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
Heather, Mmm... is for Mommy
So envious! I got an invite to one of the one the road conferences (but couldn’t go :( ) and that was enough to send me off on Disney excitement.
So I live vicariously though you all ;)
:) I think you’ve nailed it – “Disney excitement” – because that’s really what it’s all about, right? The chance to be a kid again!
You have the best job indeed Lena. Getting to bring your family along with you to work. Btw, that looks like an awesome prize that you won.
Thanks Tricha. It was a marvellous prize! Wish I was a runner :) But, will make use of the gym bag and running shoes for my power walks while pushing Reid in his stroller!
Looks like it was a great conference. Definitely a great job to have! Looks like a nice prize that you won!
Thanks Judy! It was an awesome prize :)
Wow! Looking at that, when they say it’s a ‘Mickey Mouse operation’ I think they got it wrong. Mickey Mouse (Disney) is doing something right, especially if he could get the Dark Side to join him. That’s power! ;)
Love love love your comment, AC! You’re absolutely right – a “Mickey Mouse” operation is definitely the epitome of excellence, and not the other way around!
Looks like a fun conference, a pricey one for the whole family to go, but I bet it was a blast!
It was a blast! And I don’t think it’s pricey at all! Flights plus an average conference fee… for 5 days of awesome family time??? It’s actually a deal!
Sounds amazing Lena. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Thanks Julia! :)
What a great basket! Got to love Disney, they always do it right. So nice you won, for me when it goes to someone I know on sight it’s extra special.
Thanks Doris! Indeed, it’s great when someone you know wins things!
What an amazing looking basket! You do, indeed have the best job in the world and what a way for your son to spend his 5th birthday!
I know I’ve said it before, but you are really stunning!
Oh Anne, your cheque is in the mail!!! And yes, I can’t wait for Ryder to look back on those pictures and remember his 5th birthday!
Oh! I am green with envy :-)
What an amazing experience for YOU and the PERFECT way to spend Ryder’s birthday! :-D
It was absolutely nice to just enjoy the moment, enjoy being a blogger, and WIN something! :)
How fun, but how could something linked with Disney not be!! So what all did you win??
Thanks Debbie! It was a “runDisney” gift basket which included shoes, registration into a runDisney marathon, and a ton of fitness-related goodies!
Congrats on winning that huge prize! And I’m happy to be included in ‘your’ 1%, but it’s okay with me if you skip wearing a meat dress ;p
HAHAHA I don’t I’ll have a problem with refraining from wearing a meat dress, Lisa! And thank you!
Wow – just – wow ! Beating back the jelly monster here :o) Sounds like it was not only a fun time for all, but that they gave you something to take away with you (and I am not talking about the prize basket). Such simple advice and pointers that make so much sense.
That’s exactly it, Flora – the conference, albeit at Disney World, was still a learning experience!
Looks like you guys had a real blast and what a way for Ryder to remember his 5th Birthday! Congrats on winning that huge gift basket. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience Lena and I love the way you express your thoughts on paper. You are so talented!
Aw, thank you Marissa! So sweet of you to say!
Wow! What a basket – totally jealous ;)
Don’t be jealous! It’s the first thing I’ve won, LOL!
Would love to know what’s in it!
:) Thanks Sydney!
disney has a line of runners. who knew.
Actually runDisney is HUGE! If you’re a runner, you should definitely look it up!
Disney is amazing! They do right things on so many levels (and I’m sure reap the rewards too :)). I especially admire their PR people and everyone who stands behind advertizing and promotions.
So wonderful to hear Ira! And I admire their PR people too :)
Love all your wrap ups and this one is great too. Looks like Disney is doing all the right things to get their message across to the right people. Looking good Lena!
Love everything about your comment RubyRed! Thank you!
I love the pics – it looks like a lot of fun! And congrats on winning the first prize! I hope that there were some great goodies in the basket!
There were! And thank you Heidi!
The celebration sounds like the most amazing experience! I just wanted to express that I genuinely believe that you deserve and earned all these ‘blessings’ and opportunities you speak of!
Aw, that is so touching! Thank you so very much Victoria :)
Andrea (Mommy Gearest)
Ah, so amazing. You really deserved to be invited. Thanks for sharing some of your learnings. I eat this stuff up!
I can’t imagine a better birthday for a five year old. We did Great Wolf Lodge, which is pretty awesome until…well…Disney World!!!
I sure hope I get to join you next year. :)
I will absolutely keep my fingers crossed for you Andrea :) Thank you!
Wow..Disney that would be a great experience. I am glad in my government job that I have a pretty flexible schedule when needed but getting to tag along family to Disney for work would be awesome!
I agree. There are few chances to take your kiddos to a work conference at Disney; so happy I was extended the opportunity!
Thanks so much for putting it in perspective for your readers Lena! Great post and great recap!
Thanks so much Alexandra!
Thank you for taking us inside the conference. I know you’ll take everything you learned and better yourself (even though you’re already very awesome).
Thanks Jolee. And that’s exactly what conferences are about: bettering yourself.
:) Thanks Paula!
The celebration sounds like a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so happy you had a chance to experience it with your family.
I’m so happy I did too :) It’s definitely one of those times where I’ll hold on to the memories forever!
this looks like such a blast!
wow! What a blast! Looks liuke a awesome time
As a new blogger, I would love to put being invited as a goal … What are your suggestions for going forward?