As a kid, I was always in awe of how my dad had the answer to everything. Math, my physics projects, action movies, sports, pictionary, Taylor Swift songs (sorry Dad), he knew it all. I used to wonder how it was possible for someone to have such a vast array of knowledge in so many different fields. When I asked all he used say was ,"Start reading". At the time I used think yeah right, like I can read about all of this stuff, but cut short to today I realized that apparently I can!As Charlie Munger, self made billionaire rightly put it, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero.”You're wondering what any of this has to do with my experience at INBOUND 2018. Well, I'm getting there.INBOUND is Hubspot's annual event that brings together industry professionals from all walks of life to help learn, inspire and as Dharmesh would say, "Grow Better". As an INBOUND debutant I was excited, overwhelmed, nervous all while trying to make the most of every opportunity I was presented with. I went over the agenda a minimum of ten times to make sure I wasn't missing out any sessions and was squeezing in as many as I could of the 250+ sessions at INBOUND.
While INBOUND presented a vast ocean of things to learn from varying from inbound marketing, SEO, to design to development to how to be champion in life and sports I'd be focusing on the latter since it's what deeply impacted me. Here's some of my biggest takeaways:
The Power of Listening
One of my top favorite sessions was Kit Pang, founder of BostonSpeaks' session "Leaders Listen, Followers Talk". The ability to listen is one of the greatest assets, especially so as a leader. Pang went over how listening is an art, and just as everything else you're trying to be good at, it involves consistency. You may wonder why something as basic as listening requires so much emphasis. Pang focused on "active listening", which is what allows an individual to understand the situation to its fullest, one of the most important parts of being a leader. So here's what I ask of you, practice the following active listening techniques for one week, no matter the situation and once the week is up, reflect if that made a difference in your life. If you're wondering where to start, your workplace is a good pick.
Spend some time reflecting once the other person finishes talking. Don't cut them off or jump right with an answer. The goal is just to listen not to give an opinion or take a stand. Really listen, really involve yourself in the conversation. Almost 87% people think they are being heard, but not listened to.
Involve yourself in the conversation. Be curious about things. Ask questions of all kinds ; probing and open-ended. Make people think, make people really even reflect on themselves and see a different perspective. Ask questions like "Why do you think you've been feeling like that?", "What do you think about......?".
Repeat and make sure you're understanding what it is that someone is trying to convey. A lot of times, individuals struggle to understand their own view point, let alone speak about the same to others. Repeat and make sure what you're understanding is what you're really being told.
While active listening is more detached than empathetic listening, it does leave some room for emotions. No conversation is complete without feelings and neither is any type of listening. Strike the right balance between being practical as well as reflective and be considerate of emotions, even when you disagree.
Listen to what isn't being said
It can be tough to for an employee to disagree with his boss. A lot of times the situation causes an individual to refrain from saying everything they really want to. The most successful inbound marketing leaders listen between the lines. Understand, observe and evaluate the intent behind words.
Get out of your comfort zone
I'd like to believe I've always been a bit of an introvert. Going into INBOUND, I knew I had to change that. At the orientation Devyn Bellamy basically said the way to make the most of INBOUND was to "ditch your team". That wasn't the case for me since I was #inboundsolo, a hashtag made popular to help people connect with each other. As the event progressed, I realized I undermined the value of getting out of that comfort zone. I'd begun talking to random people in cafes, at the event, in different sessions and I'm so grateful I did! I was surrounded by all these amazingly smart, talented, hard working people who'd spent so many years learning from all these experiences in life.Getting out of my comfort zone at INBOUND is a very small aspect of this whole idea. Taking that step to do something you're not entirely sure of, something you're uncomfortable doing can be life-changing. It massively increases your learning curve and shapes you to be a leader. So here's another homework for you - do something that you've wanted to try before the end of the year and tell me how it impacted your life in the comments. Here's how to get started:
Make changes everyday
Never worked out? Go to the closest park for a walk. Like waking up late? Wake up on time for a week. Hate Chinese food? Give it a shot! You get the point! Do something differently, even if it is the small things.
You'd question yourself constantly! Breaking out of a pattern can be one of the most challenging things to do. You'll question and contradict yourself at several points. Stop. Remind yourself why you started in the first place, give yourself time to breathe and get back into it with even more zeal and excitement.
Trust the process
You'll be changing everyday without even realizing it and wonder why you're even doing anything in the first place. You'll be overwhelmed and want to see results. Slow down, look around you, think about how far you've come and what a long way you're to go. After all, the best things don't come easy.
But aren't you supposed to "learn as if you were to live forever"?Yes that's 100% true. However, a lot of times the importance of "unlearning" is undermined. Even if you think you're the Graham Bell for telephones or the Thomas Edison for light bulbs, you don't nearly know enough. Each individual is a product of his/her experiences and that's what sets them apart. You learn from people's experiences, their challenges and their response to challenges.There's two aspects to un-learning:
We meet a lot of new people everyday. There's a lot of knowledge around us and while there's things we might consider ourselves good at, it's important to pause and forget that and focus on the fresh perspective that another individual might bring into our lives. Every once in a while, take a fresh look at things!
It always bothered me when people at work didn't show enough zeal and enthusiasm. My dad then once said, you'll find a lot of such people, what matters is how you figure out a way to work with them and tap their potential. That really struck a cord with me and I spent the next few weeks and even months "un-learning" that habit of being bothered. I tried to focus on what I could do with what's available. The point is, there's a lot of things we're taught as kids. As we grow up, it's important to evaluate what works for us since each of us is our own individual and it's important reflect upon habits that were ingrained in us.
Empowered women empower women
INBOUND 2018 especially left a deep impact on me because it made me so proud and hopeful as a woman. From Anjali Sud to Shonda Rhimes to Dara Treseder I was thoroughly inspired. I could go on and on. Hmm. Maybe my next blog post?Did you know YouTube began as a video dating site? Dara Treseder emphasized the importance of embracing reinvention. It's important to constantly grow and evolve. Startups change their names, logos, models and so much more. As a woman, it's important to be the same way - open to innovating and pivoting.
Know your value
As women, it's important to understand what we can offer. Some might be good at technology while others at creativity and there's me; I can eat Chipotle for for every meal, every single day of the week. Point is, gauge what you're good at. It's important to understand what we have to offer and apply what we know in a creative and compelling way.
Never compromise your worth
One of the most impactful parts of Shonda Rhimes' keynote was her take on the art of negotiation. Enter a negotiation knowing you will walk away if your bottom line isn't met. If you don't you've already lost your worth.
Don't shy away from doing things you don't "normally" do. As women, a lot of times we tend to think (and for good reason), that there's a bar to what we can do and how much we can do. Take a chance , say yes to something you never thought you would. You'll soon realize that the value of overcoming your fears and doing things that make you happy. Shonda Rhimes went from being an introvert to speaking in front of over 20,000 people and loving it!Coming back to the beginning of this post. Reading. There was one thing each one of those people that helped me learn so much had in common - they read and then they read some more. It helps you grow tremendously in every sphere of your life. To really break it down for you - most of us don't have access to people that are in the top 1% of their field in terms of success, happiness and other accomplishments. What we do have however, is their deepest thoughts and advice. It's basically like having a one-on-one session with the author.Make some changes today. Inspire. Learn. Un-learn. Say yes. Say no. Just do it.As Dumbledore rightly said, "It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."