I wasn’t planning on attending the Mom 2.o Summit this year. Earlier in the year when the tickets first went on sale I had considered it–it’s a stellar conference (I attended the inaugural one in Houston years back) and lots of fantastic folks I knew were going. Not only that, but it was being held at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna California. I mean seriously!!! But I just couldn’t plan my life out that far–the spring is a busy time (kids, gardening, work) and I was pretty sure that I’d be heading down to Walmart Headquarters in Bentonville in June for the annual Shareholders meeting. . .so I just sighed and watched jealously while other folks online chattered about their plans and excitement.
Then one afternoon, about 10 days before the conference, an email arrived in my inbox from Walmart. They told us that Dove was the major sponsor for the Mom 2.o Summit and that they had offered to send a few of the Walmart Moms. Would I be interested? Oh, and they needed to know by the end of the day, which was 3 hours away.
Well being a blogger and working from a home office–I am our kids after school care. When I say frantic texts and phone messages were sent to my husband, I may be slightly understating;) Long story short, I finally got hold of him and Yankee Bill was able on very, very short notice to take time off each afternoon I’d be gone so he’d be home to get the kiddos when school ended at 2 (4 days total–1 day of travel each way and the 2 day conference). Isn’t he awesome?
So in just over a week I was heading for California.
Yes, I wind up flying on a lot of tiny planes when I go places. Binghamton is a lovely, but tiny airport :) Three planes and two layovers–one of them over four hours long–later and I was in California.
The conference was even better then I expected. For a couple of years I was attending and speaking at a lot of conferences. After a while y0u can feel like you are hearing a lot of the same topics over and over again. Many conferences favor a “panel” type format for the sessions, and if you don’t have a strong moderator who can reign folks in and keep them on topic you can wind up watching folks share a lot of interesting anecdotes without actually delving into the topic at hand in any depth. That was NOT an issue at the Mom 2.o Summit! The sessions were excellent–even the sort of “speed dating” quick 10 minute round robin of sessions in the ballroom the first day. The only problem with those was you wished you had more time!
Two sessions in particular really stood out in my mind:
First was the 10 min session called “Using Analytics to Make Friends and Influence People” by Shelly Kramer (Founder and CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing). I’ve known Shelly online for several years, and she is amazing. She managed to squeeze more actionable information in to that 10 minute session then I’ve gotten in most 45 minute panels and lectures I’ve attended! She explained in detail why and how a blogger could provide a post campaign report back to the brands and agencies they work with in order to increase the value of their contribution and make them more likely to be worked with again in the future. We were taught that we should create monthly reports for our own blogs to track our own growth and influence. She also gave a big list of analytics websites/tools (that a smaller practitioner can actually afford–frequently free for the solo blogger), business communities and more. (Get Clicky, Biz Sugar, Triberr, Twitsprout, Tweet Reach, Pinalerts).
The second really excellent session was the workshop Raising Performance Levels: The Control Enthusiasts Guide to Delegating… How to Clone Yourself and Other Good Advice. (AJ Wolfe of Cambrick Yard Media, Meagan Francis of The Happiest Home, Beth Blecherman of TechMamas.com) This session can be summed up in the pithy saying “Do what you do best, and hire out the rest.”
One of the issues with blogging is that you are the ENTIRE staff. For example, here at Frugal Upstate I am the writer, editor, photographer, videographer, video and photo editor, secretary, bookkeeper, publicist, marketing/advertising department. . . well, you get the picture. And then I’ve actually got to make time to actually do all the things that I write about. . . I’ve thought for a long time that I’d love to have some help–but with WHAT. What parts can you pass off, and what should you keep? If you hire someone as a virtual assistant or as one off help–how do you find them? What do you have them do? How do you communicate with them? What are the pitfalls to avoid? The greatest benefits? And how much can you expect to PAY? There was a ton of information and experience shared! Some of the sites suggested for hiring some help were Fiver, Elance, Flexjobs, Guru.com and Virtual Staff Finder.
Another benefit to the conference was getting to hang out with some of my other Walmart Mom pals! There we all are in that picture above. From left to right: Lori from A Cowboy’s wife, Liz from Hoosier Homemade, Caryn from Rockin Mama, Erika from Chic Shopper Chick, Me (of course) and Ana from Spanglish Baby
So wait, I said Dove was the sponsor here–where were they in all this? Well-they were everywhere! And it wasn’t about all of their lovely products (although we did get a very generous gift bag with lots of full size samples!) Nope–it was all about their self esteem programs–specifically their new “Girl Unstoppable” campaign. Dove has for YEARS been an advocate of real beauty–beauty in all it’s forms, not just the plastic beauty of super models. Their keynote speech talked about how 6 out of 10 young girls will stop doing things that they love because they feel bad about how they look. (30 second video)
And guess what? They get it from us. This “Real Beauty Sketches” video is incredibly powerful. It’s worth watching (3 minute video)–here’s the basics–they had a police sketch artist draw women without seeing them, based ONLY on their descriptions of themselves. Then they drew the same woman again from a description given by a stranger who had only met the woman for a few minutes. The difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us. . . well, it’s actually saddening.
We spent a lot of time talking about these issues–both in the keynote, in workshops and among ourselves throughout the weekend. As the mother of a very pretty 12 year old girl who already worries about how she looks because of societal pressures–well, let’s just say it’s a topic that hits close to home. I think it’s great that Dove has put together the Dove Self Esteem Tool-Kit and other resources for young girls on their website. If you are the mom, aunt, grandmother or even just friend of a girl or young lady–you should check it out.
Here are a few more shots from the conference! At these things there are usually some lovely evening parties hosted by the sponsors, suites set up where you can get a quick snack or even a beauty treatment during the day (that’s me at the Starbucks suite getting a quick makeover), there was even a morning fun run (which I walked) hosted by CVS Minute Clinic.
And, since it WAS the Ritz Carlton, there was plenty of gorgeous scenery, lovely sp0ts to relax for a moment, and chances to just take a few minutes and recharge.
Thanks again to Walmart and Dove for sending me to such a wonderful, exciting, educational and even relaxing conference!