Last Thursday, March 31st, I attended my very first HYPE Richmond event – the first annual 804UM (“4 – UM, Forum – get it?!)
As a marketer who is always craving more information and insight from fellow professionals in our city – I must share that I was extremely impressed by the speakers, the sponsors and partners, the welcoming volunteers, and the overall energy of the event.
Held at the Omni in downtown Richmond, attendees entered the beautiful and well suited venue to be met by friendly volunteers at the registration table. Upon checking in, there were several local organizations set up at various exhibit tables – Susan G. Komen for the Cure with P.I.N.K.K., the Richmond VMFA, and SCAN just to name a few examples – at which young professionals were encouraged to visit, network, and learn more about opportunities for volunteering with each organization.
After a welcome and kick-off that set the energetic tone for the day, reminding professionals young and old about the capability of their impact on our city, the first order of business was to choose a breakout session to attend. Based on my field of work and goal of professional development, I chose to attend “Building a Brand” presented by the Vice President and Group Planning Director for The Martin Agency, Katherine Wintsch. For what could be perceived as an intimidating title to young professionals, Katherine was welcoming, forward thinking, and realistic to future trends throughout her presentation. A few key highlights that I took from this breakout:
– When you think of your brand, What is your story? What do you stand for? It must be something greater than just what you are selling.
– We are living in a Digital World (haha, you could put that to the tune of “Material Girl” by Madonna if you wanted to be corny and fun!) BUT IT’S SO TRUE! – “We are living in a DIGITAL WORLD!”
– This new world is changing relationships, business models, response time, instant gratification expectations
– In 2012, 71% of Americans will have mobile phones – most of them will be Smartphones!
– Providing utility is KEY!
– We can no longer out spend or out shout, we must out smart
*Reminder here, none of these are direct quotes, just personal takeaways from the session. I believe the intention is for HYPE to post presentations at some point, and I will share link when they are posted if requested.
After a quick sugar break, all attendees returned to the main meeting room to brace themselves for the energetic and enthusiastic keynote speaker ahead. Andy Stefanovich refused to let our minds rest and zone. He began his keynote by literally jumping up and down, speaking emphatically, getting us to cheer and encouraging us to express “BRILLIANT” when an idea was shared that sparked our minds.
One more quick networking and coffee break and we were ready for the final speaker of the day – another breakout session that we had to choose. I attended “Entrepreneurship: Building One of the Best Small Companies in America” presented by a local RVA CEO & President, Shawn Boyer of Snagajob.com. He shared openly the BIG questions you must ask yourself before embarking on your own business, the decisions made for his own endeavors he was proud of, and those he learned a great deal from through trial and error. The recurring theme throughout his presentation, you ask? Choose the right PEOPLE and establish a CULTURE that fosters them.
As a fitting conclusion to an encouraging and forward thinking day, Tom Silvestri, the President & Publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch held a quick recap forum, asking all attendees to express what they enjoyed, what could be improved upon, and most importantly – what they were going to take from the FILLED day and do with it? For themselves, their firms, and their community.
After attending such an event, I can honestly say that it makes me proud to be a young professional in a city full of plenty but somewhat still un-realized potential. The important thing to do from here is to keep the momentum going and spread the positive mindset throughout the city, to young and old, natives and newly moved. It’s up to us as young professionals to stay informed, stay motivated, stay connected, and see where all of this hard work and enthusiasm will lead us!
As always, thanks for reading!