Each summer for the past nine years, I either hop on a plane or train and travel into the blogosphere to attend the BlogHer Conference. It's an enlightening experience being around so many brilliant and inspiring women.
BlogHer15, held at the Hilton Midtown in New York City, was equally empowering and educational. When I began my first blog in 2007, only about 400 bloggers attended. A few years later, the blogosphere exploded. More than 5,000+ bloggers filled the ballroom. This year, while still large (likely a few thousand), the crowd seemed more manageable. Blogging continues to be a profession where women excel.
Change Is Constant in the Blogosphere
In 2014, BlogHer founders sold their company (in a deal worth $30 million to $40 million) to She Knows Media, forming the #1 women's lifestyle brand in the digital space. Their content, including videos, now reaches 80 million monthly viewers and even more social media influencers. New programs introduced this year included the Femvertising Awards, honoring excellence in pro-female advertising (check out these great ads), and Hatch, a track to engage the next generation of content creators (Don't you love the name? So cute—and so were the young girls who spoke!).
Women Inspiring Women
There were many uplifting speakers at BlogHer 15. The rousing keynotes made the blogosphere blossom:
Soledad O'Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group and Cofounder of Starfish Foundation, invests in young women and changes their lives through education. She was joined by remarkable women whom she had mentored: Cameron, who graduated from Princeton University; Sheba, who graduated from the University of New Orleans; and Ariana, who attends Smith College. "Our best mentors are people who give their time. It's not about having a lot of money," said Soledad. (I've been a mentor to quite a few women and to my daughter A and son D. After hearing Soledad speak, I want to do more.)
Anna Maria Chavez, first Latino and Woman of Color CEO of Girl Scouts: Being a former Girl Scout and a former local Girl Scout Board member, I was so pleased to hear about exciting things that are happening at Girl Scouts. "By 2020, Girl Scouts will help 3 million youth in underprivileged areas," said Anna. "We're all sisters in the movement. There are 59 million Girl Scout alums in the USA. More people give dollars to dog causes than girl causes. Dogs won't run the world one day." (Wow-o-wow! I make donations each year to our local Girl Scouts. After hearing Anna speak, I want to donate more.)
Gwyneth Paltrow, Academy Award-winning actress and founder of a lifestyle website, goop, Inc., spoke about divorce, life and her business. Her most touching words were her story about her late dad. "He took me to Paris when I was 10," said Gwyneth. "He told me he wanted me to see Paris for the first time with 'a man who will always love you.' I miss him." (I realized that I, too, had taken my daughter A to Paris for the first time and I took my son D, although he had been there before. I left wanting to travel more places with my children. I want to create more great memories with them. I will always love my children.)
Making "The Pitch"
During Saturday morning's keynote She Knows Media launched "The Pitch." It was just like Shark Tank. Six inspiring female entrepreneurs had a chance to pitch their businesses to six inspiring judges. I encourage you to watch the 60-second video pitches from these amazing women.
- Luvvie Ajayi, founder and executive director, The Red Pump Project
- Majora Carter, CEO, StartUp Box
- Courtney Macavinta, CEO, The Respect Institute
- Meghan Martinez, founder, Keasy Lock
- Christine Souffrant, CEO and founder, Vendedy
- Tanya Van Court, CEO and chief Sower, Sow
The audience had a chance to vote via Twitter and the winner was announced at the end of the conference. Who won? Majora Carter, from the Bronx. "I'm a female entrepreneur and I'm not afraid to cry during my pitch," said Majora as she passionately pitched the story about StartUp Box #SouthBronx, a social enterprise to seed diverse participation through entry-level jobs. The prize was thousands of dollars worth of marketing services to help expand her company.
What's Your Word?
"What word would you like on your bracelet? Choose a word that represents your current intent," said the woman at The MyIntent Project in the exhibit hall. The company sells necklaces and bracelets handcrafted with a word of your choice on a round silver-or-gold-toned charm.
According to the MyIntent.org website, "The MyIntent Project is a catalyst for meaningful conversations and positive energy. We believe there is purpose inside each of us and we want our efforts to encourage people to share more truth and inspiration with each other."
I chose the word GRATITUDE for my intent. I have great GRATITUDE for all that I have gained from my blogging. I have GRATITUDE for you—my readers and members of my blogging community—who sustained me when times were tough and who celebrated with me during joyous occasions and who continue to do so during my life after 50. I have GRATITUDE for new members of the community who join every day. I have GRATITUDE for the BlogHer Conferences I have been able to attend and the talented bloggers I have met over the years, several who are now good friends in midlife.
I wrap my bracelet around my wrist each morning as a reminder to be grateful for all that I have in my life at this moment.
What's your word? What do you think the world needs more of? Share it with a comment below.
This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.