I’ve been to a fair number of conferences so far in my life and I don’t see the trend slowing down any time soon. Between the excitement of the Mautic – Open Marketing movement and the ever-growing community supporting the world’s only open source marketing automation product, I’m on the road a lot. But don’t think I’m complaining. Not for a second. I enjoy the opportunity to share Mautic with the world. But that’s only half the joy. I also get the tremendous privilege of attending conferences and seeing how others think about the MarTech landscape and the business of sales and marketing.

But every once in a while I have the chance to attend a conference that goes a bit deeper. It’s always fun when that realization dawns on me that I am witnessing an event that has been organized down to the smallest detail and attention has been placed equally on every part of the experience.

This last week I had the tremendous privilege of attending SiriusDecisions in Las Vegas for their 2018 Summit. Now I should preface that I had built a bit of a preconceived notion about this particular event. I had heard the stories. The quiet whispers that this was the marketing event. And of course I took these suggestions in stride and with a sense of reserved acceptance. Not until I was able to witness this conference for myself would I make my decision on its ability to deliver on these lofty reviews.

This was the mentality I had as I landed in Vegas for the conference kickoff on Tuesday. What followed was a 3 day showcase of precision, skill, and aptitude on the topic of sales and marketing. Every aspect of the conference was focused on maximizing outcomes for attendees, sponsors, and speakers alike. I had the great privilege of spending one-on-one time with incredible individuals like, Chris Frank from Cisco, who took his time to explain to me how he leads the complex demand generation strategies for WebEx with revenues north of $1bn. Hearing his thought leadership on the ways he saw the marketing landscape and how businesses should be positioning themselves for the future of marketing left me contemplating strategy for hours to come. Or, Becca Shaffer from LevelJump who shared how the scrappy startup life was the ideal breeding ground for quick innovations and success. These individual meetings “serendipitously occurred” due to the intentional and strategic workings of the conference organizers.

And then there were the sessions. Case studies from global industry leaders openly sharing their successes, and their failures, all for the benefit of everyone else. This open spirit of sharing resonated deeply with me as I often say I default to open and sharing everything with others. This was the mentality and attitude of the speakers and presenters at this event. What a refreshing change of price to hear a global multi-billion dollar corporation share “lowlights” (as opposed to highlights). This attitude made me think of a quote I of which I am particularly fond:

“Be humble to see your mistakes, courageous to admit them, and wise enough to correct them.” — Amine Ayad

I forget when I first heard that quote but it has stuck with me, this is the open and honest nature I strive to hold myself to and I was surprisingly pleased to see this same concept on such display at Summit 2018.

Beyond just case studies, and thought leadership though, Summit 2018 gave me excellent practical applications which I could immediately begin to apply to my own thinking and work. This is where I began to realize the true value of an event like this. Show me others who have been successful and I admire it. Give me something to think about and I appreciate it. Teach me how to do something better myself and I am forever changed. That’s the promise Summit 2018 was able to deliver on; with precision and forethought.

Perhaps one of the greatest highlights of the entire conference was the keynote presentation by the world renowned photographer, Platon. His ability to tell a story through his photography and to carry the audience on a journey though laughter, anger, sadness, and a sense of inner resolve was masterfully delivered. He challenged us to think about what a true leader looks like. He told story after story carefully weaving a common thread of servant leadership throughout. Picture after picture, individual after individual he unfolded and shared a philosophy on leadership which kept everyone on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Tony Jaros, president and chief product officer for SiriusDecisions introduced Platon with an almost prophetic statement when he stated, “You’ll want to put your phones away for this next hour. I promise you.”

The next 60 minutes flew by in a mesmerizing showcase of personal stories and deep inner reflection. It was truly a memorable experience. We were changed as an audience, transported from global destination to destination. As Platon anticipated and masterfully orchestrated, our differences were put aside, and we were collectively moved by a singular feeling of compassion. Regardless of personal convictions, biases, and beliefs, we were united under this common cause. When the lights finally rose at the end of the session breaking the spell the room sat in hushed, almost reverent respect for what had just occurred.

My respect and appreciation for the staff and organizers of SiriusDecisions has been raised to new heights and I find myself whole-heartedly agreeing with the reviews and feedback I received from others before I attended. It will remain to be seen what level of ongoing benefits will come from the many meetings I had with others, but I am confident tremendous value has been returned on this investment. The relationships and connections formed go far beyond a casual business relationship and extend deeper into an intrinsic long term value.

If you have an opportunity to attend a future SiriusDecisions conference I highly recommend you do so. Whether it be for learning strategy, finding encouragement, or changing your thinking SiriusDecisions will deliver.