago. Your photos are fabulous. Congrats again on being a VOTY!

    August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarpool Goddess
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