Using My Privilege for You – RootsTech

RootsTech Ambassador Devon Noel Lee

When you’re given an opportunity, you grab it by the horns and get to work. That’s what happened in January. Andy and I received Ambassador status to cover the RootsTech conference, in addition to our speaking commitments. This was a fabulous opportunity for us to provide conference coverage for our Family History Fanatics channel on YouTube. Have you checked it out? You should. (Here’s the link)

After a great night’s sleep in Salt Lake City, Andy and I headed to the Salt Palace to hit the ground running capturing interviews and covering the RootsTech conference for you, our tribe. The first special perk was early access to the vendor hall.

 While carpets were still being laid to cover the electric power supplies to booths and marketing materials were still covered or boxed, we viewed what would greet attendees when the doors opened. So many great booths and vendors were prepping to receive all attendees and put them on the path to more discoveries and preservation projects.

RootsTech Expo Hall Ambassador Tour
Let’s get the carpets down. The doors are opening soon!!!

FindMyPast at RootsTech Expo Hall 2017
FindMyPast has an epic display graphic that draws you in without being too crowded

The Genealogy Gems mini Demo Theater is ready and waiting. All they needed was you!

Thankfully Andy took the Expo Hall photos so I could chat with my buddy Valerie Elkins.
She’s planning some great projects for 2017 and is a coach at the new genealogyDotCoach service

After the tour ends and other Ambassadors sit down to hear The Property Brothers, Andy and I take advantage of the ‘quiet’ expo hall. We quickly create a “Check out the Expo Hall” video for the Family History Fanatics YouTube Channel.

Visit the #RootsTech 2017 Expo Hall

This is the fastest video I’ve ever shot, editing and uploaded. Sure I could do LiveStream, but I really like the quality of these videos better. I hope you do to. If you do, would you leave a comment on the YouTube Channel page? Here’s the link

My work was just beginning, butI had my partner in crime to help me out.

Bill Nelson  OldNewsUSA at RootsTech
Meeting Bill Nelson Before His Big Win

After uploading the Expo Hall video and releasing it to social media, I then met with Bill Nelson of OldNewsUSA. I had contacted him before the conference because I was impressed with his app to assist in researching newspapers but also his branding. It was actually an innovative app that wasn’t a repeat of any previous years showdown entries.

He told me about his product and what I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is that he’s was a one man show. Seriously, he had this great idea. Pour his efforts it to making it affordable, efficient and ready to go live. He had a spot in Innovator Alley, but again, he was a one-man show, and he couldn’t staff his table the whole time. He didn’t bring any branding material. After I told him is table was in the Alley, which he hadn’t known before, I later caught site of him showing off his app to others by the table. Just him and his phone! Folks, this is innovation and entrepreneurial activities at their best. This is the epitome of Liz Wiseman’s Rookie Smarts. After my interview, I was so hoping he’d do well.

OldNews USA Wins Top Price at Innovator Showdown.

I was super excited and hopeful for his success. (And later, he did win the whole enchilada! Way to go Bill. I had fun knowing I interviewed you before the well-deserved success.) However, I had planned on releasing his video a little after the conference. But when I heard the news he won, I hurried and released the video to help in spreading his success!!!  (Here’s a link to his interview. Remember, it’s before he won!!!)

Meeting Next Year’s Entrants? 

I’m not sure how they found me, but I’d like to think it was the Ambassador status. Brad Nemer had contacted me before RootsTech to discuss his app StoryGlory. He was next on my agenda, and the meeting was truly wonderful. We discussed some of the things Andy and I liked about their memory preservation concept and the things that I don’t like about all the similar services that are available online.

Possible 2018 Innovator Showdown Entry -- StoryGlory
(image is not playable. To view the video, click here.

The key is: how to take my memories out of a capturing service. Can I make videos, books, audio clips? What can I do once the memories are captured? Is there any way you can make it as easy as buttering toast but possibly allow me to customize the output if I so choose?

Brad and Graham said they hadn’t realized that that could make their product stand out from the crowd. I hope they’ll give considerable thought to our suggestions and we can cheer for them in next year’s innovator showdown.

Decision Time

Should I go to a class? After the recorded interview and the brainstorming session, I had a possible class that I wanted to attend. Andy did as well. But the call to provide content for you, my readers and YouTube followers, overruled our need to learn. My reporter hat just wouldn’t come off easily.

During the Expo Hall tour, the FamilySearch representative said this year there was an increased number of international exhibitors. Andy’s ears perked up and suggested that we add these booths to our interview plans.And it was time to capture those interviews.

Andy Lee interviewing Alessandro Bovino
Alessandro Bovino tells Andy all about his company Bella Italia
Bella Italia Genealogy Signage at RootsTech
Great signage Alessandro! We know exactly how you can help us with our Italian Roots

The international booths were busy! The ones that we could visit with were super excited to have some publicity come there way. Andy enjoyed talking with the Chinese genealogy service partly because he knows Chinese and also because we’re headed there for a trip later this year.

Andy Lee interviewing Qingtime Genealogy
Andy interviewing Xiong Liu from Qingtime

Qingtime Genealogy at RootsTech 2017
Once you know your Chinese Surname, you can open up your ancestral lines!

I hope you’ll take the time to watch the three interviews we did:

After the interviews, Andy went to a British Research class, and I sat down to back up the videos to my computer and start editing them. Then the fun began for me, which will be discussed in the next post!

Further RootsTech Conference Reading:

Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017

Top Collections and Search Tips for

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.


  • Devon Noel Lee

    Yep! My parents are in heaven and my in-laws are in China. So, I'm SO blessed that my cousin watched the kids. I dangled a trade to make it happen. I will watch her kiddos in May!

    We had a great time. Stay tuned. I've written so much about the experience!!!

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