We were away on vacation the last two weeks. First we went to Germany, to see the kids’ grandparents there. Then the next day, I left for Stockholm, Sweden where I attended #TBEXEurope. After that, I flew over to Warsaw to spend a few days with my mom, meet friends and take pics for an upcoming guidebook about Warsaw (stay put, I have a few more announcements coming for you!)
I’ve been interested in going to a blogging conference for a while, but sadly, the best ones are in the US. BlogU is the one I want to attend the most but it’s not possible for me at the moment because anytime I want to go anywhere, I need to plan extensively. Maybe in a year or two if all goes well.
I’ve been to the Families in Global Transitions Conference this year, which was great but while it had a program for writers, wasn’t really for bloggers, but more generally for people who cringe when asked “Where’s home?” and “Where are you from?”
At some point, I found TBEX, which has conferences all over the world, including North America, the Philippines and Europe. This year, the European conference was in Stockholm. While I’ve been to Sweden when I was at school, I’ve never visited Stockholm.
So while I took the time to listen to the amazing talks out there, I also ventured out to see Stockholm. I was very surprised. I expected the city to be very much like Amsterdam when it comes to architecture. Instead, it is very much like many Polish cities: very baroque. We also went to the VASA museum. That’s where the incredible VASA ship is held. This vessel sunk on its maiden voyage around 2 kilometres from the harbour and lay on the sea ground for 300 years before it was reconstructed and open to audiences at the Vasa museum.
But what lessons did I bring back from Sweden?
- Live your values
One of the things I learned at #TBEX is to think more about my values. I haven’t really pondered values when I started my blog 5 years ago. In a talk by Anton Diaz, founder of Our Awesome Planet, we were asked to do n exercise and jot down our top 10 values, then pick the top 5 and then the top 3, and in the end choose one core value. My top ten were: tolerance, knowledge, family, curiosity, wisdom, fairness, kindness, flexibility, respect and determination. What about yours?
- I am a dinosaur
The world of social media is constantly changing, and fast. In his talk, Anton Diaz talked about knowing the life cycle of your audience. He is moving towards video because that’s what the younger audiences relate to- and he also mentions Snap Chat. I have a problem with this because I am a writer, which means I love the written word. I prefer to read something rather than watch it unless it something very complicated like an elaborate dish. But don’t show me anything. Write it down for me. But maybe I could consider joining Snapchat and focus more on the newsletter.
- Look where other people are going and go in the other direction
San Francisco Chronicle travel editor Spud Hilton spoke of the importance of telling good stories, and how doing that is becoming secondary to the business side of things. One way of setting yourself apart is to look at what others are doing and go in the other direction. He showed the example of a sunset: everyone has a picture of a sunset (yes, I do too). But then he said, “Look around and see what that beautiful light is shining on.” I totally agree with him, both literally (need to try that next time we go to the beach), and metaphorically. Something it’s good to follow the crowd. And sometimes it’s good to turn around and go in the other direction- to find something new.
- Tell great stories
Spud Hilton’s keynote talk was about the importance of telling good stories. He has been frustrated that writing and blogging are more concerned with the business side of things than the actual quality of the writing. Also, among the thousands of blogs out there, how to set yourself apart? According to Spud Hilton, everyone has the same access these days, but the abilities differ. Which means that by working on your writing you can write better stories and therefore set yourself apart. And a big part of telling better stories is doing the unexpected- see point 3!
- Travel on!
Before Spud Hilton’s keynote, TBEX CEO Mary Jo Manzanares acknowledged the bloggers who were very affected by the news. I didn’t know what she meant because I only had Internet on my phone, and it wasn’t constant (see point 2), so I checked and there was a new attack in Munich and a failed military coup in Turkey. Her advice is not to lose faith but instead, to travel on. I thought this was great (my brother is currently in Cuba) and wanted to share this here. The world is becoming a very scary place (or maybe it has always been but only now do we experience the whole extend of its awfulness) and the important thing to do is to keep calm, and travel on. And as a friend told me, “What can you do? You have to stop living in fear.”
Also, TBEX announced that there will be a very special TBEX conference next year which will take place in Jerusalem, but apparently there will also be TBEX Europe, TBEX North America and TBEX Asia Pacific (which this year takes place in October in the Philippines).
I enjoyed listening to the talks and connecting with all the great sponsors who were great and very approachable, and meet other travel bloggers. As you know this blog is not first and foremost about travel but it’s an important topic to me, which ultimately lead to me starting a new category: I am a Traveller, to which I hope to add more posts!