Most people who return from a conference come back with swag.
I came back with two things that kick swag’s ass: Renewed passion for my industry and Real-Life friendships.
I just attended Brand Camp (put on by the fabulous folks at Aartrijk).
Brand Camp isn’t like any other conference I’ve been to.
It’s strictly devoted to insurance marketing- trends, challenges, building your brand, technology, etc. Discussions, questions, answers, strategy sessions and lots of fun. With people who have passion & enthusiasm for the insurance industry.
And when I first heard of it, I was practically foaming at the mouth.
You mean I get to spend a few days talking about branding, sales and marketing, social media, what’s working, what’s not, with my colleagues???? Sign. Me. Up.
But then the budget fairy raised her big, fat hand and I realized I just couldn’t swing the cost.
So, here’s Lesson #1 I learned at Brand Camp:
When you put in the time to build and engage with a community, they will help you when you need it most.
Long story short, several colleagues got me there. I didn’t ask- they volunteered. And I still don’t know who all helped. And that’s fine. But I just want them all to know how grateful I am for the opportunity. So anyone who says this online relationship/friendship stuff is nonsense, I call bullshit. It’s real. And it got me to Baltimore. Thank You seems inadequate, but it’s all I’ve got. And this chick from Ohio is eternally grateful.
Lesson #2 was equally powerful- Whether you’ve been in the industry for 10 minutes or 10 years, we can all learn from each other.
In other words- check your ego at the door. This wasn’t a typical conference. No lectures or long drawn-out presentations. No death by PowerPoint. It was interactive, conversational and just plain fun. Topics were introduced, we all got a chance to share the microphone and work with each other to discuss problems and provide solutions. Very collaborative and supportive.
There were lots of questions. No one had all the answers. But we shared. We laughed. We listened. How often in our industry do we get a chance to do just that? No worries, no criticisms.
Lesson #3- Online is great, but there ain’t NOTHING like real life.
My online relationships with insurance colleagues are quite amazing, but I’m telling you- there is NOTHING in this world that compares to being in the same room and sharing laughs (and a few beers).
I got to meet several people who I’ve developed a strong online relationship with. We hung out, talked, laughed and had a total blast. And the interesting part? I felt I had known them my entire lives when we finally shook hands and hugged. That’s the most amazing part of social media- great online conversations do actually turn into real friendships. Meeting in person is just the icing on the cake.
I also got to meet several new faces in person who I’ve since connected with online. So it goes both ways. But in either case, I’ve enriched my life beyond measure just by knowing these wonderful people.
Fun fact- the lady who edited my book was there and we shared a few drinks and some excellent conversation the last night. An absolute honor no doubt. Laura Toops– you totally rock 😉
Lesson #4- When you gather people who are passionate about their industry in a room, magic happens.
Call me corny, but you could feel the electricity in the room. Hell, I’m still jacked up from the experience.
And let me tell you, the past few years have been extremely challenging to most insurance professionals. Regulation, catastrophic events and about 800 other things have combined to suck the fun and excitement out of our day to day existence.
But an event like Brand Camp re-energizes and brings the excitement back. Yes, we actually had FUN. Lots of it. And when you get discouraged because of all the other crap in this industry, it’s beyond appreciated when you get a chance to get your mojo back and remember why you love what you do.
Lesson #5- Fear is worthless. Or as I like to say- Go big or go home.
Confession- I did my first solo presentation ever at the event. As The Insurance Goddess. In full costume. It. Was. Amazing. Was I scared shitless? Um, yeah. These were well respected thought leaders in MY industry.
But my message (and alter ego) pushed me through. I had a message I thought insurance professionals needed to hear desperately- about developing a brand, committing to it 100% and passing on that passion to others. Because when you believe, everyone else does. Plus, it’s just loads of fun. And in the insurance industry, you gotta take the fun parts when you can.
And I’ve discovered that speaking in front of a group of passionate people totally gets me going. I would LOVE to spread my message to other insurance professionals- developing, living and breathing your brand, and having fun. Part inspiration and motivation, real life tips/implementation and above all, kicking ass. Our industry desperately needs this message. So, keeping fingers crossed I get the chance. (Hint- you association people- this is your cue to contact me 😉
So to all the fabulous folks at Aartrijk, Peter van Aartrijk, Rick Morgan and staff, and my amazing colleagues, Linda Rey, Chris Paradiso, Ashley Whitney, Jason Verlinde, Pat Alexander and SOOOO many others, The Insurance Goddess’s heart is happy. Thank you for such an amazing experience 🙂
Enjoy these pics from the event:
Listen to the audio version: