The Lessons I Learned From HubSpot's INBOUND14

Marketing Manager Mike Rizzo attended Inbound 2014, a conference put on by HubSpot, Mavenlink’s marketing automation platform of choice. Read on to discover why we work with HubSpot, Mike’s impressions and takeaways from the conference, and who you need to be following on Twitter right now.

INBOUND14 isn’t just another conference, and it’s certainly more than a meet and greet opportunity — it’s a movement. Every person in attendance is there for the same reason: they want to grow.


For those of you who may wonder why Mavenlink sent me (Mike Rizzo) to attend HubSpot’s INBOUND14 conference, I would first like to highlight that we are advocates of the Inbound Movement. What does it mean to be inbound? Check out this definition from HubSpot:

“People do not want to be interrupted by marketers or harassed by sales people. They want to be helped. Inbound is about pulling people in by sharing relevant information, creating useful content, and generally being helpful.”

This ideology of helpfulness is at the root of why we use HubSpot. HubSpot’s mission and Mavenlink’s mission ride a very similar wavelength: both aim to help businesses grow. To do this, our Marketing Team uses the HubSpot platform to provide our customers with meaningful content that allows them to use our Project Management Solution to its fullest application.

So why did I go? I am the official manager of Mavenlink’s HubSpot portal, so I jumped at the chance to learn more about the Inbound Movement and to experience some seriously interesting keynotes (from people like Malcolm Gladwell and Guy Kawasaki). Here are a few highlights (and pictures) from this year’s conference.

Delighting Customers: It’s Important

Delight is a huge part of the inbound process (and of HubSpot’s company mission), so it makes sense that this was a theme that arose often during the conference.

“As social animals we don’t want to be around people that are selfishly driven, we want to be around people that are selflessly driven.” –Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek spoke about how running a business isn’t always about hitting the numbers. In an environment focused on performance, we will find ourselves missing the mark on customer retention if we don’t also place equal (if not more) importance on pleasing them. Customers that aren’t happy with your service won’t stick around forever. Delight them not just with great product, but with great service too, and you’ll probably keep them!

I also attended a keynote called “The Lessons of Steve Jobs” from Guy Kawasaki. Guy ran down a list of things that we have learned from the late, great Jobs, but he mentioned one thing in particular that made an impression on me: customers don’t always know what they want.

Steve Jobs said it himself when he spoke about innovation: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

This stuck with me because Mavenlink straddles both sides of the line. Our company was built on the mission of bringing something to consumers that truly solved an issue like nothing else before it, and we continually strive to surprise and delight customers when we roll out new features. On the same token, however, we rely on Mavenlink customers to give us feedback on things they’d like to see on future deployments.

Leadership: Not One for All

Leadership was an interesting topic of discussion throughout the conference as well. I walked away with a deeper understanding of leadership, something that starts internally, but when done right, trickles down through your employees and externally to your customers. Leadership is not just one person leading others to perform tasks; it’s a concept of empowerment. Leaders empower their employees to take on challenges and advocate for their company; in turn, this empowerment spreads to current and potential customers. They feel empowered by working with you, and hopefully become evangelists for your services as well!

Simon Sinek also touched on leadership in his keynote. He talked at great lengths on how being a strong leader means “delighting” your employees. “Great leaders would never sacrifice the people to save the numbers.” He references the military and the care they take for their brethren, specifically how the most junior in rank will eat first, and only when everyone else has finished getting their share will the highest-ranking official take his.

I can’t end this section on leadership without acknowledging Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the co-founders of HubSpot. These two spoke about HubSpot’s Company Culture Code you can access it here. It was a very inspiring look at how they choose to lead their company.

Always Look to Grow

One of HubSpot’s major slogans is “Ready. Set. Grow.” and they offered plenty of learning opportunities for every attendee. Whether you were new to the Inbound Movement, or already an advanced user of HubSpot’s platform, there was something for everyone there to learn. Each discussion and conversation at the event left me feeling inspired and motivated. I’ve included a list of some of the smart and interesting individuals that I either had the pleasure of meeting directly or attending their keynote (hint: you should follow each one of them on Twitter). Even if you can’t attend a conference like INBOUND14, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to grow. Read industry blogs, attend local networking events, and follow thought leaders like the ones below (or me!) on Twitter.

Guy Kawasaki
Chief Evangelist at Canva
Follow Guy Kawasaki on Twitter

Malcolm Gladwell
Follow Malcolm Gladwell on Twitter

Simon Sinek
Follow Simon Sinek on Twitter

Sean Ellis
CEO/Founder Qualaroo and
Follow Sean Ellis on Twitter

Matt Schnitt
Product Manager at HubSpot
Follow Matt Schnitt on Twitter

Magdalena Georgieva
Product Manager, Workflows & Forms at HubSpot
Follow Magdalena Georgieva on Twitter

Jessica King
Senior Customer Success Manager, HubSpot
Follow Jessica King on Twitter

Blake Toder
Inbound Marketing Consultant at HubSpot
Follow Blake Toder on Twitter

Arjun Moorthy
VP Business Development & Channel Sales
Follow Arjun Moorthy on Twitter

Dharmesh Shah
Founder and CTO at HubSpot
Follow Dharmesh Shah on Twitter

Brian Halligan
CEO at HubSpot
Follow Brian Halligan on Twitter

Sean Crafts
CCO at Mavenlink
Follow Sean Crafts on Twitter



Yes, I did get a picture with Brian Halligan, and yes, I felt really cool!