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!