3 Life Lessons from INBOUND 2014

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A week ago, I was fortunate to attend my first marketing conference ever, and I was lucky enough to attend with my bosses and coworkers. I’ve always said that I have the best job ever, but this conference did a great job at proving it.

I’m still fairly new to the world of inbound marketing, so it was amazing to be able to attend the INBOUND conference that’s hosted by HubSpot. Throughout the conference, I had the opportunity to listen to some amazing keynote speakers including Simon Sinek, Malcolm Gladwell, Martha Steward and Shiza Shahid.

I started this blog back in 2009 for myself. Writing has always been my escape. I started this blog as a way to write about my journey throughout this crazy life, which to me has always felt crazy and unreal, kind of like wonderland (hence the name of my blog). I never imagined that my blogs would be shared across social media or that people would tweet me, email me and send me letters saying that my posts inspired them. I’ve always known that sharing your story mattered, and deep down, I always hoped that someone would read my story and feel like there was hope. But it was never my intention. It was never why I started blogging.

So why do I bring that up? Although this conference was all about inbound marketing, I left learning a little bit about inbound and a whole lot about myself. I left the conference inspired. I was also reminded that our stories matter. The things we go through and the struggles we face all matter. I was reminded why I started this blog in the first place.

You are stronger than anything you are afraid of
My favorite speaker at INBOUND was Shiza Shahid, the founder of The Malala Fund. The talk she gave moved me to tears…literally. If you haven’t heard of Malala Yousafzai’s story, read it . Now. The purpose of the Malala Fund is simple: to empower girls through education and to make them positive agents for change. But for all of that to happen, Shiza needed to take a leap of faith. She left her dream job to become an advocate for what she believed in. She knew that everyone deserved an education, and she set out on a journey to make that a reality for anyone who wanted to learn. During her keynote Shiza said, “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” It was a reminder that we all have the power to make a difference, and we shouldn’t wait for someone else to make the change for us. You don’t need to have everything figured out, and it’s okay to be afraid. But at the end of the day, you are stronger than anything you are afraid of. It’s important to take your passions seriously because you never know where it may lead you.

What if I never fail? 
Another favorite speaker was Dan Pallotta. During his bold talk, he talked about fearlessness. He reminded everyone what I always remind myself: it’s okay to be afraid. The more terror you feel, the more likely it is that something amazing is about to happen. I believe many people avoid doing things because they are scared. I’ve done it before, and it has led to many missed opportunities. When I was still working at ITVantage and was looking for new jobs, I was terrified. So terrified, in fact, that I almost didn’t apply for the job at Impulse Creative. I saw them posting all over social media and thought it would be an awesome environment to work in, but I didn’t think I was smart enough or qualified enough to work there. So for a few weeks, I didn’t apply. And then one day I said, “the worst thing that could happen is that they say ‘no.'” So I applied and eventually interviewed and got the job. But what if I was so afraid of failing that I never took the risk?

A lot of people always worry, “What if I fail?” I don’t know anyone who’s never failed. At some point in our lives, we all fail at something. The real question is: What if I never fail? What if I never take a chance? What if I’m so afraid that I never take a risk?

Leaders eat last
Simon Sinek rose to fame after his TED Talk, Start With Why. At INBOUND, his talk was on a different subject – leadership. The concept “leaders eat last” came from watching Marines eat at mealtime in the chow hall. He noticed that the officers went to the back. He was told, “officers eat last.”

When you apply this to work, it’s true that the best leaders eat last. They put their employees before themselves and when they do, their employees are my loyal because they feel that their leader will defend them when things get tough. The best leaders share their vision with their team and encourage and coach them to reach that vision too. The best leaders don’t sit on the sidelines and watch us succeed and fail from afar – they’re right there with us every step of the way. All of this leads employees to feel comfortable and secure. Ultimately, employees perform better when they believe that they’re safe and that they’re not at risk for losing their job.

I know this to be true. I’ve had a job where I didn’t feel like my boss had my back, and I was constantly on guard. I kept a list of all of my accomplishments because I felt I would need to use it when my boss told me that I didn’t do anything for them. I felt disposable and insecure in my role with the company. But now, I’m in a work environment where I feel safe. I don’t have my guard up, and I can focus on doing remarkable work instead of worrying about if I’m going to get in trouble tomorrow. I feel safe because the I believe the people around me have my best interest at heart. It’s incredible what happens when leaders are willing to share the same burden and risks as the rest of the team.

I can’t say enough incredible things about this conference. It was truly an incredible experience, and I’m so thankful I was able to attend. A HUGE shoutout to my amazing bosses, Remington and Rachel, for taking all of us up to INBOUND. It was exactly what I needed in that moment to feel the value in my role at Impulse Creative and to feel confident that I knew my stuff. THANK YOU SO MUCH for everything you two do for me. Seriously, I’m forever thankful.

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