On June 14th, I said “SEE YA!” to my desk job and “HELLOOOOO!” to working full time for Matador Network. Spending time with the Matador crew really helped me get closer to the company. We had a lot of great conversations and made some serious developments. When I left, I was super excited about the programs to come, and find out where I fit in those plans.
That realization came quite quickly. After a swift trial period, I was offered the role of social media manager at Matador Network. Playing around on Facebook and RTing people is no joke – I quickly realized this was a definite full-time gig. When I was offered a salary that was more than double what I made at my desk job, I pounced on the opportunity. Here was a way I could live my dream of working from home, for a company that I cared about, and an easy out to an old job I had grown to hate.
It’s been an exciting couple of weeks. I’m all set up in my home office, with my maps and healthy snacks for inspiration, but there is still a lot to learn and a lot to adjust to. I have a feeling however, that I am going to like this lifestyle more than I bargained for…
But for now, when you see an update on one of our social media platforms, feel free to say “Hi!”
Matador Network is on…
I figured I’d start with the not-so-stellar parts of TBEX before ending on a high note with the great stuff. This was my first time attending the event and I will admit, I did have some preconceived notions. Most of those notions became realities, starting on the day when I went to the convention center to register:
I picked up my badge and received my swag bag. A colleague of mine and I gleefully went through the goodies and talked about how awesome the stuff was.
“YES! They have one of those collapsible water bottles!” I said out loud. I was super excited because I was super parched, and had left mine at home.
“Oh yeah,” a man I’d never met came up behind me. “It’s only the seventh one I’ve gotten…” he said, in a sarcastic tone.
Like, seriously dude? I’m sorry your life consists of receiving free stuff and traveling the world. Tough life.
Unfortunately, I was met with more pretentious attitudes as the conference went on. I’m not into that. As travel bloggers we should be proud of our profession but seriously? We don’t need to be bragging about it to other travel bloggers. We don’t really need to brag at all…
Aside from some sour attitudes, here are a few things that also fell short at TBEX 2013:
Connecting with others. I found it incredibly difficult to connect with the awesome people I talk to on a daily basis online. Without proper cell service/wifi access, the most I could do was tweet “Meet me outside the door of your lecture!” and hope someone recognized me. Even when I met up with people I knew, it was a quick “Hey! Great to see you in real life! Whoops! Gotta go meet with this DMO/attend this workshop!” and I never saw them again.
Solution: Make a better effort at organizing outside plans. Next time, I’ll schedule a meet-up for dinner, or sit with different folks each day for lunch. I’ll also try to meet up with people and travel with them to the parties.
Networking. Two things happened that discouraged me from networking at TBEX. The first thing was my TBEX badge – people would walk right up to me, look at my badge, look at my face, and then walk away, blatantly disregarding me because I was someone unfamiliar and therefore had nothing to offer them. This happened so many times that I stopped making an effort to reach out to others. And it bothered me a lot.
At other conferences, attendees usually network via open conversation. We exchange ideas, we find things in common. But we have to talk to each other first. It’s rude and a total turnoff when someone doesn’t even give me the chance to open my mouth and say “Hello” before turning around to find someone who can pay them to travel somewhere.
Speed dating was also…weird. I don’t think it’s a good model. Most of the people I met with during speed dating didn’t even really want to meet with me, and spent half the time explaining how I didn’t “fit their demographic.” Nice waste of my time, really.
Solution: Reach out on my own. I made WAY more connections and secured offers during the open marketplace, while everyone else was listening to the workshops. I sat down with vendors and had genuine conversations. They liked my personality and it gave me a chance to discuss what I do at Matador without the pressure of those ridiculous “You have one minute left” announcements. And now I know how to properly pitch so I can network outside of TBEX as well.
Solution: Make a plan of places to see ahead of time. I’d also like to do at least one of the free press trips – my schedule didn’t allow for it this time which was unfortunate. Also I would arrive early or stay late to hang out before the chaos occurs.
Didn’t get anything out of lectures. This is a common theme I’ve seen in other post-TBEX reports. And like everyone else, I thought they were very commerce/brand based. I wanted more informal discussions, round table events, places where I could genuinely exchange ideas with people from all walks of life. Some were over my head and some were just pretentious. That’s not my style.
Solution: Skip the lectures and hang out with the DMOs. The marketplace was EMPTY while everyone attended the lectures, giving me some great one-on-one time with some awesome vendors. That’s where I made connections and scored my first press trips. I’m also going to suggest to the TBEX powers-that-be to do more of what the CEO of Matador Network, Ross Borden, did during his ninja-style workshop on Sunday – more conversational discussions instead of panels of people talking TO us, not WITH us.
Don’t fear! My next post will be MUCH more positive, I promise!
But while we’re at it, did you experience any TBEX shortcomings? How will you remedy them for future conferences?
Friday, May 24th marks the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, and the official “opening” of the gratuitous, rich-person breeding grounds known as The Hamptons. Coach buses of elderly WASPs, trains filled with socialite-seeking hopefuls, and private jets stuffed with celebrity douchebags migrate…
I’ve written a few things for Matador Network recently but I’m being published almost as fast as I send over the draft, so it’s been tough to keep up! This is my latest endeavor though. Nearly overnight the piece when viral and I have no idea why. But it’s awesome! Probably my most popular piece yet!
It’s been a crazy experience. I have people who love the post and email me to say how awesome it is that someone has taken an interest in the Czech culture. I have people who absolutely hate me and think I am stereotyping Czechs. I have people who have lambasted my identity, saying that I am not “Czech” even though I have lived in the Czech Republic, have Czech family, and speak the language (oh well…). And then I have Czechs who think it’s hilarious and can’t stop spreading it around.
Compare us to Russians.
We are not, and never have been, Russian. Look on a bloody map — blocked by Poland, the Ukraine, and Belarus, the Czech Republic isn’t anywhere close. We make marionettes, not Matryoshka dolls. We don’t wear babushkas, we have babičkas (Czech grannies). Our country is landlocked so we don’t eat herring, and we drink beer, not vodka.
We don’t know how to read Cyrillic writing, and we don’t care either. The Russian Orthodox church means nothing to us because only about 21% of the country is religious. If you need further convincing, we dislike Russians because the Soviets invaded our country with tanks in 1968, and fucked everything up. So just stop.
I’m proud of this piece, despite whatever negative comments I might receive. Most of them are from expats who think they somehow know the Czech Republic better than I do. I’m not saying I’m all encompassing, but I will say that I proofed the piece with actual Czechs before sending it off, so…You win some you lose some. But I’m happy to have contributed this piece of Czech culture to the world and it makes me love Czechs all the more for it.
Read it here:
I’ve been super busy lately, in all sorts of ways!
New job! I have recently become a Contributing Editor at Matador Network. This is awesome, because A) I love that site to pieces B) my responsibilities have grown, including become the Web Submissions Manager (so if you send a piece to us via our website, I’ll be checking it over!), and C) I get business cards! It’s been an incredible learning process so far and I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful company. We are growing more and more every day and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Blogging A to Z Challenge. I’ve been participating in this cool bloggers collective for the past month, and while I haven’t published on time every day, I’ve done my best to keep up the pace. My focus is on travel and the places I’ve been, save for Japan, which is a place I’d very much like to go! It’s been a fun and creative way to participate with blogs around the world and gain more exposure for my site.
TBEX update. I was schedule to arrive Friday night after work, and stay until Sunday night, but that’s no fun! My site is getting bigger and bigger and my work at Matador is expanding as well, so I said “screw it, let’s do TBEX right!” and I changed my flight to arrive a full day and a half earlier. Now I’ll be there from May 30th to June 2nd, tearing Toronto UP! I’m super excited and happy that I was able to seamlessly make these changes.
eBooks. I’m writing a couple of eBooks, crazy! One of them is about my travel experiences but the other is a slight deviation on a theme I’ve written about before – relationships. I’m not sure when they will be published but when they are I’ll put up a special offer on this site!
Lots of exciting things happening, and more to come I’m sure! What developments have happened in your life lately?