Friday, September 16, 2022

Trapped in Bearskin Neck — INBOUND 2022 Trip: Part 4

The final day of the INBOUND 2022 conference was upon us! 

We didn’t know it when we woke up, but the day would bring us a few interesting surprises. 

First off, we slept later than we should have (the Benadryl was really starting to do its thing by Thursday night) and we had to pack *before* we went to the BCEC for the day’s sessions (since we were checking out of our hotel that day). 

So we missed breakfast (which was fine), checked the luggage with the manager, and headed over to the venue (Jason and Jolene were already there). 

Jason texted that they had donuts for attendees. We didn’t get to sample the donuts, but they took this picture of them for us: 

Our first session of the day was with Brightcove CMO Jennifer Griffin Smith. Her sponsored presentation — “Why Every Company Needs to Act Like a Media Company” — was pretty interesting. 

Smith focused primarily on how video is used in this effort (since Brightcove is a video platform). She told attendees that “the average adult consumes 140 minutes of video content per day.”

What worked in the past is not working anymore. The digital landscape — and the way people consume content — has changed. 

For example, consumers age 18 to 25 watch an average of 10.5 hours per week of TikTok videos and 6.9 hours per week of YouTube. Younger folks are taught using video in school, they purchase based on video recommendations, and they influence others using video. 

It is readily apparent that video is a key component in marketing a product or service today (video — alongside print copy — can significantly increase a consumer’s understanding of the product or service they are buying, and increase conversion rates and brand loyalty). 

Smith said that 80 percent of “big spenders” (those who spend $500 per month ore more online) make purchases as a result of watching a livestream or a virtual shopping event they attended.

Most of us are aware of the power of live video events. But having concrete numbers attached to customer conversion solidifies that mindset. 

Brightcove’s research also found that 83 percent of employees within a business or organization agree that if their employer used more video content, they would have a better overall experience as an employee (so employers should consider using video for internal communications). 

Sometimes the “sponsored sessions” at conferences like INBOUND can be a mixed bag, but I thought the session with Jennifer Griffin Smith was pretty informative. 

Our next session was...well...kind of a bust. 

The next session on our agenda was “Being Boss: Navigating the Journey of Entrepreneurship” on the Podcast Stage (right next to where we already were) with Emily Thompson (co-founder and host of the “Being Boss” podcast and founder and CEO of Almanac Supply Co.) and Ashley Menzies Babatunde (attorney and host of the “No Straight Path” podcast). 

But we had some time to kill before the session started. 

Bridget worked on sending out an email to subscribers while we waited, and I listened to the Sam Parr Q&A about how he made his first million (also on the Podcast Stage). 

But the two of us were feeling hungry (since we’d missed breakfast), and decided to head out to the Lawn on D during Thompson and Babatunde’s presentation to grab some lunch with Jason and Jolene. 

So, we only heard about half of the presentation (but it was interesting). 

For some reason, the only picture that any of the four of us got at lunch was of the Italian sausage Bridget purchased at the Bonetown food truck. She said it was barely warm.

The cheeseburger I had from the Bonetown truck was alright. The total bill for the two of us for lunch was over $50 (two sandwiches, two chips, two drinks). Not one of the better meals we had, and certainly not worth the cost.

Jason and Jolene had an Asian dish from the Bon Me food truck. We don't have a picture of it, but we do have this pic of the dish Jason had from the Bon Me food truck the day before: 

We weren't quite sure what to do after lunch. We didn’t have any sessions scheduled before President Obama’s talk at 2:45 p.m. 

We did listen to some of NTWRK CMO Jason Brown and fashion consultant Antoine Gregory’s Spotlight presentation titled “Keeping Focus in the Speed of Culture.”

“Your media strategy has to be nimble these days,” said Brown. ”It’s changing perpetually.” He encouraged attendees to keep an open mind about new and emerging social channels. “You never know where you might find success,” he said. 

After Brown and Gregory’s session, Bridget and I tried to attend the 90-minute “How Your Business Can Use Video Across Your Customer Journey” session with Wistia Director of Brand Taylor Corrado and Wistia Head of Production Chris Lavigne. 

But since we hadn’t RSVP’d for the session, we knew we might not get in. 

The first hurdle was the long holdout line for attendees who hadn’t pre-registered. It stretched all the way down the hallway and around the corner from the entry door.

The second hurdle was the fact that I — for some reason — had decided not to wear socks with my Santa Cruz Crocs. I don’t normally wear socks with them during the summer anyway, but for some reason they decided to rub both of my ankles raw at the conference. 

I encouraged Bridget to go to the presentation. I was going to sit by a power outlet in the hallway and work on my iPad until the session concluded. 

But she decided to exit the line so she could put Band-Aids (she comes prepared) on my ankles. That was really sweet of her, but I wish she had been able to get some actionable tips for me to share with all of you. 

Since we had time before the closing session with President Obama, we decided to look for the LinkedIn Lounge.

Bridget is a resume writer who helps jobseekers craft LinkedIn profiles, so we wanted to see what LinkedIn had to offer conference attendees. 

We ended up walking all over the facility looking for the LinkedIn Lounge (which probably didn’t help my wounded ankles), but we eventually found it on the ground level (outside the exhibition area). 

Bridget picked up some informational packets and a tote bag, and we both got one of the blue square LinkedIn pens they had on hand (you can never have too many pens). 

Across from the LinkedIn Lounge was the Rollworks booth. The staff at the booth rearranged the balloon letters (I can’t recall what the original message was) and used some of the letters to spell “OBAMA.” Bridge took a pic of me with the balloons. 

Jolene texted us to say that she was saving seats for the four of us at the Main Stage in anticipation of the closing session. 

So we made our way to Jolene. 

Masks were required for attendees at the Obama event (we wore them during the entire event to minimize our chances of getting COVID while on the road). 

President Obama was interviewed by HubSpot Executive Chairperson Brian Halligan. 

The former president offered a number of interesting anecdotes during the 45-minute discussion. 

He talked about the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and told a story about a time he, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha had tea with the queen during his second year as president. 

The queen insisted that Obama’s daughters take her golden carriage (which she used for jubilees and the like) out on a drive through the palace grounds. 

He also recalled presenting the queen with the gift of an iPod filled with showtunes (since the queen was fond of Broadway musicals), just after the iPod was introduced to the public. 

As it regards the state of affairs in the United States today, President Obama believes that “we have more in common than our public discourse would allow for.” But he also believes that technology (and the economics behind social media platforms) can accentuate conflict. 

President Obama emphasized the need for people to listen to one another since “we are all connected.” 

Since INBOUND is a business conference (with considerable focus on content creation), I do wish that Halligan had asked Obama about the content deal he and Michelle signed with Netflix in 2018 — to produce docuseries and documentary films for the streamer (Obama recently won an Emmy for his narration on the Netflix series “Our Great National Parks”). 

I think it would have been interesting to hear about some of the projects that are in development, and what goals they hope to achieve with their slate of content on Netflix. 

With that session complete, the INBOUND conference concluded. 

Jolene and Bridget scooted out of the BCEC as fast as they could because they were heading to an Enterprise car rental office located in a random hotel parking garage to pick up a rental car for the next phase of our trip. 

Due to security restraints, everyone had to exit the BCEC from the main (north) entrance. As a result, the congestion made for slow going. 

But Jason and I weren’t in a hurry. We took our time as we headed back to the hotel to retrieve our bags. 

The process was a bit chaotic (since more than 200 people were grabbing their bags after INBOUND), but we eventually retrieved our luggage and waited next the lobby bar for Bridget and Jolene to return. 

(Sadly, the bar didn’t open until 5 p.m., so Jason’s plan to get something to drink didn’t happen.)

Bridget and Jolene returned about an hour later with a Chevy Tahoe. The vehicle certainly offered plenty of room for the four of us and our luggage. 

Back in February — when we first registered for INBOUND 2022 — we had decided to take a post-conference excursion to Rockport, MA. 

According to our cursory research online, the town — nestled along the northeast coast of Massachusetts next to the Atlantic Ocean — offered bucolic New England charms. 

Jolene had found an AirBNB in Rockport in the coastal village known as Bearskin Neck. 

On our drive up from Boston, Jason tried to find dining options that would still be open when we arrived. A number of places closed early, so our options were limited. 

We figured we’d have to roll the dice on dinner when we arrived. 

Bearskin Neck definitely offers postcard charm. But the roads around the village are small (Jolene wondered out loud whether or not they were designed for vehicles). A big-boned vehicle like a Tahoe isn't exactly sympatico with tight spaces (but was one of the few vehicles available at the rental car company that day). 

The four of us tried to guide Jolene into the narrow parking space next to our AirBNB. This was as close as we got: 

We were staying on the second floor of the unit, and the only way to get to the staircase was to try and slide between the front of the SUV’s fender and the fence next to the adjacent property. 

I thought I was going to get trapped between the vehicle and fence as I threaded myself through the narrow gap (I need to seriously work on my gut). 

I made it, but there was no way we were getting the luggage up unless we slid it over the top of the Tahoe, or backed the Tahoe in and crawled out through the back (which seemed like a viable option at that point). 

Jason and Jolene didn’t realize this was the first AirBNB experience for Bridget and me. And at that point, I think they wondered if it would be our last. 😂

We did finally get inside and looked around at our place a bit. One thing’s for sure about this AirBNB — the place offers some terrific views!

We decided to head out exploring and and see if we could find dinner before things closed up for the evening. 

We came upon this little store that sold sweatshirts and t-shirts (among other touristy items). Bridget and I each got a “Rockport” sweatshirt and a t-shirt. Jolene purchased a “Boston” sweatshirt. Jason was waiting to look at other options in the morning. 

A few steps from the souvenir shop was the Fish Shack Restaurant. The dining establishment had a nice vibe. There were a number of people eating, drinking, and hanging out around the bar. 

We were seated in the dining area, and set about perusing the menu. 

I had the Fried Haddock Sandwich with fries. The fish tasted fresh and flavorful and the fries were hot and crispy: 

Bridget had the Lazy Lobster Casserole with a baked potato and side salad. I didn’t sample the casserole, but it looked good: 

Jolene had the Baked Scallops with rice with a side salad:

Jason ordered the Fried Calamari Basket with a side of fries: 

Jason also ordered a bowl of the New England Clam Chowder. 

All of us were impressed with the seafood at the Fish Shack Restaurant. It was a really good dinner...and a stone’s throw from our AirBNB! 

After dinner, we learned that you could park on the street overnight, so we moved the Tahoe to a spot along the curb on the other side of this brightly lit tree (right across from the Fish Shack Restaurant): 

That solved the tight parking space issue, and we wheeled our bags down the block to the AirBNB. 

The AirBNB had a number of quirks — something to be expected in a structure built in the 1800s. Bridget and I live in a 1956 house — and it has a lot of quirks — so we weren’t too thrown off. 

Jason and Jolene had the upper bedroom. There was a full bathroom with it. 

Bridget and I took the guest bedroom (I mean, they are both technically guest bedrooms)...the guest bathroom (a 1/2 bath by the kitchen) was built in a converted hall closet.

The pictures don't illustrate just how small the guest bathroom is. When you sit on the toilet, the sink is basically next to your chest. The sink was like 9 inches by 9 inches. It reminded Bridget of the bathroom in her grandparent’s house in Osawatomie, Kansas, that was also a converted closet.

I will say that Jolene and Jason offered to let us use their bathroom, but we made the little bathroom work. I changed my contact lens outside the bathroom (since I could see myself losing a lens in the little sink). 

I’ll also add that I decided to sleep on the couch in the living room. I figured Bridget could use the extra room and I typically get up during the night anyway. So I thought this might allow her to get more rest. 

(Truth be told...I slept better on the couch than I did anywhere during the trip...). 

I’ll have more details/pictures on the AirBNB in tomorrow’s post. There are a number of things I want to highlight and pictures I want to feature. 

But, for now, here’s a picture of Bearskin Neck at night:

So that pretty much sums up the fourth day of our trip. We had a number of interesting experiences, and I was excited to see what was in store for our final day in Massachusetts and our flight home. 

The INBOUND 2022 Trip Series: 

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