3.23.2007

The Business of Being a BlogHer

I have a confession to make:

I have thought ill of you, my sisters.

Ever since the BlogHer conference in San Jose last summer I honestly questioned whether a large group of women could spend a weekend together without any crying or complaining or social politics--or whether it was simply our destiny as the fairer and arguably more insecure sex.

After that weekend, a quick perusal of the blogosphere indeed would have yielded a plethora of thoughtful posts on the value of the conference, lessons learned, connections made, pasties worn. But scattered among them was all this unnecessary whiiiiiining: Childless women upset about the clique of mommybloggers. Socialists upset at corporate sponsorship. Lesbians upset at finding condoms in their goodie bags. Plus various 8th grade-esque takes on this one snubbed me/ that one seemed fake /that other one didn't spend all night in my hotel room braiding my hair and agreeing to be my bff after which we raided the refrigerator and went to second base with our pillows.

Boo-hoo.

Those of you considering attending BlogHer 07, please don't let this dissuade you. The weekend was utterly enjoyable and spectacular in every way. Certainly my complaints stem from a few bad (discontented, self-pitying, annoying as all sh*t) apples in an otherwise stellar crop of them, however it did leave an unpleasant pesticidal taste in my mouth. After all, would a man ever go to a tech conference - not summer camp, mind you, but a tech conference! - and complain that Guy Kawasaki and Anil Dash seemed all cliquey and my free t-shirt didn't fit and by the way, the gift bag had a sample of Drakkar Noir in it and for God's sake, are the organizers implying that I smell? Are they? ARE THEY?

Let me go out on a limb here and say mmmmm....no.

But this week, after two days spent at the BlogHer Business conference, my confidence is again renewed as I realized that there can in fact be an entire midtown hotel full of highly polished apples with nary a rotten one in the bunch.

The parentingbloggers I really got to know and admire in large part shaped my experience. In particular: Rita who is a bona fide farm girl turned high-powered exec which only makes me want to go read all of her archives because you know there are great stories in there. Laura, one of my new favorite people and I don't just say this because she's Cool Mom Picks' newest rock star writer. Karen who is so gorgeous you literally cannot stop staring at her when she's in your presence (sorry Karen. I know I was staring). Kristin who makes you say right away, "oh, so that's why her blog was called Tall and Lucky. Bitch." Kristen, who had the best energy I've ever seen hands down, for a woman attached at the sling to a 6 week-old--plus she gave me a great "baby brewing" maternity tee which will come in super handy on the subway when my 8 month pregnant belly isn't enough of a hint that you, Mr. Healthy Middle-Aged Corporate Guy in a Suit should stand the hell up and give me your seat before I smear colostrum down your jacket sleeve when you're not looking.

Then there was blushing bride-to-be Mir who has probably still not forgiven Isabel and me for commanding her to go to dinner Thursday night somewhere she would have to spend more than $6, but dammit, she was in New York City, and the frugality was causing us physical pain. And of course the ridiculously popular Chris who was gracious enough never once to roll her eyes when I went on and on about my fears of having a second child, considering she herself has a half-dozen of them.

(Edited to add: Ack, Beth! How could I forget Beth! I have to blame this one on pregnancy brain, considering how hearing her take on the Left Coast got me more excited about the potential of moving there than simply thinking about earthquakes like I normally do.)

Finally there were the conference organizers, particularly Lisa Stone, who is one of the single most impressive businesspeople, with or without ovaries, that I have ever encountered. She's like one of those people who just never seems to get rattled, never seems uncomfortable in her skin, and if you didn't like her so much you'd have to hate her.

The speakers at the conference were motivating and compelling. The panels were fascinating - which says something considering that these days, I have the attention span of a 3 year-old watching McLaughlin Group on a 9" black and white portable. And the other attendees were an admirable mix of women (and a few of the menfolk) from websites, PR companies, small businesses, Fortune 500 companies and the media.

Overall, it felt like an honor to be a part of this amazing community of exceedingly diverse women who just want to achieve--or rather, continue achieving--great things all while helping one another to do the same.

Also? There were Chipwiches during the coffee break. And no less than 6 people who kindly pointed out in hushed tones the Chipwich crumbs all over my boobs after said break.

So you can imagine why this woman is madly in love with women again.

And this last sentence, from what I learned in one of the panels, is destined to bring me a whole lot of traffic. Even if it is from frat boys at 2 AM looking for...well, let's just say not a momblog.

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31 Comments:

Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Ahhhh love for other women! Seriously, though, being in the company of wonderful women is one of my greatest joys; glad you had a lovely weekend in your fair city. I wish I were going to BlogHer this year but I don't think it's in the cards. I'm pretty sure you'd braid my hair if I was there, though, right?

3/25/07, 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Mir said...

I'm sorry that my frugality made you ache. Thank you so much for pretending I'm not the complete dork that we both know I am. ;) And truly, despite my pain over parting with my money (for a few squares of bread! and cheese!) I enjoyed myself immensely.

And not just because of the chipwiches and twizzlers.

3/25/07, 10:01 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

I'm so glad to hear all this. I didn't attend the San Jose conference, but had heard enough "mean girl" stories to doubt whether it'd be worth trying to get to Chicago.

This has me revisiting the idea. Thanks.

3/25/07, 10:13 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Sounds like a lovely time! I wish I could have been there, but I had too many other obligations this weekend. But I do plan on being at BlogHer 07 in Chicago, with baby in sling.

3/25/07, 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Rita said...

I felt the same way - I came away from this conference thinking if successful, intelligent women can be this easy to hang out with, why have I ever spent time with any other kind?

Hope to see you in Chicago!

3/25/07, 11:20 AM  
Anonymous chris said...

I felt the same way also. It renewed my hope that a large group of women can get together and not devolve into cattiness. Though, as we said, it only takes a few women to give that impression.

Thank you so much Liz for the restaurant recomendations, and helping to keep me not dead ;-) I am glad we got to hang out.

Looking forward to seeing you in Chicago.

3/25/07, 11:29 AM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/25/07, 11:46 AM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

Mrs. Chicky has managed to twist my arm and convince me to attend the Chicago conference. Which is saying something, because I'll have to renew my passport and more importantly, beg my mother-in-law to look after my children while I'm absent.

Shudder.

Frankly, I hadn't worried about the possibility any potential cattiness a group of women who are crammed into small quarters may produce.

I fear I may be far too busy imbibing the cocktails and braiding the pretty girls' hair.

You need your hair braided, Liz, come see me.

I'm gifted that way.

3/25/07, 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Kristin said...

I was so pleasantly surprised to see you there. I hope I didn't terrify you by lurching into your back and bellowing "Liz!" I totally enjoyed your sense of humour and your mighty defence of the bagel.

Hope to talk to you even more in Chicago!

3/25/07, 12:49 PM  
Blogger Undercover Angel said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful time at the Business Conference! I want to go to BlogHer this year, but it's probably not going to happen!

3/25/07, 1:40 PM  
Blogger Queen Haline said...

Sounds like a good time had by all. Loved the end. You might just find me back at 4 AM.

3/25/07, 3:21 PM  
Blogger KatBliss said...

Oh ya... she loves herself some women! :) I'd like to be a fly on the wall when those college boys happen upon your site after searching for something far dirtier!

3/25/07, 5:29 PM  
Blogger modmom said...

spill the secets

3/25/07, 8:39 PM  
Blogger Day said...

I came here from Woulda Coulda Shoulda.

I am happy to hear the conference was full of good conversation and learning.

It is funny as a normal not famous blogger (I have been not famous for almost 2 years) to read through the different reactions to blogher conferences and your post was simply refreshing.

3/25/07, 9:23 PM  
Anonymous TSM-Truth, Sincerity, Madness said...

Wherever ya go...there ya are.

Probably a good portion of what made it so good? You were there.

*shrug* my 2 cents.

3/25/07, 11:01 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

The McLaughlin Group analogy has me rolling on the floor. WRONG!

I truly wish I had bitten the bullet and gone.

(Aside to those concerned about the cattiness: I swear to you that it was ridiculously minor and should in NO WAY dissuade you from attending this year. Because we mommybloggers look after our own. Word.)

3/25/07, 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Cynthia Samuels said...

Damn I'm sorry I missed it! I have two sisters and went to a women's college and love to work with and hang out with and generally enjoy the company of women. This sounded like a particularly great gathering, too.

Liz I know the frustrations you're talking about. I think that part of it is that BlogHer has created such a sense of ownership that when ANYONE does ANYTHING not expected or totally familiar/comfortable, the defenses go up. No one wants to lose the safe warmth congenial women feel in the presence of one another. Fear, jealousy, loneliness, over-high expectations, naivety - all generate forms of political/editorial chaos. Your descriptions were superb and true. And I, like you, felt changed by last year's conference - it's truly enriched and informed my life going forward. So let the whiiiiners whiiiine - we'll just keep marching forward blogger by blogger, sister by sister, all together and the wiser for it. Oh and on the subway, lean way forward so brewing baby is pushing the Daily News right into that seated guy's face. That usually works.

3/25/07, 11:51 PM  
Anonymous Laurie said...

I just read the post you linked re: last summer's conference in San Jose, and I'm so sorry there were those who felt that way, because I so didn't...I am a blogger without children who attended last summer's conference and Blogher Business, gawking at everyone's babies, drinking wine, and reading everyone's words, regardless of how many kids they do or don't have. I went to dinner this week in NYC with women who both did and did not have kids, and we were all so open to each others' words and insights...I had no idea there was any divisiveness last summer until I got home from a truly personally transformative weekend in San Jose and read about it online. It had to have been a strange minority opinion, because I was way too busy making friends and connecting with people in those two days to make any criticisms about anyone.

I heard you ask questions in panels, Liz, and was impressed with your intelligence and insight - plus thought you were one of the more radiant pregnant women I've ever seen. I met people this week who have changed my outlook and showed me even more how blogging opens the world of communication for all of us who participate. This is the Blogher vision in action, I think - and I so appreciate the chance to learn from all involved. So many of my friends and family members have children. They are a part of my life, too. We're all connected. I'm not sure why that's so hard for everyone to grasp, and why inclusiveness is so difficult. I am a daughter, and I could be a mother tomorrow - if it were entirely up to me I'd be one already, but it hasn't happened yet. And still I write, just like every other blogger.

I like your voice and will be checking your page! Good luck with this new little one. HI hope to see you in Chicago - I can't wait! Laurie

3/26/07, 2:28 AM  
Blogger tracey said...

Dang it. I wish I was there.

3/26/07, 3:58 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

It was a great, fun, bonding weekend for me too and I'm sorry to be missing it this year. Also, I still swear that being around all that estrogen is what pushed me over the edge to finally getting pregnant, as I conceived very literally the day I returned from San Jose, so there's that. I think Dawn had something to do with it.

3/26/07, 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

Yeah, the whole hating mommybloggrs thing? So tiresome. I actually wrote a little something about that, too and I wasn't sure I should actually post it but maybe I will. You inspired me. As for BlogHer '06, I had a great time and I'm looking forward to '07 :)

3/26/07, 1:48 PM  
Blogger The Daring One said...

Let's see if we can make it happen like that in Chicago. My post about the '06 conference was similar but not as cleverly worded. It's not a social club. It's a conference. You'll definitely learn a lot. You may meet fabulous people. You will likely not exchange friendship bracelets with every big name blogger you've been stalking since infancy. Deal with it.

3/26/07, 2:26 PM  
Blogger Busy Mom said...

Wahhh!! I wanted to go to that. Glad you enjoyed it.

3/26/07, 5:13 PM  
Blogger k said...

yay! so glad you enjoyed yourself and were able to connect/reconnect with some of the amazing women who were there.

i'm sorry i didn't get to spend *any* time with you...

...but glad you enjoyed the chipwiches. :)

3/26/07, 5:51 PM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

Bossy's spirit is renewed, for you see she spent the weekend thinking everyone at the conference was having a perfectly shitty time while Bossy was happy at home watching back-to-back episodes of Designer's Challenge -- But no, the conference was divine and the blogger connections deep and for this bossy is happy for you. Really. Really. Happy. For. You. Growl.

3/26/07, 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Beth B. said...

I am glad I took your mind off the earthquakes, they only happen every other day so don't worry... Oh, I mean once in a long long while. So happy to have you join us on the west coast. And so great to meet you after reading your blog for so long. Don't let those crumb tellers ruin your day, your looked uber stylish - and I loved your black boots.

I also thought BlogHer biz was an amazing experience!

3/26/07, 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Good for you, Liz - although, I'm pissed that I didn't go and I would have liked to have these women, in person, and seen your beautifully bodacious baby-self - I'm sure you were just as I remembered you, only, more huggable ;o)

3/27/07, 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

GAH - I would have liked to have MET...MET, these women...ARGH, stupid pms-bloated fingers!

Ah, well - at least the college kids'll appreciate my typo!

3/27/07, 10:51 AM  
Blogger Kyla said...

I hope BlogHer is lovely this go-round....mostly because I'm going and its my first year and I'd rather it not suck. ;)

3/28/07, 12:19 AM  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I want to got to BlogHer this year too. It looked like a blast last year and I'm a person who likes to have blasts so that's good. So far so good and that. Now there's only the pesky pragmatics to work out. God, I hate pragmatics.

I'm sorry to hear about all the cattiness though. That sucks.

3/28/07, 6:55 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Wow. I'm sorry I didn't go. Thanks for the recap and links!

3/29/07, 7:29 PM  

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