Two years ago I received an invitation to the Disney Social Media Moms celebration at Walt Disney World. As any blogger will tell you, invites to this conference (which includes amazing speakers, 7-day park passes for you AND 3 family members, exclusive events and WDW lodging for a ridiculous nominal fee) are highly coveted and extremely rare..... but due to scheduling and budget constraints, I was forced to decline. Boy did that hurt. Turning down the chance of a lifetime with no guarantee that I would ever be invited again? Crazy! I just had to tell myself that there would be other opportunities. As the (Disney) song says, “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.”
Sure enough, this year the Disney gods saw fit to smile down on me once again and throw a bit of pixie dust my way. No, I didn't get invited to this year's conference -- but I did get invited to the next best thing, their Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On The Road conference. As the name suggests, instead of traveling to Disney, Disney travels to you.... or to be more precise, to New York, Maryland, California and Washington. This half-day conference is a mini version of the full conference, with great speakers giving great tips on how to succeed in social media, plus updates on what's happening at the Disney resorts, networking opportunities, great giveaways and fun swag.
I was invited to the San Francisco leg of the On The Road conference, which was held at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. I decided to take the kids with me and stay at the hotel the night before, so we ended up having a fun mini getaway, splashing in the pool, strolling down College Avenue, and hanging out in the hotel room (my kids love hanging out in hotel rooms, which is fortunate because that's where they stayed the next morning while I was at the conference!).
The conference started off with an introduction by Maria Bailey, founder of BSM Media and Mom Talk Radio and the brains behind the whole Disney Social Media Moms idea. In fact, the very first Disney blogger event she organized was seven whole years ago, here in San Francisco, and I was one of the bloggers who attended!
Next up was Michele Himmelberg from the Disneyland Resort, who got the conference attendees up to speed on all the latest happenings at the parks, including the new Fantasy Faire, Mickey and the Magical Map show, Cars Land, and more.
The keynote speaker was easily my favorite of the whole day: Mindee Doney, the inventor of Boogie Wipes. She told us the story of how she came up with the idea, turned it into a multi million dollar business, and the lessons she learned along the way. I was impressed at how honest she was about her own failures and mistakes.
Mindee was riveting -- she was candid, funny, honest, encouraging, inspiring. Her presentation was awesome, filled words of wisdom about work-life balance, working mom guilt, being in the present with your kids, setting goals, making mistakes, determining your schedule, and so much more. Here are a few that I'm definitely filing away:
- HELP is not a 4-letter word
- Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends -- Walt Disney
- The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want at the moment.
Mindee received a standing ovation and I can't think of anyone who earned it more.
Next, Maria assembled a panel of entrepreneurs from the Huggies MomInspired grant program to give advice on how to take a business to the next level. Romy Taormina (the founder of Psi Bands), Alma Moussa (founder of Babeee Covee) and Erin Kelly (founder of Hulabye) all spoke about how they identified a universal parenting need (alleviate morning sickness, keep your baby warm in his carseat, keep your baby still during a diaper change) and came up with a product to meet those needs.
Our final speaker of the day was Michelle Stepney, Disney Parks Global Content Director. Michelle had some extremely valuable tips for creating video content, conducting interviews, being interviewed, getting your message out and representing your brand. She stressed the importance of sticking to two or three key points and remembering the fact that nothing is ever "off the record". I recently interviewed a Disney executive about Mickey and the Magical Map and I definitely could have used some of her advice!
I haven't been to a blog conference in quite a while -- I skipped BlogHer 2012 and I'm not attending BlogHer 2013, and I never got around to registering for any conference in between -- so it was nice to once again be in a learning environment, to do something proactive and take a step to improve my blogging. The fact that it was a Disney event was icing on the cake. Disney, after all, puts a bit of magic in everything it does, and this conference was no exception. Even though it was just a half-day event, everyone had a great time: we all met some great new people, listened to some fabulous speakers and went home with something useful for our blogs and businesses.
Next year's Disney Social Media Moms Conference will be held, for the first time, at Disneyland Resort in California. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a bit more pixie dust to blow my way!
Disclosure: The half-day conference was free for all attendees; I incurred all travel and lodging expenses.