Day 3 at #INBOUND18: Connections and Stories

Day 3 at #INBOUND18: Connections and Stories

Big Ideas

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September 7 2018
Big Ideas

Captains Log Day 3. I’m in my hotel room now. It’s 8:30pm EST and I just figured out how to adjust the temperature in my room on a 35-degree day. I’ve clocked an estimated 40 km of walking time since arriving in Boston. I’m seriously regretting committing to writing a summary blog post every day.


My day kicked off with what I expected to be ample time to get to the convention centre. I left the hotel an hour early and grabbed the shuttle across the Summer St. Bridge only to realize there’s a massive rush hour traffic jam. It took 45 minutes to arrive to a place that’s 10 minutes away. I literally could have walked faster according to Google Maps – not that I’m bitter or anything. Thank God there was free coffee that didn’t have a massive line up.


Anywho! Running on only a cup of coffee, my schedule was lined up with the following:

1. Shonda Rhimes – Keynote

2. Dustin Clark – How to Supercharge your Marketing Automation Using Audience Research and User Data

3. Rand Fishkin – 7 Lessons That Will Make You (and would have made me) a Better Entrepreneur

4. Lisa Gerber – Powerful Storytelling Techniques that Influence Action

5. Chris Yeh & Reid Hoffman – Ask Me Anything Spotlight


Since I’ve given a theme to the other two days, I’m going to give today’s theme “Connections and Stories.”


Keynote: Shonda Rhimes

I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed. Maybe it was the lack of breakfast or being stuck on a bus for 45 minutes going nowhere, but the lack of presentation from Shonda Rhimes had me wanting a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, I got some great and valuable insight, but just having an AMA about her TV shows I’ve only glimpsed at was lost on me.


Inbound Conference 2018 - Day 3 - Rhonda Shimes Keynote Presentation


Some key takeaways in my opinion are the following:

- You are the main character of your own story. Actively choose what you want out of life and then out and write your story;
- You will never have all the answers and it’s okay to say so;
- Keep a journal and write about your day. You’ll be surprised to find out what you learn about yourself;
- Say yes to new opportunities, even if they scare the shit out of you;
- Find new challenges that keep you growing in your personal and professional life;
- You’re never shackled to one job/task/etc. It’s up to you to be creative;


Breakout Session: How to Supercharge your Marketing Automation…

Dustin Clark, Digital Marketing Director at Element Three.


I was quite enthralled with Dustin’s talk. As a data nerd and D&D player like myself, I feel like we could be great friends. His take on today’s digital landscape basically affirmed where (I believe) Sherpa is already at with our data analysis. There was nothing revolutionary here for me except that I really enjoyed his process for managing digital campaigns:


1. Research – Gain as much audience research and user data as possible by digging into surveys, free data (e.g. Google Trends), public social profiles, and much more.

2. Campaign Blueprints – Document everything and layout the ecosystems of the upcoming campaign.

3. Set-up and Implement – Be as simple as possible and give every marketing tactic one job and one purpose.

4. Run, Review, React, Report – Make changes where the data says the changes are needed and always be reporting.


Breakout Session: 7 Lessons That Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

Rand Fishkin, Owner and Founder of SparkToro


Holy. Smokies. This was an amazing talk.


Luckily for everyone who couldn’t be there, INBOUND will be posting the video at some point in the future. We’ll update this blog post when the video goes live but for the time being, you can download the slides to his deck here.

Inbound Conference - Day 3 - Rand Fishking Presentation

I wrote down five pages of notes and I have no idea how to even summarize it for you into a blog post. I will say, this talk will be a foundation for my own post-conference presentation. For the time being, all I can do is list the seven lessons and provide you with the link to the video as soon as possible:


1. Do one thing and one thing extremely wel

2. Story > Tactics

3. Audience That Cares > Big Market

4. MVPs ≠ Launchable Products

5. Long Hours < Fewer, High Quality Hours

6. Hire Right People < Not Hiring the Wrong People

7. Tiny Odds of Becoming a Unicorn < Decent Odds of Being a Zebra


Breakout Session: Powerful Storytelling techniques that Influence Action

Lisa Gerber, Founder at Big Leap Creative



If it wasn’t for me fanboying over Rand Fishkin, Lisa Gerber’s talk would have been my highlight of the day. Story telling is a great weakness of mine and her talk was told like a perfect story.

Inbound Conference - Day 3 - Storytelling


Lisa groups “The Power of Story” into four categories and the following techniques:


1. Get attention with tension and anticipation 

a. Build personalization and familiarity of a brand, avoid presentence;


2. Establish empathy that creates understanding;

a. Personification – Create an emotional connection that the reader/listener can put themselves in “your” shoes;

b. Context – Have a backstory and a transparent window into the brand;

c. Watch Your Language – Be mindful of the words used (e.g. explain like I’m five);


3. Retain memory and be memorable;

a. Metaphor – What can we do to simplify the complex idea?

b. Provocation – Live the brand out loud and proud through values and purpose;


4. Influence action and motivate behaviour;

a. Make Us Feel – Don’t insult your customers. We’re all brilliant, just get to the point on how you can solve their problem

b. Clarity of Message – Strip away the stuff that doesn’t matter and leave out irrelevant details

c. Moment of Reflection – How can this be applied to the reader’s life?


Finally, Lisa goes into a very poignant point of breaking through the noise, which is the “Power of Two.” Two unlikely things that can come together to create a differentiator in storytelling. These can come from people and experiences.


The example she gave was a psychologist and financial advisor getting together to build articles and stories around the psychological effects of finances and that it’s typically the passion from employees and customers that cut through the noise.




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