Friday, August 2, 2013

BlogHer 2013 - The Post With No Smoke Up Your Arse

My original plan for my post-BlogHer 2013 wrap-up was to be light and fun because there was so much silliness to celebrate.  But here's the thing.  My peeps, my gals, my blogosphere BFF's kept emailing, texting, and Facebook-ing wanting to get the "real" scoop.  Most of them have never been to BlogHer, and they were all curious about the tone, value, and emotional toll of what can be a scary and overwhelming concept.  So instead of being all high-energy and responding to each query individually, I've gotten lazy and decided to post it all:  the good, the bad, and the things that only Marianne finds funny.

Questions included:
  • Does the venue lend itself to really connecting with brands and professional opportunities?
  • Is it all a giant sorority party where the mean girls run everything?
  • Were the break-outs worthwhile?
  • Were you overwhelmed?
  • Are you glad you went?
So in honor of my peeps, I feel I owe an honest assessment of my very first BlogHer.  *gulp*  Here goes...

Tip #1: Establish Your Tribe in Advance

First up, there is no way I would have enjoyed BlogHer without my "tribe."  While it is true that I have spent 40 years mastering the persona of an extrovert, I am a covert introvert.  Large groups, loud music, and too much going on at once freaks me out and sends me into sensory overload.  I end up rocking and singing Mary Had a Little Lamb to cope.  Yet Shannon, Jeanette, Kari, and Jennifer propped me up, pointed me in the right direction, and made the conference a thousand times more fun and inviting than if I had gone it alone. 

My tribe was HOT.

Tip #2: Get Your Nails Done

It seems to be mandatory.  I don't think they even let you in if you don't.

My boys, or I as I refer to them, "My In-House IT Department."  This was taken right around the time when the nice pedicure lady went to battle with my feet.

Tip #3: For Business Opportunities, Stick with Brands You Truly Love

I seriously had no problem whatsoever gushing over brands and products I use and adore.  I believe it is very hard to "fake" interest in something you know nothing about, so I spent a lot of time on the Expo floor connecting with brands, collecting cards, and having meaningful dialogue with companies who receive much of my family's disposable income.  Credibility matters.

I totally skipped the organic, uber-healthy booths.  This is me we're talking about.

Tip #4: Speaking of Credibility....Celebrities Make You Wait

For those who know me, it is an established fact that I am not dazzled by celebrity.  In fact, most celebrities annoy me.  Despite this, I still love musical theatre and was looking forward to hearing Queen Latifah ("Mama Morton" in the movie Chicago) host the Voices of the Year keynote during the conference.  My cyber-sister Shannon was being honored.  I was excited, that is, until Queen Latifah was an hour late.  Now to be fair, I often run several minutes late for carpool and the orthodontist. But keeping so many people waiting during a conference that was so tightly choreographed soured me.  At the end of the day, I was far more interested in hearing the talented readings from the honorees, which sadly I had to cut short because of my own crammed docket.  I am probably a dying breed in this regard, but being late is a venial sin in my book.  Ten Hail Marys for everyone.

Tip #5: Work on Your "I Know YOU!" Face

I'm so bad at this.  Wonderful, warm, and talented women came over to say hello and I SUCK at recognizing people.  Making matters worse?  The name badges hung right around people's navels.  Being 6' fall, I practically had to bend myself in half in order to perform a "casual" glance at someone's badge.  I apologize to all those I may have offended.  Or inadvertently felt up.  I seriously have facial amnesia.  It's a disease.  Ask Brad Pitt.

I call this one "What everyone looks like to Marianne."  Photographer Kari called it "The Blair Witch Cab Ride."

Tip #6: Be Open to Fun

The too-cool-for-school crowd is not going to fare well at BlogHer.  With my own appreciation for the Theatre of the Absurd, I had a blast spinning giant wheels trying to win vibrators and free nuts. I loved hanging with the Pillsbury Doughboy and playing a drinking game of "How Many Times Are They Gonna Say 'Amazing Women' this session?" The ladies I approached and chatted with were the ones who were laughing.  There was a LOT of laughing at BlogHer because there are a LOT of funny women.  Find these gals and the conference will rock.

I seriously won a vibrator.  More on that another day...

I love a man in a suit.

Tip #7:   Pack an Extra Bag

The swag is out of control.  Enough Said.

Tip #8: Lose the Cute Shoes

Three hours into Day #1, nary a soul was sporting fancy heels.  Flip flops and gym shoes reign supreme at BlogHer.

Tip #9: Find a Session that Fits

I started out a little disappointed in some of the session options, but I definitely understood that monetizing one's blog, writing better, and improving one's technological skills are pretty hot topics amongst the blogger set.  I suppose I just was not in the mood to be reminded that I suck at technology and I end too many sentences in prepositions.  Yet my disappointment faded when I discovered that the NFL was sponsoring a session on female fans and traumatic brain injury.  As the mother of boys, and a sports enthusiast, it was like the session was made just for me.  The panel was phenomenal, comprised of NFL Foundation chairman, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth (a specialist on brain injury) and several other knowledgeable women.  I learned so much and cannot thank BlogHer and the NFL enough for this presentation.

Favorite line from Mrs. Anderson: "They used to think NFL merchandising for women was simply 'shrink it & pink it,' but not anymore!"

Tip #10: Don't Be Afraid of Quiet Time

I am the kind of person who cannot stay on Disney grounds when we visit Florida.  Sure, part of the reason is I'm cheap.  But the other explanation is I go into system overload.  Thanks to an emergency outing to Pizano's Pizza with my roomie Jenny and Shannon, I had an hour to reset my brain and central nervous system.  It was exactly what I needed.

In Conclusion

All in all, I had a great time at BlogHer '13.  I would definitely encourage those who have asked me about it to come and join my tribe.  Just like everything else in life, it's the people you remember most.  

Ok.  Back to unpacking all this flippin' swag.  I seriously have 10 bottles of Trojan Lubricant. 

Catch ya at BlogHer 2014!


  1. Omg how did you end up with so much.lube????
    Dont answer that....
    I am so jealous of the Pizanos outing, btw.
    I am so glad you were there to share this with.

    1. I say that's where we head for the 40ths...Pizano's. You in?? I'll bring the lube.

  2. I love you.
    You light up my life.
    You are the wind beneath my wings.
    Seriously, anyone who shares my love for Pizanos is alright in my book.

    1. I hope it wasn't too cold there in my shadow, VOTY!! ;) And thank you, fellow lioness!

  3. I am glad you had so much fun. I keep going back to that man in the suit. It's an amazing suit. So glad someone got a picture of you standing with him because it cracks me up!

    1. It WAS an amazing suit. Does it inspire you to paint? ;)

  4. Dude. I think you are the greatest- and your account of BlogHer is pretty dead nuts on. As a major introvert, I can tell you're an extroverted introvert. I completely shut down a few times during the conference, complete with glazed-over eyes....

    1. Still cracks me up that one of the most demure people I know uses "dead nuts on." KILLS ME. And thank you!!

  5. So...there is all that to consider for next year. A vibrator and concussions. And the pizza.

  6. A great wrap up Marianne :)
    Vibrator and lube? It WAS a blogging convention?

  7. Happy you had such a fun time, but truth to tell, I am jealous. SWAG! Isn't that freebees? Maybe I wouldn't want them--would just clutter up the house. Any good SWAG for Daniel, Jack or Joey? Hope so.

    While you party, I am back sweating in the yard here in Florida after my forehead healed from its permanent eyebrows. Then I had to change computers also. Too much for this old biddy.


    1. Let's just say the boys' Christmas shopping is now nearly complete...

      Hope things went well for the big talk!!

  8. Thanks for the visit yesterday with the boys.

    1. No problem, hobbles! Hope you're feeling okay. Let me know if your supply runs low!

  9. Someday, hopefully, I'll get to join your tribe and go. (Don't suppose there's much chance there will be a BlogHer SLC?)

    1. Let's make it happen, Julie! Do you think a petition might work? I could probably get 10,000 dead Chicagoans to cast their ballot for SLC!

  10. I also ended up with 5 things of Trojan lube AND "midnight" -- which is why OF COURSE when I got home and opened my bag I saw the little note from TSA that my bag had been searched. You're Welcome, TSA. YOU'RE WELCOME!

    1. You KNOW they took pictures, right? ;) Thanks for visiting & commenting, pocketfulofjoules!!

  11. I love hearing your feedback and hope to attend next year. It sounds like it is what you make it, like most everything in life. And I would have been mad at Queen Latifah, too!

    1. OH, please do!! Maybe they'll book Donny Osmond next year? You KNOW he won't be late....

  12. Seriously helpful information! Thanks!

  13. You rocked your first BlogHer!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And I'm still mad I missed that NFL panel due to bad planning on my part. Did you get a card from them?

  14. thanks for your honest insight. I've been to other conferences before, and it's always a mix of boring and very good. Seems like this was a typical conference. I'm sure the people are the best - that's usually true w/ any conference. I go back and forth on attending a BlogHer conf. It seems beginning bloggers would benefit the most. The NFL panel sounds awesome!

  15. I just re-read this today as I looked at your sidebar. I miss that weekend. Not the actual conference, but the people I hung out with. :)