Business Travel

When a Solopreneur is Part of a Team

with Shelley and Jack at Devlearn

I did it. I flew across the country to Las Vegas and arrived at Dev Learn, the biggest eLearning conference of the year that the eLearning Guild runs. Any working mom knows that packing one’s bags, getting organized, and getting out always seems like an amazing feet. I even had my hair done. As a professional voiceover actor, a good percentage of my work load is narrating elearning modules, so going to an event like this just makes good business sense for me.

The morning of the conference arrived and with my super cute wheely bag in tow I arrived at the Mirage conference center. Even though I have my own business and run my own broadcast ready recording studio, this morning I was not alone. Before even entering the conference, I met up with other experienced voiceover professionals Shelley Avellino and Jack de Golia. We met for coffee and registered. We spent some time perusing the listings of attendees and discussing who might be good to connect with. I also scanned the list to find my current clients so I’d be able to check in with them. Imagine, we were there to support one another and I walked into the packed expo knowing that there were others there who had my back.

Voiceover is a unique industry. There I was at Dev Learn with the goal of reconnecting with current clients and picking up new ones. The other voice talents there had the same goal. While in other industries we might view eachother as competition, in voiceover, with these folks, we worked together. We supported eachother. We met for lunch and compared notes and swapped contact information. It was extremely helpful. I am not sure which other industries do that. Feeling part of this team was fantastic and was part of the magic of DevLearn.

Staying Current 

With eLearning industry professionals from all over the world, DevLearn provides a wonderful opportunity to stay on top of current trends in an ever-evolving industry. I spoke to professionals from as far as Australia and Russia. While many of these folks were LMS providers and do not work directly with professional narrators like me, hearing about their platforms is essential to understand what the content creators I work with are using.

I also was able to meet a lot of folks who do work in content creation. From mobile learning to gamification, there was so much to see at the amazing Demo Fest. I was also over joyed to reconnect with current clients from around the country. It is really special to see people that I work with regularly in person.

Connecting with Other Working Moms

While it is great to find people who need professionals to narrate their eLearning, in truth it is even better to find universal connections and just have great conversations. I found that I could talk endlessly with a lot of different people at the conference and only had to move on when someone else clearly needed them. I found it particularly easy at the expo to connect with other working moms. This happened over and over again. Whether we had human children or dogs, we were exchanged photos and talking about our loves at home, and the lengthy chats had evolved well beyond the world of eLearning. We talked about everything under the sun from safety to dog treats to our hours. These are the conversations that meant so much to me as I was making real connections and actually getting to know people.

In the middle of the conference a client invited me to a sushi dinner at the Mirage sponsored by Vyond, formerly known as Go Animate. At this dinner, I found myself sitting at a table of women all in instructional design, all working moms. These women were amazing. They were bright and innovative. We were all from different places: Toronto, New York, California, Tennessee, and Michigan. Despite different climates and different backgrounds, we were of similar ages and we were all working moms. We all somehow managed to get all the way to Las Vegas for DevLearn.

Our conversation moved from light banter to some pretty deep topics. We covered faith, skimmed politics, and touched on issues relevant to client relationships. Being surrounded by intelligent, sophisticated women, this table at the Vyond dinner was a microcosm of the DevLearn conference. We represented what is possible in the industry when folks come together and exchange ideas. It wasn’t all pats on the bag, we challenged and questioned each other too. It is, after all, only from this kind of honest banter that real change and genuine creativity can flourish. And I believe that we were there, in this self-created circle, where we somehow felt safe enough to be open with these other people what we were only just getting to know.

The Sum of it All

So when we think about where our training comes from, and when we think about who creates the content for major companies, I am proud to say that I have met the curators of this content and that I am part of this process. The magic of DevLearn is vast, but for sure as a creative it is a joy to be a part of this process.

When Working Mom’s Leave Home, Let’s Do it Right!

Remember, It’s Not a Vacation

As a 24 year old newly wed, I think I actually packed every single pair of shoes I owned on my honeymoon! We were going away for a week, and I knew that I wanted a different dress for every single night of our trip to Bermuda. Fast forward 15 years, and without my strong and handsome husband to carry and haul all of my stuff around, and it was A LOT of stuff, I had to figure out how to have confidence in what I was wearing, look adorable, and manage all my belongings on my own. I am quite intellectually self sufficient, but this realm of physical management was something that had to be learned I boy did I conquer it. So, as I set out for Dev Learn this week, I though I would share some of my favorite tips and tricks to help other working moms best prepare for their business trips too!

Dos and Dos (who needs Donts?):

Here are some of the highlights that get me through conference packing

  • DO Pack light.
  • DO Ship conference materials like brochures and swag in advance. I also ship my travel rig in this package.
  • DO Be sure to call your hotel and make sure they will hold the above package until your arrival!
  • DO Stick to one color palate.
  • DO Wear/Pack shoes you can actually function in ALL day and night! I love my chanel ballet flats. They look chic and are very supportive. I always pack black and gold for such trips. Sometimes, in summer, I also bring pink ones.
  • DO Use travel size toiletries. I keep mine packed always and replenish as soon as I run out so that bag is always ready. I use this bag from Tumi that is TSA approved and you do not have to take anything out at security:

Today as I work on this blog I am in the midst of packing for a trip myself. In addition to actual work, I  have to pack a weeks worth of school lunches and snacks. I have to do all of the laundry. And sadly, my sweet dog who is always by my side is already at my mom’s house. I try to plan as much as I can in advance not just to make my departure easy, but to make my return easy. 

There are a few details that always help me. I keep toiletries that I need in flight in the same cosmetic case and check that I have what I need the day before departure. For cross country and international flights, which I often have, I would hate to be without anti-nausea medicine. I always brink a cozy scarf. I love the ones from J. McGlaughlin: . I also make sure that I not only have m computer, but that I have a cosmetic cased filled with my charger and a Mophie so that I can recharge when I land or if I have a long day at the conference. I always, always travel with my Bose noise canceling headphones. I am a little bit nervous when I fly, not about the actual plane, but about all the details that I can’t control like whether or not we’ll land on time and who will be in my row, and just removing the extra noise helps a lot! So, I always make certain to have these travel essentials!

A Little Pampering Never Hurt

Everyone has different goals on their work trips. When I am going and I will be meeting potential clients or seeing current clients, I want to look and feel my best. This is not the time to cut corners! I make sure to bring what I will sleep well in and will be most like home. This is not the day to try new mascara, nor is it the day to let your hair air dry. If you are a solopreneur investing in flying across the country to connect with clients, spend what is likely between $30-50 and have your hair blown out if you cannot do a decent job on your own. People come from all over the world for these conferences. Once you have actually gotten yourself there, you might as well but your best foot forward.

You can Always Buy It There

I find that it is far better to arrive organized and shop of you need to than to overpack and overwhelm yourself. Unless you are going somewhere very remote, if you forget something it is just a great reason to shop!

In the end, you can figure out what works for you! With lots of business travel under my belt, I have quite an efficient system. If you have tricks that work for you I’d love to hear about them! Wishing you safe travels and an enjoyable trip! Now, don’t forget souvenirs for your kids!   🙂