Years ago, when I first started blogging, I had no idea that one day, I’d be personally invited to attend a conference.
A conference that my whole family was welcome to attend. A conference at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
In fact, when telling family and friends that I had been selected to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, their reactions ranged from “That’s totally awesome!” to “You’re sh*tting me, right? They have a conference for that kind of stuff?” Ahem. Indeed they do.
Of course, an invitation to #DisneySMMoms is one you simply can’t refuse. Where else can you celebrate social media, family, friendship and fun – smack in the middle of the most magical place on earth? Surely I have the best job in the world! And so it was with equal parts flattery, curiosity and unbridled joy that I RSVP’ed with a big, fat YES.
(Underscoring my decision was the fact that Ryder’s 5th birthday took place during the conference stay. I reasoned that I’d likely never again be able to say, “Hey dude, let’s go to Disney World for your birthday!”… so that was a huge motivating factor for me. And oh, it was so very magical.)
Of course, as I was a #DisneySMMoms virgin, I really didn’t know what to expect. Sure, the family time and theme park passes were a big draw, but what would I learn from the conference? What would I take away? And most importantly, how could I share those learnings with my audience?
The truth is, the conference was everything I could have hoped for, and more.
It has been exactly one month since I returned home, and it’s taken me that long to get my thoughts together about our time at Disney Social Media Moms. From the stunning welcome reception to the very last tender moments at the Mother’s Day brunch, it was a celebration I’ll never forget. And because I’d love to share the magic with you, I present….
Disney Social Media Moms: Top Five Magical Moments
1. Work/Life Balance: I Got This.
Not many parents are fortunate enough to find a career where they can authentically say they’ve achieved a dynamic work/life balance. Usually, it’s either the stresses of our job – or raising our children – that pulls us in one direction or the other. At the Disney Social Media Moms celebration, I was surrounded by women who’ve found the secret to success: finding a job they love, and one that complements their day-to-day family life. (When was the last time you jetted off to a work conference – with family in tow?) With inspiration from a host of fabulous Moms such as Rene Syler (“If you build it WELL, they will come. SLOPPY doesn’t sell”), Dayna Steele, Shannon Miller (yes, THE Shannon Miller), Catherine Connors and more, I was thrilled to be among women who’ve made their family their business – and business is booming.
2. A Social Kick in the Butt
One of the main reasons people attend conferences is to be inspired; to learn from others, hear about their best practices, and find ways to incorporate those teachings into our own businesses. And often – especially as moms – we just need to hear those magical words – “Me too.”
But conferences also serve to ignite new ideas, introduce us to new products and services, and remind us that as long as you keep on learning, your potential is limitless. I very much connected with Jackie Huba’s presentation about building our fan bases, based on her book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers Into Fanatics. Her key takeaways:
1) Focus on your “one percenters.” Gaga spends most of her effort on just 1% of her audience, the highly-engaged superfans who drive word of mouth.
2) Lead with values. Gaga is consistent in her message of being yourself and loving others for who they are. That display of values creates a deep emotional connection.
3) Give them something to talk about. Whether by wearing a meat dress or ‘dying’ in a pool of blood onstage, she knows what will get people talking.
It’s like a huge light bulb went off. Particularly in the world of social media, we constantly spend a large proportion of our time and efforts trying to grow our audience by gaining “likes” and “followers”. However, at the end of the day, it’s the consistent support from your loyal, die-hard readers that will determine – and elevate – your success. I took this message to heart, and two weeks ago, rewarded a small portion of my loyal readers for being followers – and fanatics.
It’s nice to feel appreciated. And pampered. And special. While many of y’all are used to me featuring items, chatting about products and places that we’ve visited in exchange for a review on my website, it’s seldom that I’m simply gifted with something that I don’t have to work for. That’s why I love a good random prize drawing; it means I have hopes of winning something just for me! At #DisneySMMoms, there were several amazing prizes up for grabs; the perfect way to thank the invitees for spending a day learning at the conference. And guess who happened to win the first prize? It was none other than yours truly! Here’s a photo of me with my runDisney gift basket – although technically, since I’ve now featured it on my blog, I suppose I have a *slight* addiction to providing coverage about awesome things :)
4. Witnessing History in the Making (Take II)
In December 2012, my family was fortunate to have front-row access to the opening of the New Fantasyland. As the crowd cheered and confetti floated to the floor, I realized that my family was part of history. Years from now, when the boys are older and the Fantasyland expansion is just another part of Magic Kingdom, I’ll be able to tell them that they were there.
Last month, at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we witnessed the Coronation of Merida – Brave’s sublime heroine. And once again, I felt a poignant sense of relevance and blessed opportunity; literally steps from Cinderella’s castle, a beautiful ceremony of love and exaltation unfolded before our very eyes. It’s moments like this I’ll never forget; and ones that make #DisneySMMoms truly a celebration.
5. The Disney Difference
Of course you’ve all read about my extraordinary encounter with excellence that is the Disney Difference, however, that was but one example of all the ways our stay was beyond magical. From the courteous park attendants to the ever-jovial characters; the conscientious resort staff to the helpful waiters, we enjoyed every day to the fullest and could not deny the level of care and attention that went into every single detail. And as such, I simply have to thank the team at Disney Social Media Moms who worked tirelessly to make this a magical and pixie dusted event! You have my admiration and respect – Betsy Kay Miratsky, Gary Buchanan, Debby Humphreys LeBlanc, Maria Bailey, Leanne Jakubowski, Michele Himmelberg-Disneyland, Jennifer Delves Wilkes, Josh Hallett and Aubrey Hang!
Well, that’s all folks. A momentous celebration with so many memories that will last a lifetime. #Disney4Life? Oh yeah – and then some.
*Select images courtesy of Josh Hallett @hyku