10 Life Lessons I Learned at Inbound 2018

Inbound 2018

For those of you who don’t know, Inbound is an enormous three day conference for sales and marketing professionals. While the purpose of attending this conference was to learn new marketing ideas to bring back to work, I found that what I got out of this event was so much bigger than that.

Given the audience of creative people they’re trying to bring in, you can only imagine what the conference itself is like. On the first day, I swarmed in with 20,000+ wide-eyed attendees, only to be greeted by breathtaking displays littered around the convention center. Eight foot tall letters spelling INBOUND2018 greet you as the perfect photo opp to say “I’m here.” Mirrored, silver orbs of all different sizes hung over white leather seating, immediately drawing your eye to the left before scanning the 20+ vendors set up in the center of the enormous space. Display screens dripped from the ceiling in the shape of a funnel, displaying neon designs and live social posts by attendees.  The corners of the rooms were bright with colorful stations including merchandise for sale, a VIP lounge, and of course some really innovative spaces for more pictures. Now take all of this, and add subtly moving purple lights, reflecting off the whole scene with hip, upbeat music playing in the background.

Inbound 2018 Photo Opp
Inbound 2018

Now that I’ve painted a picture of how damn cool it is, here are a few of my favorite things from it. Disclosure: you don’t need to be a marketing / sales professional for these to apply, as these are more life lessons and shocking facts than business tips.  

1. It’s Okay to Fail

This is something I have always had a hard time accepting. I’ll say okay and agree when it is said, but then I think “I definitely don’t want to.” Beth Comstock, the first Keynote speaker I saw, made me feel better about this as she explained in detail the failures she’s faced and how she overcame them. Now I take that fear and think that if I’m going to fail, I might as well fail big.

2. Shonda Rhimes is a Total Bad Ass

Another keynote speaker and also the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda did not disappoint. Not only did she speak up about causes she believes in, but she was direct and honest in all of her responses. Despite her saying she’s an introvert, she is the epitome of a bold, badass woman.

3. It’s not as much about Making More Noise as it is about Making Different Noise

Seems so simple, right? Instead of doing the same thing over and over, take a step back and look at it differently. Maybe the key to success isn’t being the best, but being different. 

4. When the Going gets Tough, the Tough get Creative

Nice little spin on a cliche, right? I thought so too.

5. HubSpot Founders are AMAZING Presenters

As the founders of one of the largest digital marketing companies in the world, you’d think  Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah would have more important things to focus on than becoming great presenters, right? Wrong!  While each taught an important lesson in their presentation, they did so in a way that kept the audience engaged and excited, as if they were telling a story to a few pals at a bar.

6. All Marketers are, in Some Form, Passionate People

I have been to sales conferences in the past, but this was my first marketing focused event. One thing I noticed about the attendees was that everyone was so passionate about what they were learning. Whether it was the way they  listened intently during presentations and scribbled notes or the excited conversations I overheard about applying what they just learned to their own company, it was inspiring to see so many different people caring so much about the same thing.

7. Authenticity is key

While it seems like something that should go without saying, it needs to be called out. Sometimes we get so focused on how we want people to think of us or to react to a story we’re telling that we forget to make sure what we’re putting out there is authentic. 

8. Never Underestimate the Power of Teaching

Whether it’s at a conference, in a classroom, or on a friends motorcycle down a dead end road, we all have something to teach and something to learn. When we become a teacher or a student, the way we think and act alters to help us wear that specific hat. It’s not something I’ve thought much about before, but seeing all different types of people become teachers – to hundreds of students- was truly astonishing.

9. In a survey, almost 50% of people answered the they would rather give up their PINKY FINGER than get rid of their phone!

Like, WHAT. This is more of a fun fact, but my mind was blown by this statistic. I’m curious to hear what all of you would do….

10. Scott Harrison, Founder of Charity: Water is one of the most Passionate People I’ve ever seen.

Did you know that hundreds of MILLIONS of people are without clean drinking water? Me either, but I learned so much from Scott Harrison during this morning’s keynote presentation. Scott was so informative and genuine that I walked out of the room debating on selling all of my worldly possessions and donating the money to Charity: Water. As someone who has always been more passionate about helping animals than people, the things I learned this morning changed that. My next Travel With Purpose trip just may be centered around this project.

If you’re not familiar – Charity: Water is an organization that raises money to provide clean drinking water to the hundreds of millions of people all over the world without access. Can you imagine waking up and not having water to drink? To wash your face? To wash your clothes?

 Today is the organization’s 12th birthday, and so far they’ve provided clean drinking water to over 8 million people worldwide. While they have made an enormous impact, there is still an astronomical number of people without drinking water around the world. There are so many ways to help, learn more about ways you can contribute at www.CharityWater.org

Scott Harrison Inbound 2018 Charity Water
Scott Harrison Presenting at Inbound 2018

As the conference comes to a close today, my brain is tired and my backpack feels like it weighs a hundred pounds, but I am SO motivated. The inspiration and desire to make a difference that I am walking away from this event with is something I haven’t felt in a long time, and I’m looking forward to applying it to my work as well as other areas of my life.

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