I had an awesome opportunity to attend Hubspot’s Inbound Conference thanks to my dear friend Sheena. I was only able to attend one day, but MAN OH MAN, I got to listen to so many amazing people speak, like Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Chief Brand Officer at Uber Bozoma Saint John, sports icon and social justice pioneer Billie Jean King, CEO of Gixo and former President of SurveyMonkey Selina Tobaccowala, star and creator of Netflix’s The OA Brit Marling, star and creator of HBO’s Insecure Issa Rae, chef and creator of Eataly Mario Batali, producer and host Andy Cohen, and comedians Tiffany Haddish and Judd Apatow. I walked away feeling ready to double down on what I was already doing in my life.
Holy crap, I know. Read more about my experience – there’s a compilation video as well!
“Be your authentic self – it’s easier that way.”
-Michelle Obama, Former First Lady
First off, Michelle Obama. She is as classy and graceful as she was the 8 years she served as the First Lady. Throughout her interview, she shared her take on what life at the White House was like, how she manages people, women’s equality, and her favorite Beyonce song. On women, she spoke about how women take longer to think about what they want to say than men do. Men jump right in at any time and word vomit. At that point after men have done all the talking, women will usually choose not to speak anymore. Then she asked the audience to ask themselves, “What is it about me that my opinion is less valuable?” That question stuck with me. No, my opinion is not less valuable than any others. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself whenever I find myself not speaking up – I feel that this could be another post, so I’ll save it till then.
She also talked about how when she first entered the White House, all any article would say about her was what she was wearing. This is always what females in the public eye are asked what they’re wearing, and it’s always one of the first few things that pop up in an article. “First Lady Michelle Obama is sporting Jimmy Choos and blah blah blah…” Instead of getting angry, she just went to work. She worked on several initiatives throughout her tenure as First Lady that she cared about deeply and that also lined up with President Obama’s initiatives. As she did so, where what she was wearing appeared in articles closer towards the bottom. The point is: she did the work.
Another important thing she stressed was for people to be more empathetic. She talked about her daughter Malia, who is currently a freshman at Harvard, and how on a daily basis she runs into 30 to 40 strangers coming up to her and asking, “Do I know you? Can I take a picture with you?” As a commoner, I can only imagine what that is like to have your daily life interrupted by strangers because you were forced into the public eye not by choice but because your father was the President of the United States. Damn, that must be hard to deal with on top of being an 18 year old… and trying to be a normal 18 year old. There must be a point every day where she must mentally snap – I know I would! Michelle told Malia, “Immediate anger feels good in the moment, but not in the long run. Treat people with kindness.” Mama Obama, I love you.
Here’s an article about more things Michelle said.
“If you don’t like who you are, it’s easy to let other people walk all over you.”
-Michelle Obama, Former First Lady
I also need to shout out to Roxane Gay who was tasked to interview Michelle Obama. Among many other things, Roxane is most well-known to me as the author of Bad Feminist, which is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I’ve decided right now that that’s going to be a book club book! I’m proud that she was able to hold her shit together while interviewing Michelle because I’d be like OMGAH HI MICHELLE CAN WE HUG AND PICS AND TELL ME EVERYTHING HOW DO I BE AS AWESOME AND CLASSY AND BADASS AS YOU?!
“Do sharks complain about Monday? No. They’re up early, biting stuff, chasing shit, being scary – reminding everyone they’re a fucking shark.”
-Bozoma Saint John, Chief Brand Officer at Uber
Next, Bozoma Saint John, Chief Brand Officer at Uber. The big question on my mind that she didn’t talk about was, “What’s your plan to get people to love Uber again?” It’s okay, we’ll see in due time. She told us her story beginning with her grandmother, who died when her dad was a young age, and her father, who went through so many trials and tribulations to get to where he is today. Then she told us one of her Uber experiences: she accidentally offends a driver who was going through his own shit because his brother just passed away and he wanted to go an Iggy Pop concert because they always went to go see Iggy Pop in concert together so he was driving extra Uber hours in order to buy concert tickets but some taxi drivers vandalized his car while he was helping an airport passenger get her luggage because taxi drivers can sometimes be haters so now he had to spend that money he earned so far on fixing his car. Turns out, Bozoma was on her way to dinner with Iggy Pop! Guess who she brought along? Lucky Uber driver.
Personally, I always look at the Uber app on my phone with a huge side-eye. It makes me upset when Uber is cheaper than Lyft by more than $3. But I believe in Bozoma’s power of storytelling that I can’t wait to see how she tries to turn Uber around.
And Bozoma is fashionable as fuck. Even though I was sitting in the 15th row or so, I could see that her makeup was on point. I am motivated by her energy, and inspired by her fashion and makeup.
“Practice your strengths and make your weaknesses adequate enough.”
-Selina Tobaccowala & Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King is a sassy badass who has been fighting for social justice since she was 12 years old. Emma Stone said she was feisty, and she definitely was. Billie Jean fighting for people of color, for women, for LGBTQ… for everybody. It was invigorating to see her because she’s genuinely passionate about equality for all. I plan on watching the movie based on her life, Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell.
She was being interviewed along with Selina Tobaccowala, CEO of Gixo and former President of Survey Monkey. I didn’t know Selina before this talk. I admire her because you could tell she was an introvert but she did well holding her own against fiery Billie Jean. When I do decide to switch jobs, I will definitely be checking her out and what she’s up to because I’d love to work for her.
They both talked about minor things that people should keep in mind when they’re navigating through their careers. Like how traditionally, women are hired and promoted on performance, and men are hired and promoted on potential. So when you go and talk to your boss about getting to the next level of your career, discuss your potential!
Billie Jean King’s secret to inner success and outer success:
- Relationships are everything.
- Keep learning and keep learning how to learn.
- Be a problem solver.
“Champions adapt and pressure is a privilege.”
-Billie Jean King, social justice pioneer & former professional tennis player
Next up is Issa Rae and Brit Marling, who both had to overcome hardships in order to become stars and creators of their respective shows, Insecure on HBO and The OA on Netflix. Truthfully, I never heard of either of them until a week ago.
I find it much easier to relate to women because… well, I’m a woman myself. When I hear about shit others have been through, even if I haven’t been through that exact situation, I can understand the emotions of pain and the hardships, and how hard it must’ve been trying to pave the way for themselves and for other people behind them.
“When you believe the bullshit, that’s then you get an ego.”
Mario Batali, an author and chef of many restaurants including Eataly, was interviewed by Andy Cohen. The back and forth dynamic between the two made it really fun to watch. I could tell that Mario loved hospitality, that for him it’s not just about food but also the entire dining experience.
Apparently he was an avid lover of Crocs, but decided to forgo them forever. I did a little Google searching, and back in 2013 when Crocs decided to discontinue its line of orange clogs, Mario placed a final order for 200 orange Crocs because he wore them every single day. Like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Albert Einstein, Mario wears the same outfit every day because it freed up so much time for him to think about other things. His outfit? A button down shirt, fleece vest, shorts, and Crocs. Well… now Yeezys.
“Here’s what I tell everybody when they’re talking about higher education: don’t go to school like it’s a trade school. If you’re going to go to a university, go first of all to be fascinated, and second of all to become fascinating. [No matter what you end up doing, you’ll learn how to do it.]”
Andy Cohen was the final speaker for the day. I learned more about how he got started in the industry – he interned a lot and became an executive for Bravo, started blogging on Bravo’s website, and now he’s in front of the camera. I felt that Andy Cohen is very “what you see is what you get”.
“I’m a unicorn, bitch.”
The evening event were comedy sets with Tiffany Haddish and Judd Apatow. Tiffany is hilarious! She started as a stand-up comic and is slowly turning into an actress – she was on Girls Trip with Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and Regina Hall. I haven’t watched it yet, but you bet it’s on my list. Her set included a lot of sexual comedy, and I could tell it made a lot of white males uncomfortable when I looked around. At one point, she went, “If you’re uncomfortable with my comedy, it’s on you. You gotta look inside yourself to figure out why you feel uncomfortable.” So true.
Judd Apatow was great as well. I read his book Sick in the Head: Conversations about Life and Comedy, which was a collection of interviews he had done with comedians since he was in high school. It was insightful not only to learn more about these other famous comedians, but you also got a glimpse into his story and why he is the way he is. His comedy set was a lot about his family – his wife and actress Leslie Mann and their two daughters. His style of humor isn’t for everybody, but I appreciated him a lot more even reading his book.
By the way, you can watch all of the talks on Inbound’s YouTube channel here. If you don’t want to watch all those hour long talks, you can check out the highlights in my video below:
This conference was amazing. The main message I heard throughout the entire day was, “Work hard. Be yourself. Fight for equality.” Right in line with my personal beliefs.