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Top 20 Tips From Disney Social Media Moms Conference

I have attended many conferences over the years but I must say the Disney Social Media Moms conference I attended in April was tops when it came to mixing inspirational business tips with incredible experiences. Best of all, I went with my three boys (husband had to work) and everyone had a fantastic time. Looking back, there are so many things to share, so I’ll start with the top inspirational tips I learned during the Disney Social Media Conference.

 

 

My first social media share of the conference indicated how happy we were to be at Disneyland!  First as a kid with my family and now as a parent, Disneyland is one of my favorite vacation spots because it allows my whole family to put daily pressures aside and experience sheer happiness, excitement and fun. It also brings my silly side which my kids love to see.

 

 

 

While at Disneyland we also just can’t stop smiling…

dsmm6w

 (Note: my first tip should be to get a PhotoPass because the pictures they take are priceless…More on that later in the post..)


1. The Mickey Check Makes It Easier To Identify Nutritious Choices.

 

Throughout the conference, we had the opportunity to learn about the Disney Healthy Living food options. Disney Healthy Living food options have a Mickey check to help identify them. The Mickey Check website explained: “ The Mickey Check is a tool that makes it easier to identify nutritious choices in stores, online, and while on vacation at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The Mickey Check can be found on select kids’ meals and fruit carts throughout Walt Disney World® and Disneyland® Resorts, on various Disney-licensed food products sold at grocery stores across the country, and on qualifying recipes at Disney.com/tryit and Spoonful.com. To receive the Mickey Check, foods must meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines developed by health experts and align to federal dietary guideline recommendations.”

 

 

We also had a chance to see what the new Disney-licensed snacks sold at grocery stores around the country will look like:

 

  
 
During the Disney Social Media Moms conference I had the opportunity to try the options with the Mickey Check and they were yummy! Of course, I also had to taste the other fun foods as well – but it was great to have healthier options available. I also appreciate the food carts throughout the park that have all types of fruit, hummus and other healthy snacks for my family on the go such as the Tropical Import Snacks at Adventureland, FairfaxFruit Market in California Adventure and more! Restaurants at Disneyland also have healthy options, but that is the topic of a whole other post I will be writing (too much yummy food to talk about in this post!).

 

Disneyland Healthy Food options

 

Of course, two of my other favorite snacks are theDole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar in Disneyland and the dark chocolate covered pineapple (with fresh pineapple inside) in the Trolley Treats candy store, Buena Vista Street California Adventure.

 

 

Next we had the opportunity to hear creative tips from Disney Enthusiasts and business experts. Here are a few that I did capture on social media:

 

 

 

 2. Jay Ward from Pixar shared three important parts of the creative process: Quality, Innovation and Storytelling.


 

 

 

 


3. New Disney Adventures include a “Frozen Cruise” and A Disney Resort in Shanghai!

 

 

Tom Staggs shared exciting news about the Disney Shanghai Resort and the new Adventures by Disney itinerary (Norway: Fjords, Bergen & Oslo) inspired by the film “Frozen ” – which is a partnership between Disney and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Collaboration, research and extensive attention to creative details a top rate customer experience.


 

Cars Land in California Adventure is a great example of how Walt Disney Imagineering and Pixar Animation collaborated to convert real life emotional experiences (Cars and Route 66) into an attraction that evokes that emotion mixed with the best in entertainment!  At the conference, Kathy Magnum from Walt Disney Imagineering talked about the extensive research they did to bring Cars Land to life inspired by the real Route 66.  Just taking a walk through Cars Land and seeing how every detail is brought to life (such as the beautiful Cadillac Range Mountain inspired design) helped me realize what an amazing experience they created!

 

 

 

 

5. Partnerships can help offer new conveniences to customers.


 
Megan McGuire from Alamo shared that they have onsite locations at Disneyland.  This makes it even easier to rent a car while at Disneyland.
 

 

 

6. “Dream the biggest dream – then make a business plan for that dream”!

 

Maxine Clark was inspirational as she shared her experiences starting the successful Build-a-Bear Workshop as a later in life career change. Two tips that stood out to me where  “Listen to your heart and you can find your true calling” ”Dream the biggest dream.. then make a business plan”.

 

Disney Social Media Moms Build-a-Bear
 

7. A good use of social media for brands is to share experiences, storytelling and humanizing.

 

 

 

8.  To engage an online audience, share your passions.

 

 

 

 

 

9.  Creative use of photos to offer solutions to everyday issues (i.e. What to wear to Disneyland!) also inspires online audiences.


 
Fashionista Leslie Kay created this Disney Bound Tumblr  as a Disney fan site for to share the outfits she was going to wear at Disneyland. As it turned out, so many people enjoyed the photo inspirations that Disney Bound built up a big fan community of it’s own.

 

 

 

 

10. Cats still rule the Internet.


 

 

 

 

11.  ”If you lose a game, don’t let that effect how you live your life” ~ Donald Driver


 

Green Bay’s All-Time Leading Receiver Donald Driver gave us some inspirations from his book “Driven” and stories about the importance of giving back to your community (his endeavor is the Donald Driver Foundation).
 
 

 

 

 

12.  ”Don’t blog for attention, blog to change someone’s life” ~Donald Driver

 

 

 


13. “Dreams come true if you have courage to pursue it”! ~ Donald Driver

 

 

 

 

14. Social media like Twitter gives people around the world a voice!

 

@stop (Doug Bowman then from Twitter) gave an inspirational talk about how Twitter gives people around the world a voice and connects you with people you want to know.

 

 

 

This tip is one close to my heart: I have connected with an amazing community around the world through Twitter. As a perfect example of that, during the DisneySMMoms conference I decided to share tips with my Twitter community. When I shared the insight from Jay Ward of Pixar about the creative process, a UX Engineer (see below) from LONDON favorited that tweet!

 

 

 

15.  “If you don’t have creative gas, find creative gas station” ~@Gary_Jerry


 
Gary Buchanan (PR & Social Media for Walt Disney World & Disney Parks) is one of the amazing members of the Disney Social Media team along with Leanne Jakubowski  (Director, Social Media, Disney), Michele Himmelberg (PR Director Disneyland Resort) and so much more! The Disney social media team reflects the creativity of Disney as a whole by sharing Disney through authentic and engaging storytelling that communicates the fun and delight that Disney Parks offers.   The Disney team along with and Maria Bailey (CEO of @BSMMedia) did a great job creating such engaging events for the conference!
 
 
And they have fun doing their job!

 
Disney PR and Social Media

Gary Buchanan and Leanne Jakubowski
 

 

 

 

16. Use different ways to practice your own creativity.


 
During the conference they challenged us with a quick exercise of creativity. We were asked to draw a picture of the person sitting next to us. I was happy to be sitting next to one of my favorite social media buddies Rebecca Levey. Even though I only had a few minutes, I tried my best to show her gleaming personality… Ok, well I may not be a master in drawing but it was fun to draw after spending most of my time typing on some sort of device!
 

 

 

 

 17. Maleficient opens at theaters May 30, 2014!


 
As I realized this post would be published on May 30, which is the day Maleficent is finally in theatres, I thought of the fun I had hearing about the movie at the conference and having the opportunity to take my most evil selfie of all…
 

 

 
Maleficent tells the “untold story of Disney’s most iconic villian from the classic Sleeping Beauty“. I know where I am going this weekend (to see Maleficent)!

 

 

 

 

 

18.  “…Building literacy and storytelling (skills) in the digital age is important.”


 

In the digital age it is even more important for kids to make sure they develop literacy skills including reading books and the art of storytelling. At the conference we had the opportunity to hear about two initiatives that are supporting literacy in creative ways. The first one is Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book Program. The second is a collaboration with Reading Rainbow.
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Here is information from the conference about Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book Program and the following press release:

 

“Disney and First Book will provide for the donation of up to one million books to U.S. communities in need and will present families with free digital books from Disney Publishing Worldwide, through a new program announced today, Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book. The program includes a redemption code offering a free Disney Digital book and a way for families to experience giving back by donating books to the community of their choice. Disney Junior’s Give a Book, Get a Book, also includes public service announcements, free storytime events at Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Disney Store locations, and interactive Radio Disney events.”

 

Ms. Kanter said, “With each and every one of our Disney Junior series, we let a child experience the magic and learning that comes with a story well told, and deepen the emotional connection and sense of wonder and adventure that have defined storytelling at the Disney company for generations.” She continued, “The Give a Book, Get a Book program is a way for families to share stories and enter the world of giving in a simple yet effective way.”

 

 

Details from the press release on Reading Rainbow:

 

“LeVar Burton, Cofounder and Curator-in-Chief of the award-winning Reading Rainbow app, spoke about the importance of building literacy and of storytelling in the digital age. Disney Junior stars Ariel Winter and Tim Gunn (of “Sofia the First”) and David Arquette (of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”) also participated in a storybook reading for event attendees and their families. Genevieve Goings (of Disney Junior’s “Choo Choo Soul”), who hosts the Give a Book, Get a Book public service announcements on Disney Channel, emceed the event. ” Reading Rainbow co-founder LeVar Burton read Young Henry and the Dragon as part of the Disney Social Media Moms conference. LeVar was excited to support Disney, First Book and all the Disney Social Media Moms in your collective commitment in put books in the hands of children.

 

 

Today, Reading Rainbow is more than just the much-loved TV series — it’s the #1 education app in the Apple App Store. To date, children ages 3 to 9 are reading, on average, 140,000 books a week in the Reading Rainbow app — that’s more than 12 million books read and video field trips watched since launch.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19. Disney Theme Parks even have running adventures!


 
One of experiences at the conference that was new to me was participating in an runDisney event. The runDisney website explained:

runDisney is a series of events that provides runners the unique opportunity to run through Disney Theme Parks at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida and the Disneyland® Resort in California, earn Disney-themed finisher medals, experience legendary Disney entertainment & Guest Service, and ultimately celebrate their accomplishments with a Disney vacation. runDisney offers something for the whole family! While marathon and half marathon races headline each runDisney weekend, other offerings include Disney-themed kids races and family fun run 5ks, plus health and fitness expos with guest speakers, product demonstrations and official race merchandise! From the diaper dash to the 48.6-mile Dopey Challenge, there truly is something for everyone at runDisney.”

 

Before I became a parent I used to work out 5 days a week, but between working and parenting, finding time for workouts is a challenge. The runDisney event at the Disney Social Media Moms conference allowed me to train for the event and connect with fellow moms who did the same. That team support as well as the joy of running through Disneyland inspired me to start training 3 times a week for a few months and finish the 2 mile run at the required pace.   Little did I know that after getting up at 4:30 am and joining a great warmup session by New Balance (that also supplied sneakers for us to wear) – I would be so energized and excited to run! After taking off close to 6:30 am and seeing the beauty of Disneyland in the morning (before the park officially opened) - I had to force myself not to stop to just take it all in! Well, I did stop for a few pictures and attempted a selfie but realized I really needed to keep pace with the group.  The runDisney event was so inspiring that I ran my fastest time ever (selfie time included)…
 

runDisney Disney Social Media Moms 2014 TechMama

 

 

Crossing the finish line with my fellow runners  was inspiring (I even had to the chance to see the fabulous Michele Himmelberg who is also with Disney PR). Seeing my smiling boys as I crossed was priceless. I hope that this is setting a good example to my sons that fitness and fun can exist every so happily together.
 

 

 

 

runDisney at Disney SocialMMoms 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

20. Don’t forget to capture family memories!


 

 

Make sure to live in the moment and enjoy family time, but also capture the memories at key times. After many trips to Disneyland (especially this one where I did not have my husband to help with taking pictures) I realized that capturing the priceless memories are important but a challenge. The Disney PhotoPass allowed me to relax because I knew that I would have professional pictures without worrying about taking them myself. I even had the opportunity to be IN the picture.
 
DSMM14p1

 

 

The Disney PhotoPass Photographer came up to us while we were at California Adventure a few hours after the runDisney race was over and asked us if we wanted a picture. Of course I said YES!  I was so thrilled to have done the race and then getting the opportunity to spend time with my family at Disneyland that I wanted to capture that moment. I look back at this picture whenever I need to smile, which extends that Disney magic with me whenever I need it!

 

 

 

Disclosure: TechMamas.com was invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Disneyland. My family and I attended the conference and were given complimentary items, special discounts and other benefits such as food and entertainment. I paid my own conference fees. The press release information was supplied to conference attendees for informational purposes. All opinions and words are my own.

 

 

Tech Tour of Microsoft: Windows 8.1, One Note, 3D, Xbox One and More

 I previously shared the top 5 ways I use Microsoft Office 365 to #GetItDone and explained that I am excited to be an Office Champion. Last month fellow Champions and I had the opportunity to learn lots of new information at the Champions Summit up at the Microsoft Campus in Seattle. Here are some of the fun highlights and I will be sharing more during the coming months.

 

 

Here are a few of us getting ready to start the tour!!!

 

 

The features of Office 365 Home Premium, Windows 8 (8.1) and Windows devices enable me to be so productive. At the Champions Summit I  took notes using Microsoft OneNote,  which synced across my smartphone and Windows laptop via SkyDrive. I used a Windows Phone for pictures, SkyDrive to store them and OneNote, Word and PowerPoint to create my blog post. Best of all, I was able to embed my PowerPoint presentation showing the highlights of the event into this blog post via SkyDrive and the PowerPoint Web App:

Listed below is a summary of information covered at the Champions Summit. But there were so many great tidbits, that I will also be sharing more in future blog posts!

 

WINDOWS 8.1

 

We started with a demo of Windows 8.1, the news update to Windows. I have already updated the family desktop, but laptop was still running Winows 8. What I like about Windows 8 (now 8.1) is that no matter what Windows device I am logged into with my Microsoft account – I see my same “desktop” with my live tiles configured consistently. While Windows “tiles” are similar to what people know as “app” icons, they differ in that they are constantly updated with the most current information.

 

Windows 8.1 has many new and exciting features resulting in a fast and more fluid experience:

  • Swipe from the right to pull up the date and Windows charms.
  • Swipe from the left to see the other current apps/information open on your desktop, then drag the screen (app) next to another open screen (app) to create a  split screen. Then drag it down to close.
  • When you are in an app, swipe from the bottom to see additional functionality.
  • Pinch in and you can move around whole sections at same time.
  • Additional new  capabilities include the ability to customize groups of apps to sort by different categories and to purchase Microsoft app gift cards.
  • One more feature I enjoy using is the Bing Smart Search. My standard technical benchmark for search is to type “Ryan Gosling” and check if all the information I need is in one, easy to view location. Seriously, it’s a great topic to test the quality of Internet search.

 

The Microsoft website has lots of information about upgrading to Windows 8.1, including tutorials such as this post on upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8..1 My tip is before you do any upgrades make sure your Windows updates are current,  which is usually automatic.

 

ONE NOTE

 

 

Picture credit: Microsoft

Next, we discussed One Note, which is a note taking app used for jotting down ideas, information, adding pictures, audio, video, web – a true digital scrapbook. You can place things anywhere in a page. The concept is similar to a three ring binder with sections on top and pages underneath (you can create as many pages as you want). I use One Note for so many things, and for this conference I used One Note to organize my travel information and keep track of the day’s discussions. All notes were automatically synced via Skydrive to all of my devices.

 

One Note came in really handy when I decided to finally upgrade my laptop to Windows 8.1 during the conference. I was able to have the software upgrade running on my laptop and take notes on the smartphone One Note app – picking up exactly where I left off in my notes. Before, (comma inserted) I used to jot down some handwritten notes on paper notebooks and then type other notes. Unfortunately, it always seemed like I lost the notes or forgot the file name. Now, (comma inserted) with One Note, I have “notebooks” for different events with all of my notes, research and important information (such as travel information) filed and labeled appropriately. The search feature in One Note is also powerful enough to sort through all the text in my notes just in case I forget the location of specific information.

 

Here are some of the key features we discussed:

 

  • So Many Uses: Use OneNote for work, home, school projects or class notes, to-do’s, recipes, flight, hotel, schedule, documents, people, map and more. You can TAG info to be searchable. Or search by keyword in the search box. If you have recipe book with lots of recipes  – you can search for what is in your fridge and it will bring up recipes with those ingredients (i.e. spinach, chicken). Important documents such as a passport with the associated travel information can be kept in One Note and accessed anywhere in the world with an internet connection (via SkyDrive). One Note can be the place to store household paperwork to live a paperless life.
  • Digital Clipping: You can add screen clippings (insert tab), pictures from SkyDrive or locally, images found using Bing, scanned images and recorded audio and video. Choose “screen clipping”, go to internet page and then click and drag to drop clipping into a section. Put all your information in one place. If you just want to include reminder it will include a URL for reference so you can go back.
  • Storage: OneNote/ SkyDrive offers 7GB of content for free. Evernote limits to 60 MB per month for free. If you have Office 365 you have 20 GB plus the 7GB.
  • Co-Authoring and Sharing: With One Note you can have simultaneous co-authoring for free. Evernote Premimium does not support simultaneous edit. One Note Notebooks can be shared so that everyone can edit and view, seeing not only the changes but also who made them and even share with people who don’t have OneNote.
  • Online and Offline: No internet, no problem: Office access  offline is included for free. This is premium feature for Evernote.
  • Across devices and platforms: ” OneNote comes with Office 2010 and 2013, and Office 365 for PCs. OneNote is also available for free on the Web, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android phones, and as a Windows 8 application for tablets.” One Note also works with the rest of office, so I can even insert PowerPoint presentations or other Office documents and then annotate it!
  • Value Proposition: Office 365 Home Premium is $99 per year, and is a full suite of products, delivering a better value than Evernote Premium at the price of $45..

 

*NEW* ONE NOTE FEATURES

 

I really enjoyed the demo of the now announced update to the touch enabled One Note app in the Windows Store.  Here are some of the key details covered in the  One Note update announcement: “Capture it all: Capture your screen with the share charm and capture documents, magazines and whiteboards with camera scan, Browse and find your notes easier than ever: Search for text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition and find your notes faster than ever before with recent notes and page previews, Annotate and take your own notes on the things you’ve captured: Write better with ink and see your notes in full screen! “

 

With Windows 8.1 you can capture and send it to One Note using the “Share Charm” . It’s  exciting that I can use the camera in my touch enabled device to take a picture of the screen, documents, whiteboard or other important information and then “scan” it to One Note using the camera scan function. Here is a video:

 

 

Even better, after I use that camera scan feature (with a receipt for example) I can then use the text recognition capability to search text in One Note (and then find it later when I need it!).

 

Here is another video of the recognize and search text:

 

 

For more information, check out OneNote.com.

 

OFFICE 365 HOME PREMIUM

 

We also discussed what is included with Office 365 Home Premium and the top ten features.

Here’s some information from the press release fact sheet highlighting key features:

:

“Top 10 Features of Office 365 Home Premium:

  1. If you are reading, not writing or editing, click or tap View, then Read Mode in Word to hide the writing tools and menus.
  2. On your Windows device, re-open a document or presentation and keep reading right where you left off with Resume reading in Word and PowerPoint.
  3. Like a data assistant that finishes your work for you, Flash Fill in Excel detects what you want to do and enters the rest of your data in one fell swoop, following patterns in your data.
  4. Dress up your data with conditional formatting such as bars and color scales through the Quick Analysis Lens in Excel.
  5. Tired of trying to precisely match the colors of shapes and pictures in PowerPoint? Let Eyedropper in PowerPoint do the work for you.
  6. With an improved Presenter view in PowerPoint, the audience views your slides on a main screen, while you control the show on another screen that only you can see.
  7. Inline replies in Outlook allow you to reply with one click by typing your response right in the Reading Pane.
  8. Grab a quick glance at your schedule, an appointment or your to-do list with peeks in Outlook, without having to switch from email to calendar or other modes.
  9. If the sound of typing is distracting, you can handwrite notes in OneNote instead of typing them. This is also useful if you’re faster at writing than at typing.
  10. Instead of re-typing information or relying on links to documents, feel free to embed files in OneNote to keep them handy online or offline.”

 

 

MICROSOFT ENVISIONING CENTER

 

Next was a fascinating tour of the Microsoft Envisioning Center. We were not allowed to bring our cameras, but luckily there is information on the Microsoft Website about the Envisioning Center..

 

We were not allowed to bring our cameras, but luckily there is some information about this research center on the Microsoft Website.

All I can say – is that I want the kitchen of the future NOW… But really, everything covered in the Envisioning Center tour was the perfect match of technology, home and community working together in a much more efficient way than we do it now. Luckily, the future is not too far away.

..

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The new Envisioning Center explores how technology will transform the way we live, work and play in the future.
Envisioning Center - March 01, 2013. The new Envisioning Center explores how technology will transform the way we live, work and play in the future.

 

 

 

MICROSOFT’S 3D BUILDER APP

 

 

Then if I was not already excited enough about the technology in the Envisioning Center, we had a demo on 3D Printing and learned about the newly released Microsoft 3D Printing app. The Windows blog post explains more about the 3D Builder coming to Windows 8.1: “A few months ago, you may have heard that Windows 8.1 makes 3D printing possible because it is native to the operating system, meaning the OS offers plug-and-play support for printers, understands 3D file formats, and connects lots of apps with lots of hardware to deliver offering a seamless printing experience for customers. Now, with the 3D Builder app, we’ve made it even easier for people to create and print objects in 3D” .

 

What I find interesting is that while 3D printing used to seem like some sci-fi fantasy, now it is not only becoming more accessible with all types of 3D printers hitting the consumer market but is also includes 3D apps (such as Microsoft 3D Builder) that help design objects. With Microsoft partners such as 3D Systems, Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, MakerBot, netfabb, Materialise, Stratasys, Tiertime (PP3DP) and  even MakerBot at the Microsoft retail store – I am getting closer to soon seeing a 3D printer in our family workspace soon.  Of course I started thinking about all the cool things I could create with my kids. Especially after seeing this 3D printed version of a DNA. Now that would be a science project my boys could be extra proud to bring to school!

 

 

Our last stop was techie heaven for me, located in a conference area that had selection of Microsoft Devices to demo.  The tour included a product and technical deep dive into the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro, which packs many features making them very productive tablets.

 

 

We also had *drumroll* a demo of the Xbox One that just became available to the public. While I have not given one a test drive just yet, it is tops on our list, especially for our Xbox gamer sons! I can’t wait to play with the new capabilities of the  Xbox One, especially the advanced voice and gesture commands, entertainment options and innovative features that will really make it an all-in-one device.

 

 

What new technology are you looking forward to trying (or just started using)?

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

#BlogHerPro ’13 Conference For Professionally-Minded Bloggers

*GIVEAWAY IS OVER – BUT PLEASE FEEL FREE TO USE FRIENDS DISCOUNT SHARED BELOW!.

BlogHer as been a big part of the most “important” reason why I got involved in social media: Community! I joined in 2006 because I had pivoted from a career in a top consulting firm to starting my own business. Over the years I have gained the value of not only meeting a great community of social media entrepreneurs but also learning so much  from BlogHer and the BlogHer conferences. That is why I am especially excited to attend BlogHer Pro 2013 as one of the Keynote Speakers on the  Monetization: Brands & Bloggers Keynote Discussion with some fantastic fellow social media professionals including Ana Picazo of Finding BonggaMom, Jim Lin from Ketchum PR and Busy Dad Blog, and Sarah Penna from Big Frame.. BEST YET – I have a discount code and am giving away TWO BlogHerPro13 conference passes! Can you tell that I am excited to be sharing the fun with others?

 

Just check out the other BlogHer Pro 2013  panels and speakers that include content management, mobile and business intensive workshops. Here is a link for where to  register for BlogHer Pro 2013 and more details: “BlogHer PRO is a multi-track conference for professionally-minded bloggers looking to take their business, marketing, and technical skills to the next level. Improve your knowledge and hone your skills on everything from personal brand to personal finance to personal privacy.” Honestly, this conference is also for anyone in business that wants to learn more about the powerful medium of blogging and social media for business.

 

DISCOUNT CODE: First of all I have a friends discount code to share (because my readers are my friends of course!Use Friends Discount code, PRO13FF, for 30% off registrationRegister today!

 

GIVEAWAY:  Second, I am giving away ONE CONFERENCE PASS to BlogHer Pro 2013 for TWO WINNERS (one conference pass will be given to each winner – 2 winners total).

TO ENTER: Please comment on this blog post (by Oct. 11, 12pm PST) and then share on Twitter that you have entered this contest.

DETAILS:  PLEASE COMMENT ON THIS POST BY OCT 11, 12PM PST. To enter, please comment on this post then tweet out “I entered @TechMama’s #BlogHerPRO ’13  giveaway  http://bit.ly/GDRZf4″.  For the comment please share what type of questions you have about being a social media professional? Do you have legal, SEO, content, questions about interacting with brands or general questions about how this all works? Or I would love to hear your story on how you use social media professionally.

 

WINNER CHOSEN AT RANDOM: The winner will be chosen randomly using Random.org and will be notified by Oct. 11 at 2pm pst. Winner must respond with confirmation by October 14 2pm pst.

 

Rules: 1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)  2. Winners are limited by geography to US residents only 21 years of age or older. 3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen. 4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. 5. Approximate value of prizes may vary. 6. All decisions are final. 7. All Federal, State and Local taxes and travel expenses associated with receipt of prize is the sole responsibility of the winner. 8. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action.

 

 

Disclosure: As a speaker on the Keynote Panel discussion for BlogHer Pro 13, I was assigned conference passes that I decided to share with my readers. All of my words are my own. The idea for this giveaway was also my own.

 

Moto X – New Phone That Listens To You Even If Your Kids Won’t

Over the next few weeks I will be covering new phones that I think offer great features for busy parents. The first is the new Moto X by Motorola.  I was invited by Guy Kawasaki to a media event at Google a few weeks ago to learn about the Moto X.  Guy is one of my favorite social media role models, so when he gets excited about a product – I want to learn more!  He started with a few opening remarks followed a presentation by Rick Osterloh, the SVP of Product at Motorola Mobility. I must admit, I had arrived on the Google campus curious how Motorola could differentiate a new smart phone from the really good Android phones already available. Well, the presentation helped me appreciate some new features that are perfect for busy parents (and everyone else!).

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The unique features of the Moto X  were discussed during the media event. Listed below are some of the key points.  I will update my blog when I have a chance to spend more time using the phone.


Touchless Control: The Moto X responds to your voice (there is a 3 step training process) and is always on listening mode. To engage the controls, you just need to say “OK, Google Now” (for example “Google Now, navigate to 1234 Smith Drive, Mountain View CA”). Even when the screen is off, the phone is still in listening mode. The architecture of the phone allows it to be in listening mode without draining the battery.

 

 

Quick Capture: With the Moto X, it only takes a few seconds to take a picture.  With two twists of your wrist when holding the phone, the phone goes right into one-hand operation camera mode. Then press anywhere on the screen to take photo or video. The quick shutter speed is perfect for catching kids on the move. During the demo, the pictures appeared very clear on the phone’s screen.

 

 

Active Display: A feature called “Active Notifications” allows you to turn the phone over and see texts, calls and other content on the screen without going into the specific app. Another convenience is that you can listen to recent calls on your desktop using the Chrome Extension.

 

 

Hands Free Authentication:  Devices that are authenticated can be connected to your phone without typing in a password.

 

 

Fits in your hand: Motorola did studies to find a form factor that fits nicely in your hand.

 

 

Assembled in the US: Always great to bring more jobs to the USA.

 

 

Custom Colors: Here are details from the Motorola press releaseThrough our online studio, Moto Maker, you choose the colors, and decide on the details: front, back, accents, memory, wallpapers, even add a name or a short message. When you’re done, we assemble your Moto X right here in the USA and ship it to you for free in 4 days or less (*Subject to parts availability).” I am happy that the colors include my favorite TechMama Turquoise (well that is the name I call it at least)..

 

Lots of Accessories: I was trying to take quick notes during the media event, but there is an extensive list of accessories available from brands including: Belkin, Sol Republic, Speck, Incipio, Lifeproof, Otterbox, Casemate, Griffin, Powersupport, M4DE, So-earphones & deck bluetooth,  JAX headhpones and speakers….

 

Price/Timing: Check carriers for specific pricing, but the Motorola press release stated price of $199 for the Moto X with a 2 year contract. Moto X will be available in the US, Canada and Latin America starting in late August/early September.

 

For detailed specifications, check out the Moto X website.

 

I did have a chance to play around with the phone for a while (and so did my social media buddy Kimberley Clayton Blaine).

 

 

 

 

I’ll be posting additional information on the Moto X after a trial run with the phone. I’m excited by the opportunity to have a smartphone that actually listens to me. Maybe my kids will take notice and follow the phone’s example, responding obediently to the verbal command, “OK Kids Now”. What do you think?

 

Disclosure: This was a media event.

 

 

 

June 4 Virtual Book Launch Party For My Parent Plan & Other Authors

Photo Credit: Emily Scheinman @BananaSeedBooks

Last week, I shared information on my trip to Book Expo America NYC to announce the revised version of my book “My Parent Plan: How to Create a Family Project Plan to Organize Your Life and Kids” . At the Book Expo book signing, I enjoyed discussing the concepts of my book with enthusiastic readers. This experience confirmed why I wrote the book in the first place: to help parents find a system to manage their family – one of the most complex and rewarding examples of project management. I talked to brave military moms who need to manage their family while their husbands are on deployment for long periods of time. I talked to single parents, educators and nannies who want to learn family project planning tips. And I talked to many parents who shared their family management struggles.

 

My Parent Plan explains that a plan is a journey, not a destination. My Parent Plan empowers parents to step back and think about their daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly activities. This gives families the time to find the right information, identify budget-friendly options, consider the needs of each family member and make informed choices to create the optimal family plan. The planning process also gives families the freedom to live in the moment and engage in family time.

 

 

To celebrate the launch of “My Parent Plan” I am joining in with the other authors in the Best Seller In A Weekend program with a Virtual Book Launch Party June 4 from 1-3pm PST.

 

First of all – HERE IS THE LINK to “MY PARENT PLAN” on Amazon available NOW (CLICK HERE to buy) on JUNE 4 2013. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is information about the Virtual Book Party:

 

 

Join me on June 4, 2013, for the long-awaited celebration of the (revised version) release of my book, My Parent Plan: How to Create a Family Project Plan to Organize Your Life and Kids. Organized  by Alicia Dunams, founder of Bestseller in a Weekend, we will hold a virtual book launch party and author spotlight for me and eight other amazing non-fiction authors ( (including Barb Gottesman of How to Slay A Pirate – Lessons on Success from Sailing the Pacific). You’ll get to be one of the first to order your copy of the books (my revised book), and you’ll get to hear all of the authors share their book-writing experiences! You’ll also get free information from every book featured, providing you with real solutions and tips you can use in your own life.

 

 

 

 

Those who attend the virtual book launch party between 1 pm and 3 pm PST on June 4th will be entered into drawings to receive their own autographed copies of the authors‘ books, as well as some special bonus prizes. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but I know the celebration won’t be the same without you. To attend, SIGN UP HERE: http://bestsellervirtualparty.com and you’ll be part of the fun. I can’t wait to see you there!

 

 

 

Heading To NYC for Book Expo & To Showcase Updated “My Parent Plan”

I’m excited to share that this week I’ll be attending BookExpo America (BEA), the largest author and book event in the nation. The show is being held from May 30th to June 1st at the Javits Center in New York City. You can find me and my book, My Parent Plan: How to Create a Family Project Plan to Organize Your Life and Kids , at Booth #377, where I’ll be joined by Alicia Dunams, and other Best Selling Authors with their new and popular  books. (*SEE bottom of this post for launch events  BOOK SIGNING times).

 

 

An updated version of my book, “My Parent Plan – How To Create A Family Project Plan To Organize Your Life and Your Kids” is now up on Amazon and I will be bringing copies to sign at the Book Expo. The book combines my experience as a Mom of three, quickly-growing boys plus my 20 years in professional project management to help parents understand the process of creating and working through a parenting plan based on their individual family’s needs and personalities. My Parent Plan empowers parents to step back to think about their daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly activities and set up a plan in advance. This gives families the time to find the right information, identify budget-friendly options, consider the needs of each family member and make informed choices to create the optimal family plan.
Without a plan I would have never had time to write this book. When I share with friends and colleagues that I wrote a book, and they know all the other things I have going on they frequently respond, “what – you wrote a book?”  The most wonderful thing is that many of these individuals either have book ideas, are writing a book or have something special they want to share. We discuss the importance of turning dreams into goals, then goals into plans and plans into action. One of my favorite parts of writing this book has been using the tools I talk about to empower other people to reach their goals while facing the challenge of work life balance. Luckily I had a plan that helped me juggle my priorities while keeping family on the top of the list and keeping other lower priority items on hold. For example, I have not washed my minivan in MONTHS. I even took a picture of my minivan so that if anyone asked how I do it, I could show them my secret. Success in one area requires trade offs in lower priority areas.
On topic of success, one of my dearest friends , Barb Gottesman, is not only an amazing life coach but also had life-changing adventures with her family sailing the Pacific Ocean for 2 years.  It was a story that needed to be told so I suggested to Barb, who already had a plan to write a book, to join in the Best Seller program. I am so proud of her – she followed through and (shriek of excitement) she is joining me and the other authors at the Book Expo in New York to announce her new book. Two moms heading to the Book Expo America in New York…proud to show their professional voice reflected in their new books!

 

 

Barbara Gottesman is the author of “How to Slay a Pirate: Lessons on Success from Sailing the Pacific”. The reference to ‘pirates’ in the title refers to the negative self talk that robs people of their dreams.  Barb describes her book as the ultimate guide for setting goals, slaying pirates, and achieving what you’ve only dreamed of until now. It delivers five surprisingly simple lessons and strategies for turning your vision into reality and reaching your true potential.  Accompanied by travel blog excerpts from her own nearly two-and-a-half year family sailing adventure across the Pacific (through Mexico, the South Pacific, and into Australia), How to Slay a Pirate delivers a candid account of challenge, risk and reward to make a compelling case for why finding and following your passion is essential.

 

BOOK EXPO SIGNINGS:

 

Beth BlechermanMy Parent Plan“: May 30 from 1-2pm, May 31 from 11-12pm and June 1 from 1-2pm. I will have an additional special signing on May 30 from 2:00 -2:30pm

 

 

Barbara Gottesman How to Slay a Pirate: Lessons on Success from Sailing the Pacific” will also be signing her books during the following times: May 30 from 1-2pm, May 31 from 11-12pm.  She will have a special signing on May 30 from  3:30 – 4:00 pm.

 

Joining Barb Gottesman and I  will be five other authors from our Best Seller group including:

 

  • Diane Beck, author of Project Management Secrets: Fortune 500 Project Manager Reveals How to Succeed in the Trenches.
  • Melissa Steach, author of The Housing Project: Decorating a Home That Tells Your Personal Story and Reflects the Real You.
  • Suzanne Letourneau, author of Soar with Vulnerability: 11 Insights to the Full Enjoyment of Your Life.
  • Bill Paravanno, author of Knees for Life: The Natural Approach to Eliminate Chronic Knee Pain and Have Strong Healthy Joints That Last a Lifetime…Without Surgery
  • Dr. Sherri Vie, author of Dr. Vie’s Vedic Weight Loss Secrets: Lose Weight, Prevent Disease, and Love Yourself.

 

 

BookExpo America will also feature exhibits, conference sessions, networking and autographs. I can’t wait to share the updated version of my book  and experience the excitement of being part of the world’s largest author and book gathering. If you’re in the Big Apple, stop by, pick up an autographed copy of my book, and join in the excitement!
OTHER FUN AUTHOR EVENTS:
MAY 30 MEETUP (NYC): Bush Street Press and Alicia Dunams, Founder and CEO of Bestseller in a Weekend™ organized a  Meet-up on May 30. Please join us! Click on the following link for more information: http://bpmmeetup.eventbrite.com/

 

 

JUNE 4 VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH: You’re invited! Don’t miss out on my virtual book launch party on June 4 from 1 PM to 3 PM (PST).  Win a free autographed copy and some cool prizes. Also learn about the book-writing process, the good and the bad, from me and 7 other non-fiction debut authors by attending our virtual book launch party on June 4 from 1-3 PST. It’s sure to be informative, enlightening, and fun! Sign up for free here: http://bestsellervirtualparty.com.

 

“My Parent Plan” is available on Amazon (CLICK HERE to buy).

 

 

 

 

Dent The Future Conference 2013 Press Trip: Sun Valley

I was lucky to be invited many years ago on a magic bus ride to CES, which was the first time I had a fun adventure with the team from Parnassus Group (Steve Broback, Jason Preston and more). Over the years they always had the pulse of social media,  organizing events such as Tweethouse and It Won’t Stay In Vegas at CES.   So when I was invited to join the (pre) Dent The Future 2013 press trip in February (to check out the location) organized by none other then the Parnassus Group, of course I said yes!

 

Dent The Future (March 24-27 in Sun Valley Idaho) is a new conference that “explores the magic and science of visionary leadership and groundbreaking success. They aim to translate the success of great leaders in business, politics, or charity into a set of lessons for those who would “put a dent” in the future.”

 

While I had some scheduling challenges (including Spring Break for my kids) so I won’t be able to attend Dent this year, I already put it on the schedule for next year. I will look forward to bringing my whole family with me to enjoy Sun Valley while I experience Dent 2014.  Those who will be following the conference from afar like me can do so by following Dent on Twitter (hashtag #Dent2013).
 

 
Listed below are some of the details from the “Pre” Dent 2013 press trip in February. We had an amazing trip that was not only filled with fascinating discussions on social media, but also with the beauty and fun of the fabulous Sun Valley Resort. I will be writing another post with more details (and sharing my pictures) about Sun Valley Resort (which was a highlight of the trip!).

 

 

This is a picture I tweeted from Sun Valley on our last night of the trip – enjoying a great dinner at a local restaurant.
 


 

#dent2013  @sbroback @bikehugger @pop17 @scobleizer  @svalleysunshine  @techmama @visitsunvalley  @shaunacausey  @jasonp
 


 

Our group lunch on Bald Mountain included yummy food, beautiful location and lots of social media talk!
 

#sunvalley @sbroback @jasonp @scobleizer @chasejarvis @pop17 @shaunacausey ..@techmama @neilblecherman #dent2013 pic.twitter.com/qyOkry58

 

Here is a summary of some of the locations we visited (post with full details will be published soon):

 

  • Yummy places we ate during our trip included: Knob Hill Inn, Della Mano Restaurant, The Kneadery and the Konditorei for breakfast. But there are many other places to eat.
  • Zenergy Health Club is a great location for a workout and spa treatments! http://zenergyts.com/
  • Here are the two websites to find out more information about Sun Valley Resort: www.visitsunvalley.com  and www.sunvalley.com. We stayed at the Sun Valley Resort Inn and it was beautiful. There is a great transportation system to go to the mountains, it is not crowded and the weather is usually sunny (per the name “Sun Valley”).  The resort is very family friendly – and even has a mountain that is perfect for beginners or family skiing called Dollar Mountain. The other mountain (Bald Mountain) is great for Intermediate to advanced skiers.  The Sun Valley Snowsports School has lessons for all levels (and even family lessons). I was excited that they have a “fundamentals” day program for kids (8:30 – 3:30) that includes lunch. There are also programs for Intermediate or Advanced kids as well. There are other winter activities such as ice skating and sleigh rides.

 

**My next post will share more details about the beautiful and family friendly Sun Valley Resort.

 

Disclosure: Travel related expenses were provided to the press covering this event.

 

Safe Haven Movie Tech Press Tour: Romance meets Social Media

The movie, Safe Haven, will share the romance by opening on Valentines Day, February 14th. In my last post, I shared my thoughts about the movie, a must see romantic thriller! I was fortunate a month ago to join the Author/Producer, Nicholas Sparks, and one of the movie’s stars Josh Duhamel, as well as the Relativity Media team for part of their tech press tour. How unique and exciting to see a movie include tech partnerships as part of their launch, giving fans new ways to expand their movie experience. With an engaging cast (including Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough), a beautiful set, and a great story written by Nicholas Sparks, the movie delivers on all fronts.
 
 
The San Francisco Safe Haven tech tour included the following stops:
1. PopSugar: The Safe Haven team stopped by PopSugar where they had a fun “cupcake” ambush of their editors and posed for pictures at a photobooth. Both Josh Duhamel and Nicholas Sparks were great sports posing for pictures with each and every one who waited in line for a picture, all with equal enthusiasm! They even let one specific tech mom sneak in for a picture she will never forget.
 
 

Safe Haven Movie Tech Tour (Josh Duhamel, Beth Blecherman – TechMama, Nicholas Sparks)

 

 

1. One Kings Lane:
Safe Haven provided One Kings Lane with approximately 20 décor items from the set.  One Kings Lane will execute a Safe Haven sale on or around 2/14 for 72 hours where they will sell the set décor, signed books from Sparks, and a signed script.  Proceeds will benefit the Nicholas Sparks Foundation.  I can’t wait to see what set items will be available for sale considering that the movie set location was scenic Wilmington and Southport, North Carolina.

 

 

2. Shutterfly :   Nicholas Sparks and Josh Duhamel engaged with a big group of fans at Shutterfly, taking photos together and answering questions.

Save Haven Movie Tech Tour at Shutterfly Offices (Nicholas Sparks, Shutterfly employee and Josh Duhamel.

 

 

They inspired enough romance from talking that CEO of Shutterfly Jeff Housenbold gave a kiss to his wife at the end of the event (everyone cheered).

Safe Haven Movie Tech Tour at Shutterfly Office ( Jeff Housenbold, Nicholas Sparks, Josh Duhamel)

 

 

The fun Shutterfly offer available now for anyone is: Send 5 free Shutterfly cards to the people you love! Use promo code: safehaven at www.shutterfly.com/safehaven  to redeem this offer by 2/25/13.

 

 

3. Twitter:  The Safe Haven team also stopped by Twitter’s headquarters and participated in a screening organized by Twitter Movies (with Twitter staff)

 

 

Safe Haven movie tech tour – Twitter Movies interviews Nicholas Sparks and Josh Duhamel

 

 

After seeing Josh Duhamel and Nicholas Sparks in action, I realized they understood not only the art of making movies and books, but also how to engage with their fans in a genuine way. Nicholas Sparks shared that interactions in social media can foster quality listening… and listening produces measurable data. He listens to social media conversations on books and movies regarding what the fans like and don’t like, and that helps him analyze what people really want. In addition, the Safe Haven team realizes that social media is not only important, but is also growing.  You can follow the Safe Haven movie on multiple social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more! Safe Haven is now out in the theatres, so click here to find out movie times.

 

 

Disclosure: This was a press event.

 

 

NYC Adventures With Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium : The Video!

 

At the recent launch of Office 365 Home Premium in New York City’s Bryant Park, I had the opportunity to experience the new features of Office while talking to some very exciting people (keep reading to find out who!). The Microsoft Office 365 experience center showcased the services and applications (for example Word, Excel, PowerPoint and check out OneNote) that together comprise the new Office and demonstrated how they work together for a great experience that helps you amaze, share, connect, explore, create and imagine.

 

These days, I’m constantly amazed at when and where I can actually get things done. The new Office provides me with instant access to my documents and information offline or online, enabling me to be more productive by utilizing brief segments of my day to get things done for my family and myself. The option to use Office 365 on five devices (including PCs, Macs and Windows tablets), stream full Office apps to any Windows 7 or 8 PC, and use Office Web Apps on mobile devices also gives me the flexibility work how I want. After all, being more efficient during the day simplifies my life, and makes my nights less hectic.
 photo c2feab5e-537b-4131-9200-9df0b8adf6ce_zps8a69a1e2.jpg

 

 

Check out my new video on BlogHerTV that not only shares a VIP tour of the launch but also showcases interviews with interesting people. See what busy mom and Hollywood actress Felicity Huffman says came to her rescue managing her life as a mom. Hear what my blogger buddy Jen Singer from MommaSaid.net can do from a waiting room at the Vet and learn tips from Office Insiders regarding how they are using the new Office to make their life easier. Of course, considering where I was (Bryant Park on a beautiful winter day), I had to put on some ice skates for a New York City winter adventure. Luckily, Jen Singer decided to join in the fun!

 

 

Building Success: Using Bing Webmaster Tools

 

As part of my preparation for BlogHer PRO, I had the opportunity to speak to Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager with Bing’s Webmaster Program. He will be leading the lunch Keynote titled, “Lunch, and Keynote Brought to You by Bing — Growing Your Audience and Influence with Social + Search”.  Forrester explained to me the details of his personal journey: to share with others how to build success and how to leverage your business assets to become successful. He also believes that to deliver a quality product you need to have customer interaction.  His two books, “Turn Clicks Into Customers: Proven Marketing Techniques for Converting Online Traffic into Revenue” and “How to Make Money with Your Blog: The Ultimate Reference Guide for Building, Optimizing, and Monetizing Your Blog” detail how a business can increase customers and generate revenue with blogs.

 

We discussed many different topics related to blogging and one was of particular interest. Forrester discussed the new features of the Bing Webmaster tools including the “Link Explorer, SEO Analyzer/SEO Reports, and updates to current tools such as our Keyword Research Tool (beta), and our URL Removal Tool.” Bing Webmaster tools (available to anyone) detail standard info including queries, your site’s ranking and where you were shown. The tools also send alerts and when combined with Bing crawler you can proactively manage bandwidth by time of day. Another option is to set controls that someone else manages for your website. With Link Explorer you can not only see who is linking to you, but also who is linking to your competitors. BingBot offers the ability to have a crawler fetch your blog’s URL then have a search engine assess the code on the page and come back with a status. For example, you can watch out for signs of hacks in your websites such as really long links. Forrester shared important advice for all bloggers: we should get to know what “normal” code looks like on our website so we can spot when it has been hacked.

 

In addition to all of these tools, Bing is now the first search engines to provide SEO advice to users. This is accomplished with SEO Analyzer, which scans a URL then shares what SEO work needs to be done.This tool helps you know what SEO work needs to be done now, helps you learn more about SEO from a trusted source and can help you test fresh areas of your site quickly.
When I checked out the Bing Webmaster Tools online, I was happy to see blog posts from the Bing Webmaster blog that explains key product areas. For those who want to find out more, there are Bing Webmaster Guidelines blog posts and  free recorded webinars . The Bing Webmaster Getting Started Checklist is a great place for the user to start outlining the process and tools to build workflow. This checklist covers areas such as how to configure your site reports and data, Webmaster diagnostic tools and SEO Analyzer.

 

Here are some of the blog posts that are great resources not only for Bing Webmaster tools but also for SEO and reporting:

 

For more information, check the BlogHer Pro live blogs.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.