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Fun Times in Mini-Apple-Us

When I was asked to speak at An Event Apart Minneapolis, I thought, “An Event Apart, yes! Minneapolis, whatever.” I wasn’t expecting much from my trip to the Twin Cities — but I was dead wrong.

Flying over Minnesota for the first time a week ago today, all I could see was a flat expanse of green, like a giant lily pad. So lush. Downtown was bigger than I had expected, and the neighborhood around the Hilton Hotel was dotted with great restaurants and bars, interesting architecture, and cool public art. And the weather…ahh the weather was absolutely perfect — big, open, sunny skies of blue, with a lot less humidity than NYC, and a cool breeze at night.

I got to spend a few hours on Saturday with my friend Samantha LeVan who I met in grad school at CMU, her husband Craig, and their beautiful baby girl Penelope. They live in lovely apartment in Eden Prairie so I got to see a bit of the suburbs. More luscious greenery.

On Sunday I organized a brunch tweetup at Hell’s Kitchen. Had a delicious meal and fun time with @JBertling @germanmartinez @juliefaye @KatieCW @evoljennifer @kevinfarner. Thanks to everyone for showing up to hang with me!

Afterwards I hung out with Paul Isakson, a guy I’ve been following on Twitter since the very beginning, but had never met before. It was a funny coincidence that I finally got to meet the man behind the original @don_draper Twitter account on the same day as the much anticipated series premiere of Mad Men. Paul isn’t twittering from that account anymore, but he inadvertently started quite a movement (and controversy) on bringing TV characters into social media. He’s a long-time ad man himself, formerly of space150 and now out on his own with a variety of business strategy projects. But honestly, Paul is so much more than that, and it was such a pleasure to get to spend some time getting to know him. We walked around the Mills City Museum, learned all about the history of the Washburn A Mill (Gold Metal Flour) explosion, and got a stunning view over the Mississippi River and St Anthony Falls. Some people you just have an instant connection with, and Paul is one of those people for me.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at An Event Apart, which I’ll write about in another post, and flew out Tuesday night. I regret not having the time to take one of the city’s new rental bikes out for a spin around the lakes, or to even get a glimpse of the Mall of America…so I’ll just have to go back! A few folks that I met showed me a bunch of photos of “up north” — the Twin Cities version of upstate or the Hamptons — so maybe at some point I’ll treat myself to a restful vacation and rent a cabin on a lake up there for a week.

If you’ve been reading this blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know that I travel a lot, and I love exploring new places. But it’s been a while since I discovered such charm in a place I didn’t even think I’d remember. I’m thrilled I gave the city a chance to make an impression on me. I’m quite sure the people played a big part in that.

Thanks to everyone I came into contact with, and hope to see you back there soon!

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  • Sylvie

    Hi Whitney, I was so bummed that I couldn’t make it to the brunch. To be honest, it was because of my lost debit card/because I had committed to go to my friend’s church/because I couldn’t work the nerve to meet strangers. Kicking myself now. That day, I listened to your “Evangelize Yourself” presentation online — it has changed everything! I look forward to another brunch meetup opportunity if you are ever back in Minneapolis again.

  • Randi

    I was in Minneapolis for the STC conference several years ago and I felt the same way about the city and the people. I would love to visit Minneapolis again.

  • http://paulisakson.com Paul

    You’re too kind. It was a pleasure getting to spend time with you as well. Very much so. Thank you for making time while you were here. I’m glad we finally got to meet and I’m happy that you found MPLS to be more than you were expecting. Looking forward to the next time we get to chat in person…