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 Manilla.com, 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.)