Monday, January 30, 2012

STELLAposy: Alt Summit Recap

You know how you spend your teenage years and twenties trying to find the right crowd to hang out with? Maybe you adjust who you are to fit in with the crowd you think you should be a part of? Then, you finally figure out who you are and look for the right people to expand the greater you?

That’s how I feel now looking back on the two days I spent at the Altitude Design Summit. OK, I didn’t sport the high bun or the bright red lipstick (the uniform of choice for fashionables at Alt), but I felt like, “Hey, these are my peeps. I don’t know any of them, but I kinda do.”

This being my first year, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I relied on my friend/art director/food blogger/veteran Alt attendee, Heidi Larson of Foodiecrush, to be my guide. And thanks to a last minute connection with another friend, Larkyn Mungovan of Little Willow, I had my two buddies to keep me comfortable in this 500+ mob of creatives. We did our own thing then “checked in” with each other in between panels and for lunch. We had a good system.

Not only was I an Alt rookie, I’m a media rookie. I’ve spent the last seven years running an event and floral design business and it was just this year that I got the opportunity of a lifetime to be the Editor for Utah Bride & Groom magazine (which I love). Simply, I went to Alt to get a better understanding for online media.

Naively I thought that I would find the answers to “How much money do bloggers really make?” or “Are magazines a dying breed?” There was no mention of dollar amounts and only time will tell if magazines will exist when my kids are media readers.

Admittedly, I felt a little lost the first day. In panels like “Site Dos and Don’ts” and “What Can Small Sites Learn from Big Communities?”, I was definitely the rookie amongst the experts. It was a little overwhelming/daunting/exhilarating.

I didn’t start seeing the big picture until now—days later—after letting all the eye-candy fashions, media superstardom, and sponsored mini-parties set in. (I also had to let my conference cold subside.)

The bigger picture also came to me after reading this post in the Huffington Post about Alt Summit. Author, Estelle Hayes, refers to these micro-mommy-economies grass roots effort as "Blog-powered stylists, designers and event planners [who] are relentlessly reshaping everything from store design to food trends to wedding aesthetics." To me, it all seems a little MLM-esque; I-help-you-you-help-me philosophy, but hey, it's the entrepreneurial spirit at its best….and best-dressed.

This was no how-to conference. No, this bunch didn’t need lectures or tutorials. They just needed a little this-is-how-I-did-it-now-you-throw-your-own-magic potion-into-it-and-see-what-happens. All in all, it was pretty magical.

Here are a few of my fave moments of Alt:

1. I can’t tell you how the phrase “Days are long. Years are short.” from Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, resonated with me. I can honestly say that alone has changed my attitude since Alt.

2. Devoutly listening to media mavens Pilar Guzman, Deborah Needleman, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, discussing “The Relationship between Traditional Media and New Media.” Seems like the jury is still out on this question, but the two worlds are definitely colliding.

3. During this keynote I couldn’t decide if I was impressed or concerned by the two 20-somethings I sat next to who tweeted pedantically during the keynote. Feeling like the old-fogey for one of the first times ever in my professional career, I asked her, “Did you tweet the entire keynote? How did you do that?” She laughed (like young folk do to old folk when they’re really thinking “You’re too old to get it.”) and ever politely told me, “It just takes practice.” Cute.

4. Ben Silbermann of Pinterest. Is that guy humble or what? His “west coast thinking” that Pinterest is about a "community of sharing" was endearing (although secretly, I was screaming to him in my head, Ben, seriously, how much money are making?) and I loved when he said to hire people smarter than yourself. Then followed up with, “I wouldn’t get a job working at Pinterest if I tried now.” That guy deserves to be making millions.

5. I loved, loved, loved my roundtable session with Jaimee Rose, Journalism Basics for Bloggers. After all, journalism is the heart of all this banter. May as well do it right. (Wait, was that grammatically correct?)

6. Via twitter during lunch, I scored a one-on-one interview with Emily Henderson. Eeeeks. I’m a big fan, so that made my year. You can see the interview over here at Utah Style & Design magazine.

7. I loved going through my card collection at the end of the conference to recall who I met. I felt like a nobody going into the conference and left feeling like I was maybe, just maybe, a part of a club, or a movement, or a revolution of sorts. Time will tell, I guess.

8. Lunch was superb. Oops, did I just admit to lunch being amazing? Well, yes, it was (this mommy never gets to sit down to enjoy a meal like that).

9. Sitting in the front row at everything. Nerd alert.

10. Somewhat unrelated to anything design, I was soooo proud of my city, the host. All the out-of-towners spoke highly of our little city and I was beaming with pride. Thanks Salt Lake City and the Grand America for looking so cool.

photo via design crush

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