Saturday, January 31, 2009

WIPP It Good

Who: VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland, VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea, + VN Senior Editor Elizabeth Castoria
What: The Women In Periodical Publishing Women's Leadership Conference
When: Friday, January 23, 2009
Where: The Westin, San Francisco, Calif.
Why: Because ladies do more than lunch

The Scoop:
In case you're wondering, it's a really extra-good idea to attend conferences about the industry in which you work. Meeting people, listening to presentations, and having your little neurons going crazy-haywire-rapid-fire with bajillions of new ideas is definitely worth being away from the office for a day. This year's WIPP Women's Leadership Conference was the first of its kind, and happened to be held right here in the City by the Bay. There was no way that Colleen, Aurelia, and I would have missed this.

The morning started off early and got right to business. After briefly mingling with other attendees—and inhaling a few cups of coffee—we were treated to an opening welcome by Michela O'Connor Abrams, the president and publisher of Dwell magazine, who gave a lovely introduction to Jackie Speier, aka our Congresswoman. Speier was inspiring, funny, and informed, which are pretty much the perfect qualities for an early-morning speaker to have. Her latest project is working to ban toxic additives in cosmetics, about which she quipped that if the same chemicals were found in a stereotypically male product, like beer, there would be a new Manhattan project to find alternatives. Thoroughly enthused by Speier's speech, we were ready to get down to the business of talking business.

The day consisted of multiple breakout sessions and panels that discussed topics from how CFOs and COOs differ and how to put a "C" before your title to the growing demand for online content (like, ahem, certain blogs), and how to make publishing profitable in tough economic times. Come lunchtime, we were as hungry for food as we were for more discussion!

Purely by chance, we three VegNews-ers ended up at an all-vegan table at lunch. We were joined by Andrea Kowalski, the web editor at Yoga Journal, and Elisa Camahort, co-founder of BlogHer. Evidently, Colleen and Andrea had called each other that morning to coordinate oufits, as you can see:

Elisa spearheaded the "ask the waiter if the pasta sauce has dairy" effort, and to our relief, it didn't. While we munched our lunches, we were treated to a speech by yet another inspiring woman, Alix Kennedy, who received the 2008 Exceptional Woman in Media award. After lunch it was off to more panels, in which we tackled topics like successful independent publishing (hello, Dwell!) and a generational perspective on women in the publishing world that included Katy Tamony, VP and editor-in-chief at Sunset, and Grace Hawthorne, founder of ReadyMade. Yes, we talked about women's place in the working world (duh, leading it!) and hairstyles.

At the end of the lightning-quick day, we were treated to a wine tasting and more mingling, which was a great time to take off our over-worked thinking caps for the day and enjoy the company of friends old and new—like the lovely Michela, seen below (at left) with the VN crew.

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