What should have been a fun business trip ended up being a big ol’ mess.  Here’s my attempted recap:

On Wednesday, I flew out to San Diego for the Roche Social Media Summit and then the ADA Scientific Sessions Conference.  On Thursday, I attended the first day of the Roche Summit.  On Friday, my cornea tore again (almost as fiercely as the first time) and I spent the day hiding in my hotel room, freaking out from the pain, and trying to get home to RI sooner.  And on Saturday, I made the long trek home. 

So please forgive me for the bullet list recap, but I’m still regrowing my eyeball.  (More on that later.)

  • Seeing my fellow diabetes bloggers and advocates is always the highlight of this summit.  I can’t lie about that.  Walking into a room and wanting to hug everyone in it is a rare thing. 
  • However, since this was the third Roche Summit I’ve attended, I sort of wanted to hug the Roche people, too.  Todd and Rob are dedicated to this community, and they have never once tried to “hard sell me” on using their company’s products.  Instead, they seem like they are happy to learn from our perspectives as people with diabetes.  I appreciate that openness.  (However, I missed seeing Lisa this year.  We missed you, Lisa!)
  • The agenda included hearing from the International Diabetes Federation, and the CEO of the JDRF.  Both the IDF and the JDRF are organizations I support wholeheartedly, but hearing from their leaders ignited a fire under me once again.  I hate to say “more on this later,” but … um, more on this later.  (The agenda also included Dr. William Polonsky, but he spoke on the day I missed due to eye trouble, so I’ll have to rely on my fellow summit attendees to recap that one.  I’m sure it was brilliant, though.  He’s always brilliant.  Guy totally “gets it.”)
  • We also, in smaller groups, talked about ways to move the DOC forward.  The group I was part of discussed partnerships between patients and companies, and our end-result idea was a sort of guidebook to set forth the rules of engagement.  From my perspective, each person and company has an obligation to disclose a certain amount of information and to set personal expectations (i.e. “don’t contact me for PR pitches” or “this blog does do product reviews” and of course “Hi, I’m So-and-So and I work for Diabetes Company X”) to help move the community towards a greater good (which, as defined by me, is having higher quality information reach the less net-connected masses).  The online community has impacted how I handle my health tremendously, and I would love for our community to be able to access more rural areas.
  • There was also a photo moment in the lobby of the Hard Rock hotel, where all 37 (I think?) of us gathered to grin and then get goofy for a minute.  Evidence:
The Roche Social Media Summit crew for 2011
  • The best part about this Summit is that it’s the opposite of that “Vegas” mentality; what happens here is supposed to leave with us.  Whether the focus is on the fellow advocates we spent time with, or our perceptions of Roche as a diabetes company, or on how much fun a night of bowling might happen to be, these experiences are okay to be shared.  There aren’t any secrets to be kept.  Of course, if you’re feeling skeptical, you might say, “But of course they [Roche] want you to blog about this Summit.  Good press for them!”  Good point, and true.  But Roche also took a leap of faith by inviting us in the first place, and allowing us to report on any and everything about the Summit. They also didn’t discriminate in who they invited (as in, they invited me, openly sponsored by both Animas and Dexcom but still invited by Roche). And most important, to me, anyway, is that they gave a few dozen bloggers the opportunity to have dinner together, in person.  Our opinions aren’t bought and sold, but it’s hard not to appreciate a company that literally brings our community together once a year. 
  • And here’s my disclosure, similar to last year’s:  Roche paid for my plane tickets to and from San Diego, and they also covered my hotel room on Wednesday and Thursday night.  But they didn’t hold me over a shark tank to gain input from me, and I am also still using my brain on my own, so basically they can only claim travel, food during the conference, and lodging.  They also didn’t ask us to blog about the event (even though they knew we would).

Next on tap is to organize my thoughts on the IDF and JDRF sessions, and figuring out where Sprinkles ended up crashing this weekend.  But first, finishing the regrowth of aforementioned cornea.  Ouch.