Summing Up Sage Summit

I’ve been home from New Orleans  days, now, and I’m starting to process through everything that I saw, heard, and learned during the week I was there.

I was in New Orleans for 6 days to attend Sage Summit, the biggest small business conference in the world. I was invited to attend and blog/tweet/Facebook/Instagram about my experience there (you can read all the tweets on #SageSummit). I was, of course, super stoked to go. I love food, culture and history, and New Orleans is all that and bag of crawfish. I was also really excited by some of the guests that were going to be at the Summit, and the prospect of connecting with other social media-loving small business owners.

Hangin' with the cool kids at #SageSummit (aka the Sage Social Team). Photo by @sandyabrams
Hangin’ with the cool kids at #SageSummit (aka the Sage Social Team). Photo by @sandyabrams

First, I have to say how impressed I was at how smoothly the conference was run. I have attended some big conferences, but never one this big. There were over 7,000 people there, and the venue was the Ernst N. Memorial Convention Centre. Our hotel was a short 10-minute walk away, but Sage also supplied shuttles which were continuously going back and forth.

The convention centre was divided into three sections: first, there was a dining hall, where we had breakfast and lunch. There were lots of local favourites served up here, to give us a sense of the local NOLA cuisine, so we got to try jumbalaya, biscuits, bread pudding, and other favourites, without even having to leave the conference centre.

Beside the dining hall was the  keynote theatre. This is where we started each morning with the keynote. Now, I should just say, that my experience of a keynote is just one person, but these keynotes were above and beyond–with as many as 6 people involved in the panel discussion on the second morning. And these were really well-known names.

First up, there was a bit of a bromance between General Colin Powell and Deepak Chopra. Their mutual admiration and respect for each other was really sweet, and, even though it seems like they come from opposite ends of the spectrum, they both had similar points of view: success, they agreed, comes from two things: Love and Service.

The second day’s keynote included Chad Hurley, the founder of  that video-sharing site you may have heard of… YouTube?

And a second session called “Down but Not Out,” featuring three ladies that had faced adversity and prospered in the face of it. They included Baroness Karren Brady, Jane Seymour, and Brandi T. Temple, and the theme of persevering and “failing in an upward direction” continued.

Not to be outdone, the third day’s keynote included similar-themed messages, like this one from Dolly Singh, who has invented the world’s first comfortable stilletto (can’t wait for them to hit stores!):

The final keynote included Tony Hawk, Matthew Weiner, and Trevor Noah. This panel focussed a lot on social media, and it was really informative.

Each day, as we entered the keynote theatre, we’d be greeted by a host of excited staff, whooping and hollering and pumping us up for our day. Now I know what it feels like to be a rock star!

The rest of the day was spent hanging out in the third section of the conference centre, where there were vendors and booths, the social media centre (where we’d see our tweets projected on the big screens, if we were lucky!), and about a dozen different areas for individual seminars.

One of my tweets was famous! Photo by @miss604
One of my tweets was famous! Photo by @miss604

You guys, if you’re not getting the picture: this thing was big. Huge. It was also incredibly smooth and well-run, with attention to small details. One day, one of the conference staff was handing out band-aids to gals who had blisters from their shoes and walking too much. The final night, they handed out personal, battery-operated fans to cool us down in the concert venue. Oh–and the final night? A private concert just for us by Walk the Moon.

All-in-all, a pretty amazing experience. I feel like I’ll still be processing what I learned for a while to come. And I’m really hoping to be able to get to next year’s Sage Summit–it’s in Chicago!

Stay tuned to this space–I will be writing posts about specific workshops I attended, and what I learned from them, and I’ll also be doing a BIG Sage contest and giveaway!



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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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