I can’t decide if I should be sad that I wasn’t invited to the party where there was pole dancing or not.
I eased into Wednesday by way of free breakfast.
Funny thing about that. When we arrived to the hotel the night before, I proceeded to use the automatic check-in computer system. When I got to the end of the steps, after being assigned a room on the 8th floor, the machine wouldn’t cough up the room keys. This is happening to a couple who do usability and performance testing for a living. I thought that was funny.
We were forced to go stand in line and when we finally got to the check-in desk employee, I was already miffed about their computer, and having missed dinner with Bill Slawski, Christine Churchill and other friends. I told the guy I had a room but no keys. For the next five minutes, we watched as he made phone calls and fiddled around with papers. Finally, he gave us keys to an Executive Level room, that included free food on the 44th floor. No reason was offered and no apology for their computer problem.
Eric came with me, and we arrived early to get a seat down front. Lisa Barone was already there, and had peeked inside the ballroom earlier, which is how we knew MsDewey was on the premises. Lisa wanted very much to meet Danny Sullivan but didn’t have the nerve to go up to the stage, where he was preparing for his interview. I had met Danny two years ago, for a scant 15 seconds at another SES, and was unsure about walking up there.
A man sitting in front of us heard Lisa and I debating about getting the nerve to walk up to meet Danny. He insisted that Mr. Sullivan is very friendly and wouldn’t mind, but neither of us was going to interrupt him. By that time, Barry Schwartz, Tamar and Liana Evans had arrived down front, and were encourging Lisa to go up to the stage. Just as I decided to lead her up there myself, the gentleman in front of us in the front row, who apparently knows Danny, called Danny Sullivan down from the stage to meet Lisa.
It was cute. I got to witness it and shake Danny’s hand, but really, the moment was all Lisa’s, as he was obviously happy to meet her. Lisa is a very dedicated SEO blogger who works for the esteemed Bruce Clay. She made her mark by good writing and reporting and is part of the next generation of search engine marketers.
I had wanted to meet Lee Odden because we always seem to be rushing past each other at conferences. I’ll flash a nod and smile at the handsome tall man and trust me, that’s not enough. Lee has been around a long time. I finally got to chat with him a little bit in the press room. He was with Larry Chase, whom I’d met two years ago during one of those famous Mike Grehan dinners. (Mike didn’t attend this conference due to a death in his family. Jill Whalen subbed for him.)
Somehow, I didn’t get my picture taken with Lee, but he graciously took one of Larry and I before we all had to run off to wherever we had to be next.
Later that evening, while standing with some friends at the lobby bar, I suddenly heard someone yell, “KIM!” really loud. To my amazement, there was this beaming man with earrings, huge eyes and a brilliant smile standing before me and I had no freaking idea who he was, though he looked familar somehow. Turns out it was Jim Hedger, who after he said who he was, I had my “duh” moment. Of course! Jim did a fantastic interview of me, after I hassled him about something he once wrote in an article on usability. I’d since come to know him as a great reporter and interviewer, so this was a real pleasure. He introduced me to Ross Dunn of StepForth as well.
Jim Hedger was invited to the SEO Womens Lunch to honor his writings about women in the industry. David Temple was the other male honoree, for his contributions to supporting women in the industry and helping to bring them recognition. By coincidence, it was David Temple who introduced himself to me in Chicago, in much the same way, with a sudden “Kim!” yelled out, followed by, “I just love you!”, which was all the more hilarious since he was booming that over the head of my husband.
This was the day for Liana Evans’ SEO Womens lunch gathering. It was also when the temperature took a nose dive and it poured rain all day. Eric had been running a fever and by Thursday was dealing with swollen glands. Li had lost her voice and wasn’t feeling well. While the gathering was for women only, with two invited male guests, she said Eric could come with me, so we could get him some chicken soup.
He, me and Tamar braved the elements on foot for the few blocks to the resturant. By the time we arrived, we were soaked. I felt dreadful for dragging Eric outside and to make matters worse, he felt weird being the only man there, so he went back to the hotel. He wanted me to have a good time but I couldn’t really relax, knowing he was sick.
The two tables eventually filled with a remarkable showing of some of the most amazing women I’ll ever be in the same room with. Anne Kennedy, Shari Thurow, Rebecca Lieb, Amanda Watlington, Jill Whalen, Christine Churchill…there were women there whose faces were familiar and some who were brand new. All of them are gifted, with some being huge contributors to the search marketing industry.
My long hair was soaked and my jacket was dripping wet. Since I had to race back to report on another session, I only had time to shove down a bowl of soup. Christine Churchill and I giggled and goofed off as we always do when we get together. She’s a soul sister. Jill Whalen needed to get back to speak at 2pm, so she and I tore out at 1:45, without a goodbye (I realized later).
I could think of many women who weren’t there, but there was a moment I’ll always treasure. It was when I sat for a few minutes to just listen and absorb the energy. It was electric. I’m sure Liana will write about it in full. I’d like to thank her for inviting me. What an honor it was to be there.
That night, after dinner with some SEO friends, we hung out in the lobby bar in a small group that eventually grew to include Rae and the group she took to dinner (Tamar, Lisa, and Rebecca and Jane from SEOmoz.org). With Eric not feeling well, and my being the oldest person sitting in the entire group and becoming acutely aware that I was, I ended the night early, only to learn that I missed meeting “the famous fiance” I hadn’t had the chance to meet yet…and was wondering if I ever would.
Grab some tea. Part Three is next.