Full disclosure, I have attempted to write this article about 4 different ways. Each time I get about a paragraph or two in, get frustrated, walk around and sit down to do it again. Each time I am thinking that it is just me, that I am somehow not good at writing, that I am not going to get this blog post because of something that I have wrong and then it hit me. I am trying to take this amazing experience, this MOVEMENT and put it into words. I am trying to explain what Community Manager Appreciation Day meant to me and I don’t even think the full weight of it has hit me yet. What I just did, what I was a part of. So I am going to try one more time, and see what happens. Sorry if it comes out a little crazy, it is just impossible to describe.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into, when Sherrie Rohde asked me via GChat a few months ago if I wanted to be on the board for CMAD, I had no clue what she was talking about. No idea was CMAD was and no idea what the board member would do. In all honesty I thought that it had something that had to do with the MyCMGR hangouts that we do on Fridays. Naturally I said yes.
In the next few days I realized that it of course stood for Community Manager Appreciation Day. That is was an opportunity to extend thanks, love, and a lot of high-fives to community managers. Now I had only recently become a Community Member in title in April of last year and only had been involved in CMGR communities a few weeks after that so I had to do a great deal of research into what CMAD was and what it was really all about. All the research in the world could not have gotten me ready for what I was in store for.
I got asked to join Sherrie and Brew in Milwaukee, at Attention Era Studios to help them host all 24 panels in a row. Now I had hosted a few panels, here and there, but 24 straight hours? That was going to be tough but something I knew I wanted to be a part of. From the moment that Sherrie picked me up in Grand Rapids, to the moment that I walked into Sweetwater Grill and saw Brew, Sarah Nagel and co for the first time in the physical world, to when we signed off of that very last panel I was blown away. It was a collision of the most talented community managers meeting in one place and POURING out nothing but years upon years of knowledge and love for the work each other was doing. Hour after hour I had a front row seat for the greatest minds in community management answering questions where they had worked years to figure out the answers.
The love that was shown for every community manager was amazing. As I watched #CMADSelfie after #CMADSelfie flow in on the @Zoomph board over Brew’s shoulder I saw the languages change but the message stay the same. People loved their job. People were PROUD to be community managers. People were taking part in parties and meet ups in countries all around the world. Tweeting, sharing. Smiling. High-fiving. I was tapping into something bigger than anything I have been a part of and from the time that first panel went live I knew I was hooked.
I have been searching for a career, for a life that I could find my way in. I was pretty good at a lot of things. From insurance to selling knives, but none of them really hooked me. Nothing really stuck, that was until #CMAD. Seeing every single tweet roll in, seeing all the panelists pour over the answers. Seeing over 250 nominations come in for the awards and reading all of the comments associated with those. People pour their LIVES into their communities and those communities pour that back into them. I saw that same look in every single panelist across the 24 hours. It is a look I now recognize in my own eye when I look in the mirror.
I am proud as hell to be a community manager. #CMAD confirmed this and I am not going anywhere.
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