The inspiring view of the San Francisco Bay Bridge with Cupid’s Bow by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in the foreground.
Last week I had an amazing opportunity to spend three days in San Francisco as part of a 30-member group invited to attend the Verizon Brand Influencer’s Summit. The weather was beautiful and we all stayed in the Hyatt on Embarcadero, so it was a bit like an adult-geek summer camp!
What is a brand influencer?
Brand influencers are people who engage audiences on behalf of a company, product or service. From my standpoint, my personal reputation is at stake, so whatever I say or do in regard to Verizon can be counted upon to be authentically my personal opinion.
I’ve been a Verizon customer for more than a decade, so I’m a long-time consumer and supporter of the company. People have asked (and assumed) I receive payment for my tweets, posts and tagged content, but Verizon doesn’t pay me anything. I’ve received phones and tech gadgets, and have never been given ultimatums such as, “You must write about this product and endorse it.” Ethically, I won’t say something good unless it is.
What happened at the summit?
So many great things happened during the summit. From the moment my first Uber driver picked me up at the Oakland airport and dropped me off at the Hyatt, I knew I was in store for something very special. Meeting many long-time virtual friends from social media was truly exciting. Having experts from Verizon, Microsoft and Nokia introduce to us new technology was mind bending. And learning about Verizon’s exemplary global citizenship initiatives made me feel proud. In case you aren’t aware, The Verizon Foundation focuses on energy management, education and health care. You can learn more about them by checking out this link: http://www.verizonfoundation.org. I was truly inspired and impressed by their work.
We also were allowed to tour Verizon’s “Solutions Zone,” where new products as well as products still in development were on display. It was a rare opportunity to explore Verizon’s inner sanctum, and especially to access technology that is not yet released to market. Cameras, networking equipment, robots and even a soft-drink refrigerator with an illuminated, transparent, animated glass door. The Verizon Solutions Zone is a tech wonderland.
Five favorite Verizon moments
Meeting Monica Villa, Sara Hawkins and Ann Tran. I’ve been wanting to meet Ann for years, and found her to be a lovely person. She’s pretty, petite, and fun. Monica is VZWBuzz’s fearless leader. She makes everything happen, and is fun, smart and kindsome of my favorite qualities. Sara and I became acquainted through Twitter and Instagram. She’s as warm and genuine as I knew she would be!
There were six #BA75 (www.bitrebels.com/social/twitters-top-75-badass-women/) sisters in attendance. Beside Ann, Sara and me, there was Joyce Cherrier, Misty Belardo and Gina Stark. It rocked!
Our first dinner together at La Mar was delicious and fun. La Mer is a popular Peruvian seafood restaurant, beautifully situated overlooking San Francisco’s waterfront. Before dinner, we had a chance to mingle and introduce ourselves. Gina Stark and Chris Rauschnot were to my right and left during dinner. Each course was more amazing than the one before it.
The first full day at the Verizon Innovation Center was exciting. The space is modern and inviting and the event was perfectly organized, complete with a full agenda, name placards, microphones, and plenty of great food and drink
Receiving a new Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet along with a KILLER case with built-in keyboard was a mind-blowing. I’m writing this blog post with it, as it comes loaded with the Office suite, including WORD! Beside a full keyboard, the case also has a built-in track pad. Compact and light, it’s a beautifully designed piece of technology, functioning very much the same as a laptop. Another bonus: a Nokia wireless charging plate for our Lumia Icons. It is absolutely fantastic!
The second day, just when we thought it couldn’t get better, Verizon gave us an “Up24” and “ERA” by Jawbone, and the Roadster 2 in-car Bluetooth speaker. I returned to Seattle with a bulging suitcase to a boatload of work, so some of the gadgets haven’t yet been used. But let me say I’ve really looking forward to trying them!
At the end of the second day, the group scattered. But I enjoyed some great hang time with Gina Stark in the Hyatt lobby, where we were later joined by Ann Tran, Chris Fleury and Calvin Lee. A terrific cap to this superb experience was being able to see my college roommate, Barbara Lloyd, who was able to rearrange her schedule so she could visit for an hour. Seeing her was the icing on my favorite red velvet cake!
The Verizon Influencers Summit was a rare opportunity to view Verizon from the inside. I don’t imagine most people know how hard they work to integrate meaningful technology into the lives of their customers, employees, and the world at large. Learning about their public service initiatives painted a picture of how we wish all companies would behave. The gathering gifted us with the opportunity to solidify long-time connections and forge new ones. When the second Uber driver picked me up and we drove across the new Bay Bridge, I looked back at a very special experience. Thank you, Monica, for making it happen.
Checked my flight at Seattle Tacoma International Airport
The plane was packed! I was so lucky because a woman I was chatting with had priority boarding (I was in the last group). She saved me a seat in the third row!
I can’t lie—I love Über. As we crossed the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, the driver pointed out the old bridge (to the left).
Finally arriving at the Hyatt on Embarcadero, I was greeted by a dapper doorman
My room was on the 10th floor. Here is the view looking down into the lobby.
Dinner at La Mar was amazing! You can imagine a huge table of social media aficionados, all taking photos of the food with their Nokia Lumia Icons!
Arriving at the Verizon Innovation Center after a brisk walk from the Hyatt.
Getting settled before the presentations began.
Did we really receive new tablets?
The presenters were knowledgable and helpful, wanting to make sure they answered all of our questions.
We saw a lot of cool new products in the Verizon Solutions Zone.
Heading back across the bay to Oakland
Back to Seattle, greeted by traffic!