If you’ve ever been part of organizing a conference (or any large multi-day event, really) then I don’t need to tell you what the last few months have been like. Lots of long work days filled with spreadsheets, deadlines and approvals with lots and lots of updates and changes in between. It’s about getting things done well and quickly, making sure every sponsor is happy and ensuring that guests will have the best experience possible. With 31 sponsors and 450 attendees on their way, everything had to run smoothly for our third annual #WeAllGrow Summit. I’m proud to say, it did. From the food, accommodations at Hotel Maya, speakers, keynotes and suites, there was something for everyone.
The infamous song lyric “If I can make there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you. New York, New York” can easily apply to Los Angeles, especially if you’re pursuing a career in a creative field.
I wanted to write a post about our #WeAllGrowMIA event back in September but I had nothing to share.
How’s that even possible? Well, when you’re in charge of overseeing social media coverage there’s no such thing as sitting down and taking it all in. Add Miami heat and humidity to the mix, and the only sitting I did manage to sneak in was anywhere I could find a breeze.
Shew, it was a scorcher.
No matter how much I was running around, there was no doubt that this event was the epitome of a Boss Lady celebration. So instead of giving you a breakdown of the day, I decided to share what was at the core of the message that we, as a company, strive to convey with every event we do.
YOU are talented. YOU are brilliant. YOU are a Boss Lady.
I didn’t immediately write a recap about #WeAllGrow Summit 2016 because 1. It was a lot to digest 2. I wanted to wait until we made our 2017 announcement so I could really explain why you need to be at our next conference. But before I do that, I invite you to watch the video created by the very talented Andrea Franco.
Whether you’re a veteran blogger, a youtuber, newbie, instagrammer or barely opening a Twitter account, #WeAllGrow Summit will help you get started and/or take things to next level. The conference speaks to the creator/artist/writer/dreamer in you above anything. Yes, sure, you will learn how to be an SEO pro and you will know everything there is to know about Youtube, Instagram Facebook and Pinterest, but you will also truly understand why your voice is important and needed in the digital space.
This has been an incredibly hard week. But that’s usually the case when I go to an amazing conference where the inspiration is so high it’s hard to come down. It never fails. You meet hundreds of amazing women. Your brain gets filled with ideas while your heart implodes with joy from all the overwhelming support from those who get it. You come home ready to implement all that you’ve learned only to crash on the couch or in front of the computer (head down on keyboard). Such a tragedy.
I mean, can you blame me? Look at that view!
(Editors note: This post was originally written for Latina Bloggers Connect)
Instagram recently announced a change in their algorithm, which, as many of you saw, sent the Instagramming community off the deep end. Users started requesting that notifications be turned on, which does nothing. They started several petitions to keep things the way they are with the hope that Instagram would say “My bad, you’re right.” Not happening. I’m pretty sure Instagram went over all of the pros and cons before deciding to announce that user experience is slowly going to change. In all its simplicity, it’s a brilliant app that changed the landscape of visual communication online. Let’s give them the credit of understanding how users can get the best experience out of it, shall we?
Here’s the deal: Instagram has grown substantially since its start in 2010. There are now more than 400 million monthly users. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s a lot of content. Our feeds are filled with amazing photos and stories of people around the world doing extraordinary things inspiring us to live healthier lives, travel and dream. We get to see what our long-distance friends and loved ones are up to, and live vicariously through their images. There’s a tremendous amount of power in that.
I recently spoke on a panel with Sara Urqhart of Alt Summit, Cara Paige of Blogalicious and Laurie White of Mom 2.0 at #WeAllGrow Summmit 2016 called How Collaborations Can Build Your Brand. How cool was it to sit on a panel with these powerhouses? Very! These are some of the loveliest, most passionate women I’ve met. They truly love what they do, and were excited to share their experience and knowledge with our attendees.
Prior to this panel, I had been working on a collaborative project called CoLAB (L for Latina Bloggers Connect, A for Alt Summit and B for Blogalicious) with Sara and Cara. Hi perfect is that acronym, I mean, really.
This last trip to Salt Lake City was pretty special to me. It was the first time I’ve got on a plane – alone – since being unwell two years ago. I’m a nervous flyer, so just getting back on a plane was huge for me. On one hand I was thrilled to head off on my own with all my new found health and perspective on life. On the other hand, I was terrified of getting vertigo or a symptom that would leave me in a lot of pain. I’m happy to report, none of that happened. Although my neck alignment did go out upon landing at SLC, I held up pretty well the few days I was there. That was a relief as I was in SLC to speak on a panel at Alt Summit.
The conference took place at Grand America Hotel, which was just a beautiful as I remember it, except this time I got to enjoy the beautiful snowcapped mountains. Ah, what a treat. I got to wear a coat, gloves and a scarf unlike my previous visit in the Spring. After what seemed like the longest summer ever, I was more than happy to feel a bit of cold.
One of my goals for 2016 is to speak more at conferences, and I’m already making that happen by pitching myself and developing topics that I’m passionate about. For several years now, I’ve been at the keyboard plugging away in this new, ever-changing, world of social media. I’ve given a few presentations at conferences but mainly worked them, as we typically had a client we were collaborating with somehow. However, things have evolved and I’ve been able to really focus on growing my position within social media through work and my own projects. To stay on top of things, I’ve been sinking my teeth into podcasts, Youtube videos, webinars, wordy articles, you name it, with the intention of learning everything about this industry. I came from the art history world, which is a much more slow paced field. I’m not in a position where additional schooling is an option so I had to learn while doing. My lessons have all come in the form of taking risks and creating my own opportunities (with fingers crossed!). Needless to say, I’ve gotten one heck of an education, and I would love to share those resources with women who want to grow their blogs and brands.
But what about all those years I spent in the museum world as a lecturer and art interpreter? I didn’t want that to be a closed chapter in my life. Yet, I didn’t want to return to the museum field. Instead, I found a way to bring in all I’ve learned about visual storytelling, and have been working on a few fun projects to bring it all together (expect more updates this year). To get the ball rolling, I did a presentation on the importance of Visual Storytelling on Instagram at #WeAllGrowLA – a half-day workshop which is designed to be a taste of #WeAllGrow Summit jam-packed with sessions, sponsor networking and a lot of great food. Although the conference was in December, I view it as the first of many speaking engagements to come this year through theArtMuse and Latina Bloggers Connect.
If you want to see my presentation, you can see it here – Visual Storytelling and Branding on Instagram.
#WeAllGrowLA was such a lovely event. Of course I’m bias and have warm fuzzy feelings about it because all #WeAllGrow entities are the baby of Latina Bloggers Connect, but a lot went into making this day special. It was also the first time we introduced Latina Makers Market, where small business owners showcased their work, like these beautiful rings made by The Orphaned Earring.
I’m still unpacking from my fun and inspiring trip to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you’re one of the few people who has never heard of Alt – It is a design focused conference for bloggers, lifestyle sites, companies and creatives in the online space. I was invited to speak and moderate a panel – Diversity in the Design & Lifestyle Blogging/Social Media World with Chauncea Carothers and Maritza Diaz. After going over several ideas about how we should best the run the panel, we decided to keep it conversational. After all, diversity? It’s not a cut and dry topic that can be broken down into a Power Point presentation. We introduced ourselves and went into what the term diversity meant to us and how we discuss it and don’t discuss it in our social media presence. It’s who we are but it does not define everything we do. The topic got so good, the hour just literally flew by. We loved that women wanted to diversify their readership, address bigger topics on their blogs, show different sides of their personal experiences and include other languages in their posts. This panel was everything that makes blogging such a amazing world to be a part of.
Alt Summit in Salt Lake City
The Summit was held at the Grand American hotel. Oh, my. What a pretty place. The accommodations and staff were seriously rave-worthy. Everyone was so friendly, the attendees mentioned it whenever they were given the chance. Ana and I had a large suite all to ourselves. While I made the rounds throughout the Summit, she spent a lot of time catching up with work and making calls in pure comfort. It was so nice to order breakfast in the morning with our view of the mountains and catch up on some much-needed girl talk.
Making this trip to Utah was a bit scary for me. I missed two conferences I was suppose to speak at this past year because I was unable to fly. Vertigo is really an awful thing. Ana confessed much of her decision to go on the trip (her schedule is super packed these days) with me is because she wanted to be there as a friend. She and I have been there for each other for some pretty big moments – This was no exception. If you’ve ever dealt with a chronic illness, I’m sure you can understand how monumental it is to take a step back into the things you once did without having to think twice about it. To have a friend with you is pretty golden.
RELATED: My TMJD Story
During the Summit, Gabrielle Blair (Alt Summit co-founder) announced our latest endeavor – coLAB (L for Latina Bloggers Connect, A for Alt Summit and B for Blogalicious)! coLAB is a collaborative project between our communities to get to know each other better while creating something amazing. I write all about coLAB in this post.
If you’re looking to launch a business, I cannot stress the importance of attending workshops and conferences enough. There’s nothing like being surrounded by peers and learning from the greats in your industry. Sure. They can be costly. But if you want to take your brand to the next level, it’s an investment that will pay back 10-fold. Networking online is simply not enough. I’m still taking everything all in. There’s so much more I want to do, and I’m feeling like the time is right … starting with this blog. There have been a few subtle changes here and there in design. Expect lots more in the months to come!
(Pic: A combination of my own and Alt)
Well, look who resurfaced from the depths of TMJ hell? Last time we left off, I promised to post that red jumper I was wearing along with my bling tatts. Well, that-did-not-happen. Instead, I had a set back (after a routine massage) that gave me an impressive dose of vertigo – for weeks. The holidays were a blast. Nothing like a brightly lit Christmas tree that moves on its own. I finally had to cave in and get a real orthotic, set up chiropractor visits (all about that NUCCA) and physical therapy. With the #WeAllGrow Summit (our company’s inaugural conference) coming up, a full time job and freelance work, I decided to let my blog chill for a bit. I needed to really focus on my treatment. I even recruited my amazingly selfless mother to help me with my son just so that I can focus on keeping my job (these med bills aren’t going to pay themselves) and fixing this jaw. It worked. I am feeling a lot better. But don’t throw confetti just yet. I still have a way to go. However, I’m well enough to finally update my little baby, and share the awesomeness that was the #WeAllGrow Summit at the LINE Hotel. The place where I realized that a set back is actually a good thing. Let me start by saying that I was extremely nervous about the Summit. After working so hard at Latina Bloggers Connect for four years, the thought of TMJ robbing me from experiencing the joy of seeing where the company is today was daunting. It was literally days before the conference that I felt well enough to at the very least shop for a few new outfits. I was scheduled to host a photography workshop and museum field trip. I kept thinking how am I going to pull this off? My fiance kept reassuring that I would be fine, and he was right. I had to put myself in that mindset. Easier said than done, but there was no choice, and the universe carefully planned it that way. The #MisMomentosNeutrogena Sanctuary Suite
I’ve spent the last few days writing recaps about the Summit, which you can see HERE, HERE and HERE. So I won’t get into all the nitty gritty about the sessions and panels. I will, however, share that a circle of amazing women, a fulfilling job along with a stand-up boss and fun loving co-workers all in one room healed me in so many ways. There were times I physically felt horrible but the mind, being as powerful as it is, would not let me go there. I didn’t ignore my body’s need for rest, and took breaks when I needed them, but I also knew that laughter and a good distraction was very important too. With so many guests coming from all over the country and world we really wanted them to get a full-on Los Angeles experience. Attendees were given the opportunity of choosing one of four field trips from yoga to DTLA to museums. We really wanted to showcase LA’s hidden treasures, art scene and culture as a way to welcome everyone to our home. The next couple of days were filled with sessions about tech, social media, photography, story telling and inspirational stories. I ate, I laughed, I learned and worked my little tail off to ensure that every single detail made its way through every social media outlet in real time while tracking results. Because of that, it wasn’t easy for me to be in the moment a whole lot, but I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work.
But this conference wasn’t just a celebratory mark in my career. The words – We All Grow – carries a huge significance for me that is deeply personal. I took my job at Latina Bloggers Connect during a time that I was unsure about the relationship I was in and didn’t know if I wanted to continue in the museum field. I also missed New York and my family, and wasn’t able to fully accept that LA will be my home for a long while. I felt there was more exploration I needed to do. I had to detach from all the things I felt “identified” me. I was changing. Times were changing. The world was changing. I felt a shift in the universe. There was something urging me to dig a little deeper and take all my experiences to another platform. It was telling me that my time was now, and that I needed to really listen and see the signs. I followed that path of the unknown and eventually found myself traveling, working, and becoming the head of my household (and out of an unfulfilling relationship). It was the toughest and scariest road I’d ever been on but I knew that if I was going to grow, I needed to take those risks.
A lot of my soul is in Latina Bloggers Connect – There’s nothing more fulfilling to me than working with women who live for lifting each other up, breaking down walls and building doors. Where I was emotionally when this journey started and everything that played afterwards was no coincidence. I had to be in that place in order to get to where I’m at now.
In a nutshell, we all grow. But you have to be willing to do the work and accept the set backs. What started out as a one women to a 3 player company has blossomed into two teams of strong, invigorating women. And this is only the beginning.
(Images: Robson Muzel)