The Power of Community at the Evo Conference
You know when something goes really great in your life—you knock "it" out of the park (whatever "it" is). These great moments are the highs that make all the lows worth going through! They are what builds a reservoir of happiness, courage, faith, and joy!
I've found, though, that most of the moments "I" knock out of the park don't involve as much "I" as "we." And last weekend was that for me.
After 16 months of planning and working and rescheduling the date, the Evo Conference arrived at the lovely Canyons resort in Park City, UT and every single piece fell into place. I loved every relationship I deepened or formed, every ounce of learning I gained from all the fabulous speakers, every bit of inspiration oozing from the keynotes, and the energy and positive vibe that permeated the space.
But, what stood out the most to me was what it took to make it happen. Hours? Too many to count. Spreadsheet after revised spreadsheet? Enough rows and columns to cross your eyes. Decisions? Weighty ones. Important ones. Mind melting ones.
All of that combined was nothing more important and inspiring than the many people and organizations and companies who jumped in and contributed to the conference's success. The support was both overwhelming (in only the best way!) and if I were to create a list of every instance of it, it'd nearly be too numerous to capture.
When they say it takes a village to raise a child, I am here to say that it takes a community to create a successful conference! Who, exactly, was that community? You, my friends! Every single person that contributed and came to evo'10. And this post is one big THANK YOU to all of you, specifically...
The Core evo'10 Team
You know those people that you rely on 100%—those solid few you can count on to bring their personalities and mixture of skills to the table and make everything better and awesome—to really make it happen? That is this team: Rachael Herrscher, my partner in crime; Erin Oltmanns, editorial and collateral manager; Rachel Ferrucci, speaker manager; BreAnne Mansell, sponsor liaison; Erica Ferhman, volunteer manager; Amy Allen Johnson, our amazing accountant; and GEP UT, our fab events management team. evo'10 would not have been evo'10 without them!Rachael Herrscher, Erica Fehrman, and BreAnne Mansell)
We had, count them, 85 keynote and session speakers and workshop facilitators at the conference. These men and women came from around and outside the US, from varying backgrounds, with diverse levels and types of experience in the social media space, but all with a story to share, expertise to impart, and a strong contribution to make in regards to setting the tone of the conference, keeping the vibe positive, and creating meaningful teaching moments that facilitated real-time learning.
(Pictured: Laura Mayes and Karen Walrond)
Dueling pianos started the event off on an energetic note.
And it only got better from there. One EskimO—introduced to us and brought in by the lovely Barbara Jones from the One2One Network—rocked the house with both an intimate acoustic set at our opening night after party followed the next night by a live concert.
Avery (shown below), NuSkin, PBS Kids, and Scandinavian Child not only opened up their suites to attendees during breaks and throughout the conference, but also threw parties Friday night, giving everyone more casual environments in which to meet and hang out together.
Can you say zip line? Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! evo'10 attendees and their families celebrated the conference's close over a western-themed BBQ, with line dancing, on the Alpine Slide and Alpine Coaster, on the dance floor, and for a few of us (well, more like 30 of us), an enthusiastic jump in the pool with all of our clothes on. Again, Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (Check out this video from Mommy Niri to see the awesomesauceness that was the Zip Rider!)
From the moment people started arriving to check in Thursday afternoon, the vibe was positive, good, happy, and joyful. The tone of the conference may have been reinforced by all the groups mentioned above, but the community truly made the conference what it was. If you're like me, sometimes you wonder what your role is. At previous conferences, I've asked myself: Should I be playing a bigger part here? Should I be a volunteer? A speaker? A sponsored blogger? In other words, I was pondering about whether it was OK to "just" be an attendee? But after last weekend and as the co-organizer of this conference, I see so clearly the answer to this question. ABSOLUTELY! It was the community who made the weekend wonderful—and the attendees are the largest piece of that community!Wendy Sachs, Stephanie Quilao, Heather Spohr, and Niri Jaganath)
The evo'10 core team definitely put the conference wheels in motion, but how do I ever begin to thank the numerous people that made the conference wheels move and go in such a terrific direction all weekend long? From stuffing welcome bags to creating signage and presentations and helping at the registration and hospitality desk to photographing the event and taking charge of sessions and mic wrangling, the volunteers made a huge difference!
Wow did we have fabulous sponsors! We recognize that everyone who sponsored this event was taking a risk. It was a first-year conference. We didn't have years of statistics to prove that this event would yield a great return on investment. We didn't have an established brand. So, I'm grateful to all of the more than 30 sponsors who came in, some the day of the event, and believed in us. And not only believed in us, but contributed to the success of the weekend! We hope to see you all back next year!Jenny Ingram, Amy Belgardt, Carissa Rogers, Maya Bisineer, and Haley Quarles next to the Buick Jenny and Maya road tripped to the conference in all the way from Seattle.)
How do you really thank a location? The trees were beautiful. The sky was majestic blue. The mountains were lush. But, what made this location perfect wasn't those things, although they certainly made it breathtaking. What made the evo'10 location ideal were all the people at The Canyons resort. From the restaurants, front desk, and valet parking service to the spa, housecleaning crew, and the team we have worked with for more than a year, the service was impeccable. Case in point: I was having lunch on Saturday, trying to balance my plate, my silverware, and my purse all while buttering my baked potato. The chef noticed my dilemma and immediately came over and did it for me. Yep! You read that right. He buttered my baked potato! Five-star service, I tell you!
One of the highlights of the conference for me was being able to share my social media world with my family. Jennifer, my mom or @yellowbuglady on Twitter, traveled all the way from Guatemala to be here. She booked a room at The Canyons, which she shared with my sister Melinda, who made the trek from Vegas and Cari and Brooke or @heyhotmess on Twitter (and yes! she really is 20 years younger than me!), who came from right here in UT.
They arrived early to help with opening day registration, they partied with me on the dance floor, Brooke used her mad photography skillz to snap pics. Most of all, they were encouraging and amazing! I love my family!
And most importantly, my handsome hubby Troy came THE.WHOLE.TIME! Since he is an integral part of my weekly #gno Twitter parties, he had eMet a lot of the conference attendees. It was awesome for me to hear how many were excited to meet him IRL... and he felt the same way. I didn't get to see him much, but just knowing he was there was awesome. Plus, he had a terrific time and even spoke on the dad blogging panel! Rock on, Troy!
While this feels like a comprehensive thank-you list, I am sure I haven't mentioned the half of you who made evo'10 great! Regardless of whether you are pictured or mentioned in this post, please know that you are appreciated and evo'10 was awesome because of you!
All photos courtesy of the Evo Conference Flickr pool made up of all the amazing photographers at the conference. Click on each picture for a link to the appropriate photographer. There's more amazing photographic goodness where these come from.