Archives for August 2011
Yesterday was my Blogher ’11 recap post, and today, I’m fleshing out a concept I learned there.
In the Peer Networking session, panelist Ananda Leeke, founder of Digital Sisterhood, talked about what she calls “Team Ananda.” She has a team of folks she relies on to help her meet her personal and professional goals.
So I figured, not only do I need to build my personal team, I need to consider if my daughter’s team is adequately staffed.
I’m not big on sports analogies, but this kind of begs for one. Since professional cycling is the only sport I’ve ever liked — though I’ve given it up, as all the doping scandals broke my heart — let’s use the structure of UCI Pro-tour team.
Come on, it will be fun!
The Manager – Overseer of general operations. Ben and I share this role, as it’s no small task. Must keep a roof over our little cyclist’s head, keep her in a good school, make deals with sponsors, etc.
The Director Sportif – Important role, in charge of racing strategy, again, Ben and I share these duties. I would direct races involving how fast we can feed the chickens before we have to dash off in the mornings, Ben would be in charge of finding actual local bike races to watch.
Coaches – In charge of training, Nora’s amazing teachers at her Waldorf school handle these duties. Training includes how to bake bread, chop veggies, mold beeswax and dig holes in the park.
Doctor – Nora loves her GP, Dr. Benjamina Brown. And Dr. Brown is a classy lady, you’d never find her in the midst of a blood doping scandal.
Therapist – Of a physical variety — I’d say our acupuncturist will play this role — eventually. I know some great ones for emotional stuff, too, should the need ever arise.
Mechanic – Ben. No question. Can fix anything — bikes, magic wands, wooden ponies; you name it.
Soigneurs — In charge of feeding and clothing the rider, as well as carting her around and giving massages. This summer, Gemela, the nanny, and I have been the primary soigneurs. Ben and Nana Sandi are back-up.
Climbing Specialist — This is Nora herself, actually. You should see that girl scamper up trees and play structures.
Time Trialist — Keeping up speed over great distances? Also Nora.
Domestiques — In charge of carrying food and drink to the leaders during races: Ben and me again.
Sprinters — These are the grandparents and aunties and uncles. Our familes are full speed ahead for quality time when visiting from out of town. You can’t win races without sprinters.
The peleton — One thing I love about cycling is that it’s the only sport I can think of where, on occasion, it behooves you to work together with someone from a different team. Riders take turns leading the peleton to ensure everyone gets a chance to rest in the shelter of the group. A breakaway group from different teams will work together to increase their lead over the peleton. This is the perfect analogy for growing up. You must learn that everyone can be your ally and help you in your race.
Whose on your child’s team? To mix metaphors, are all your bases covered?
Okay, that’s just a headline to grab your attention. I mean, I did get a staph infection from the hotel hot tub, but I got a lot of other stuff to boot. And I’m not talking about swag.
I learned so much.
My plan was to post it all on Google+, but I’ve decided to share it here, after all.
And I want some kind of tardiness award. As it’s been three and a half weeks and everything that can possibly be said about Blogher ’11 has already been said by the 3799 other bloggers in attendance.
First, let’s dispense with the unstructured lessons:
- I learned who Bob Harper is. The hard way. I thought I was crashing a yoga class and ended up in boot camp with the trainer from the Biggest Loser. This is what I get for not owning a T.V. I couldn’t walk properly for three days. You can read about it at Jessica Anne’s blog Adventures with Three Girls.
- I learned to always double check that the security tag has been removed from your fancy dress before you sit down to listen to a tear-jerking Voice of the Year keynote. It’s distracting to be drying your eyes listening to the fabulous Lori from In Pursuit of it All to look down to see an ink filled cartridge riveted to your flowy skirt.
- I learned to never, ever use a public hot tub again. Ever. I woke in a fever in the middle of the night the Monday after my return to find a large, painful lump under my left armpit. Being a good hypochondriac, I rushed the to the doctor the next day to be diagnosed with a staph infection. I don’t ever want to hear anyone trash talk antibiotics. There are no bad anti-biotics, just bad people who don’t properly maintain hot tubs.
Now, for the structured learning.
Transcripts for most of the sessions are available on Blogher.com. Now I’ve lost you. I’ll struggle through anyway.
Here’s a list of all the sessions I attended and my pithy takeaways from each:
How to Leverage Your Blog to Sell E-Products: I didn’t really intend to go to this session, but it was in the first timeslot of the conference before I had my bearings and my bloggy wife Kristin was going, so I tagged along. It was terrific. And inspiring. Here were women who had made their blogs into careers and spent their time creating great content and connecting with people. And they didn’t have to have a day job to support it.
- “There is something out there that you can create”
- Listen to what your readers want from you
- Ask yourself what’s holding you back
- Always be skeptical of your inner “you do you think you are” voice
- E-products will feed your passion and allow you to pay your bills; if you taught yoga, would you feel bad about charging people for lessons?
- People engage at a deeper level when they pay for something
- Offer a range of price points
- Market gracefully
Peer Networking: Another terrific panel of folks I’ve never heard of before who I now follow and admire.
- Networking is like dating: find people you like and take it slow
- Have a team of people who support you in your personal and professional endeavors
- There is room enough for everyone, you’re not really in competition with folks
- People will help you learn and grow in your blogging endeavors and you in turn will help others
Page to Stage: Two smart, funny women talking about what you need to do to choose and present a piece of your writing an audience.
- Don’t choose the piece you feel showcases your writing chops
- Cut, cut, cut; particularly anything that can be conveyed live should not be said in words: pauses, stares, etc.
- Slow down
- Nerves are good, nerves keep it real and give a reading energy, it’s okay if you are shaking
- Make your own opportunites!
- A single piece can play very differently to different audiences
Humor Blogging: I was worried, based on the lackluster introduction from the moderator, that this session would be a dud. Thanks to the participants, it turned out great. It was, however, the only session where I didn’t take notes, so not as many takeaways.
- Be careful what you blog; you could end up in front of a judge, or give bullies ammo to target your child
- Don’t be careful what you blog; risky is funnier
How to Pitch Freelance Work from Some Busy Editorial People: This was one of the most helpful sessions for me personallly.
- Know the magazine
- Looking for diverse viewpoints
- Craft your personal experience into a service article
- Keep pitches brief
- Mention your online presence in your pitch
- Have a writer’s website to showcase your clips
- Join a professinal magazine association: NPA, AMSME, Avant Guild (Medio Bistro)
- Attend events and network; you have a better chance getting jobs from people you have a relationship with
- Syndicate what you already have posted on your blog
- Don’t email a pitch on the weekends, try Tuesday lunchtime, so your email doesn’t get buried
- Don’t pitch the first two weeks of the month when a magazine if shipping, editors are too busy
How to Pitch a Book: Another stellar panel, funny, too.
- Novels and memoirs need to be written before you contact an agent or publisher
- Non-fiction requires a book proposal only before getting an agent
- Resource: agentquery.com
- Check books that are similar to yours and check the acknowledgements page for the agent’s name
- Query young and hungry as well as established agents
- Agents and publishers wants something from an angle they’ve never seen before
- Keep agent queries to 250 words
- Don’t whine
- Read agent blogs
- Don’t call an agent unless they already represent you
- For fiction, first sentence should tell: Genre, title, word count, hook, plot
- Send the non-fiction proposal with the query, even if the submission guidelines say they don’t want it
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to hurry up and book my ticket for Blogher ’12.
Our summer schedule has not been very conducive to spousal communcation. Ben is leaving for work around the time I wake up. My commute is extra long, heading up to North Portland everyday for Nora’s nanny. By the time we get home, it’s time for dinner. Then chicken and garden maintenance. Then bedtime. I fall asleep before Ben and I have a chance to connect.
So on Sunday, we identified the problem and made a plan of action. I’ll wake up at 5:00am, with Ben. Nora’s been sleeping until around 7:00am, so there will be plenty of time to chat before she wakes up. We can relax and have coffee together, just like old times.
We made these plans when Nora wasn’t at home.
So can someone please explain to me why it is that Nora has awoken every morning this week at 5:00am?
Is there some interruptus fairy who flits around tipping kids off when parents are plotting for alone time?
P.S. I’m guest posting at Eli Rose Social Media today. Topic: Google+ and cussing!
It’s pretty normal for preschoolers to get stuck in gender stereotypes. Nora gets the giggles when she sees a man wearing pink and a few weeks ago, she was giving me some crap about women not being able to be farmers. Just farmers’ wives.
So we work on it; addressing gender bias each time it comes up in conversation or books. Watching Mary Poppins, I had to explain what a “suffragette” is. Try breaking that down for a modern four-year-old.
During our morning drive yesterday, we saw a construction worker standing in the street.
“Construction guys are important, right mommy?” (Ben’s in construction, so we’re trying to train her not to resent the folks who maintain our infrastructure.)
“Yes. Very important. And construction women, too. Women can be construction workers. Did you know that?”
“Right!” she says, and breaks into song, “We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats!”
Oh, yeah. The message is getting through…