New York City

I have just begun to finally recover from a whirlwind event in New York City hosted by Ethicon Endo-Surgery (Johnson & Johnson) and the Obesity Action Coalition – ‘Obesity Online: A forum to discuss the online dialogue around obesity and surgical weight loss options’.

EES and the OAC brought together a couple of dozen folks who undeniably influence others via social media and online writings, blogs, inspiration, and even rants and ravings. When I read the email – the first thought was ‘Wow, New York City, this is exciting!’, but of course my second thought was ‘What am I going to wear!’ I am kidding, it was actually in reverse, but you probably already know that about me. (Is it warm enough for high strappy sandals or do I need pumps or possibly peep-toes? Since its New York, I was already covered for black dresses!)

I also wondered as to the intent of EES and the OAC holding this sort of event and pondered the guest list. Anyone who was invited who says they didn’t immediately wonder who else would be there and the bariatric political implications is not being truthful – we are women and it’s how we are wired. (What am I wearing and who else is coming?)

Those of us who express ourselves and therefore influence via online media have wildly different styles! We are uniquely different people with vastly dissimilar life experiences, educational backgrounds, tones, volumes, surgical positions, social and economic levels, years’ post-op, health issues, tastes, weight lost, weight lost and gained, lifestyles, use of language, and political ideology. Some of us have full time careers in bariatrics with blogging as a sideline; some do it just for fun to pay it forward with info, while others strategically blog as a life and primary source of income. In utopia we would write and remain unaware of who is reading, but this is real world, and with audience size comes validation.

There are those who create levels of original content as a vehicle for influence, others create their impact by reviewing people, products, and words, and there are those who garner spotlight through creating discord. We’re definitely not competing for the same crown. There is no right or wrong – just different ways of obtaining an audience. Water finds its own level and people gravitate towards those whose words speak to them. It’s all good and I do believe we all have the intent of helping people who have had or will be having a surgical weight loss procedure… bla, bla, bla.

I am a writer and get paid to be flowery – and I am not going to pretend as many are. The translation of the previous two paragraphs is that we all knew that there would be folks there who will never be friends and don’t like each other even though they have never met or even spoken – but EES and OAC knew it too and it didn’t matter, so we were all expected to put it on ice for the weekend. It was important that bariatric politics took a backseat to all good that could come from this type of incredibly positive corporate event. A meeting of this caliber elevates awareness for the common cause of Obesity – and we needed to take our influence seriously and understand the reach of the power of our words. Obviously Ethicon understands this which is why they decided to host this incredibly diverse focus group or if you prefer – its why they were investing a lot of money in throwing one spectacular event with a purpose.

‘I am always excited to meet others who view their position of influence with responsibility and respect – I was happy to be invited and would like to thank Ethicon Endo Surgery and the Obesity Action Coalition for creating an environment for us to have this incredible meeting of minds and sharing of common ground. ‘ – official response.

Anyone who was invited should be proud that they were making enough noise that Ethicon Endo-Surgery would fly them in to participate in this ‘obesity online’ forum – and yes, I was certain before even typing the name of the hotel into the Google box of what I would find. Reality didn’t disappoint, as the Mondrian SOHO is a chic boutique hotel that is a giant modern jewelry box of pure white, Aegean blue, and chrome. I am sure the security camera shot as each of us tentatively walked through the vine covered archways into this modern lobby was amusing. One thing we certainly did have in common was the mouth agape look at we entered the hotel.

It’s not the destination, it’s the Journey – and this was an incredible three days!


Obesity Online: Bariatric Blogger Influencer Symposium * Hosted by Ethicon-Endo Surgery (EES) and Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) * New York, NY * April 14/15, 2011 * Mondrian SoHo Hotel * Manhattan

DISCLOSURE – EES/OAC generously sponsored my trip and paid for my travel and lodging expenses and I thank them.