I arrived at the INBOUND 17 conference super excited, a little nervous and more than anything, overwhelmed. The night before our team left for INBOUND, they were expecting 19,000 people. By the time our plane landed, we were told there were already 21,400 attendees. Thats a lot of people. That's more than a lot of people.
I’m not a fan of crowds, so my instinct to cling was in full effect. Thankfully, I had Rachel by my side, our Impulse Creative COO and a veteran at INBOUND. As an OG of this event, her excitement got me through the revolving door, checked in and headed to the main stage. And I’m so glad I did. Within seconds of getting my badge, I realized that INBOUND was on a different level than any other conference I’d ever been too.
Once we had made it past the lobby, we headed down an escalator overlooking this massive room that looked like the biggest nightclub or lounge I’d ever seen. This place was HUGE, filled with vendors, other agencies, HubSpotters, a head shot station, inbound swag, a hammock station, book signings, phone charging stations, beanbag station and of course, wine. It felt like Disney World for marketing.
The first of many famous keynote speakers was Brene Brown. She was inspirational in a way that was so easy to get. Plain and simple. She spoke about living in a world that is so divided by race, and politics, it's hard to have a voice without defending a role that you naturally fell into when you were young.
One point she made stuck with me as something I knew, but needed to hear out loud was, “When you’re your authentic self, you belong everywhere”. In a sea of 20,000+ people, it was exactly what I needed to press on through the crowds for the rest of the week.
The next morning would be one I would never forget.
We woke up at 5 a.m. to get ready, get to an Uber, wait for security, wait for the doors to open and clamor for a seat, hours before Michelle Obama was even in the same building. It was worth every minute! Michelle Obama shared stories and experiences that most of us will never have. She spoke with grace and passion that was truly admirable, throwing out valuable quotes I wanted tweet one after another:
“Life teaches you grace.”
“Take a moment and know yourself and know your truth.”
“Deal with people with kindness.”
“Don’t embrace the future, charge into it.”
“Leading with fear doesn't work, lead with compassion.”
I don’t know about you but….mind blown. Mic drop. All the feels.
(Update: by the middle of day number two, I was bobbing and weaving through the crowd like a pro.)
The rest of my experience at Inbound followed suit. Everyday started with a famous keynote speaker including Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah (Cofounders of Hubspot), Piera Gelardi (Refinery29), Ed Catmull (President of Pixar), and Andy Cohen (you know him).
After the keynotes, we broke into sessions run by knowledgeable HubSpotters and well-known thought leaders in our industry. My favorite was Melissa d’Arabian, who I now have a large girl crush on and email frequently. She was one of the best public speakers I have ever seen, super confident and a major girl boss.
After hours and during quick lunch wine breaks, I got the opportunity to laugh and unwind with our widespread team outside of the office. We had a blast exploring the city together, sharing hotel rooms and trying to navigate through the biggest event any of us had ever been to. I had so much fun bonding with these crazy creative people.
Now that we’re all back to our desks, I’m so happy we were given the opportunity to experience all of it. Not only do events like INBOUND make you a better project manager and an even better agency, they give you the opportunity to expand your horizons and be a better person. Who doesn’t want that?
However there is one side of my amazing experience that I have not gotten to share.
Stayed tuned for my next blog: What this Platinum Blonde, Platinum Partner Learned at INBOUND.
(Quote stolen from the slick and incredible Brian Halligan.)