Last week, I spent three days in Dearborn, Michigan alongside almost 200 other bloggers, journalists and social media advocates for Forward with Ford. I was pleasantly surprised at how much value I got out of a Ford branded conference (what me? I don’t write about cars!). At times, it seemed as though the biggest story was the conference itself. I’m not the only to think this, Josh Cable, of Industry Week, shares this feeling in his article, “Have you blogged about Ford recently?” I’ll be posting about some of what I learned in various places, but here’s the not-so-tech stuff I learned:

5. I need more high-tech tools for my morning routine. When watching how Ford uses a variety of programs to design cars, it struck me that I need some of those tools for getting ready each day. Can you imagine how much better my makeup would be if I could see how different reflections and lighting conditions would affect it? I’m also betting it would make wardrobe decisions a snap. Look at an outfit from all angles and then decide whether or not those pants make yer butt look big.

4. There is a lab for everything thing you can think of at Ford. While I normally don’t spend any time thinking of how much effort goes into designing and building a car, I know I could not have guessed how much thought actually does go into it. There’s a guy that spends his entire day thinking about seats. I met three lovely women who test every material in your car under every climate condition you can think of for smells. The goal of the odor labs at Ford? “We try not to be offensive.” I aim for that myself.

3. The only people who love free food more than journalists are bloggers. You think I’m kidding? That’s pretty much why I agreed to go to Dearborn, Michigan. I heard the same thing over and over again, “I came for the free food, but I am enjoying the entire thing.” I assumed incorrectly that most of the content wouldn’t be interesting, but Ford did a great job of combining smart, relevant content with their here’s-why-we-think-Ford-is-awesome message.

2. You meet the coolest people in the most unexpected places. Part one of my personal mantra is “let’s just see where this goes,” so you know I’ve never been one to turn down an invite. Leading up to the conference, the buzz on the Internets had a distinctly pet-blogger feel to it. This did not inspire very much hope in me. However, the conference was attended by some fascinating people. Everyone one from tech bloggers (like myself and yes, we’re all fascinating) to travel writers to storytellers and videographers. Stay tuned, as some of them will show up on I know smart people in the very near future.

1. Ford is doing some awesome stuff. Yes, my trip was entirely funded by Ford. I’m not just saying they are awesome because of that though, they really do have amazing things on the horizon. I approve of the way they are integrating technology (more of that to come on TechVibes.com) and how they are planning for the future. Did you know that you have to look 3 – 4 years out when designing a car? I guess that’s why white, black and silver are still the most popular car colours…