“I’m going snowboarding!!!” I kept yelling as I ran around the house, exciting the dogs who happily joined the celebration. “And you’re going to meet people and learn things” Erica replied in her sternest voice, clearly sad that she would not be joining me due to her re-occurring knee injury that had flared up and prior commitments at home. “Yeah, yeah, I’ll be social” I said, completely unaware of what awaited me at this tech conference.
I’m no stranger to conventions having attended (and/or worked) everything from Blizzcon and Comic-Con to ITB, WTM, and TBEX, however, I’ve never been to any without my better half. There are pros and cons to being couple bloggers, and one of the biggest pros is the splitting of work. I soon learned how hard it is to do everything on my own.
This year was the 5th annual Snowcial, a convention created by snowsport enthusiasts for snowsport enthusiasts that also mixes in a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on how far you take it) dose of fun at the California/Nevada border. Although, hitting the slopes is so important that it is actually part of the conference itinerary. And having it hosted in South Lake Tahoe means that you’ll be blown away by views like this:
But snowsports aside, this is a business-related convention designed to teach you a thing or two about social media, technology, and innovation. Though, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring, nor does it mean you have to wear a monkey suit. In fact, you’re encouraged to wear your mountain gear all day long- and even wearing a gorilla suit would be acceptable too!
On the business side there was quite an impressive speaker lineup this year and they did not disappoint. We heard from such industry leaders as Dean Eckles, from the Facebook Data Science Team, who showed us that statistics are sexy; Paul Crandell, the VP of Marketing for GoPro (and Red Bull before that); and Stanley Hainsworth, the Chairman and COO of Tether (who also worked for Starbucks, Lego, and Nike), who had the only haircut that drew more attention than mine (somewhere between Keith Flint from Prodigy and Bozo the Clown).
As the convention went on, it became more and more evident how different Snowcial is from other conventions. But it was during the “Lightning Round” that I could really put my finger on what makes it special.
The Lightning Round was another set of talks, only they were on any subject that the speakers were passionate about. Though, to make it even more interesting, they had no control of the slideshow they created. With such topics as ”Raise kids like puppies” and “How to know when you’re too stoned to ski” and the added encouragement of the audience to cheer/jeer the presenters, the hall war roaring with laughter. There were also a few interesting ‘rules’ in place that sprang up after previous years. One such ‘rule’ was called into play when a presenter knocked over her beer, resulting in a different kind of ‘shoeing’:
But there was a softer side to the craziness as well. A beloved Tahoe local, and Snowcial attendee in previous years, Chris Rudolph, who recently passed away in an avalanche was honored with friends telling stories or simply stating what they remember most about him. Once the brief eulogies were done, cases of his favorite beer – Pabst Blue Ribbon – were passed around for all to drink in his memory. Many people also dressed in their finest PBR gear- anything from hats and shirts to a giant PBR onesie.
The difference is the community. The people who attend Snowcial aren’t just a clique or group of colleagues, they’re a passionate collective of people driven by similar interests. Whether it be snowsports, technology, social media, or partying, you will find new friends and like-minds here. And there’s always room for more in the fold.
Disclosure: While I was a guest of Snowcial, all opinions are my own.