August 02, 2006
BlogHer's Closing Keynote
Chris Nolan moderated the closing keynote BlogHer panel on Saturday night. She lead a discussion with four powerhouse women, including Hurricane Katrina Direct Relief Founder and blogger Grace Davis, Arianna Hunffington, Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive CEO and Publisher Caroline Little and SixApart’s Mena Trott.
Arianna starts out by telling her story…..the story of how she got into blogging and what it means to her. Grace talks about Katrina and Mena talks about things she has learned. Chris Nolan asks all of them what was the worst piece of advice they have ever received?
Arianna references her most recent one, which was not to start Huffington Post. “Why take that risk?” people asked me. She says, “On the day we launched, some in the press said ‘it’s the greatest failure since….The Madonna of the political world has re-invented herself one too many times. Women have a harder time with personal criticism. As women, we tend to internalize it and that’s what brings us down.”
So true and many clap as they relate to their own experiences over the years, whether its running a company or a family.
Says Caroline, “I was getting a lot of pressure to hire someone from the print world, I didn’t and don’t regret it. Again, it was about not taking risks. The hire would have been a ‘safe hire.’”
Mena pipes in, “I went to a catholic school and my parents were told by my teachers that ‘Mena needs to stop talking. I never listened to them nor did my parents. ‘Be the class clown’ they said. My father actually sent the Fortune Magazine feature of Ben and I to one of the nuns.” Great revenge after so many years.
Arianna speaks about her teenage daughters, specifically one who has had an eating disorder and how this incident made her feel as if she had failed as a mother in some way. “You just have to trust them and tell them you’ll love them even if they fail,” she said.
I thought back to my own life at 16, when I developed an eating disorder, shortly after my mother passed away. It’s never your mother’s fault – disorders, whether they’re about food, alcohol or something more serious, are about your own internal fears and beliefs. (and the meaning that you give them at the time).
And on failing – does failure ever truly exist? If we look back at our own failures, the more that the years go by, the easier it is to look at a failure as a lesson that brought us to the next level of our life, more often than not, a richer period of our life.
So, what about fearlessness? asks someone from the audience. Arianna answers first and I think the audience wanted her to – after all, look at her track record. “I don’t mean absence of fear – I mean that we can’t let fear stop us. “All of the fears that I’ve had over the years, including public speaking and trying to live up to a fearless mother), hasn’t been close to as difficult as motherhood. It’s all of our biggest fears.”
She adds, “we should honor every age that we’re at.”
Grace says of fear, “You have to teach courage to your children and make them embrace it,” while Caroline points to a reference from her mother when she was sick. Her mother said that she was fearful while raising her children and Caroline felt that this means, “you don’t have faith in me.” Interesting. I wouldn’t think about that today as a grown woman, but perhaps as a child?
How can we learn from fear in a way that allows us to start things earlier in our life?
Says Arianna, “Evolving Means Occasionally Changing our Minds.” So feminine I thought. So true. She continues, “I believe in accidents and coincidences. My mother used to say that coincidences are the gifts we receive from God anonymously.” Grace says that ‘it’s all about intuition.’
Question from the audience, “What have been some of your greatest obstacles and upon what do you call upon your strength and inspiration?”
Grace says, “An obstacle ahs been being of color in a white neighborhood. It brings on issues of lack of self worth. But I’ve always had my pilot light on. In responding to Katrina, I didn’t think about the obstacles; I just thought I need to be there to help. Perhaps I should have thought about some of the liability issues, but I didn’t.” It was clearly about helping and serving.
There are a lot of women here who are not married with children and also have a lot of fears says Corey from the audience, “how has your blog and other things gotten you past your fears?”
Caroline acknowledges that an advantage of having children is that you ‘have to go home.’ It’s important to create limits and children force you to do that. Arianna says she worries about sleep deprivation. When we’re martyrs, she ignore sleep. “I’m obsessed with it now,” she says. “I just want to start a movement about sleep.”
Says a man from the audience, “what can men take away from this conference and how can we help?” Mena pipes in first and says, “stop creating lists about and lists of, i.e., top bloggers, top this, top that.” Chris Nolan adds, “Link, Link, Link, it helps.”
Last question for the audience to wrap it up is about fearlessness again. It’s interesting how many times the word fear came up in sessions in this conference – it didn’t start here. Fearlessness and ‘what most excites you?’
Arianna talks about an upcoming launch of Politics Aside, which is about everything non-political, i.e., gardening, cooking, health, green living. I love Grace’s answer. “I’m writing,” she says. “I’m doing what I wanted to do at ten years old.” Gotta love it. Can we all say that about what we’re doing now and most passionate about?
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So obviously I am just getting started here, and it must be equally obvious that I dont have time to post every day. I wish I did. By the time all the kids are in bed and the kitchen is de-crumbed so the ants wont completely take over (th... [Read More]
Tracked on Aug 29, 2006 5:49:40 AM
*Great* wrap-up Renee!
Posted by: Lisa Stone | Aug 10, 2006 9:32:44 PM
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