Build Business Recap: The 2020 (Newbie) Experience

    As a Build Business newbie, I attended this year’s conference with both excitement and curiosity, unsure how the renowned national event would be represented in a virtual format. With nothing to compare it to but rave reviews from fellow coworkers and other BB alumni, I entered the conference with high expectations.

    The three-day event kicked off with celebrity drummer Mark Schulman giving an enthusiastic keynote on the power of having a positive attitude and how it drives your performance. Although I admit I was slightly confused at first as to why P!nk’s drummer was presenting at an SMPS conference, I quickly realized what he was saying was pertinent both personally and professionally in any industry. My key takeaway? You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.

    Positive mindset in tow, unfortunately, COVID seemed to overshadow a greater part of the sessions I attended on day one. Not to say I didn’t walk away with useful tips and tricks, but many of the programs started with a learning objective only to be transformed into a conversation about how everyone has been affected by the pandemic and how they or their companies are dealing with it in the chatbox.

    I had a similar experience during the live sessions on day two. While these discussions were great at first, there are only so many interesting differentiators as to how someone has adapted to working from home. At no fault to the conference itself, but I found myself craving the human element, interaction and banter that comes with an in-person Q&A versus a voiceless comment in the chat.

    It wasn’t until I dove into the on-demand sessions that I felt l was getting the authentic Build Business takeaways I had heard about. The presentations seemed more structured and I loved the ability to start, stop and rewatch as I took notes - virtual win! The subject matter was also useful and applicable for today’s climate including topics such as presenting virtually (a virtual topic I didn’t mind discussing), work culture and unconscious bias in the workplace.

    Overall, the conference committee and speakers lived up to the “Pivot & Focus” theme, successfully restructuring Build Business to an online format. Although my initial reaction was that I was attending but not experiencing the conference, I couldn’t help but think about Mark Schulman’s three core principles - attitude, behavior and consequences.

    It was a full-circle moment when I realized I needed to pivot what experiencing the conference meant. Although I’m bummed I attended my first BB from my kitchen table and not Austin, I probably wouldn’t have been able to attend this year at all if it was in-person. As a result, I gained valuable insight, strategies and information that has already influenced my work.

    Bottom line: Would I attend again? Absolutely! But in person, when there’s not a global pandemic. No surprise ending here and I look forward to attending my first in-person Build Business in the future.

    Kelli Manegre
    Marketing Coordinator
    S. M. Wilson & Co.

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