Inbound17 was huge this year! In fact, it was so huge that prioritizing breakout sessions, spotlights, and finding time to eat before (or after) the keynotes was dizzying.

Honestly, I wish I had a personal assistant who had an “in” with the HubSpot team so they could’ve figured out the logistics for me. (Note to self: pitch idea of conference guru’s to HubSpot for Inbound18).

The last time I went to Inbound was in 2015, so I figured it was going to be much, much larger. But I noticed some interesting changes to the overall subject matter this time vs last time.

Before discussing the takeaways from HubSpot I want to really get a line under the hugeness of this conference. Historically, my focus at Inbound was usually on HubSpot techniques and strategy. I was able to see a few spotlights and I felt free to meander interesting subject matter from breakout to breakout.

This time, not so much.

My focus was heavy on sales and agency growth and development.

That said, there’s a chance my views might be skewed.

Alright, here we go—Inbound17 was super different this year. Let’s talk about it.

Heavy Emphasis on Authentic Voice

Find your authentic voice, be heard, and don’t let the opinions of the people around them govern how they live, act, and talk.

Pretty awesome—In my opinion. Not everyone will agree with me there, and I’m sure there are people who disagreed with Piera Gelardi or Michelle Obama’s message.

The attendees at Inbound17 were pretty young and I think it’s exciting that young professionals heard speeches centered around empowerment, being heard, and finding their truth and speaking their mind. Bravo.

I also noticed that a lot of the breakouts were hyper-focused this time. And, at least the most valuable ones I attended, had clear actionable takeaways (more on that in a minute).

The pairing of empowering keynotes with focused breakouts balanced the inspiration of powerful talks with actionable items from the breakouts.

Breakouts Gave Specific and Usable Insight

Garrett Moon talked about content hacking. But the thing is, he talked about actually how to handle content strategy.

He gave three big ideas that were each supported with laser-focused action items to implement. For example, one of his big ideas was “Make the best content your clients have ever seen”. Then, he talked about what constitutes good content, how to measure engagement to focus in on good content that’s performing, and how to organize 10% and 10x ideas.

Similarly, Steve Gordon gave a step by step process to follow to get more referrals than you would know what to do with. He shared valuable resources and even mentioned his book without plugging it too much.

Karl Sakas went over a very realistic walkthrough of how to react to unruly clients with the CEO of Black Tie Digital, Scott… we’re not actually on a first name basis but whatever.

Beyond being funny and relatable, Karl gave suggestions for how to respond to client requests. He outlined a three-step guide for keeping requests realistic and showed us how to implement. This was a great breakout for any agency owner to attend.

Basically, the information in the breakouts was the most valuable I’ve seen in a while. Obviously, there were a few that weren’t as good as the ones above.

Great Breakouts Raised the Bar, Making Underperformers Pretty Obvious

So those great breakouts I talked about above really raised the bar on what makes a breakout good. So, I hate to say it, but some of the breakouts had really catchy titles given by people with impressive bios and didn’t deliver.

An old colleague of mine joked with me about how it would be nice if there was a time machine next to the “Chill” area where you could undo going to a bad breakout and get that time back.

It would’ve been a great way to be able to catch up on some client emails… just sayin’.

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