Recently, sixty-five moms from all over the US and Canada descended on Palo Alto and Sunnyvale to attend the invitation-only Yahoo! Mother Board Summit. The moms are a high-powered group of bloggers who are plugged in to all the latest trends in marketing and social media, and were invited to participate in a one-day conference at Yahoo! Headquarters in Sunnyvale. I was fortunate enough to be invited, and had a wonderful time connecting with old friends, and meeting some great new friends. I was happy, for once, to not have to travel to a meeting.
I have been on the Mother Board for three years, from its inception. At the beginning, we answered surveys and tested out new Yahoo! products and gave the marketing team feedback. In the past year, it has grown into a community of 80 bloggers who support and advise each other through a Yahoo! group and on the pages of the Yodeling Mamas blog.
The Mother Board Summit was a mix of practical advice for bloggers, marketing focus group for Yahoo! products and services, and socializing over great food and drinks. The women on the Yahoo! marketing team and Voce Communications did a fabulous job of organizing the content, and shepherding the attendees from place to place.
We started out the festivities at a poolside party at the swank Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto. Since I live in town, I didn't get to stay there, but the attendees raved about the accommodations and the hotel's social media savvy. In fact, Robyn from Who's the Boss tweeted that she wanted a Shirley Temple, and the next thing she knew, a waiter appeared with one at the door. Other moms remarked on how responsive the Hotel was to their tweets. Way to go @fspaloalto! I haven't actually stayed at the Four Seasons Palo Alto, but Frank and I spent one memorable anniversary at the restaurant and the spa there a few years ago.
The one-day conference was held at the Yahoo! campus in Sunnyvale. I drove down, rather than riding the bus the conference provided. The conference facilities were spacious, and we were greeted with a big breakfast buffet. To get things rolling, Chief Marketing Officer, Elisa Steele welcomed the group, and shared with us some of the ways in which moms are "Chief Executives" of many tasks in the household, from "Chief Health Officer" to "Chief Hugger." Elisa is a mom of two herself, and solicited some input from her family in preparing her presentation. It was good to know we were among friends.
The rest of the day was jam-packed with informative presentations that were useful to us and to the Yahoo! team. We were introduced (or reintroduced) to great Yahoo! sites like Flickr and Shine. Catherine and Marssy from the Flickr team introduced us to some great ways to use Flickr on our blogs, and taught us how to get the most out of it. I've been a Flickr user for years, but there were still some tricks about making and embedding slideshows that I didn't know. Annette (in the photo above) introduced the group to Shine, and how to get blog posts noticed by the editors. Shine has great potential to reach a wider audience and draw traffic back to our blogs.
We heard a very moving panel discussion about the dangers of sexting, and were shown a video about a local family whose daughter committed suicide as a result of a sexting incident. It was a sobering reminder that our kids have to be taught how to use technology responsibly, and that youthful mistakes can have lasting impact far beyond what was possible when we were teens. In the case the panelists discussed, the young girl snapped a nude photo of herself and emailed it to a boy at school. He passed it around to his friends, and the girl, overcome by shame, ended her own life. The boys were charged with possession of child pornography under the California Penal Code for possessing and distributing the picture. It was a cautionary tale to parents to teach kids early on that just because you can do something with technology doesn't mean you should.
After a day of thought-provoking panels, the group convened at one of my favorite local eateries, NOLA, a cajun-themed restaurant in Palo Alto. We had plenty to eat and drink (my favorite: blood orange cosmopolitan) before a smaller group of us headed to a local Karaoke bar to belt out a few tunes before bedtime. We were joined by CityMama, my friend and local Karaoke legend. Krajee Karaoke has become a kind of local blogger tradition, something we do when we have out-of-town bloggers come to town. Our favorite place is Renaissance Karaoke in Santa Clara, a Korean-style karaoke house with private rooms and bizarre melodramatic Korean-drama videos playing behind the music.
Aside from the great information we received at Yahoo! it was nice to hear the other Mother Board members say such nice things about Palo Alto. I often forget what a wonderful place it is, and it's nice to be reminded from time to time.