I spent last weekend in Palm Springs at the awesome Ace Hotel attending Camp Mighty, a second-annual event that’s filled with lots of smart ladies, socializing, speakers, and innumerable Instagrammable moments. Ultimately, the event itself is pretty hard to describe to someone who hasn’t been. Presenter and cofounder of Pinterest Ben Silbermann summed it up best when he referred to it as “a mafia of industrious women”, which seems about right.
Silbermann gave one of my favorite talks of the weekend*, which centered on the idea that it’s a strong network around you that helps you succeed. I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting next to his wife during his presentation and loved that he publicly gave her so much credit to his success, from encouraging him to leave a job he hated, financially supporting him in the company’s beginnings, to even coming up with the name “Pinterest”. He also showed photos of his cofounder, his early mentors and even a roommate that used to walk around in a towel on his way to the shower while Silbermann was still running conference calls out of an apartment. It was refreshing to hear that such a down-to-earth, thoughtful person can be successful in what can be such a solipsistic industry.
I’ve long a been a reader of Camp Mighty cofounder Maggie Mason’s MightyGirl blog, and attended the event largely because I admire her straight-up moxie. She’s one of those people that makes everything a little more fun than it would ordinarily be; in fact at the tail-end of the last day of the conference when I finally had an opportunity to say hello to her, she literally danced over from where she was relaxing at the pool even though she must have been incredibly exhausted and tired of talking to people she didn’t know.
I’m coming away from the event with much admiration for the women I met, laughed, drank, danced and hot-tubbed with. I agree with my new pal and fellow PNWer Sandra Harris’ post that it’s the in-between times that mattered most, when you find kindred spirits and bond almost instantly over a mutual passion for 80’s music or a hatred of doing laundry (it never ennnnnnnnnds…..!)
There were some grumblings about certain aspects of the conference (attendee Mindy talks about it over on her blog Budget Fairy Tale, as does the mighty herself @MaggieM on One Good Turn.) As one of the many people who’s Life List (the sharing of which is the centerpiece of the whole event) never made it to the group, I definitely experienced some of the same frustrations.
I’m hopeful that event organizers will give attendees the chance to provide feedback and that they will take it to heart. Overall the sponsors were generous with their many gifts, the space-themed party dazzling and fun, every stylistic detail of the event beautifully packaged and presented (FYI polka dots not stripes, apparently. Who knew.) Yet at the closing night dinner party, I looked around and realized that although I had had conversations with most of the women near me at the table, I still didn’t really know what their goals were or if we had a shared connection in achieving them.
It takes an enormous amount of effort to put on an event like this and I applaud what the team has achieved given this is only their second year. I think with a little less emphasis on style and more on substance, Camp Mighty could be even better. Put the right people together in creative, interesting ways and the magic will happen naturally — no filter or blur effect needed. And any time I spend with one of my favorite people riding bikes around the desert, meeting cool new friends, and dancing to Footloose in a wig is good time as far as I’m concerned. Mighty indeed. I’ll take it.
*I have to write an entire post devoted to presenter Derrek Kayongo because he is amazing.