Last week Disney brought a bit of magic and pixie dust to Berkeley in the form of The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration "On-the-Road" - a very clever spin-off of the immensely popular Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. This was an invite-only half-day social media conference held at the gorgeous Claremont Hotel & Spa. I was honored to have received an invitation and was thrilled to attend the event where I learned priceless information from a fantastic panel of speakers!
What is the coveted Disney Social Media Moms Celebration? In essence it's a magnificent, magical FAM trip / social media conference which occurs every year for a select group of 150 very lucky participants. The program is rich in networking & guest speakers - in addition to being shrouded in the magic and mystery no one other than Disney can provide. The conference has taken place annually at Walt Disney World in Florida, however (drum roll, please), in 2014 the conference will be calling the Disneyland Resort its home! #PleasePickMe
Because so many are eager to attend, the content is so valuable & the speakers are so dynamic - these smaller "On-the-Road" half-day conferences were created to give even more mom bloggers the opportunity to benefit from this great program.
After an hour-long commute, I arrive at the Claremont at 6:30am, in the midst of a rain shower. I emerge from the car in my fabulous heels & retro dress - complete with little Twitter-style birds - and pop open my Jack Skellington umbrella. This is the Disney Social Media Moms On the Road conference, ladies - a little rain is NOT going to ruin this party!
Even though I was super early - I wasn't alone! Patty from Margaritas, Miles & Mouse was also early so we met-up, talked runDisney, networked and even met-up with Emelia of Half Crazy Mama. I met so many amazing bloggers - please be sure to check them ALL out on this Twitter list.
Eventually we made our way in and ate breakfast at the beautifully decorated tables.
The ever-inspiring Maria Bailey of Mom Talk Radio, Blue Suit Mom, Smart Mom Solutions & BSM Media was our host. Along with Mike Hyland, Director of Disneyland PR, Maria was the pioneer behind the #DisneySMMoms Celebration. (It's no surprise the spark for the idea was born right here in the Silicon Valley when Mike decided he wanted to engage moms in beneficial social experiences.) Maria is a powerhouse, a truly motivated business woman and mother. When she talks, I listen. Maria shared with the us the importance of not feeling guilty for being a working mother. Our children learn from us, and if we give them the time they need and look them in the whites of their eyes when they speak to us - we are showing them respect in return. It's a give & take - that is something I have learned in my years as a working mom. We are our own brand, she said, and women owned businesses have grown 54%. That's huge! What we have to say matters.
Next up was Michele Himmelberg, PR Director at the Disneyland Resort. Michele shared with us some of the amazing ways Disneyland continues to evolve. Michele is fantastic at what she does for Disneyland as evidenced by the success of the #JustGotHappier campaign. Between Fantasy Faire and Mickey & the Magical Map - Disneyland continues to expand our imaginations and tell stories in that magical Disney way. In keeping with the theme, Michele reminds us mom bloggers that we too have stories to tell, and that people ARE listening. Very powerful! Of the many cool tidbits of info Michele shared, my favorite was learning that Disneyland was the most Instagramed place in the USA - before it even officially had an Instagram account! (Which it does now.) Check out my IG feed if you're looking for Disneyland fun times.
She was not kidding. The story of her journey from wife & mom to inventor to business owner to a divorced woman who lost her company - is all about the truth. She is very real. To stay in the journey she taught us to EMBRACE, EMPOWER & ACCEPT. Like me, she has a strong work ethic, but she places her family first. "Cherish the highs, be in the lows." She doesn't put social media before her kids. She doesn't stare at her computer when her children speak to her. I am onboard with that. I'm usually the last person to post a race/event recap, but I have a lot more love in my home and in my life than those that chose to blog & Tweet all day long. #TruthBomb
Next we were introduced to the panel of mompreneurs: Erin Kelly of Hulabye, Alma Moussa of Babee Covee & Romy Taormina of Psi Bands. Each of these women spoke about their products from idea to conception. They spoke about the difficulties of being a mom and a business owner. They were open and honest about financial struggles and their goals. Special thanks to Romy for the Psi Bands - my daughter and my nephew suffer from motion sickness and I can't wait for them to try the bands! Kudos to Huggies for the Mom Inspired Grant program helping making womens' business dreams a reality!
In true Disney fashion, the best was saved for last. I am a HUGE fan of the Disney Parks Blog. As a frequent reader, I have my favorites and I was able to meet 2 of them at this conference! During a bio break mid-conference, I made my way over to Erin Glover, Manager, Social Media & Print Disneyland to say hello and tell her what a huge fan I am. Imagine my surprise when she said she knew me - just by my name. Hello!? Erin knows ME? (I was not kidding when I said I'm a fan of Disney Parks Blog.) After I picked my jaw up off the floor we chatted some more about running, triathalons, blogging, Disneyland, The Enchanted Tiki Room 50th Anniversary Event and everything in between. She was just as sweet as can be and later, at the end of the conference, I asked if she wouldn't mind taking a pic with her nerdy fan. She kindly obliged.
As I was saying - the best for last...
Before the beginning of the conference, I introduced myself to Michelle Stepney, Disney Parks PR Content Director. Being the fashion junkie I am - I absolutely love her Disney Style Snapshops. The ensembles are crazy C U T E and F A B! She was our final speaker of the day. An expert in media and journalism - with a background from DC - Michelle is knowledgeable! She gave us key points, tools and techniques. Smile. Deliver your message professionally and concisely. Be confident. Stick to what you know. Never say anything you don't want repeated. (My blog is over 10 years old - yet there are several missing posts for a reason.) Stay positive and BE YOURSELF. My favorite: "You owe reporters a response, not an answer." That's a good rule of thumb for everyday life. She had us all laughing as well - what a great personality! Loved her!
Just like that - poof - our event was over. Before making my way out into the rain, I took the time to visit with new friends, exchange cards and, of course make Disney plans.
I met countless empowering, inspiring women. I left the event energized and determined to pursue my dreams. This conference helped cement the fact that I've been making the right choices and the changes in my life lately. There's always room to grow and learn, there will be failures and success. As long as I'm in the moment - it's all good!
Now I wait with breath that is bated in hopes of a coveted invitation to the 2014 DisneySMMoms Celebration at the Disneyland Resort!