BlogHer14 Takeaways

I attended the 10th BlogHer held in San Jose, California. This was my third BlogHer and I was really looking forward to the media sessions and the future of blogging. I also wanted to network and check in with the WordPress Happiness Bar consultants, as I had some questions about my site and other more general questions related to the enterprise instance of WordPress at work.

What was different this time? Prior to the conference, BlogHer contacted attendees to sign up for different Skype groups, and queried BlogHer veterans if they would be willing to mentor a newbie. I joined a few groups: Bloggers of Color, Parents of Tweens & Teens, Scandal, and Game of Thrones. I wished there was an Orphan Black group, but where would they stop?! I was paired with a few women who were new to the conference and had Skype messaging conversations with them. I ended up meeting one of my “buddies” at registration and got to know her during the conference. A big thank you BlogHer for making this arrangement, and for continuing the conversations post-conference, as it’s a great way to keep building the community.

I do not know if the pairing was a new thing, but it worked great for me. I got to chat with my new friend about her work and reasons for attending BlogHer and we just had honest conversations about work, social media, blogging, entrepreneurship, family, and more. BlogHer is a different type of conference. It is diverse in terms of topics covered and the attendees. I sat at many sessions or keynote presentations and noticed the diversity in the room and this is a quick observation based on phenotype and not knowing every story or identity.

What else did I learn? People are doing amazing things with technology on their blogs. Lots are using different media platforms to share video, make videos or just add to the overall presentation of their sites. Infographics are used more and this could explain Canva’s presence as a sponsor. I got the sense once again that the consumerization of the platform is key for many users. People want to move their blogs forward, share their story, and in some cases make money in the process. It was interesting to see so few refer to privacy or security. And, as I noted in my Twitter posts, this is something that I am more cognizant of, given that I live in a province with the most strict privacy and records management guidelines in the country. As an expat living in Canada, I live in both worlds in the Twittersphere and Blogosphere. My personal footprint is radically different than my work footprint or use, but that is for another post.

Overall, BlogHer continues as an amazing conference and space for women (and some men and other allies). My only regret is that I do not have a clone who can attend other sessions for me to soak it all in and take notes. Rock on, BlogHer!

 

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Mexican Food & BlogHer

I’m in San Jose, Calif for BlogHer14 and while here I am having full days of networking, learning, and Mexican food. Yes, Mexican food. As an American ExPat living in Victoria, BC, Canada, it is really hard to get good Mexican food consistently. I joke that I miss my family, the weather, and Mexican food. And, on the occasional day in Victoria the order might vary. I should add that I am Latina and I grew up on Mexican food at home. I know Mexican food and it is my favorite–it reminds me of home.

I have been to Mezcal, Mexicali Grill, and Super Taqueria. The photos are from each restaurant in the order noted. I have had a great trip thus far and look forward to more conversation, learning, and Mexican food.
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Blog Her, Blog Her

I am going to a conference for professional development this week. You might have heard of the conference–BlogHer. This year marks its 10th conference. You have to figure that some 11-12 years ago the group of women founders looked around the Silicon Valley and realized that they were doing something unique and needed to network with other women. Voila–BlogHer was born.

Now, BlogHer is a tween and is going strong based on the various other conferences, website, and more. I am happy to attend this year’s conference in my home state, California. And, I am looking forward to learning more and making connections. Lifts coffee cup–to BlogHer.

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Mentoring

I am rounding out my two months of Spring Undergrad Advising for the department and thinking about how I help my students. I’ll place these thoughts in bullet form.

  • I want to help them find out how they are doing with the course of their studies
  • I enjoy giving them good advice
  • I offer them advice about their course choices
  • I inform them of any resources we have on campus that they might find useful
  • And, the most important thing–is that I listen

I do prefer to advise face to face; however, more of my advising and mentoring is taking place online via email and on different platforms. For students enrolled where I teach, I can do some of the fact finding via email, but there are moments when a face to face is needed and I point this out and then it is up to them. The photo below is of turtles sunning at Cedar Hill Golf Course trail.

 

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The Way You Work

Academic work requires so much solitary work and this makes it flexible and at times impossible. Work always beckons and the to do list can become burdensome. We are at the start of Summer, and it is the perfect time to think about how you can re-focus on the way you work. What works for you?
Right about now academics are thinking about the long list of things to accomplish during the Summer. Honestly, though, how do you work?

I find that I need some white noise when I am doing certain tasks and other tasks requires quiet or music at a low volume. At the day’s end when I am completely alone this is the time that I listen to music set high. I like to chunk out as many tasks as I can during these evenings alone at work. My job requires lots of meetings and this means that two times per week, I need to work later days to catch up from meetings.

I have blogged previously about the importance of having good work and life balance and boundaries. I know that this is extremely important, but the reality of work is that some months are more busy than others. I am working through a busy period as we transition from one Learning Management System to a newer, better version and this is keeping me extremely busy. I am also trying to think about the way I work and what keeps me organized and able to get things done. I love coffee and the entire process of making and savoring it. This ritual is part of my morning and reading the papers. I also realize that the caffeine is necessary some days.

I need desk time to plan and think. I use early mornings for this and evenings. I occasionally walk around the building or across campus and use this as desk or thinking time. I will talk into my phone and dictate notes from a meeting or send myself emails to update. I also use this time to clear my head and plan for the next meeting, task, or day. I need some alone time to organize my day. The photo below is pulled from Twitter and is a perfect. Work and life balance can at times feel Game of Thrones-ish!

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Fill the Right Cup

Ray Bradbury explained, “We are all cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

Which cups do you fill? Do you fill the cups of optimism, pragmatism, or pessimism? It is important to think about where you expend your mental energy. Thinking back to my grad school days there were moments when the pessimism cup was the cup that I filled and that was not a good thing, but those moments of overwhelm and impostor syndrome were intense. I have to thank my peer mentors and faculty mentors for helping me fill the other cups.

My networks helped me stay grounded during grad school. Sure, we had our moments when would complain about our workloads and our financial situations, but overall it was pretty fabulous to read, research, teach, and write for a living. My peer mentors were primarily from the cohorts ahead of me and to this day some of my closes friends are from my grad school days. I met both of my best-friends in grad school.

Related to this, peer mentors listened. The listening cup was overflowing and there are times when I miss that interaction–the ability to have long conversations. The cup that we need to keep filling is the listening cup. Listening is an important part of a supportive and honest network. As I am working with undergraduates through graduate students, I am thinking about the importance of them finding good peer networks. I am only one part of the puzzle and know that the rest of the puzzle must include peers.

I knew that at home I had support, and my friends and networks at work in the department and larger academic community helped me through my grad school days. Peer mentoring is invaluable and if your cohort does not feel supportive, seek out peers ahead of you for guidance or go outside of your department. This advice is appropriate for those of us years out of grad school, too. And, if you are years into your career remember to connect your students to other students and to other faculty. Expand your students’ networks–this is part of the mentoring or coaching process.

 Fill the cups! Confer, trust, connect, mentor, listen, and celebrate your success…