BlogHer ’14: the backstory

July 28, 2014

The Scene

Thousands of women. Annual BlogHer Conference.  San Jose, CA.  July 24-26.
Weather: in the 90s, feels like 104.

I COULD write about the BlogHer sessions (largely useless) or about the speakers (eh). I COULD write about the BlogHer giveaways (lots) or the vendors (far, far fewer than in previous years). I COULD write about how puzzled I was that it was held in my city of San Jose, CA.

I could.

But instead, I’m going to give you the snark. Get your coffee and let’s begin.

Honored Guest

Butt purse

Not Kim Kardashian’s moneymaker, but probably could be.

I was very surprised to hear that Khloe Kardashian would be making an appearance in the Expo Hall at the Hairfinity booth, a company that offers a vitamin mix you take twice daily to make your hair grow faster. If my hair grew faster my roots would show up faster, so I declined. Still, Khloe has nice hair.

Khloe is of course the sister of Kim. Kim is much admired for her ability to transform a big ass and anal sex with her boyfriend on video into a mega-million dollar family empire presided over by her fame-whore mother.  I must say I was astounded that Khloe would be featured at BlogHer assuming that even young women bloggers were smart and would see this family for what they are.

Girlfriend told me the line waiting to see her was HUGE and she remarked, “Seriously, girls? What are you doing?”   It fell on deaf ears.  I was even more shocked when I heard that a 40-year-old woman left sobbing because she didn’t get to meet Khloe. Apparently, all it takes is celebrity. Of any kind.

I wonder if these young bloggers would aspire to have their kids reach fame this way. Maybe “how” doesn’t matter any more. Just “that.”

Mommy Blogging

No, Mommy, I will NOT wait until you pin your blog post! I'm hungry NOW!

No, Mommy, I will NOT wait until you pin your blog post! I’m hungry NOW!

 Mommy Bloggers I met at BlogHer  seem to be able to raise several kids, serve as activists –for cloth diapers, home-schooling, breast-feeding, post-partum issues–while simultaneously writing for their own blog and commercial motherhood blogs, still learning every detail of  back-end technology to optimize their blog while posting links on every social media outlet available, commenting on other blogs, blah blah blah. Or shall I say blaahhhg, blaahhg, blaahg. Seriously, their daily workload made my head spin.

I am certain that one day a whole lot of kids will be sitting in therapists’ offices saying, “Yeah, we mostly raised ourselves, Mom was always too busy with Twitter parties and Instagram to pay any attention to us.”

Seriously, HOW do these women do it? And more importantly, how will they afford all the therapy their kids will need?

Mean Girls?

4303001702_c7fa60f41aApparently some of the younger, newer attendees were using social media to post unflattering photos and mean comments about other women and were boasting that they had stolen from vendors. Not cool. I guess these were some of the stupid young women lined up to see the Kardashian appearance. A disappointing turn of events, to which I can only say this: GROW UP.


Mastering the Selfie

Carol Cassara

As my friends know, I’ve avoided mastering the selfie, not wanting to be another one of those post-mid-life women who changes her Facebook profile photo as often has she changes her underwear. I suspect it’s to get the extensive validation that such posts generate. No, I don’t get my validation from my selfies because they are AWFUL.  Yet here we all were, taking selfies in groups and alone. So I went along.  I posted one.

“Smile!” my friends said.

So I took one with a smile.  Here were my thoughts:

What happened to my nose? When did it get so huge??
That double chin does NOT balance out a heart-shaped face. 
Dr. Fang was right, I need Invisalign.

So I asked M. what he thought.

“Oh, I think your selfies are fine–right in style with the Vampire Diaries.”


I’m calling Dr. Fang Monday. Oh wait, his office is on summer break until Aug. 4.
I’m calendaring it. There it is: CALL DR. FANG.  

Note to Invisalign: you should definitely exhibit at blog conferences.

 The Sounds of Silence: 

The Go Daddy booth. Empty, empty, empty.  As it should be. I will say no more. Well, maybe just one more thing: Idiotic, sexist, exploitative pigs.


Guy Kawasaki. Swoon!

Guy Kawasaki at BlogHer
When did he get so old? Oh yes, I’m old now, too. Oh, I have always loved Guy Kawasaki, even back when he was an Apple Evangelist. I love him even more now that I’ve seen him in action. He’s brainy, charming and funny. Yes, I know, he’s not very tall and I like men who are bigger.   But he can stand on his brains and his charm. Swoon.

Here’s another shot:

Guy Kawasaki

Who wouldn’t want to be Guy Kawasaki?

Arianna Huffington

When I told my husband she would be keynoting at BlogHer, his response was, “Isn’t that kind of like inviting a slave trader to address the NAACP?”

For those of you not in the blogosphere, he is referring to the fact that HuffPo does not pay its contributors. I have blogged in the past about how I feel this is abusive to writers  and will not repeat that except to say to my sisters who are going to respond that they get exposure and opportunities from their posts and consider that compensation: I’m happy for you.

But I thought I my husband’s line was right on the money.

She did have a few cool things to say. I’ll spare you her photo.

Kerry Washington

BlogHer 2014

Kerry Washington at BlogHer 2014


Smart, charming, beautiful and soooo teeeeensy. She just had a baby, too. Oh, she is tiny. I think it would take three of her to make one normal-sized woman. Maybe four.

Her keynote was delightful. But other than her celebrity, I wasn’t sure why she was chosen.  Scandal is already a hit. Then again, I thought Katie Couric and Martha were odd choices as well in prior years, but they were both pimping new ventures — book and TV. I’d hoped Kerry would talk about her activism, etc. But no. Still, as a fan of Scandal, I enjoyed her interview.

Oh, and my girlfriend believes she was wearing Invisaligns!  Hey, if they’re good enough for Kerry, they’re good enough for me! I’m putting Dr. Fang on speed-dial.


tempeh-thai-spring-rolls-with-peanut-sauce-recipe-2Lunch on the rubber chicken circuit is rarely noteworthy, and the event planners thought they’d do something different this year.  Here was lunch:  A small dinner plate with about half a cup of limp lettuce, about as much as you’d feed your rabbit if you wanted her to lose some weight after she had a litter.

Two tiny tomatoes for garnish sat on the plate looking lonely, the only items of color. On the table were: a small bowl of chopped chicken, another of chopped beef, some fried tofu and sunflower seeds. We got to make our own insipid salads.

For dessert, a small dinner plate with about a dozen small  pieces of cut fruit–for a table of 10 to share. I am not kidding.  We all looked at each other and laughed. The intent was great; the execution fell short. Seems to be a budget crunch at BlogHer.

State Fair Fried Dough

BqrJxTlCIAAPZrGWhich is why Baskin Robbins had a very popular booth offering tastes of its ice cream. I had a mini cone of State Fair Fried Dough: cinnamon, caramel, fried dough ribbons and pieces of funnel cake. I must say it tasted just like the name and made up for the rabbity lunch. If you’re an ice cream fan, you might want to give this one a try. Very different.

When all was said and done

10516795_10152828935666917_1066935120707044548_nTHIS was what it was all about for me. Meeting and hanging out with some of the most fun, talented, interesting and diverse group of women ever. Plans in progress for further fun meetups that have nothing to do with blogging and everything to do with FUN!  And really, all of the other stuff aside, I had a great time with the women I knew online but met for the first time here.

Whether you were there or not, I’d love to hear what you think.


77 comments on “BlogHer ’14: the backstory
  1. I have always wanted to attend Blog Her and always heard such good things. This year it seems no one was impressed.

    • For me, i knew going in that a lot of the agenda wasn’t my cup of tea. I thnk sometimes the sessions feel too random–that’s what I saw in the 3 years I’ve gone.

    • bodynsoil says:

      I’ve read a few blogs regarding blogher that ran along the same lines of slightly disappointed. I’ve wanted to go to this event for some time.. This year I guess I shouldn’t feel as bad as I had in years past for missing it..

      Thanks for sharing..

  2. Molly Darden says:

    This blog is fabulous! So *on* with everything I’ve heard. Carol writes from the perspective of a smart, savvy, woman, well-experienced in life. Can’t wait to read more like this!

  3. Kimba says:

    Jealous that you met Guy.
    Bummed that the younger gen of women is a pack of mean girls (I bet their Mama raised them better).
    Love that you’ve got a new gaggle of gal pals to hang with.

  4. I know you write honestly, so I can honestly say that after my GROUCHY FRIDAY (because I wasn’t there and going camping CAMPING instead) I’m glad I saved the money. The last photo though… yanked at my heartstrings. I do understand that BlogHer is the only place that I get to see so many people I love all in the same place.

  5. kim tackett says:

    Yup….kinda interesting, kinda disappointing. I’m glad I went (of course, because I got to hang out with YOU!), but don’t think I’d go again. I can learn more (I think) in a smaller, more focused workshop. The good news from attending the sessions was that I learned that I already know quite a bit. Not that there’s still not a ton to learn, I just don’t think that’s the forum for me. Love you!

    • OMG did we have fun or what? I did have to leave our bigmouth table at the BOF–there were too many of us concentrated in one place andI thought we’d get thrown out. So I took my big mouth to the next table.

  6. Out of everything I have read in the last 24 hours… I would love
    1. To meet all of the great ladies of Midlife Boulevard
    2. The ice cream!

  7. I kept looking for you, as I wanted to meet you in person. I also enjoyed meeting my SoMe friends, yet did not find business value in the conference. It was my first and last BlogHer unless someone pays me to go.

  8. I have read a couple of posts about BlogHer this year and it appears that there were highs and lows as there always are with things but that it did not live up to the hype . I can see the value of these events but have not ventured out to make it to one yet. Thanks for the honest review. The ice cream and of course–Guy–looked like the best take aways. You did take Guy away, right???? 🙂

  9. Seems I was right to save my money! I think it’s challenging to run a big conference like that and offer value to everyone. I would love to meet some of the women I’ve met through our FB groups, but I’ll just wait for quieter, intimate and tailored events.

    • Conferences are expensive to put on. I’ve seen this one decline in size and offerings (not to mention significantly decline in vendor/brand participation–maybe 1/3 of the brands this time that we had in ’12. This one stunk of cost cutting and lack of vendor interest. The Birds of a Feather are always a crapshoot, requiring better facilitation than BlogHer sets up–they always feel like a DIY afterthought. I know I’m critical but events (bigger than this) were under my purview at Silicon Valley high techs and I do know a little about how this works.

      • I’ve noticed this since the first BH conference I attended in San Diego. NYC was a bit less than San Diego, Chicago, even less than the other two. There wasn’t anything that shouted at me, neither the sponsors, nor the sessions, nor the keynotes. I kind of thought the 10 year anniversary would’ve surpassed previous years in every way. But no unicorn cake? well… pfft.

  10. Carol, I enjoyed meeting you Thursday night. I think we could be best friends, and not in a mean girl way, but I totally appreciate your snark. Like, really.

    • Oh, girlfriend, I do agree. We can be best friends anyway, we don’t have to live in the same place! I can’t remember, were you at the big mouth table at BOF? There were so many of us. It did get a little intense. LOL

      • We met standing in line for the Sangria party and then I sat beside you at the table. It was too hot so everyone left. I was sweating like a fried wiener, but at least my hair was thick.

    • I totally remember meeting, I just co uldn’t remember if you were at that table later.

  11. Love that picture of us, Carol! I wish that I’d had more time to talk with you, but it’s always like that at BlogHer.

  12. Kay Lynn says:

    Carol, one of my regrets from the conference is not running into you. By the time of BOF on Saturday, I was toast!

    I agree with most of your observations. I did find value in the sponsored events you had to sign up for and of course, meeting new and reconnecting with previous friends.

    The expo was a bit disappointing but it’s hard to compare a NYC BlogHer to one on the West coast.

    • They should be the same (expo)–San Diego was even bigger than NY. I’m sorry we didn’t connect, either, but another opportunity will come up, I hope! Thanks for your comment!

  13. Risa says:

    You wrote this so I don’t have to! My perspective is a little different, but for me the high points have to do with serendipity, cake pops, and the magic mirror. And meeting you, natch.

  14. Mary Anne says:

    You KILL me–loved this-went to Erma instead this year, boy am I glad I did.

  15. Lana says:

    Love it! Great perspective – I almost feel like I was there! Someday I hope to go, mostly to make those connections with other great ladies.

  16. Haralee says:

    Meeting IRL would be my top agenda to just say to those in this group, I enjoy your blogs, you have touched me with your posts, you have made me laugh, think and cry.

  17. I’m hearing this A LOT around town. 1) sessions not focused or in-depth 2) speakers unrehearsed and floundering or hawking their own book 3) vendors missing or vendors that don’t make sense 4) newbies (youngsters) acting out 5) Keynote speakers without realife advise or (again) hawking a product 5) the food. Maybe it’s time for BlogHer to reevaluate their structure. Maybe we should come up with our own? Just sayin’….

  18. Tammy says:

    Well, my sister from another mother, I’m glad you were part of my “first time”. I agree with all you shared and didn’t find it snarky at all. I’m not sure what that says about me. This was my first and last Blogher, but first of many adventures with the gals of mid life. No lie! You are and were a breath of fresh air for me. Thanks for that!

  19. Rachee says:

    I went to BlogHer once. It was so overwhelming and huge! If it’s back on the East Coast I may check it out again. Otherwise I am going to live vicariously through everyone else.

  20. LOL! This was hilarious!

  21. Lisa Froman says:

    I wasn’t there, but I would love to meet you and so many from our group! Maybe one day in the future….!

  22. Laurel Regan says:

    I have a different perspective (perhaps because I had different expectations?). In spite of a few admittedly snark-worthy happenings (which would probably happen at any large event), I had a fabulous experience at BlogHer ’14 (my third BlogHer conference) and consider my money very well spent. I am grateful I had the opportunity to attend, and am already planning for next year’s conference (wherever it may be)!

  23. Karen says:

    I’m telling you, you should have come to our version! Nary a Kardashian in sight, and a big sign tacked to the door that read “NO MEAN GIRLS.” It was awesome. Also: funny hats.

    • I should’ve! And I will, one day! You know I love your brand of insanity…it’s actually insane and not inane…. ;- ) couldn’t resist, I’m sorry. Bad.

  24. Ruth Curran says:

    Oh those smiling faces! How about an empowerment weekend? Or drama-free a build each other up retreat? I am glad you got to meet some awesome people face to face!

  25. WendysHat says:

    Forget the rest, I only wish I had been there to meet you and those awesome ladies in that last picture!

  26. Well, as I wrote in my recap piece, having lunch with you and Nancy and Kim, and hanging with Tammy, and all the other lovely ladies I met and played with was the conference for me. The rest? Yeah. I’m over it.

  27. Yowza! Remind me to stay on your good side. JUST KIDDING! I love your snarky ways, online girlfriend, and love reading about what I missed. Or maybe didn’t….

    That ice cream looks delish. Glad you enjoying meeting and being with the midlife women. That was the best for me, too, last year!

    • You were so missed! I admire all you have accomplished and what you are doing –and when you become rich and famous it will be for all the best reasons. 😉

  28. LOVED BlogHer14, meeting you and reading this post! You captured it all…GREAT job!

  29. camparigirl says:

    Hi Carol, I just wrote a post about the conference and used your line about Arianna Huffington (or, rather, your husband’s!). I couldn’t for the life of me remember who said it and now will amend my post to credit you.
    Well, I was horrified that KK was there, I boycotted Huffington and couldn’t muster much interest in Kerry Washington but I did love some of the 10×10 presentations – I found some bloggers inspirational. It was my first, and it helped me in gaining perspective and a bit of context for what my blogging partner and I do. As to the food, I ran for Il Fornaio and had a giant pizza on Friday night. Say no more.
    Above all, it was great to meet you all. And thank you for reaching out via e-mail.

  30. One of the best BlogHer posts ever! Glad I went to London instead but would have loved to have hung out with all of you!

  31. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Wow, I was sad I couldn’t make it this year….but now I am not sad. I did miss being with all of you wonderful ladies…Thanks for the honest BlogHer recap!

  32. I hated missing it I was grouchy Thursday but had a fabulous weekend sounds much better than yours! I wanted to go to meet all of my new friends, which was why I was grumpy Thursday. Friday I had to take my niece back to KY, summer is already over with. Had drinks out with a whole host of old friends that came out to meet us from my very first friend to my very best friend. It was something magical my husband set up because I was feeling blue. That surprisingly began with mom on another week trip. Yes I have until this Saturday to enjoy every second I can. That was long drawn out version of I missed you and our group but nothing else!

  33. I enjoyed the conference. As a newbie it fulfilled my expections..perhaps the messages were just too basic for the veterans but Thank Goddness you guys were there. The newbies want to develop those relationships and connections with other bloggers that the veterans already have. That crop of newbies may be the next group of ‘influencers” and presenters that can deliver the messages that make people want to keep coming back at least for 3 or 4 years until the next crop arrives. I too was disappointed with some of the presenters enough to imagine that I could in the future participate on a panel as a presenter and give out more useful information. I appreciate your post especially the comments about Huffington which I didnot know….it reminded me of Johns Hopkins Hospital the pay is so low for doctors there they almost want you to pay them to work there! LOL! No I don’t work there..can’t afford to! But thanks for being there!

  34. I had a great time meeting people. I noticed the whole demographic of the event is getting older. I loved the sessions about getting published and crowd-sourcing. New friends, interesting content, fine parties. Who could ask for more? Oh yeah. Maybe different food.

  35. Oh am I happy that I didn’t know about the girls posting pictures and tearing people apart. Man that woulda burned me up to no end. I skipped both Kerry and Arianna, and really as many keynotes as possible other than Jenny Lawson. And finally – WHY WAS THERE NO WATER! My god I was so thirsty I was filling up a cup with tap water that tasted like ass (I haven’t actually tasted ass but if I had this is what it would taste like.)

  36. I am so glad I read this…I always wondered what REALLY happened at that conference. I sounds like all women’s gatherings I have ever been too. Of course it is always those few wonderful interesting smart women that you meet that make it all worthwhile.

    Thank you.

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "BlogHer ’14: the backstory"
  1. […] that anyone noticed my absence but it did make me feel very politically correct (as fellow blogger Carol Cassara pointed out, it’s like having a secessionist at a NAACP conference); and yes, I did learn all […]

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