I’m not a morning person at all. I’d rather work until 2 AM than get up at 6 AM (or even 7 or 8 for that matter). That phrase “The early bird gets the worm”? Screw that. Just call me The Night Owl, yo.
Occasionally, however, duty calls and I have to set my iPhone alarm for a much earlier time than I prefer. Such was the case this week as I attended three days of Inbound ’13, the annual user conference for Hubspot. Now, I’m not a Hubspot user but have been a fan of the company for years. They’re a Dyn client and with all of the great sessions and speakers that they had lined up, even non-users like myself can get something from it.
And I’m not alone. They had 5200 registrants for the event and have been trending up and to the right since inception. (I really think we’ll do the same with Geek Summer Camp, so I was looking at this year’s event in a completely different light.) They brought the heat with keynotes like Seth Godin, Arianna Huffington, Nate Silver and charity: water founder Scott Harrison and a litany of additional presenters that made the whole deal a must attend for those of us in greater Boston. I came away inspired and with a list of ideas and new things for my peers and my content team.
As always, there are a few threads in the story that stand out. Here’s two.
More people should go to conferences.
It’s a fairly simple statement, but I don’t think companies make as much of an effort as they could to get employees to hit up shows. You get out of your bubble into another bubble completely, and get the opportunity to learn in a different environment. I’m not talking about standing around a trade booth and giving out plush swag that will end up in someone’s garage. I’m talking about sitting, listening, interacting and LEARNING about how you can better yourself, your team and your company that is footing the bill.
Yeah, travel can be an expense. Yeah, you may get a little behind on work. Yeah, you may get a little fatigued. But for less than $500 (travel/food/grad student reduced ticket), I got enough great information and insight that I think can bring 1000x that investment or more.
An important note though: employers must demand more of employees that are attending. It drives me nuts to see people buried in their laptops and cell phones during sessions. Nearly every presenter makes slides available, so take time to listen and stop the note taking or work distractions.
If you’re not scouting out regional events for you and/or your team to attend, you’re missing out.
Commuting is the worst.
Remember that whole early bird/night owl thing? Every day started in downtown Boston at 9 AM at the Hynes Convention Center, but the great unknown is getting there is 93 South in the morning. The Boston commute is among the worst in the country, so picking exactly what time to hit the road is a bit of a coin flip if you don’t traverse the terrain daily.
The first day, I awoke at 5:15 AM and hit the road at 6:15 AM. Somehow, I managed to get to the venue an hour early, so I pushed it to 5:30 AM the next day and then really rolled the dice at 6 AM Thursday. All three days, I made it with plenty of time, but between the traffic and the packed T (our subway system if you’re not familiar) there and on the way back, I was drained. How do people do this every day, wasting hours just sitting and doing…nothing?
I’m spoiled as I live less than a mile-and-a-half from Dyn. Actually, a lot of Dyners live in the city and some even walk to work. I’d even guess that those that live a little further out still have an easier time making it here than our tech brethren down the highway. That’s why I’m baffled we don’t have more people banging down the door from these regions to work here. We’ve definitely attracted our share, but if I had the opportunity to work here, keep more money (state income tax free!) and save hours of transit every week, I would camp outside our office for an opportunity.
We have nearly 15 positions here in Manchester right now. Stop the madness, commuters.
Thanks and congratulations to our clients and friends from Hubspot for such a great accomplishment. If you’re looking to attend Inbound next year, it will be in September 2014. The first coffee is on you!