This is part two of my WDS2013 experience. If you want to read about the speakers and the business lessons I got out of the event, check out part one. This post is more personal and includes some fun pics of my first trip to Portland.
When I arrived at Portland (after jumping on a plane at 7am, and 3 cups of coffee later) I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been to Seattle lots of times, and knew that the weather would be similar so I was excited.
Little did I know, that Portland is weird. They even have a saying “keep Portland weird”, and let me tell you — they did not disappoint.
I was informed about this fact by Vicky from Small Business Gal, who was kind enough to pick us up at the airport and drive us downtown to our hotel.
I’ve known Vicky (via the internet) for quite a few months now, so I was being thrilled to meet her in person. She has such a fiery spirit and is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.
Since we landed in Portland on July 4th, we planned to head down to the Blue’s Festival on the Waterfront to watch the fireworks. But for this HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) it was extremely overwhelming.
So after seeing ladies with no tops or bras on, people laid out on the lawn smoking weed and a ton of other weird stuff, I decided to watch the fireworks on TV — from the comfort of my hotel room.
One thing I did hit up before heading back to the hotel, was the food trucks. Apparently Portland is well-known for their food trucks, and offer everything from Mexican, to Egyptian, to Hawaiian food.
The conference didn’t officially start until Saturday, July 6th, but on Friday there were a ton of meetups and activities going on.
If Benny hadn’t been heading that way (since we were at the same hotel) there’s no way I would have gone to this bootcamp. And it was a huge mistake — HA! I’m so out of shape I was sore the whole weekend of the conference.
After lunch I planned to hit up Natalie Sisson’s pre-launch book party, but that quickly turned into the Misadventures of Carrie, as I walked a mile in the wrong direction, then lost my bus pass.
After not making it to the book party, I decided to register and pick up my conference goodies. I also explored the downtown area, and found the nearest Starbucks (duh!).
Later that evening, the opening party for WDS was held at the Portland Zoo. And Chris G. didn’t just rent out a portion of the zoo, he rented out the whole thing!
In true unconventional style, there was a mechanical bull, arcade games and a very unique marching band. While at the zoo, I met some of the ladies of Thrive Hive, including (from left to right) Jules, Sandy and Tia.
I spent most of the night trying to find food because I spent my food ticket on some tofu noodle soup that was too spicy, all the while trying to find Alexis Grant.
I’ve been working with her for over a year, and it seemed like everyone I ran into had already met her except me! Finally, about a half an hour before the party ended, we found each other.
The next morning, it was time for the conference to start and I was more than stoked! When I first walked into the concert hall, the stage was one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen.
Throughout the weekend, I was constantly surprised and amazed at how just 80 people (many of which were volunteers) could put on such a big conference — that ran so smoothly.
The branding was freaking awesome! And I loved how Chris always made sure there was a place for HSP’s and introverts. It made me feel like it was OK (and even encouraged) that I’m not always a social butterfly.
There was so much to do, and so many sessions I wanted to attend, that I spent most of the weekend exhausted. Although it was absolutely worth every sleep deprived second!
Throughout the weekend I was able to try all kinds of Portland food, like a chocolate covered, cocoa puffs donut from Voodoo Donuts. And coffee from Public Domain Coffee (it’s so good there was a line out the door for about 40 minutes).
I also tried Yak meat for the first time, inside a dumpling. It was actually really good — like ground beef only better!
To wrap up the weekend, there was a huge closing party at Pioneer Square. They closed off the street, so only those of us who attended the conference could get in.
Normally I’m not a party person, and I don’t drink so the normal Carrie would have skipped this type of event. But I had a few more people on my list that I wanted to meet before I left.
I’ve been a part of the Hungry Entrepreneurs tribe for only a few months, but their enthusiasm and sense of community is inspiring! After arriving at the party, I found the ladies on the steps ready to get their dancing on.
Hungry members from left to right, myself, Annie, Luz and Amanda. Notice we are all around the same height? Yeah, three cheers for shorties!
On the final day before leaving Portland, I HAD to check out Powell’s bookstore. It one of the biggest bookstores in the countries, has four stories and covers a whole city block.
For this book nerd, it was heaven! They even have a coffee shop where you can read books before buying them (or if you’re cheap you can just read the whole thing).
But of course I had to buy a few books before leaving!
Although Portland is no doubt the weirdest city I’ve every been to, it was an amazing experience. The people I connected with, and the lessons I learned, have not only changed my business, but my perspective on life.
Before starting my blog 2 years ago, I would have never ventured to all the places I’ve been to. I’ve seen first-hand the positive effect that trying new things and visiting new places can have — both personally and professionally.
The only thing I regret is not traveling sooner in life. I’ll never forget my first WDS, and can’t wait to go back next year for the WDS2014! Keep Portland weird!