Date: April 25, 2017
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The best conferences are a magical little bubble where inspiration flows wildly through the venue; where people put down their devices in lieu of some face-to-face networking; and where you learn more than you knew was possible.

I attended #MarketingUnited last week and it felt just like that. The sessions were extremely educational and engaging. The networking opportunities were with real marketing professions from all different industries and verticals. And, I probably don’t need to tell you how inspiring the Country Music Hall of Fame is, but mixed with amazing attendees and speakers, it was even more incredible.

The first speaker on tap was Scott Stratten. (If you haven’t heard of him or his podcast, get on it.) His talk was as eye-opening as it was funny and informative. With his man bun in full effect, Scott captured our attention talking about the art of marketing, or rather un-marketing. What stuck with me was his heart felt words on ethics and integrity. Ethics matter, he said and I believed him. It wasn’t the first time I had heard of these concepts in relation to brands and marketing, but it was the first time I felt inspired by them.

As you can imagine, the speakers that followed were equally enlightening and creative. The sessions I attended provided me with new ways of thinking, new ideas, and new understandings of marketing.

Some of my favorites:

  • Justine Jordan, who spoke about the myths, fears and fallacies of email marketing (and brought her A-game with GIFs!);
  • The live taping of the Unpodcast (seriously, check it out.)
  • And, Oli Gardner, who pointed out the difference between art and design in a way that only he can.

Of course, I cannot gloss over how amazing Marketing United’s location is. Not only was it in Nashville, TN but it was held at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Not your average conference venue. Even if you don’t like country music, you can’t help but appreciate the CMA Theater’s history, and intimate feel. Upstairs, the Event Hall was flooded with natural light that provided a great sense of energy around it’s sessions. Venues like this do a fantastic job of fostering the creativity that’s floating around.

To wrap it all up, Kevin Carroll (author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball: Find and Sustain Your Life’s Work) took the stage. Just when you have the realization that your office inbox is looming, Kevin reminded us that work shouldn’t be all ‘work’. If you’re doing something you love work and play can be synonymous. Add that childhood passion and creativity to your day and your product will be brought to the next level. (It was also the first time I had heard about Kurt Perschke’s Red Ball Project. If you haven’t heard of it, you’re missing out!)

Once again, I was inspired.

Inevitably though, you hit that plane ride home and reality starts to set in. How many emails am I going to have? How many “emergencies” will there be, messes to sort through? It’s not that your team isn’t capable, there’s just always something. Your inspiration level is dropping by the minute as it drowns in the reality of the day-to-day tasks.

How can we hold on to that feeling of excitement and inspiration? Here’s how I do it:

1. Write it down. What inspired you the most? What speakers did you love? Instead of making it hard for myself to remember, I write it down. During sessions I take notes, not the kind I would’ve taken in high school, but the kind that trigger memories. After all, I want to be present in each session and I know the slides & presentations will be circulated. I jot down short quotes, key topics or themes, action items and names. I add stars to my favorite sessions in the agenda.

When it’s all over, I have a little handwritten recap of the sessions I liked and any action items I took from them. Already, I’m equipped with my own personalized takeaway.

2. Share the wealth. One of the best things about a conference is that there are a bunch of people sharing what they know. Continue this trend, and share what you learned with your coworkers. Whether it’s a video call, a meeting or an email, I’m always eager to share my new knowledge with the team.

I make a point to share who my favorite speakers were and what their sessions were about. It may be too soon for the conference videos, but I’m sure to share any other relevant links I can find.

3. Make a change. One step at a time here. There are so many new ideas to get caught up in that it’s easy for nothing to actually happen with them. Try making a list of the changes you want to implement or experiments you want to try in the order of importance that makes the most sense– and go from there.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and you won’t change everything all at once. If you have a list, you know where to start and can always reference it when you’re ready to start #2.

4. Watch the videos. I’ll be the first to admit that I used to rarely go back and watch the session videos. I may have shared them when they came through but why did I need to watch them again? I was there, in living color.

Watching the videos really does make a difference though. It refreshes your memory. More than likely there are things that you totally forgot about. It’s like recharging your creative juices. Look at your notes, see those sessions you starred? Watch them again. Also, don’t forget about the sessions you couldn’t make. You never know what knowledge is hiding in there!

Big thanks to Logan Baird (who presented myself, Heidi Olsen and EurJean Masuda with the opportunity to talk about email), and to the whole Emma team for pulling such a great event together. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the 2018 edition!



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