INBOUND Conference Recap (aka that time we breathed the same air as Michelle Obama)

Last week, Michelle and I posted up in Boston to attend INBOUND, a massive marketing conference lead by HubSpot. The point of the conference was for us to learn more about HubSpot, grow our skills, and apply this new knowledge to our own HubSpot projects. However, in a surprising twist, the focus of the conference was actually on girl power and authenticity. Here’s our INBOUND conference recap.

While the majority of our days were spent in breakout sessions with marketing experts, the INBOUND team had an impressive lineup of keynote and spotlight speakers. We kicked off the week with Brené Brown, author and researcher on the subject of courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. She spoke on the importance of vulnerability and belonging, and how most of us need to reframe our idea of what belonging actually means. Despite wanting to conform to feel as though we belong, she emphasized the idea that we need to be true to ourselves to experience true feelings of belonging. To see what she’s all about, check out Brené’s TED Talk on vulnerability.

We also got to sit in on a conversation with Issa Rae and Brit Marling, who were interviewed by Josh Horowitz. Both Issa and Brit have created amazing shows that depict women in ways that often aren’t seen on TV. Although they’ve had different experiences getting to where they are, they both had the same approach: to be unapologetically themselves and to fight for their creative dreams. Hearing about their different paths to success and both of their commitments to staying authentic were super interesting.

Other great keynotes included Andy Cohen, Mario Batali, Jen Rubio (the founder of Away luggage), and Billie Jean King. We also got to enjoy some standup comedy from Tiffany Haddish and Judd Apatow. While very few of those people had anything in common professionally, and even fewer had ties to marketing, one common theme could be found through all of their presentations: authenticity. Regardless of their goals or current professions, each one of those people touched on how they stayed committed to their dreams and values while finding their way to success.

Now, any one of those people would have made this conference amazing. But the main event was Roxane Gay’s interview of Michelle Obama. We were only five rows from the stage (!) so we got to see both of these amazing women up close and personal. Michelle Obama was just as insightful, intelligent, and compassionate as you would expect her to be.

HUGE crowd for Michelle Obama

Michelle (we’re close personal friends now) spoke about her time in the White House with her family and how both she and Barack tried to make sure that their new address didn’t change who they are. Despite the incredible pressures and responsibilities of being the First Family, they placed a lot of importance on staying true to themselves. She also commented on how hard they worked to make sure their girls, Malia and Sasha, grew up as normally as possible, and part of that was making sure that the two of them as parents were as authentic as they could be.

Waiting for close personal friend, Michelle Obama, to show up

Of course, living in that environment would cause anyone to crack under the pressure. But, Michelle said that the challenges and hard times have taught her grace. Every misstep or mistake she has made in her life has taught her who she is and what’s important to her, something she encouraged all of us to strive for in our own lives. Honestly, we could have listened to her speak for the full three days and it still wouldn’t have been enough.

Literally, every one of the keynote and spotlight presenters touched on the importance of being exactly yourself. It was so inspiring and a reminder of how we should be developing ourselves both professionally and personally. So, moving forward, don’t be surprised to find us leaning into our personalities and quirks even more. We’re hoping to learn from our mistakes and use those experiences to become even more unabashedly ourselves.


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