Monday, February 23, 2015

A Little Late - RootsTech/FGS: My Week In Review

I saw quite a bit of this design at the Salt Palace
going round in circles until I got the layout down.

I have no excuse!

My flight was quick and easy between Portland and Salt Lake City – did not travel from a far distance as all my Australian and UK geneabuddies did.
I got plenty of sleep and downtime – my accommodation was great with one of the best beds and quietest places I have ever stayed.
I planned my conference time - my schedule of events for the conference week was set out on a daily sheet as well as the RootsTech mobile app (great job by the way and wished more attendees used the friend message feature).
I prepared my session presentation in advance (and even practiced it!)  – had handouts for attendees as well, so I was good to go and the RootsTech people had it all together for the speakers - thanks.

Still, it took a week to get unpacked, do the laundry and grocery shopping, get caught up on snail mail and email, put away the conference swag, and get back to my real life schedule and responsibilities. 

During the past week, I reviewed my bullet journal (where I keep all my notes about everything!), read others’ comments and reflections on RootsTech/FGS, ponder and process the experience while on my daily walks (thankfully on a walking path rather than the Salt Palace's concrete) and only now am I ready to write.  

The Grand Ballroom - where it all started and ended each day!
So here we go – a little bit each day about my week at RootsTech/FGS.

I was
a first time attendee at a national conference (although I forgot to get my ribbon),
an FGS ambassador (publicized the event in my blog both before and after  – too tired to write during the event – and I did get my ribbon),
a first time presenter at a national conference (got my speaker ribbon – it was actually already attached to my lanyard), and
I am now
a believer in attending regional and national conferences for the sessions, the speakers, the other attendees, and the vendors – it is an amazing experience.

My first takeaways (more to follow all this week)

Lovely Condo - had it all and
was only 2 blocks from the Salt Palace

Arrive a day early to get acclimated to the city and the event – if possible pick up your conference materials early as well. You want to get a sense of the accommodations, find the grocery store or shopping area for anything you forgot or only now desperately need, get unpacked and situated. 

Wonderful Thai Chicken Pizza &
A Good-Sized Corona
Plan to meet up beforehand to meet a few people. I cannot thank Jill Ball enough for having a pre-function. A number of us met on Tuesday evening and walked down to the California Pizza Kitchen for dinner and conversation. I knew a few of these genealogists from online (Facebook and Google+) but it was a treat to meet up in person. The food and the conversation was great and the bonus was that I ran into my new geneamates throughout the week so I always had someone to chat with (thanks Jill, Pauleen, Helen, Rosemary and Alona, and several more - good thing we had genealogy cards to share), compare notes with, and a few attended my session and gave me moral support (thanks Hilary and Caitlin – it was so nice to see your friendly faces in Ballroom G!).  

Go to the general sessions with an appreciation for the effort made by your hosts/sponsors – the general sessions are designed to get attendees enthusiastic about the upcoming day. They are also an opportunity for the sponsors to show off what’s new and their plans for the future. Are they selling their product? Yes in a subtle way. But let's remember they are also underwriting a large portion of the event. Should you make negative comments or complain about the choice of speakers? No, unless you are the type of person who goes to a dinner party and then complains about the food and other guests. 

Sadly I heard some attendees complaining (a few rather loudly) about the choice of speakers (right in the hall). I don’t know about you, but I was invited to attend all of the sessions. I made choices about how to spend my time, and there were no hall monitors making sure I went to everything. I did not go to every morning or evening session. However, for each general session or evening entertainment I did attend, I was a good guest. Don't get me wrong - most of the attendees were as well – so this is a gentle reminder to those who found fault, be polite – people made an effort and shared their thoughts and talents, so let's respect their contribution.

Get out of your comfort zone – try sessions where the topics are new to you, don’t attend the same sessions you have already seen online at webinars or even in person, try the new-to-you speaker, and think outside the box. I made a point of attending sessions on topics that I don’t have a direct connection to but I think will help me improve my methodology (applying those concepts or using those record sets or researching in a new area of the world).  I made a point of not attending sessions that I have seen online or going to a session simply because the speaker was really well known. That said, kudos to those well-known speakers who upped their game and had new presentations to share.

The remainder of the week I will share my takeaways from each day of the conference – first up FGS Society Day. See you back here tomorrow.


  1. So pleased to meet you in the flesh, Tessa. So sorry I didn't get to spend time chatting with you. Maybe next time?

  2. Thanks Tessa. I was so very pleased to have the chance to meet and chat with your over dinner, and then see a friendly face throughout the conference. The only downside to the conference was having too many choices of speakers...what a "complaint". I often found that I had two, or even three, choices right up to an hour before the session. I only heard one less inspiring speaker, got plent of food for thought, and had a whale of a time. Sorry I missed your talk but I didn't want to be tempted by another project ;)

    1. Oh go on Pauleen - your German surname would be fascinating!

  3. Tessa, I have enjoyed reading the various post FGS/Rootstech post from the bloggers who attended and chose to share their experiences to those of us who were unable to make the trip. I am intending to be in a position to attend next year and never thought of the Condo idea - something to note for the future.

  4. What a thoughtful set of recommendations based on your experiences. Thank you!


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