Sometimes the Best Event Learnings Occur in the Peripheral

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This past week I attended the SiriusDecisions Summit. It’s an event filled with top analysts, thought leaders, forward-focused companies, and eager business leaders. During the week long event I took copious notes and even tweeted out 73 Key Tweetable Takeaways.

As I sat down to digest all of the information I ingested, I began to find that a lot of what I was reflecting on occurred outside of the presentation content. Sometimes the best event learnings occur in the peripheral.

One splits and one selects

As I milled about the trade show floor I bumped into friend, author, and former colleague Scott Ingram. We both have children that are close in age with their siblings. We laughed about the similar sentiment we heard from people; “they’ll be the best of friends”. I look forward to the day when that is true. In the meantime I’m learning to drown out the constant battles and cries of “that’s not fair”. Scott’s solution in his home is “one splits and one selects”. Brilliant!

Brilliant and relevant. Of course it’s relevant to my kids, but it’s also relevant to resource strife at work. This is especially true if you work in a matrix organization with all sorts of dotted-line reporting. I find that identifying bartering opportunities can deliver many benefits. Exchanging resources and labor for data access and content development can be a quick way to deliver a win-win situation.

You’re not alone
One of my favorite tweets from the event came from Amy Bills; “50% of the value of #sdsummit is reassurance we all have same problems (Yes, I made up that stat and reserve the right to revise it)”. This resonated with everyone because it’s absolutely true. You attend these amazing events and hear analysts chart trends and listen to companies tell aspirational case studies and you’re often left feeling very self-conscious. You start to worry that you’re the only person (or company) with a million hurdles, endless processes, and minimal buy-in.

I feel this way all the time as a mother. It’s that nagging voice in the back of your mind that constantly causes you to second guess your abilities. But as a mother I surround myself with other parents who are just as lost as I am. You need to hear from others that you’re not alone. I made it a point to surround myself with others at the event that were fighting silos and fractured infrastructure or looking for internal champions and executive support. Through chats over lunch and coffee on a bench I began to rest assured that it wasn’t just me.

Do what you love and the rest will fall into place
In a social media world painted with perfection we often feel the pressure to lead a flawless existence. Of course this is impossible but the expectation still follows us everywhere. I can’t tell you the number of times I’m mortified by the temper tantrum one child will throw in a store or the concern I feel if my kid’s handwriting isn’t as neat as another classmates. It’s ridiculous, but it’s real. @SDPaulBundy

This week I observed the positive outcome of taking a “chillax” attitude to life. The first 2 sessions of the conference turned out about 5X the number of attendees expected. People were packed wall-to-wall. Chairs were brought in but the room could not hold the people. They went to another larger room and it was still too small so they opened up the walls, added more chairs, a few tables and hooked up another screen. Everyone had a seat and no one cared where it was located.

Later on in the week one of the analysts made a gaffe during his presentation and referred to the lumberjack Paul Bunyan as Paul Bundy. Instead of trying to kill the buzz around the hilarity of the situation, someone decided to harness it. Within an hour the twitter handle @SDPaulBundy appeared. That twitter handle and the corresponding tweets ruled the remainder of the show. Sometimes you just have to roll with it. If you do what you love, the rest will fall into place.

In the end I walked away with some new business learnings as well as new business understanding.

What peripheral lessons have you learned at events?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.

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