Monday, February 22, 2010

Got Strategy? How a Mom 2.0 Panel Squared Away Me and My Goals

I feel ridiculous sitting here thinking about trying to provide a post-conference recap of this year's Mom 2.0 Summit.

Post-conference recaps are like train-wrecks for me personally, when I was unable to attend. I'm sick to think of all I missed and reading about all that I did miss (usually the Total Awesome, as I feared) makes me cramp a little in the gut region, and yet...I'm unable to look away. I assiduously scan all posted photos, read all recaps I can get my hands on, and ask attendees to fill me in. I feel a little desperate to somehow capture a bit of the magic and be included.

With the socialization.

Not, per se, with the messages.

Which, it seems, few people discuss.

Instead it's all about the people.

Which makes sense.

Except...

As I posted my own photos from the recent Mom 2.0 Summit in Houston (which I did attend), I caught myself gushing over how wonderful I felt being with My Tribe, my Race of Joseph, my Bosom Buddies. My photos were all of the After moments: after the panels, after the business, after the work. It was all of the fun. That only struck me as strange when I thought...but you know, the panels were so great. They were enriching, and often I connected with people because of the panels. That's how I justified attending, and I chose panels based on what would help my business, not be the most fun or personally entertaining.

The conference started out with a BANG! (the good kind) when I attended "Got Strategy?" hosted by Susan Getgood, with Jo White, Mir Kamin and Isabel Kallman. These well-spoken and well-known experts were GREAT speakers who were perfectly willing to tolerate a battery of questions (from me), share the floor with others who had contributions, and provided just enough backstory while focusing on applicable solutions and practical information. Isabel later told me that my gushy fan girl Tweets entertained her. I felt terribly complimented.

This was, by far, one of the single most helpful panels I've ever sat in on. By this point in time, I've heard and read a lot of good motivating and personally enriching things. Most panels are like most classrooms: full of lovely theory.

What we really need along with that though is practical application.

I realize in most cases the assumption is that we, the audience, can think critically and transition theory to application. But sometimes, when it comes to tasks, the best thing is to teach by doing, not just thinking.

Where I am, and what I need, is practical. I need help with revising my business plan, my corporate Board, financial structure, and tools that help with time management, invoicing, prioritizing, etc. In theory, i know this, and in theory, I know there are things out there to help, and what needs to be done, but I'm left a left overwhelmed by HOW to do this.

A lot of times when I seek the answer to How I hit the wall of Hmms and Haws.

"Hmm, haw, well, you know each to his own..."

It's an answer along the lines of what a lot of us get when we ask about babysitters. Imagine being new to an area. You meet some moms. They're happy to tell you good restaurants that are family-friendly, which grocery stores have the best selection of organic food, which dry-cleaners to use, and even reputable pre-schools. But ask about a babysitter and hit the wall of Hmm and Haw.

Somehow, despite being able to get out and about sans kids, these locals don't seem to know (or have) a name they can (or will) share.

It's a challenge to support or mentor newcomers without giving away the secret sauce that made you a success. I'm sure all of us have had the unpleasant experience of extending a helping hand only to get it bit later on.

It's a challenge to tell others how they should do things, too. Suddenly we step into that ethical quagmire of "well, this is my way but it might not work for you..."

We get protective, we get tentative, we get theoretical...and our audience gets a little lost. They walk out sort of the way you do after a lovely, delicious ice cream sundae: full, yummy taste, but still hungry.

Not so with the panels I attended at Mom 2.0.

Got Strategy, like I said, was full of practical and applicable information. Susan Getgood laid down bullet points of what we'd need to have to apply for a small business loan or grant. Isabel Kallman specified that the single best tool a successful business has is a helpful, active Board. She even shared how she built her own board. Susan offered more great advice about building a board that compensates for skills you need. Isabel then listed her top three preferred sources for business planning and development support: Golden Seeds, Kleiner Perkins, and Guy Kawasaki. And audience member suggested Score.org for free guidance and support. Local Houstonian Gina Carroll reminded locals that the University of Houston offers free small business development services.

Jo and Mir spoke eloquently about brand ambassadors. They spoke about what this is, where it's going and how to respond to it. Audience participation spiked and we all enjoyed an interesting discussion about active versus passive storytelling (a topic near to my heart).

This panel even got down to the nitty gritty about how much time they spend on posts and how many they do per week (on average two per week and two hours per post).

That's just one panel...the first. Neil Chase was helpful in his Advertising and Ad networks roundtable, Heather Barmore lead a rousing discussion about politics and education in hers, and Lucy Chambers of Bright Sky Press helped me settle a question about publication medium for a client in her roundtable discussion.

In my own panel, I gained from the audience! One attendee was curious about how to build a relationship with the mom market and I pulled out my "ask not what your community can do for you but what you can do for your community" spiel, then I pointed out a few community leaders in the room who she should network with. I'm thinking that was useful because it was my Tweetable Quote. My co-panelists added even more value, with Loralee Choate pointing out we are more than our numbers, Joanne Bamberger discussing the importance of every member of a community because you never know where each connection might lead, and our able moderator JJ Lassberg keeping us flowing neatly through a good conversation by asking great leading questions and engaging the audience.

Out of panel conversations with my lovely roommate Colleen Pence, friends such as Lindsay Maines, meals with amazing folks, and more just added this incredible sense of support and wisdom personally and professionally.

I could and should list names, run a photo array, and share all the rest of it. That may have to be another post. It would be impossible to, in one post, cover everything and everyone.

That's why what I really wanted to do was share the useful information.

And open up questions...

Were you at Mom 2.0? What questions did you come with, and what answers did you leave with?

Did you miss Mom 2.0? If so, what question would you have come with?

(My Facebook page contains photos and fun stories.)

7 comments:

Mir said...

This post made me feel all warm and fuzzy. :)

I felt similarly about the panels I attended -- none of the usual "well I did it this way but I'm so different than you" or "I can't really speak to that because it's personal" kind of conferencespeak one so often encounters. There was so much honesty, so much energy, so much willingness to say "How can we all help each other DO THIS THING?" It was awesome.

Glennia said...

Wonderful post, Julie. I stood at the back of the room of your session, and heard the buzzing from the tables about how wonderfully you were able to connect all the dots that were being presented. I'm proud to call you my friend, a part of my tribe. I kept thinking that one day we'll take over the world. You know what? Today's the the day.

Florinda said...

I wasn't there, but it sounds like something I would have liked, and it's nice to see conference follow-up posts that really talk about the content.

Jo (Mediamum) said...

Thank you for your insightful question during the panel, and you're absolutely right - we're all facing similar challenges. Some of us have flubbed our way through somehow (but are nowhere near finished) and sharing the experiences even if we don't have all the answers is far better than just doing the Hmmm Haww thing. As Mir would say, I think you're really pretty. :) Let's have a drink sometime - next conference?!

Kat said...

I wasn't there. I relate to your second paragraph about post-event recaps and how it feels when you weren't there. I thought about going for the whole event, then just for the social events, and then ultimately I didn't go. There were a couple of reasons.

I have too many professional conferences going on right now, along with school, my job, new grandbaby, MY family...my plate is overflowing and it's a struggle not to bite off too much and become completely overwhelmed. I'm a committee chair for a national professional organization I belong to and that of course led to being asked to sit on another committee...just so much going on for me, I would have had to take two days off work to fit this in.

But I really, really wanted to be there. I wanted to meet some of the women that I interact with via blogging, reading their blogs, Twitter, Facebook. I wanted to meet new people that I'd never interacted with before.

I'm going to put this out there and hope I don't get slammed for it, but I ultimately decided not to go because when I tweeted, more than once, "Who's going to mom2.0?", nobody answered me. It kind of stung, and since I knew I would be walking into an event where I knew nobody, I decided not to go. I'm as confident as the next woman and I have often walked into rooms where I know nobody, but I was getting a vibe of cliqueishness that I didn't want to experience up close and personal. I most definitely didn't want to pay money to experience it.

So it looks like it was a great time (if you knew people), it looks like I probably would have enjoyed it, I would have loved to have met you, Julie, and some other local women who were there...but I didn't know if that feeling was mutual and so I stayed home. Just being honest about how it can feel from the outside.

Julie Pippert said...

Kat, I know you and I talked about Mom 2.0, a while back it seems.

Twitter is such a horrid medium in some respects. We're on for brief spurts here and there, and so much flies by -- if something isn't @ or DM to me, I'm just as likely to miss it as see it. I know in my stream 43 new Tweets popped up while I was writing this to you.

If I happen to see something, I feel lucky, like serendipity was at work. But sometimes it isn't. It depends on too much: time of day, who is on, what they are doing, who follows me, etc.

When I tweet out things and get nada back, I try to remember this.

I hear your concern about feeling like an outsider, but please don't let one missed Tweeted question be the proof behind that theorem. I hope this doesn't hit the wrong way -- to borrow your caveat -- but that's a VERY weak case.

I don't know if you would have known anyone. I know people because I spend a lot of time in that world. I hop into as many local in person events as I can, and over time, I've gone to a few other national conferences.

I worked the registration desk at a couple and that's a FANTASTIC way to (a) be on a task so you don't feel lost and (b) meet tons of people. It broke the ice for me.

Also, I had people I never knew come up to chat and had the best conversations. One girl -- had never even heard her name before -- ended up suffering through a hug from me at the end of our talk I was so charmed by her.

There are tight circles of friends. My DC buds and MOMocrats are my BFFs. I adore them. I love my roommate. But I also ended up spending significant time with new friends.

I can't say what your experience would have been. I can say I rave always about Mom 2.0 because it is so unconferency, in that way. I can say I loved it and dedicated myself as much to old friends as to new ones. I can say most people were welcoming, inclusive and gracious, that I saw.

I tend to take a deep breath before a conference and then put out as much of myself as I can the whole time i am there. Somehow, it ends up coming back in a really neat way usually.

And now, end of comment? 122 tweets, that I missed.

Rock and Roll Mama said...

Julie, Julie, Julie!

It was SO lovely to see you. Sometimes I feel like you're my Fairy Godmother of blogging, because you're one of the first people I met (at SXSW last year) whose name I had first known online, and then BAM! I was in the back of her car being whisked to a Blogher party in Austin. That night drove home to me how online relationships become walking talking breathing entities. I was so in awe of you, interviewing everybody with your Flip for the Motherhood. (Other heroes of mine!) it just initiated me into this whole world of connectivity and possibility.

I thank you, for being inclusive of a stranger in your car, for always taking th ekind but wicked ^&^&& smart road.

And I'll see you in a few short weeks.:) Back in Austin- no way has it only been a year, right?:)