As an extrovert, I normally don’t get nervous about meeting new people or striking up a conversation with a stranger. But when you’re dealing with the first conference you’ve ever been to with 600 badass ladies all in one place, it can be a little overwhelming! I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I attended the Create & Cultivate NYC conference on May 6, but let’s just say I was over the moon that I made the decision to attend.
By pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, I not only gained a TON of knowledge but I met some incredible women that I hope to nurture relationships with. I truly believe that conferences are 40% for the content and 60% to network and meet other people. You never know who you are going to cross paths with at events like this so it’s really important to put yourself out there!
After coming down from the conference high a week and a half later, I’ve revisited all of my notes and have come up with 3 key takeaways that I wanted to share with you. I think these takeaways are not only great conversation starters but are extremely helpful for anyone who is in business or looking to start their journey in entrepreneurship!
1. BE READY TO PIVOT
The advancement of technology has made innovation easier and easier to accomplish. Between new social platforms and channels to connect with your audience, holes in the marketplace to fill and the changing mindset of how people consume information and purchase products - it’s so important that businesses move just as quickly to keep up and stay relevant. Being stubborn, feeling invincible or not investing the time to know what’s new, what’s fresh and what consumers are gravitating towards, can cripple a business. Flexibility is key when building or growing your business!
“Be stubborn about your goals & flexible about your methods.” - Unknown
2. DISRUPT YOUR INDUSTRY
We all know that every industry is completely saturated but when you look at successful brands and businesses (i.e. Uber, Airbnb, Birchbox, Bumble, Glossier) - they’ve completed disrupted their industry. If you’re thinking about going into business or you have an idea brewing in your mind, try asking yourself “how can I make this different?” or “how can I turn this idea on its head?” instead of looking at the current market and modeling it after that. When I’m thinking of a big idea, I often find myself questioning how that particular industry could possibly be disrupted - it’s been that way forever, right? WRONG. Every industry can be disrupted if you take the chance to think outside of the box and do something different. Hence, the companies I listed above - 10-15 years ago, no one ever thought those industries could be disrupted. Times are a changin’!
3. INVEST IN PEOPLE
One question that came up a lot was about the first big investment founders made in their company. I was really surprised and excited to hear that pretty much all of them said hiring someone or a team was their first big investment. Whether it’s your first employee to take some of the load off or an expert in your industry who can provide invaluable experience and knowledge, investing in people is extremely important. It might seem like a scary step or you might think that you can’t afford it but a lot of the panelists said you can’t NOT afford it. (double negative anyone?) The part 2 of this conversation was once you have a team - it’s imperative to invest in your people. If you show your team how much you value their time, knowledge, and hard work, they are sure to work that much harder and be that much more loyal to you because you’ve shown them that you care. Appreciation and acknowledgment go A LONG way!
Aside from the powerhouse speakers and panelists sharing their invaluable knowledge and experience, there were so many other amazing things that happened! Some of my favorite moments from the day included:
Meeting so many incredible women who I am so grateful to have spent the day with. Through connecting on Instagram before the conference, striking up a conversation at the bar or on the shuttle, or sharing lunch at a picnic table - I know I’ve made so many valuable and heartfelt connections that I can’t wait to continue to nurture!
The pop-up market was EVERYTHING and more! I loved getting to experience some of my favorite brands IRL and chatting with their teams. There is something so special about being able to touch and feel the product while hearing the heart behind the business! (Not to mention ALL the free swag!)
The venue was on another level. All of my exposed brick dreams came true! The conference was held at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY. It was an indoor and outdoor venue that offered a really unique experience with a lot of different areas to explore! There was always a new space to check out and take a break in between panels.
ALL the Instagram-worthy moments. The Create & Cultivate team didn’t disappoint with all of the photo opportunities! Between the main stages, outdoor spaces, event details and more there were endless opportunities to snag the perfect Boomerang or photo.
So all in all, my first conference was a HUGE success and let’s just say I’ve caught the conference bug. I can’t wait to go to another one. Here are some pictures from the day!
What's the best conference you’ve been to? I'd love to hear which conferences you feel are worthwhile! Leave a comment below.