View from Room 1804 of the Four Seasons Hotel, Houston, Texas at about 5:30 p.m. Friday, February 20, 2009.
Well, the Mom 2.0 Summit is over, and since I was given the great honour of speaking with Guy Kawasaki as part of the keynote conversation, I feel obligated to publish my thoughts on the entire conference. Before I begin, however, I feel the need to fully disclose that one of the organizers, Laura Mayes, is a good friend. Despite this relationship, however, I'll try to be as completely honest about my impressions of the conference as possible.
This was the first year that the conference was held, and in my opinion, they hit it out of the park. I suspected that the conference was going to be a success because of the people that were chosen to lead the panels and other discussions, but even so, it frankly exceeded my expectations. The hotel, the Four Seasons, lived up to its reputation: the staff was incredibly helpful, food was plentiful, and they really worked hard to cater to everyone's comfort. The conference staff were also so helpful and efficient, and the entire conference went, in my opinion, without a hitch.
But you know what I was most proud of? Houston.
Houston Mayor Bill White was supposed to open the conference, but was unexpectedly called away by President Obama (and as much as I enjoyed the conference and its purpose, it's sort of hard to fault Mayor White for choosing the President over the conference!). But since he didn't come, you know who stepped in to fill his shoes? His lovely wife, Andrea. She was so friendly, and complimentary and approachable, and it was a lovely warm welcome to Houston for everyone who had come in from out of town (a considerable percentage). Over and over I kept hearing "Gosh, I really love this city!" from various attendees, and I found myself somewhat surprised and very pleased as a result. Everyone truly seemed to enjoy all the venues that had been booked for the entire duration, and it felt like the city put its best foot forward. While I've never hated Houston, I've also never been a huge fan -- and yet, my experience this weekend has really helped to change my outlook on my adopted city.
Happily, the conference is scheduled to go forth again next year, so I eagerly look forward to getting more information on dates and registration. My one fear? That the success of this conference will motivate the organizers to make it bigger next year -- and I really hope they don't. I think the reason this conference worked so well (besides the hard behind-the-scenes efforts of the organizers, and the friendly, informative nature of the speakers), is because the conference was SMALL -- it was easy to get to talk to the speakers, to speak to all the attendees, and as my friend Monica said, "you were just as likely to attend a speaker's session, and then have that speaker sitting next to you at the following session!" It was a wonderfully accessible conference.
So that's my take on it -- and for those of you who made a point of introducing yourselves to me, and who I had the opportunity to meet, thanks so much for reaching out, and it was truly a pleasure meeting every one of you. And I hope to meet even more of you next year!
(I didn't get to take nearly as many photographs as I would've liked, but for what it's worth, the ones I did take can be found here.)
Update: Just noticed that today is officially my 5th anniversary blogging (my very very first blog entry ever can be found here. Happy Chookooloonks birthday!). I think I'll have to do something tomorrow to celebrate. Stay tuned.