To Brazil and Back Again


Late last month I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a few days to attend Rio + Social, the United Nations Foundation and Mashable’s conference on social media for social good. I also attended a few side events for Rio + 20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. This was my first time traveling to South America and as can be expected I was not disappointed at all.

Since the United Nations was holding such a huge and historic conference in Rio hotels were booked solid for months. Thank goodness for Airbnb.com where I found a charming and quaint little apartment in Copacabana. If you are ever going to Rio I highly recommend any of Katia’s properties to rent.

It was thrilling to travel to Rio for work and also take in some of the beautiful sights of such a stunning city. I am already figuring out how I am going to visit Rio again, next time with my family.

Rio is a city everyone should experience at least once. Not only are the white sand beaches and blue waters gorgeous, the lush rainforest and towering mountains are equally as marvelous. I suspect since Rio is a beach city that is why it’s so very laid back; no one ever seemed very rushed or anxious for anything. Coming from the States where everything is go-go-go, now-now-now experiencing a relaxed pace was delightful.

Despite being laid back Rio is also a fairly packed city with residents and tons of tourists. If you go to Rio keep in mind that many of the service sector – taxi drivers, food service, etc – don’t speak much English. Usually when I travel to other countries it is extremely easy to communicate because English is so ubiquitous. Not so in Brazil. While an international city, I had problems communicating and found myself writing numbers and drawing often in my journal to communicate. How embarrassing! Next time I go to Rio I am definitely going to learn basic Portuguese! Also, be sure to exchange some of your US dollars to reais before you leave the airport so you have money for tips.

My trip to Rio was full of surprises. I got a chance to catch up with and meet several people from the United Nations Foundation and was introduced to the Mashable team. Most surprisingly I also was in the presence of two former presidents – Mary Robinson (Ireland) and Jose Maria Figueres (Costa Rica). I was also surprisingly close to Sir Richard Branson. I couldn’t believe I was so close to them at the Virgin Unite Awards Ceremony, but I guess such is life in Rio.

Sir Richard Branson, Jose Maria Figueres (right with orange tie)

On my last day in Rio I decided to venture to the Museu de Arte Moderna Rio de Janeiro in downtown Rio. They were hosting the People’s Summit where environmentalists, artists, and everyday people gathered to talk about the future they want for the earth.

I participated in an exhibit called Future We Want where people left their ideas for the earth’s future.

After a full two and a half days in Rio I was certainly ready to get back home to see my family. I love traveling as much as anything, but always love coming home. Here’s Miami International terminal.

To read more of my coverage of Rio + Social and Rio + 20 visit my other site, Mom Bloggers for Social Good.

See more photos of the People’s Summit.

Attend Blogging Strategies Summit June 14 – 16. Discount


Blogging Strategies Summit - June 14-16, 2011I am excited to have partnered with Global Strategic Management Institute as a media partner of their upcoming conferences in San Francisco, Boston, and London.

Will you be in the San Francisco area June 14-16th? Well, if so, tickets have been drastically reduced for GSMI’s Blogging Strategies Summit. They have an exciting line up of speakers including Guy Kawasaki (co-founder of Alltop) and Charlene Li (founding Partner at Altimeter Group) who will present emerging strategies, tactics and case studies in the successful use of blogs. During this 3 day summit attendee’s will learn how to best utilize blogging platforms to increase brand visibility, engage consumers directly, and take advantage of the many benefits blogging has to offer. Through the intelligent use of blogging organizations can, in house, have continuous direct contact with customers. Full access passes are now only $400. Call 888.409.4418 x 13 or email allie.maltese@gsmiweb.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

Growing By Speaking In Front of 600 Women


Last Thursday I woke up in Nashville with a knot in my stomach. I was in Nashville, of course, for the annual Blissdom conference and I had agreed to speak right after the keynote speaker, Brené Brown, about my Anonymous Blog Project to a room full of women bloggers. When I was asked by Barbara Jones last November to share my project I immediately agreed. It wasn’t until the day of the conference that I gave my decision a second thought.

On Thursday morning around 8:50 when I walked into the Opryland’s Tennessee ballroom I couldn’t believe how big the room was and I also couldn’t believe how many women were sitting at tables anxiously waiting for Blissdom 2011 to kick off.  This shouldn’t have been surprising as I was in that very room last year, but all I could think about was how I was going to pull off my presentation in that HUGE room. And my knot got tighter again. I was, however, comforted by seeing women I know and respect. Seeing and hugging them definitely calmed my spirits, but yet the knot persisted.

Much of what happened that kicked off the conference I don’t remember because I was so busy being nervous. But then Brené Brown started her keynote about embracing vulnerability in order to grow. I couldn’t have heard that at a better time. I had clearly put myself in a vulnerable place. I had never spoken in front of that many people before. I remember sitting at my table and deciding to embrace the moment of my talk instead of being terribly afraid of it and a relative calm came over me for a split second and the knot subsided.

When Brené’s talk was over and Barbara Jones got up to introduce me the knot came back but went away rather quickly. I didn’t have time to think about the knot anymore. I had to get on stage!

When I took the stage …

I remember speaking. I remember not being able to see the crowd for the spotlights. I remember starting to warm up to the crowd. I remember deciding while on stage that I want to speak in front of more and more people in the coming years. I remember thinking I can do this!

But everything else is a total blur.

I can’t wait until I get the opportunity to speak to even larger audiences and really work on giving great presentations. I have always been shy, but speaking on stage alone last week has awakened a desire to speak more often.

We’ll see what the rest of 2011 holds.

Five Key Lessons I Learned At Blogher


Every time I go to Blogher I learn something new about how to schedule my time and what ultimately is most important to me in this community. Last year, I learned a lot and vowed never to run around Blogher like a crazy woman ever again. And while this year I did a better job of scheduling my time, I still have a lot to learn about not overscheduling.

This year, like last, I learned quite a bit. Here are the five key lessons I learned at Blogher 2010 that  I will surely incorporate into my Blogher11 plans.

1. Go Schedule-less: Next year I will be arriving at Blogher’s door without a single meeting or event on my agenda. I can’t take the pressure of being here and there and everywhere. I’ll be in San Diego and likely will run into my friends. We’ll do dinner, hang out in San Diego, and it’ll be fab.Or, we’ll have a quick hug and know we at least saw each other.

2. Throw a Party: I think it’s about time that the Mom Bloggers Club hosted a party of some sort at Blogher. I have no idea what it will be yet. Maybe it will be a series of intimate dinners where different moms sit and talk over really good meals. That would be fun!

3. Have More Lunch Dates: I don’t know why, but lunch dates are perfect! Mornings, I’ve found, are too unpredictable. And at night I’m ready for bed around 10. Lunches are at the perfect time for me because I’m awake, coherent, and alert! That’s always a good thing.

4. Get Pampered: Maybe it was my imagination, but I think there was a lot of opportunity to get pampered at Blogher this year, from getting your hair and makeup done to getting manicures and pedicures. I think I need to seek out those fun opportunities next year. Who doesn’t want free pampering?

5. Take More Photos: I took all of ten photos — all on my iPhone. That just isn’t acceptable. Next year I  vow to take photos that actually have clarity and focus.

Compared to last year’s lessons learned post, I have come quite a long way. I’m thrilled for my progress.

What lessons did you learn?

By the way — stay tuned for my next post about my marketing observations from Blogher and what I believe they mean to mom bloggers.

From Blog to Business: Free E-Book Download


I am thrilled to finally announce the launch of From Blog to Business, an e-book written by Esther Crawford of ShePosts.com and me.

In it, you will find some of the most comprehensive information about flipping your blog into a business found anywhere on the Net. It is our gift to those who really wanted to go to Blogher, but can’t. We’ve packed From Blog to Business with key information you need to learn how to partner with brands and monetize your blog.

We hope you enjoy From Blog to Business and share it with your friends.

Go to FromBlogtoBusines.com to download your free copy!

My Obligatory Blogher Post: Advice on How Not to Stress Out


Last year was my very first Blogher conference and believe me, it was crazy! This year I am taking a completely different approach. I am going, but I’m not obligating myself to too much. There just isn’t enough time. As someone who ran around like a crazy woman last year, here’s my advice on how to stay stress-free during Blogher weekend.

1) Exercise Every Morning: Getting to the hotel gym or simply taking a brisk walk at sunrise will get your mind and body ready for the day. I recommend working out especially on the very first day of Blogher to get your pent-up energy and jitters out before you hit the conference floor.

2) Take Time for Yourself: Last year I walked a lot in Chicago just enjoying the scenery, shopping on the Magnificent Mile, and even eating dinner by myself one night. It was nice and allowed me to really revel in some “me time”. Don’t be afraid to think of yourself, even if it means slipping away to Starbucks to grab a cappuccino alone or going to get a mani-pedi.

3) Dress Comfortably: Many bloggers have already extolled the value of dressing comfortably. It’s always nice to be well-dressed, but if you buy new shoes, go buy them TODAY and break those babies out before walking around all day in heels that pinch your toes until they’re bloody. There’s not that much cute in the world!

4) Don’t Take Party Invitations Too Seriously: Party invitations can’t make or break you! Last year I was invited to all of ONE brand event and then tagged along with Renée to events she had already signed up for. It was all good. I didn’t know how Blogher rolled at the time and didn’t even know off-site parties existed. This year I received so many invitations I couldn’t attend them all. So, don’t pin your worth on whether you received invitations to brand events or not.

5) Have fun! I know this sounds so cliché, but it is so true! If all else fails, always have fun. You’ll be in New York City. If you can’t have fun in NYC, you can’t have fun anywhere. It’s all about your frame of mind. Dwell in positivity and that positive attitude will travel with you the entire weekend!

I look forward to seeing you there!