Alt Summit 2012

I'm back from Alt Summit, and I'm filled with ideas and inspiration!  I learned so much-- about blogging, about business, about myself.  It was truly wonderful, and I can't wait to go back next year!  I took some great notes, but instead of sharing those here, I thought I'd see if I can't put some of what I learned into action to make this a better blog.  If you are looking for class notes, there are some great recaps out there and they are popping up all over!

Some highlights from the conference, along with some random thoughts and observations about the experience-- in absolutely no particular order:

  • Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest, gave one of the most inspirational talks I've ever heard.  He is so sweet, so charming, so humble and so smart! I cried at the end of his talk, then teared up again when I met him at one of the parties later that night.  If my eyes look a little glassy in the photo below, it is not because of that wine I am holding. :)

  • Sometimes a not-so-fancy hotel is perfect!  The rooms at the gorgeous Grand America Hotel had sold out by the time I got my ticket to Alt, so I stayed a few blocks away at the Sheraton.  I have to say, while it is nice to splurge on occasion and stay in a super-nice hotel, I also like the laid-back-ness of a conference hotel like the Sheraton.  This isn't to say it isn't nice--it is!  I had a two-story room, large as can be (550 sf) and quiet to boot.  I was also continually supplied with FREE (yes, completely unheard of these days) bottled water in the room, and was able to order a delicious "Mountain Breakfast" from room service for only $8.00.  I highly recommend this hotel on your next visit to SLC!
  • Dressing up is FUN!  My husband and I spend most of our nights at home.  We go out occassionally, but after years of going out just about every night when I was younger, I prefer to spend most nights in.  At Alt, I went out three nights in a row!  What a party girl I was!  And I had a blast every night.  I also dressed up during the days.  I spend a lot of time in "housefits", so I enjoyed having a place to wear my cute clothes.
  • Cheesecake is delicious.
  • Strawberry shortcake is, too.
  • I learned a lot by attending the classes, but I enjoyed and learned more from some panel discussions than I did from others.  Some of them absolutely blew me away; others not so much.  For me, content is key.  I would rather leave feeling completely overwhelmed with my head spinning from too much information than leave feeling like I didn't learn enough.  Which brings me to--Q and A.
  • Most panels like to leave time for a question and answer session at the end of their presentation.  This is a great idea, but too often fails in execution.  One problem is that I can rarely hear what question is being asked.  The person answering should always remember to repeat the question for the group so that we will know what was asked.  (This is not relevant when there is someone walking around with a mic as there was in the keynote addresses, only in the panel sessions).  Another problem is that people asking the questions often ask very personal questions, specifically related to themselves and their situation and having no relevance to the rest of the class.  I'd like for audience members to give thought to whether this is a question they should take up the rest of the audience's time with.  Can others benefit from this information?  If not, maybe save your question for another time.
  • Squarespace is about to get even better!!  Hard to believe, right?  I love Squarespace and love their current product so the idea of changes kind of concerned me.  Nothing to stress about-- this is going to be amazing!!  Version 6 is in Beta right now, and by attending the portfolio class on Saturday, I was given a coveted invite.  The class was taught by Susan and William Brinson.  They are a gorgeous, inspiring, crazily-talented couple.  Their class was one of the best I attended!  Also, Ryan from Squarespace was there to answer our questions and guide us around the new version.  He was such a nice guy and a great representative for Squarespace!
  • I love Kathleen of Jeremy and Kathleen!  She led a great round-table discussion called "Your Blog as a Marketing Tool", and it was a fabulous class.  Definitely a highlight for me.  I really enjoyed the round-table setting.  I just wish the table had been a bit larger to accomodate everyone.  Either that, or it would have been nice to offer these classes a few times so that each class happened more than once.  There were so many of these round-tables that I wanted to attend.  It was tough to choose.  One thing that was great and different about the class was that it was led by one person, and she had a very well-thought-out lesson plan.  Sometimes one person's clear vision is easier to grasp than four peoples' (as in the panel presentations) combined vision.

  • I WON A KitchenAid MIXER AT THE WilsonArt MINI-PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!  YAY!!
  • Meeting inspiring creative men and women is something I need more of in my life!  There is nothing better than connecting in person, face-to-face. 
  • These tiny pineapple cakes at the WilsonArt party were delicious:

  • Amy Butler and Laurie Smithwick are two of the kindest, most generous women I have ever met. I met many lovely, talented, and creative women, all of whom inspired me with their smiles, their laughter, their stories.  I have a huge stack of business cards and I could name-drop all day, but I don't want to make you too jealous.  (I've probably already made you hungry--no need to make you green with envy, too.)  I hope to grow these relationships, keep in touch and possibly work with many of the people I met.  Think of all the people I will know next year when I go back!
  • Minted rocks! I went to a meetup on Wednesday and it was awesome!  Now, more than ever, I hope to develop a strong working relationship with this company.  Mariam Naficy and Natasha Lawler are two of the coolest people on the planet.  Also in attendance were Eric Comstock and Ashley Porter, both of whom have products for sale at Minted, and both of whom were delightful.  Eric, one half of the Cosmo Cricket team, is also Lizzy House's cousin!  Mariam and Natasha shared some of the exciting things they have in store, and Minted is only going to get better and better!  There are a couple of things I'm really looking forward to, so expect to see me entering more challenges in the future!  Oh, and wait until you see the art prints-- so beautifully printed and on seriously gorgeous paper!

I have quite a few more thoughts on the events, but this is a good start, right?  A huge thank you to everyone that I met at Alt, and to everyone who created and worked on the event!  What an amazing week I had!  I'm all smiles right now!  Let's all keep in touch!