Last week, thousands of eager and hungry marketing minds packed Boston’s iconic Wang Theater to feast on a smorgasbord of inspiration, career advice, marketing know-how and entertainment (Grace Savage, British beatboxer, kicked it all off with an awe-inspiring performance). Conversational marketing platform Drift held its third annual HYPERGROWTH conference and delivered a story-based agenda of growth, triumph, and success (they also made a super exciting product announcement!). All left the theater with many lasting lessons and takeaways to bring back and incorporate into their respective agencies and businesses.
Each speaker shared their own personal experience and advice. Ranging from a daring yet meticulous rock climber to a star-struck Harvard Professor with some incredibly famous students to the Founder and CEO of SPANX, each presenter’s story grew out of a familiar theme: There is no substitute for hard work and risk-taking, even when all the cards are stacked against you.
I found each speaker awesome and inspiring, and walked away from HYPERGROWTH ready to take on the world!
Take-Away #1 | Growth should advance your culture, not obliterate it.
Creating a company culture that both drives employee longevity and delights customers is critical for success. While declaring “growth is oxygen for a business”, morning speaker, Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and Founder of delicious burger joint Shake Shack, has learned the importance of balancing both growth and culture.
“No matter what industry you are in or what you do, what people are going to remember is how you make them feel when you were doing it,” shared Meyer. His years of experience in hospitality have continued to reaffirm that the way people feel when they interact with you is what sticks with them. Give them a great experience, they’ll pay more and come back again and again. Give them a poor experience and you’ll never see them again.
Take-Away #2 | Your brand is more than the product. It’s YOUR story to share.
The initial product or service you’re selling isn’t what people remember about your company. They remember your story. Entrepreneur Jen Rubio created an entire company around stories. Away Travel might be classified as a luggage company, but it has gained global recognition and runaway success as a travel and lifestyle brand, sharing customer adventure stories from around the world.
As its co-founder and chief brand officer, Rubio wanted to provide her customers with more than just a product. “We’ve always had this principle at Away that if it’s not interesting enough for someone to talk about with their friends over drinks or dinner, it’s not worth doing,” she said during her talk. Away’s success is rooted in having created more than just a brand — through great customer experience, they’ve built a diehard community eager to share their own Away stories and wax poetic about its products on Reddit threads and Instagram posts.
Take-Away #3 | Your success depends on how you grow your team.
Survey Monkey CMO Leela Srinivasan shared her many experiences as a leader in an impressive variety of dynamic companies that include Bain & Co., LinkedIn, and OpenTable. Srinivasan talked about the success possible from encouraging growth in your team as a leader.
“I believe what we have to do as leaders is constantly be providing learning experiences and development opportunities,” she shared in a ‘fireside chat’ format. She emphasized that her focus on her team and commitment to their achievements has universally contributed to greater success with her customers, and ultimately her own career success.
Take-Away #4 | If you want to reach your goals, you must be relentlessly persistent.
Regardless of your profession, working hard despite the risk of failure to achieve your dreams can lead to amazing success. Two speakers at HYPERGROWTH with very different narratives shared stories epitomizing this ideology.
Professional rock climber Alex Honnold, known for his Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo, was one of the day’s few speakers with no experience in marketing. Instead, he shared his story of overcoming hardships and working ridiculously hard to accomplish your dreams, despite what stands in your way.
Honnold described his gut-wrenching, yet incredibly inspiring story of accomplishing his lifelong goal of free climbing (that means NO ROPES!) Yosemite’s El Capitan, one of the biggest, most daunting and dangerous rock faces anywhere in the world. For 2 years, he meticulously planned, prepared, practiced, and memorized his route, learning through experience that there is no shortcut to success. He shared some of the harsh realizations he came to during his journey. “The problem with trying hard is sometimes you fail.” Which in free climbing means the possibility of death.
Sara Blakely, the completely self-made (and delightful) founder and CEO of SPANX, Inc. was another speaker familiar with the risk of failure. According to Blakely, “everyone in their life has a million-dollar, even billion-dollar idea.” Acting on it – that’s another story. Even with the risk of failure, believing in your dreams is imperative.
SPANX was her billion-dollar idea. Adhering to a principle of “spend your time pursuing your business idea, not defending it”, she kept it secret throughout its development, only trusting those who had to be in the know (patent lawyers, suppliers, etc.). Even when she had her big reveal, people — even those close to her — sometimes reacted with less than enthusiastic zeal and tried to convince her to prepare for failure. At that point it didn’t matter — she knew she would follow it to the end. She’s now a billionaire.
When it came down to it…
This year’s HYPERGROWTH did more than live up to the hype. Drift put together an impressive group of speakers who encouraged people to take risks, work your ass off and follow your dreams, even if the downside is fantastic failure. HYPERGROWTH ’19 was an inspiring and educational day, full of amazing experiences and stories. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year!
Were you at HYPERGROWTH this year? Share YOUR takeaways in the comments below.