What do information-hungry millennials, Michelle Obama and my experience at INBOUND17 have in common?



INBOUND17 day one: sensory overload. I walk into the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and to my left: a “Chill Zone” with forty-some odd hammocks and a three-story waterfall. To my right: a fifty-foot glowing bubble sculpture-thing overtop a slew of bean bags. In front of me: a four-story twisting, circling display screen and a room that can seat the 21,400 conference-goers.

First impressions are everything.

The sessions didn’t disappoint either. With 300+ educational breakouts and keynote speakers like Brené Brown, Piera Gelardi and Ed Catmull (not to mention 15 different food carts), INBOUND17 is a dream world for anyone my age.

By the end of day one, a thought dawns on me: this conference is a millennial playground.

As a millennial, I feel I can speak from personal experience about our unique, and often criticized, characteristics. We’re information-hungry. We’re a generation of google-ers. We need the answers to our questions instantly and we can’t stop collecting new information.

This thirst for knowledge has allowed our generation to push the envelope. To stretch our understanding of the world and to explore new ideas. And there’s value in that.

So I embraced my inner-millennial and set out to absorb INBOUND17 like a sponge.

At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, I crash into my hotel bed, my mind racing. I was thinking of all the emails I wanted to send, the books I had to read and the new skills I needed to use.

And then Wednesday morning came… And then, Michelle Obama spoke. In her onstage interview with Roxane Gay, she talked about politics, living life under a microscope and managing passionate teams. She said she loves working with young people – they have endless energy and fresh ideas. But she’s always reminding them of the same thing. “Let’s not put so much on our plates that we can’t do everything well, or excellently,” she said.

It stuck with me. As a millennial, I fit the stereotype. I am consumed with collecting knowledge. From “26 Words That Will Make My Marketing More Persuasive” to “The Psychology of Video,” I was cramming my schedule full so that I could take in as much as possible. You could sum up my conference goals with one word, “quantity.”

I, and I think many millennials, make the same common mistake. We flip through the screens of our phones but we can’t seem to pull our heads up. We forget to use our wealth of knowledge. We lose sight of how to share it. We fail to act on it.

So as I wrap up my conference experience, I think of Michelle (I mean obviously… I probably won’t stop thinking about her for weeks). I think of how I can change my conference word to, “intentionality.” I think of how I can take the information that I learned, sift out the gold from the clichés and take back a few meaningful things that I can turn into action.

I think of how I can go home and do a couple new things really well, maybe even excellently.

Moral of the story: co-workers be warned, I’ll be back on Monday and I tend to process out loud ;).