If you have been following me on Twitter @thesingleleaf, you already know that registration is underway at RootsTech.org. You may also know that Early Bird registration is scheduled to end this week and it is yet to be determined if this discount will go into overtime! It has in the past but, to my recollection, not every year, so as an official ambassador to the RootsTech Conference and to guarantee these savings, in its entirety and with permission, I provide the following press release with emphasis added:
Popular RootsTech Event Open for Registration
FamilySearch International has announced that registration to RootsTech 2017 is now open. RootsTech is an annual family history and technology conference where guests of all ages are inspired to discover, preserve, and share their family roots, heritage, and stories across generations—past, present, and future. In 2016 the event attracted more than 28,000 attendees in-person from all 50 US states and 30+ countries. RootsTech 2017 will be held February 8–11 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The popular Innovator Summit and free Family Discovery Day are also open for registration. The website for registration is RootsTech.org.
The 4-day conference will offer attendees a full lineup of inspiring and well-known keynote speakers, over 200 informative sessions, including hands-on computer labs taught by industry professionals and leaders, interactive activities and helpful exhibitors in the expo hall, and entertaining evening events, all designed to inspire and empower personal family discoveries. Early bird discount pricing is available for a limited time on 4-day passes at just $159 and $189 for the RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass. Passes for the Getting Started track start at $49 for a single day and $69 for a limited 3-day pass. All passes include access to the popular expo hall and morning keynote sessions.
Starting off the 4-day RootsTech conference is the Innovator Summit, a unique 1-day conference designed for serious entrepreneurs, developers, and innovators interested in giving their creative ideas traction in a growing multi-billion-dollar industry. The event also offers attendees the opportunity to interact and connect with industry influencers, executives, and investors. The Summit will include a morning general session (the keynote speaker will be announced soon), over 20 classes, the Innovator Showdown semi-finals, and more. Innovator Summit ONLY passes are available at the discount price of $99.
Along with the Innovator Summit, the Innovator Showdown returns to RootsTech with $100,000 in prizes. Innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world and from any industry are invited to compete with their latest products or services that enable individuals to discover, preserve, and share their personal and family stories, memories, or ancestral connections. The top 5 finalists will be invited to present their product or service on the main RootsTech stage before a panel of judges and a live audience on Friday, February 10, just after the morning keynote session.
Registration for Family Discovery Day is also now open. The event takes place on Saturday, February 11, 2017, and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This free and fun 1-day event includes inspiring messages from Church leaders, engaging classes for families, youth, and young single adults, and evening entertainment to inspire and help families and members discover, preserve, and share their family connections. Family Discovery Day attendees will also have access to all the interactive activities and exhibitors found in the RootsTech expo hall. Event details, including speakers and classes, will be made available soon at RootsTech.org. Registration is required.
RootsTech offers great keynote speakers, great sessions, and excellent exhibits that provide players of all levels with excellent coaching in their family history and genealogy pursuits. Onsite attendance also provides opportunities for individualized coaching as participants engage with industry leaders. Register early and get into the game! Hope to see you there!
RootsTech, held February 8–11, 2017, and hosted by FamilySearch, is the largest global family history event in the world! The seventh annual conference—celebrating families across generations—is the perfect place to discover and share your family’s stories and connections through technology.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am designated as an official ambassador to the RootsTech Conference and, as such, I am provided complimentary admission and other services, opportunities, and meals to accomplish my duties. Nevertheless, I have been with RootsTech since its inception and with its predecessor, the BYU Computerized Conference on Family History & Genealogy, for many years as a paid participant. As always, my coverage and opinions are my own and are not affected by my current status. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Note:Family Discovery Day at RootsTech is a free, one-day event of inspirational messages, instructional classes, interactive activities, and exciting entertainment to teach LDS members (age 8 and up) how to find their ancestors, prepare and take their names to the temple, and teach others to do the same. See RootsTech.org for more information.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Family Discovery Day opened with announcements from Elder Allan F. Packer, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Director of of the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He announced that there were about 13,000 individuals in attendance with 120,000 participating through live streaming at lds.org. In addition, the presentations were recorded and will be used during 1300 Family Discovery Day events held in over 55 countries and presented in 10 languages. Ultimately, the presentations will reach over a quarter of a million members and their friends. Once this material is incorporated into curriculum lessons, websites, and printed publications these messages will reach millions of Church members.
Elder Packer said that earlier that day a meeting was held among Church leaders. The Missionary Department announced two new pamphlets, Learning and Serving in the Church and Families and Temples. The Family History Department announced a new beginner resource card titled Strengthening Eternal Family Bonds through Temple Service: Start Building Your Tree. The card and online experience were created to help new members record their family lineage and identify those who may need temple ordinances. The My Family booklet is now available in 42 languages around the world. The Temple Department announced that members will now be able to print family ordinance cards on white paper on any printer and then take these cards to the temple to perform ordinances for their ancestors.
Elder Dale G. Renlund, his wife, Ruth, and daughter, Ashley
Following these announcements, Elder Dale G. Renlund, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his wife, Ruth, and daughter, Ashley, took to the stage for the keynote address. After introducing his wife, he remarked that when he is not with his wife, he is “ruthless.” Together they shared a family history story that you can listen to below.
Ashley described the discovery of dynamite by Alfred Nobel. It was a combination of two known substances, kieselguhr and nitroglycerin. This was likened to family history and temple blessings, together they’re a powerful combination.
The Renlunds discussed the challenge given by Elder Neil A. Anderson to those in attendance at RootsTech in 2014: “Prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple.” In 2015 Elder Anderson added, “and help someone else do the same.” “This opportunity for blessings excludes no one,” Elder Renlund says. His wife Ruth added, “the temple ordinances are central to individual power.”
The Renlunds then read from Ezekiel 47: 1-5, 8-9 and explained that Ezekiel saw an angel who brought him to the House of the Lord. As the water left the house, it grew into a river and out to the sea, … “for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh.” According to Elder Renlund, the river that increases represents the blessings of the temple and he likened the growth of the river to the exponential growth of progenitors doubling each generation.
Ashley quoted President Russell M. Nelson, “While temple and family history work has the power to bless those beyond the veil, it has an equal power to bless the living. It has a refining influence on those who are engaged in it. They are literally helping to exalt their families.”
Elder Renlund closed by adding his apostolic voice in support of the temple challenge and extended a promise of protection for the individuals engaged in this work and for their families. The challenge was modified to include not only baptisms but all ordinances. He promised “personal power, power to change, power to repent, power to learn, power to be sanctified, and power to turn the hearts of your family together and heal that which needs healing.” He closed by declaring his witness of Jesus Christ and the restoration of the sealing power to earth.
Sister Sheri L. Dew and Sister Wendy W. Nelson
Elder C. Scott Grow was asked to recap a few ideas from the previous presentation, specifically the apostolic temple challenge, before introducing Family Discovery Day’s next guests. Elder Grow reminded everyone that the apostolic temple challenge to find as many family names for temple ordinances has been reissued and expanded the challenge to include all ordinances, not just baptisms. He stressed that this challenge is for everyone. “A promise of protection and personal power, power to change, power to progress, power to learn, power to be sanctified, power to heal, the power to be sealed, and seal the hearts of our families together” has been issued. He quoted President Howard W. Hunter by saying, “I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.”
Elder Grow then introduced two good friends, Sheri L. Dew and Wendy W. Nelson for a family history discussion. These good friends then publicly conversed about Sheri’s resistance to pursuing family history. Wendy shared some of her spiritual experiences with Sheri and the blessings that have come into her life since she took Elder Richard G. Scott’s challenge. In the end, Sheri took the apostolic challenge to find as many ancestors to take to the temple to receive their ordinances as she will complete this year and to help others do the same. I encourage you to watch their presentation.
Sheri responded to Elder Grow’s question of how this is to be accomplished by saying, “Something will have to change and I’ll figure it out. I don’t yet know exactly when or how, but it will work … I’m sure I’ll have to give up something, the question is what?”
Elder Grow than asked those in the RootsTech audience, “(1) What did you learn? (2) What did you feel? Select one idea expressed in this presentation and make it a part of your life.”
Brother Stephen W. Owen and Sister Rosemary M. Wixom
Elder Enrique R. Falabella, who serves as an executive director of the Family History Department, began this session by expressing his enjoyment of Family Discovery Day. He said, “The Lord has inspired the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve to help the members of the Church to strengthen their testimony in Heavenly Father and in His Son Jesus Christ through keeping the Sabbath holy. What a great opportunity we have now to spend some time on the Sabbath doing family history Our ancestors will be eternally grateful and we will be blessed.” He then shared that this was the first idea that came to his mind to help Sister Sheri Dew meet her commitment to bring her ancestors to the temple. After his remarks, he introduced Brother Stephen W. Owen and Sister Rosemary M. Wixom.
“There is no age requirement to be touched by the Spirit of Elijah,” says Brother Stephen W. Owen. He went on to say that by becoming involved in family history, one discovers the power and purpose of relationships in God’s plan. “Relationships are at the very core of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He then quoted the greatest commandments. He said that the Savior focused on relationships and was not distracted by anything temporal. He suggested that as we’re focused on our relationships with our Heavenly Father, our Savior, our family, and others we are focusing on what lasts and Christ’s gospel can move from our head to our heart.”
Brother Owen invited his youngest daughter Jessica on stage to share her family story. Jessica delivered her first child, Annie, two months premature. Annie was born with a condition where all of her muscles would contract and this happened about 60-70 times a day. Jessica and her husband Sam would cheer her on to get through each episode, but four and a half months later, Annie passed away. Jessica shared how her father, through his own grief, counseled them to get through this together. Jessica shared her gratitude for the plan of salvation and testimony that families can be together forever if we do our part. Brother Owen returned holding his one month old grandson, Archie, Jessica and Sam’s second child and Annie’s little brother.
Brother Owen then quoted from a song called “Grandma’s Book of Memories”:
“When Grandma opens up her book of memories,
these strangers all begin to look like friends to me.
I can see where I have come from and where I belong,
And where I got the color of my hair.
And I won’t be afraid when I follow them home,
because I’ve got friends already there.”
He mentioned the sealing power of the priesthood that can strengthen and bind family relationships. He went on to say, “We are each an important link in our family chain. And each of us, regardless of our current family circumstances. can begin working on the things that last. I recognize that not everyone has had the opportunity to nurture and develop family relationships, but don’t be discouraged. Stronger relationships can begin with you, right now, where you are. Through all kinds of family history and temple work, you can increase in love and help your family heal, going in both directions, towards your ancestors and towards your posterity. Maybe you’ve started your family history and have become discouraged because of damaged relationships or missing information. Don’t give up. Keep seeking the eternal. Pray and look for connections, relationships, and stories and when you begin to find those personal connections … you’ll start to understand what it’s like to have your heart turned to your fathers and the gospel will have an opportunity to move from your head to your heart. You will feel for yourself the power and eternal nature of family relationships … Let us remember that Christ suffered alone so that we can be together. Because of Him, we can have relationships that endure, relationships that include our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and our loved ones. I testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of relationships that transcend death and have eternal value. And, I do so in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom then took the stage. She started by sharing an experience she had five years ago when an apostle asked her, “What is the taproot that will anchor a child in the wind?” A taproot is the first and largest root that sprouts from the seed. It grows downward and provides stability. Taproots can make a plant drought-resistant. She shared the story of the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. Children need to know who they are, where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going so that their lives take on a sense of purpose.
Sister Wixom quoted President Russell M. Nelson saying, “We need … women [to] call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.” She extends this call to all members of the Church in the lives of children. She then asked how does this related to family history. She said that she loves family history and loves family stories. Then she made two confessions: (1) she now makes cookies for her husband while he does family history research, and (2) she does not scrapbook; she has plastic container with pictures for each child for their future book.
She recognizes the importance of family history and shared a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. as saying, “They are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith (History of the Church, 6:52). We make our ancestors real by telling their stories.
She said that she began with a two-minute exercise to write everything she remembered about her deceased father. Then she began to discuss recording her memories of others and considered how these stories and phrases could strengthen the next generation. She stressed that they must be shared and preserved and recommended the FamilySearch Memories app.
She closed by testifying, “We can anchor all generations to the taproot as we share precious pieces of information about those wonderful men and women, perform their sacred temple ordinances, and seal our families together. Of this truth I testify. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Elder Bradley D. Foster introduced two young men to illustrate the “importance and power of family.” He continued, These young men show us what it looks like and “what good families produce.” He then introduced Britain Covey, a wide receiver for the University of Utah, and Taysom Hill, a quarterback for Brigham Young University.
For some Family Discovery Day fun, each player was asked to find two youth in the audience to help with a relay race. No spoilers here; you must watch the video to know the outcome :)
Once the race was decided, it was time for these young men to be interviewed. The presentation highlighted Britain’s mission call to Chile and Taysom’s temple marriage. Both shared missionary experiences on and off the field.
About leaving his football career for a mission with no guarantee upon return, Britain said, “Scoring a touchdown is awesome, but it’s a difference type of happiness that this gospel and this mission brings and I guess this is what I’m excited to share.”
After this presentation, Family Discovery Day closed with a concert by Lower Lights. Mark your calendar for next year when Family Discovery Day will be held again on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
At the Friday keynote session, RootsTech attendees were greeted with some exciting news. First, on-site registration surpassed 26,000. Second, those in attendance were from all 50 states and more than 35 countries. Finally, Thursday night’s Freedmen’s Bureau index-a-thon exceeded its goal. Indexers, on-site and virtual, sought to index 900 batches in 90 minutes; the result was that participants indexed and arbitrated over 1860 batches! As Steve Rockwood said in his opening remarks, “We come to RootsTech to DO family history!” Thursday night’s index-a-thon was a great example of this declaration. It speaks volumes :)
One aspect of RootsTech that I love is the live streaming that allows anyone with an internet connection to be included throughout the majority of the conference. The RootsTech theme is “celebrating families across generations.” It also connects time zones and distance through this technology and it is offered free of charge.
Our cousin A.J. Jacobs returned to the stage this year to report on the Global Family Reunion held on June 6, 2015. He affirmed that Sister Sledge had it right, “We are family.” DNA has helped him discover hundreds of cousins, including his wife. He admits that she is a distant cousin and assures us that their children are all okay. He said that although some cousins had previous commitments, 3700 attended the Global Family Reunion in New York with 40 simultaneous satellite reunions around the world totaling 10,000 more in attendance. The event broke several world records, including biggest worldwide family reunion. One of the purposes of this event is to garner interest in family history. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, People magazine & Good Morning America provided coverage and the reunion will be featured on the season finale of Finding Your Roots. Jacobs announced another family reunion in 2017 so you may want to keep your 2017 summer calendar free until the date is set. He closed by saying he believes that “We are all related and it’s not us vs. them. It’s just us; there is no them. We’re in this together.”
Jacobs then introduced Josh and Naomi Davis, fellow New Yorkers who author the blog Love Taza. As a couple, they took center stage to share their journey of blogging as newlyweds to blogging as the parents of 3 children. They now have over a million people throughout the world interested in their family adventure. Recently returning from Australia, they admit that theirs is an ordinary life. Besides photography, Naomi likes to capture moments with her children by recording “-isms.” She calls them “Eleanorisms” and “Samsonisms” after their authors. One example Naomi shared was when their daughter Eleanor was “looking at [her] pregnant tummy and asked, “So, is the baby just swimming around in there? … Is she wearing a swimsuit?”
As we heard throughout the conference, Josh and Naomi reiterated that “everyone in this room has a story!” and encouraged all of us to “become a part of a global community of storytellers” because “it’s not a story if it’s not told.”
These words were the perfect transition to the next speaker, David Isay, founder of StoryCorps. StoryCorps was founded in 2003 when a recording booth was established in Grand Central Terminal. The premise is that a person brings someone that they want to honor to the booth and he or she then has the opportunity to record a 40 minute interview. StoryCorps provides a facilitator and, if desired, a list of questions. After the interview concludes, one copy of the interview goes to the Library of Congress and another copy is given to those who interviewed.
Isay played for those in attendance a number of excerpts of these stories. In my opinion, no one can tell their story better than they can so, if you’d like to hear these stories, watch the RootsTech keynote address below or listen to a number of examples on the StoryCorps website. StoryCorps expanded its reach by having mobile units that are dispatched throughout the United States. Schedules fill up quickly. Most recently, StoryCorps released an app that allows an individual to record his or her story and send it directly to the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress where it will be archived. [Note: The StoryCorps app requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is also available for Android from Google Play.]
David Isay closed with a quote from Mary Lou Kownacki, a Philadelphia nun who said, “It’s impossible not to love someone whose story you’ve heard.” As he continued he quoted Mother Teresa saying, “We have forgotten that we belong to each other.” He thanked the RootsTech audience for asking the important questions, for honoring our families, and for listening.
After David Isay’s address, it was time for the Innovator Showdown where 6 finalists competed for $100,000 in cash and prizes. TapGenes took 1st place, followed by STUDIO, and Twile. Twile was also the recipient of the People’s Choice Award.
Although I planned to attend a number of sessions, my schedule permitted only one. It was a panel discussion on ethical dilemmas in the genealogy community. Copyright, plagiarism, compensation, and other issues were addressed. To summarize the wisdom gleaned from the discussion: if it’s a violation of law or a violation of a moral conscience, don’t do it; if it’s considerate of another, such as reimbursing a volunteer for out-of-pocket expenses incurred on one’s behalf, do it.
[Today’s title consists of the Twitter handles of Friday’s keynote speakers or their organizations.]
Steve Rockwood opened Thursday’s session of RootsTech with a few of his family stories. One story he told was when he was a young boy who, although he need heart surgery, didn’t want anyone “messing with [his] heart.” The doctor didn’t gain Steve’s trust by his medical degrees and training. He gained his trust by wearing cool and funny ties. Although the doctor’s expertise was essential to young Steve’s care, it was the ties that won Steve’s confidence. And subsequently, Steve’s doctor did not try to turn him into a heart doctor.
The same is true with family history. A family member may need the outcomes of family history: love, peace, joy, happiness, belonging, etc., but may not need to become a genealogist. Steve encouraged conference attendees to consider someone in their family who would benefit from sharing a family story. He suggested that a different approach may be necessary and encouraged everyone to make it fun, in small doses, to build trust and relationship.
Rockwood introduced his neighbor, Kathy Tarullo, a stay-at-home mom who recently graduated with a bachelor of general studies degree with an emphasis in family history and genealogy. Rockwood and his wife Jill were invited to Kathy’s graduation party where she served refreshments associated with her ancestors decoratively arranged with a story behind each one. Kathy also mentioned another project she is working on where she is taking an ancestor’s story and turning it into a children’s book written in poetic form. These are some of the ideas shared to inspire attendees to consider ways of making family history part of everyday life.
RootsTech began to trend #4 on @Twitter during the opening session of RootsTech Photo credit: Wendy Smedley
Next up was the host of BYUtv’s American RideStan Ellsworth. He surprised the crowd by entering the hall on his classic Harley-Davidson. I’ve been to RootsTech, even before it was known by its new name, and I have NEVER seen anything like it! Ellsworth shared his passion for the American story that is our collective story. Nevertheless, “every American family has its own unique heritage, traditions, its own roots ’cause all of us came from somewhere before we came here,” Ellsworth said. He continued, “every American family has its own story to tell … These people want their stories remembered; they want their stories to be celebrated. You can begin your own journey. You can start your own exploration. You can find your heroes. You can find your heritage. You can find your roots. So kick a leg over and begin to discover your family’s own unique American ride.”
After his impassioned speech, Ellsworth was delighted to introduce Paula Williams Madison, a successful businesswoman who retired in 2011 to pursue the story of her maternal grandfather Samuel Lowe. Madison thanked FamilySearch for helping her find her Chinese family. She credits FamilySearch and the individuals who index for solving this mystery in her family. If you are a volunteer and ever wondered if what you do makes a difference, Paula Williams Madison wants you to know that you do.
Before RootsTech I listened to her memoir, Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem. I chose the audio book so that I could listen to Madison’s story in her own voice. It made a difference to me. I encourage you to watch her keynote address, read or listen to her book, and watch the documentary. It is an amazing family journey.
Regrettably, Paula Williams Madison’s uncle, the youngest son of Samuel Lowe, passed away in China the Sunday before RootsTech. As her American family members returned to China to gather and attend the funeral, Paula determined that she would give her keynote address at RootsTech. It’s the way her uncle would have wanted it. After briefly meeting with the media, Paula began the long journey to China arriving with 4 hours to spare before her uncle’s funeral. My personal condolences to Paula Williams Madison and her extended family in Harlem, Jamaica, and China at the loss of such a wonderful patriarch. I am so grateful that Paula found her family and reconnected with them during the last few years.
Next, Bruce Feiler took center stage. He began his remarks by saying that he felt like RootsTech is the “Super Bowl of storytelling.” [This may be true but just an FYI, “Super Bowl” is a registered trademark of the NFL.] He told stories of his adventures in his keynote address:
Feiler says that the “secret sauce” of a happy family is that they TALK, they talk a lot, about what it means to be a family. He recommends 3 things that families can do to be happier:
Write a family mission statement.
Do storytelling games in your family.
Tell your family history; use pictures.
Feiler said that the single most effective idea for a happy family is to tell your family’s story. It is the same for biological and/or adopted families. It is the family narrative that is critical for the resilience of its individuals. He recommends that a person grounds their story in the oldest stories ever told, find a way to make it part of everyday, and don’t keep the story to one’s self, but share it! He mentioned that his New York Times article, The Stories That Bind Us, was the most emailed article for an entire month and, out of the 850,000,000 articles saved to the Pocket app, it was the second most saved article on the entire planet for the entire year. It’s worth the read.
He also encourages seniors to tell their story. He is working on another book and made a request that attendees write to him and tell him their experiences of how they accomplished this in their own families.
Feiler was diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago. On the one year anniversary of that fateful day, he asked his doctor what advice the doctor would give Feiler’s daughters if they came to him. The doctor replied, “I would tell them what I learned. I would tell them that everybody dies, but not everybody lives. I want you to live.” As a family historian I would add, “and set aside time to record it.”
Bruce Feiler closed his keynote address with great counsel for all of us: “Every now and then find a friend, take a walk, and share a story.” I witnessed a lot of this as I went about my day at RootsTech.
RootsTech is a massive conference with many opportunities throughout each day, including the event organized to index the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau. These records were created when the bureau was established in 1865 by Congress to help former black slaves and poor whites in the South in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. Although RootsTech is an unique experience to each person, it is almost universally a very long, engaging, and exhausting day for all!
A conference is a time of anticipation, a time of gathering, a time of seeing old friends and meeting new. It’s a time of learning and teaching. It’s a time of ideas, a time of product evaluations, and purchase considerations. It’s a time of networking, a time of connection, and a time of celebration. RootsTech is a celebration of “families across generations!”
RootsTech, with the Innovator Summit, is the largest conference of its kind. In 4 days, with 200+ sessions, and 26,000 on-site conference attendees, time is limited and moments are embraced. Nevertheless, when it’s over, there is not one person who could experience all that RootsTech has to offer: 26,000+ people on-site — 26,000+ unique life experiences!
The month of February hosts a favorite holiday of mine, Groundhog Day. Since the movie by the same name was released in 1993, Groundhog Day has come to symbolize repetition, at least until one gets it “right.”
In honor of this idea …
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
The day began as entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and interested genealogists gathered for the climb at the Innovator Summit. Steve Rockwood opened the conference with his first public address since his appointment as CEO of FamilySearch International.
Rockwood says that powerful, positive core feelings about family history are universal. These feelings are the catalyst for action. FamilySearch International will focus on the following five categories of experiences that invoke these feelings to grow the family history audience:
Discovery — it can be as simple as a story at the dinner table or as complex as the algorithm that provides hinting
FamilyTree — growing the tree that binds and connects us together
Searchable Records — search faster, more effectively, “a huge nut to crack” for the benefit of the Google generation
Memories — stories and photos, projected to involve more people in the industry than any other category as millennials are seen as “a journaling generation like the world has never seen”
Contextual Help — provide help where millennials are and in the way that they want to receive it
Rockwood closed by saying, “Let us continue to focus in on how to help family historians do their wonderful thing and grow that space, but at the same time, how could we then work with the partners here at RootsTech to maybe bring family history out and become part of the fabric of everyday life? My name is Steve Rockwood. I look at things inside out, upside down, and backwards. When I look at you, I get pumped. I’m excited. And we thank you for coming here and we hope this will be a very fruitful four days for you here at RootsTech. Thank you very much.”
Ken Krogue, president and founder of InsideSale.com, is an industry leader and a self-proclaimed family history and genealogy nut. “When you talk about your passion, good things happen.” I highly recommend you watch his presentation.
If you don’t have the time, you may glean a tidbit or two from this summary:
Principles of InsideSales Marketing
Innovation — applying what works in other worlds to your own
Go Sell Something — according to one study, four experiences increase one’s ability to sell: 1) a background in competitive sports, 2) being an LDS (Mormon) returned missionary, 3) being an Eagle Scout, and 4) a background in Microsoft Office, particularly Word and Excel
Keep a Fresh Perspective — new people bring vision
Research Marketing — shows the speed at which to respond = 5 minutes or less
Only Raise Money When You Don’t Need It
Find Investors Who Invest In You
Manage By the Numbers — use science and statistics to make decisions
Digital Media Rules — take the lead
Content + Distribution = Results
Give Back Along the Way
Tell Your Own Story
Mobilize Your People
Krogue also provided a list of things to watch in family history and genealogy:
Apps converging to platforms
From growth to profitability
Wearable tech (e.g. life management)
Ken Krogue shared an amazing story about an exchange student who came to stay 2 blocks away from his home. He was up against a proverbial brick wall in pursuit of his Krogue lineage but one night Ken awoke with the realization that the exchange student, Tanita Sode, could be related to the Sode married to Krogue’s ancestor. Tanita asked her grandmother who revealed that she had 210 pages directly relating the Krogue lineage! Krogue asked, “how did that happen?”
Krogue outlined some activities he is involved in such as family history and social media events on Facebook. On Saturday he was going to show conference attendees how to hold a Family Reunion Event on Facebook. Unfortunately, with assignments looming, I was unable to stop by in the Expo Hall. If anyone would like to share what they learned from Krogue in the Expo Hall, email me or leave your nuggets of knowledge in the comments below. Thank you! :)
FamilySearch executives from multiple departments were available to discuss the latest and greatest from FamilySearch as well as receive some feedback. For more information, see the article titled Partner Town Hall with FamilySearch Executives that I wrote for the FamilySearch blog.
Those that attend the Innovator Summit have the opportunity to hear from industry leaders, developers, and entrepreneurs. The evening holds a number of social events and the RootsTech Hackathon, named by TechCrunch as one of the most compelling hackathons! It’s a great addition to RootsTech. Mark Wednesday, February 8, 2017 for the next Innovator Summit!
The Salt Palace Convention Center will serve as RootsTech’s base camp this year, beginning today through Saturday, February 6, 2016. Family historians, genealogists, and other interested parties will begin their ascent to greater knowledge and opportunities within the industry starting with the Innovator Summit.
The Innovator Summit is the world’s largest family history technology conference. Ken Krogue, a highly successful tech entrepreneur and founder of Insidesales.com, will give the keynote address at 9am followed by 2 sessions of choice.
At 12:15pm, those in attendance will be provided boxed lunches and have the opportunity to attend the 2016 RootsTech Innovator Showdown where 6 finalists will be chosen for the final showdown on Friday, February 5. You may view the video submissions of the 12 semifinalists at rootstech.org/showdown. They’re competing for a total of $100,000 in cash and prizes!
Following the Innovator Showdown, five 30 minute sessions will be offered at the Innovator Summit. RootsTech will simultaneously offer two sessions beginning at 3pm. These sessions will be followed by a networking social and the Innovator Hack-a-thon, an event that is touted “for those with a penchant for late night collaborative coding.”
On Thursday through Saturday, opening sessions will begin at 8:30am. The keynote speakers for Thursday will be Steve Rockwood, Managing Director for the Family History Department and President/CEO of FamilySearch International; Paula Williams Madison, Chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC, a Los Angeles based media consultancy company with global reach and the author of Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem; and Bruce Feiler, “one of America’s most popular voices on contemporary life” and author of The Secrets of Happy Families and other notable books.
On Friday, attendees will hear from Josh and Naomi Davis of the blog Love Taza and David Isay of StoryCorps. Michael Leavitt’s keynote address will be streamed live on Saturday. He is a former governor of the state of Utah and the founder and chairman of Leavitt Partners. He will be followed by Doris Kearns Goodwin, a world-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author.
In addition, those in attendance will have the opportunity to explore the Expo Hall and attend numerous other social events, including concerts by Crescent Superband with Ryan Innes and Lower Lights. One event that I would like to highlight is the opportunity to view the documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China at 2:00pm on Saturday in Room 151 of the Salt Lake Convention Center.
Family Discovery Day will begin at 1pm on Saturday with an outstanding team recruited to inspire those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to get into the game of family history and genealogy and provide temple ordinances for their ancestors. Elder Dale G. Renlund and Sister Ruth Renlund with their daughter Ashley will open this event in Hall D, followed by Sister Sheri Dew, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom and Brother Stephen W. Owen. It is my hope that although Taysom Hill and Britain Covey play for in-state rivals, Taysom will connect with Britain to score a genealogical touchdown by inspiring families and youth at this year’s event!
If you are unable to attend this year’s conference or watch the live streaming of select sessions, including Family Discovery Day, follow #RootsTech on social media and the FamilySearch blog. You can receive automatic notifications of the latest posts by visiting familysearch.org/blog and providing your email address. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to The Single Leaf and I will do my best to keep you posted.
For those new to the family history and genealogy community and those who are seasoned, let us remember:
“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”
― Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond
Warning: Participating in genealogy and family history football while watching an NFL game with your significant other may cause side effects including distraction, interference with relational bonding, and failure to fully enjoy chips, salsa, and guacamole. Research responsibly.
It’s the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend! Now that the playing field has been narrowed to twelve, the winner of the Lombardi trophy will soon be determined on the field. Although some teams are required to play more on their way to the Super Bowl, it’s anyone’s game. Since there is no NFL team in the land of genealogy and family history, the following of the locals here can change as fast as the wind. It’s a house divided. But in football, there is no place like home!
So, are you up for your game this Wild Card weekend? Do you have your goal defined for each of the games you will play? Have you narrowed the field so that you are prepared to finish the season on February 1, 2014? Each play moves you closer to a genealogical touchdown, to winning the game, and ultimately achieving the Lombardi trophy of your Family History Bowl.
Have you looked for information on your pivotal person and it’s just not where you hoped it would be? Is the record set impossible to access in the time frame of this season? Does the most obvious record set not exist? Check out this page on the FamilySearch wiki. Go to the bottom of the page to “Selecting Record Types.” There you will find a listing of objectives and a priority list of records to search. If you cannot find that record set online, check the FamilySearch catalog for available microfilm, then visit the Family History Library or order microfilm to view at your local Family History Center. If you need assistance contact me. I would be happy to provide coaching advice or execute a play or more on your behalf.
To the NFL players and coaches this season, the genealogist who struggles to find time to play the game, to our ancestors whose lives were rarely blessed more than ours, I close with a quote known as The Man in the Arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Cheering you on in your game to win your Family History Bowl!
The graphic in its entirety is available at nfl.com.
Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday in America with an estimated 46.3 million Americans expected to migrate, at least for the day, 50 miles or more this year!
Thanksgiving is traditionally known as the day of America’s greatest food consumption! Think turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie as the common core of the Thanksgiving banquet. Each family has other traditional favorites as well. This year I found a recipe that adds a new twist to an old favorite. If it meets with positive reviews from the culinary critics at my table, I’ll share it with you next year :)
Football has also been a traditional favorite at this time of year. Whether it is a friendly game at your local field or watching one or more of the three NFL games offered throughout the day, it has become part of the holiday for many Americans. The NFL posted an informative graphic about this holiday tradition. Did you know that QB’s named Tom are 5-1 playing on Thanksgiving since 1950? In addition, Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest running days of the year with morning Turkey Trots offered throughout the nation!
So, what about family history? Tradition speak volumes and it is never too late to adopt or create a new tradition. As individuals, we determine what we carry forward and what we create. Once again, for those who may have missed it, I found a set of questions produced by the team at Real Simple that I have carried forward to interview family members at important times of gathering. Although not of my own creation, I find these questions to be a gift from the author that I would like to extend to you, my readers. Choose the questions most relevant and cultivate them into conversations. Later, jot down those stories and memories. You’ll be making family history as you record it :)
On the eve of this important American holiday, we at the Single Leaf wish you and yours a very happy holiday! As we have reached out, you have reached back, and for this we are grateful :) Happy Thanksgiving!
I confess that this post qualifies as a delay of game, but as the Dallas Cowboys prepared last week to meet the Jacksonville Jaguars in London at the NFL International Series, Emmitt Smith was on hand for the festivities. The former Cowboy was the first Pro Football Hall of Famer to discover his roots all the way back to Africa on Who Do You Think You Are? during the first season. It was a great episode!
While in London the 2014 Dallas Cowboys took some time to Play 60 with some youth. For those who may not know, in October 2007 the NFL began a campaign promoting youth health and fitness by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes daily. It’s a good idea for all of us :)
As I streamed through the photos of players and youth, I was reminded of a challenge I faced in one class I taught to those beginning their search for their ancestors. As an educator, I am aware of the sedentary lives of students in a classroom. As a genealogist, I am aware of the sedentary nature of many of the activities related to the pursuit of one’s ancestors. The limits on time and energy come into play even with those most interested.
On this particular occasion I had one student who was just too busy to complete assignments. Each week this student came to class. Each class period she would explain she had not found time to complete the assignment. After a number of missed assignments I asked if there was anything I could do to help. After hearing about the challenges that she faced I asked, “Would you be willing to experiment with me?” The student agreed.
During the next week this student was asked to spare 30 minutes, only 30 minutes, to work on the assignment. Morning, afternoon, or evening, it did not matter. The day of the week, it did not matter. The commitment was to just “do it” for 30 minutes.
This student later said that she committed to the 30 minutes that very evening to get it out of the way :) She reported the following: ‘I took the challenge about 9pm that very night. As I got into the databases I kept finding more and more. It was so exciting … I was up ’til 4am! I can never do that again! I had difficultly getting through work the next day.’ :)
Now, the challenge was 30 minutes, not 7 hours, but anyone who knows anything about pursuing one’s roots also knows that it can be addictive. Genealogical pursuits must have limits; 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or a few hours, one genealogical football game is best played within those limits, just like the physical sport is held to four 15-minute quarters, plus overtime every now and then.
So, if this fall season you’ve been weighed down with other responsibilities, experienced a false start, or have experienced burnout, take the 60 minute challenge! And while you’re at it, Play 60 each day as an example to our youth for a more active and healthier generation! Studies show that it helps the mind as well as the body, which is good for tackling those tough genealogical brick walls. :)
The story is told of a recently wedded young woman who turned to her mother and with a smile proclaimed, “Oh mom, I’m finally at the end of all my troubles!” The mother wisely responded, “I know dear, but which end?”  Similar statements are made after events like RootsTech 2014, and beg the question, is it over, or has it just begun? The perspective one takes about an event can make all the difference in the outcome.
RootsTech is an event that requires a lot of planning. Registration begins toward the end of the summer and, as anticipation builds, would-be participants arrange their schedules, book hotel reservations, and make travel plans. It’s all part of the story. Finally the time arrives and attendees happily fill their days with classes, presentations, networking, socializing, and performances. When it’s over, everyone involved leaves exhausted, armed with new information, new skills, and new friends. Is it over or has it just begun? If you participated this year, are you back to your routine? Did your participation in RootsTech 2014 make a difference in your life? If so or if not, what’s your RootsTech 2014 story?
Depending on your genealogy and family history goals, RootsTech 2014 was a treasure trove of information and ideas. All of us have our routines to get back to and all of us have genealogy and family history goals. I hope that attending RootsTech 2014 made a difference in your life, whether you attended at the venue or virtually. If you did not attend the conference this year, why not begin today? A number of sessions, including the general sessions from each morning, may be viewed on-line at your leisure and the syllabus, which you can download, covers many other sessions that were not recorded.
Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The young woman getting married was actually in the middle of a journey that she hoped would last forever. For all of us involved in genealogy and family history, I hope that the conclusion of the RootsTech 2014 conference was not an end, but somewhere in the middle of an incredible year of genealogy and family history discoveries that ultimately will be preserved and shared.
By the way, if you plan to attend RootsTech 2015, reserve February 11-15 on your calendar. This conference will be held in conjunction with the conference for the Federation of Genealogical Societies at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah and is conveniently located within walking distance of the Family History Library. Reserving extra days for research is advisable.