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  • Writer's pictureNana Grace Kwapong

Say what??!! I Went to INBOUND 2016!

"Success is making those who believed in you look brilliant."

- Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder of HubSpot

Last year, one of my biggest career dreams came true. I got to attend INBOUND 2016! It was my first time at the conference.  I did not think I would be able to attend so soon. I figured it would happen a few years down the line. As some of you know, in December 2016 I completed the Inbound Marketing Certification. Well, about a month or two before the conference, I found that the certificate got me a free ticket (valued at $500) to attend the conference. My blessings didn't stop there. My parents gave me an early Christmas present: Tickets to Boston. My big sister and her family offered to host me while I was there. Everything was in place for me to have the experience of a lifetime. #blessed. Oh, did I mention that Boston has always been one of my favorite cities, even before I ever stepped foot there? Anyway I digress.

The Conference

INBOUND 2016 lasted for 4 days. It opened with a musical performance by Hamilton star, Leslie Odom. This was followed by a keynote talk by motivational speaker and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Gary Vaynerchuk. Other speakers included psychologist ,Angela Duckworth; tennis star and my personal role, model Serena Williams; movie star, Anna Kendrick; child entrepreneur and author, Marley Dias; author and social activist, Ta-Nehisi Coates, comedian and TV-host Trevor, Noah and more.

In addition to these exceptional speakers, the conference also had close to 300 breakout sessions for marketers, salespeople and execs of all kinds to acquire and grow knowledge. The sessions were split into seven tracks:

  • Agency Track - Strategic ideas to grow and scale your agency.

  • Bold Talks - High impact, short form, remarkable storytelling on diverse topics.

  • Executive Track - Sophisticated, actionable content for the C-level audience.

  • Grow with HubSpot - HubSpot product deep dives and marketing strategy transformation stories.

  • Hacks, Tips, & Tricks - Elite skills, how-tos, and practical, actionable presentations.

  • Ideas and Experiences - Overarching trends, leadership, and inspiration.

  • Inbound Sales - Everything a sales professional needs to know to master inbound sales.

I was not able to attend these sessions because of the type of ticket I had, but have access to all powerpoints, videos and handouts as these were made available to attendees. #alwaysbelearning What I was able to experience live and in action was the speakers I listed above and more.  I have summarized key takeaways from some of the spotlight speakers.

Be Self-aware

Gary Vaynerchuk opened the conference with his keynote discussing the importance of self-awareness if you want to be successful or achieve your dreams. He drew links between  the process of becoming more creative with the idea of being introspective. You have to know who you are, the skills you possess and how they align with achieving your dreams.

Be the Best!

11-year-old Marley Dias talked about how growing up, her parent told her to be the best, not good, because being good can limits you, not better because that means you are comparing yourself to others, but best because then only your dreams are your limit. This really made me think about how each of us are brilliant in our own unique ways and that we need to tap into the essence of what makes us who we are in order to reach our full potential.

Be You!

Serena Williams when asked how she excels in tennis and has managed to create a successful image on social media, she answered that she always remembers to be herself, because no one else can be Serena. We live in a world that in many ways tells us to be anything but ourselves. It was refreshing to hear a woman, who if she chose to conform to societal pressures who would an easier life, hold her head high and say she had absolutely no intention of being anyone but her bad-ass-self!

Be Defiant!

Anna Kendrick discussed how learning to be defiant has helped her expand her career. She stated that often people in the movie industry try to limit her, so if she believes she can do something, she is defiant, pushes and works hard to show she belongs in those spaces and roles. Wanting to broaden aspects of your life does not end with just wanting or wishing for change. You need to add action to the equation to really make things happen.

Put in Work!

Angela Duckworth discussed her research that explores what people need to be successful, the components of grit: passion and perseverance. GRIT is an important trait that creative people have. Angela went on to explain that based on her research, she has found that first:

Talent X Effort = Skill, then Skill + Effort = Achievement.

As Duckworth's unpacked the key traits of creative people and the components of success, I began to notice connecting threads among the talks at the conference.

This truly was an experience of a lifetime. I learned a lot that I continue to apply to my life and work today and I am happy to finally get a chance to share this with you.

Thanks for reading!

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