Alt Summit SLC 2013: The Fantastic Experience

altitude and/or design and/or summit

To be totally honest, I didn't really get excited about attending Alt Summit until a few days before I left and even then, I really didn't know what to expect. As a food and travel blogger without any official design credientials, I wasn't totally sure if I would connect with the other attendees, speakers, or the sponsors for that matter. 

All that being said, Alt was everything I never knew I needed in a creative and career sense. I can't say enough about how valuable the experience was for me as a blogger, as a writer, and as a creative person. When I attended Camp Mighty last year, I found my people and after Alt Summit, I've found the working community I'm supposed to be a part of.

So here's my Alt story...

Photos by Ashley Thalman

Wednesday started out going swimmingly, I got to share a row on the flight with Brianne and Ashley, and met up with my wonderful roomates, Mindy and Caroline. And then I headed of to my dinner with Dash and Albert and got rear-ended, in my rental car. That sucked, but of course it could have been much worse. We waited almost 45 minutes in the very cold Salt Lake City weather, my phone died after calling 911 and my insurance company (a bloggers worst nightmare) but at least when the police officer showed up he was increadibly kind. So rather shaken and with a dinged up rental car, I weighted my options - do I go to the dinner I was already an hour late for or do I go back to the hotel and just crash. 

I figured I still needed to eat and the restaurant, Wild Grape Bristro, had a good selection of gluten free friendly options. Upon my arrival, the Dash and Albert crew were still there and after I explained what had happened they were so increadibly welcoming and kind to me. I sat next to some seriously awesome ladies from ReStyle Source and met another Seattleite, Arianne. And to top it all off, the amazing folks from Dash and Albert gifted us these fantastic tote bags filled with goodies. So needless to say, my night got better.

The next three days were simply amazing in terms of ambiance, content, and community. And I have to say, Bing's Bing-It-To-Life lounge was quite inspiring. They took so many beautiful and creative ideas and made them happen all in one place - my favorite item was the yarn covered yoga balls. I'd love to find a way to make a knitted cover for mine! One thing I found wonderful about Alt was the inclusion of small opportunities to create something sprinkled through the event. Drawing a little logo with Squarespace and icons for Weathermob really made a difference for me; both to remind myself that I do have some level of artistic ability and it worked as a great stress reliever.

The content inspired, informed, and motiviated me to do more and dream bigger, which was one of my goals in attending Alt Summit. Some of my key take aways were;

From Tiffani Jones Brown of Pinterest about telling true stories;

  1. Remember, you're always telling stories.
  2. Ignore everyone.
  3. Find the ground.
  4. Say it in your voice.
  5. Go deep.
  6. Call on your muses.

From Jasmine Star on personal branding;

  • Write your own story.
  • The best verison of you is the truest version of you.
  • Shake what your mama gave you.
  • Showcase your words, the words that describe who you are, not your blog or your business. 
  • Showcase who you are.

From Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks on finding your voice;

  1. Create your own story.
  2. Make life happen.
  3. Travel.
  4. Name what lights you up.
  5. Journal, read, and collect awesome things.
  6. Practice seeing.
  7. Stop comparing, instead by inspired.

The keynotes were so fantastic that I failed to take any notes whatsoever, but frankly, I'm glad I was able to be so present in the moment - talking with my fantastic lunch companions, Aislyn on Thursday, and an amazing crew of travel bloggers on Friday (I'll introduce them to you in another post). Chris Anderson talked about the newest industrial revolution, the makers, and I'm excited to read his new book about it. From him, I got that it's a new world, technologically speaking, and things that you dream up can begin to become reality. Katie Sokoler, talked about her career as a professional fun maker and about letting go of being embarrased. Need something to perk up your day, go check out her website. Seriously, go do it, now.

Then, there was Stefan Sagemeister. Going into Alt, I had no idea who he was and frankly was intially thinking if I had to miss a session, I wouldn't mind missing the one with the guy talking about design. In the end, Stefan's session was the most meaningful to me both professionally and personally. He talked about happiness and taking sabaticals to inspire his work and refresh his imagination - these were things that I needed to hear. To get a little taste of the things he talked about, watch these two TED talks of his; The Power of Time Off and 7 Rules for Making More Happiness. Keep an eye out for his upcoming movie The Happy Film, we got to see a trailer for it and it was awesome.

Photo by Justin Hackworth

So I need to explain three things. 

First, don't think I spent the whole time at Alt on my phone. In the above picture, I was working on setting up chances to meet with the awesome people that I'll tell you more about in another post. Second, at every conference I've ever been to I've despised networking. The concept has always made me increadibly uncomfortable. Third, Twitter is an increadibly powerful tool for networking at conferences.

At Alt Summit, it's like I became a totally different person. Without a second thought about it I was reaching out to bloggers I wanted to get to know and representatives of brands that I wanted to chat with. After the travel blogging round table was canceled, I even gathered a group of travelers together to chat over lunch - it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the conference. When I came home and thought about the experience holistically, I realized that it all came naturally to me because this was the community I'm supposed to be a part of. That was huge and by far, the biggest thing I got out of attending Altitude Design Summit.

Other posts about Alt Summit I just love;