Cheers to the Southwest Insights Educational Forum! It hosted the first event I attended in the Market Research Industry back in 2010; it is the first event I attended after founding Veridata Insights in 2019; and it’s still the one I look forward to attending every year (followed closely by the SW Annual Vegas Conference, of course), including this year even if we have to audible a bit and have it virtually. Every year the Board delivers on finding dynamic and engaging speakers who are excited to present and share their professional point of view. Finding relevant content for a local event like that is hard enough, but when it’s successful, as it always is, the returns are phenomenal. I am perennially grateful for the hard work these volunteers put in to make it a true success. I really do believe it’s the best value in the industry; not only do I get to keep up to date on what’s going on, but I can actually meet and get to know the presenters, which is difficult to do at a larger conference. No one is on guard, and everyone has the same goals: learn a little about the industry, network and have some fun. That is what makes it easy to have a real conversation with just about everyone who attends.
As I was cleaning out my home office yesterday, preparing for the Bingo/Happy Hour which would kick off the 2020 Virtual EF, I found last year’s conference program; tucked inside it was the attendee list. I normally wouldn’t save this, but about halfway through the first day, it had struck me just how special this event was. We had only just begun, and I’d already had the opportunity to converse meaningfully with quite a few attendees. I’m not just talking about Biz Dev stuff either; they were real conversations, where I was learning what my peers were up to, both professionally and personally – I had forgotten how much I got from this event and how important it is for my professional health. I began checking off the names of everyone I had spoken with at the conference making little notes about each one. By the end of the second day, every single name had a check mark next to it, including speakers, prospects and even competitors…everyone.
As we are wrapping up this year’s event, I wanted to take a moment to say, “Thank You” to the Southwest Board, whose dedication and drive make this possible, and to all of our speakers for taking time to share. Below are a few random notes I kept from the 2019 event at the Arizona Biltmore.
- Everyone still has less time, few resources and smaller budgets (feels even more relevant in 2020).
- Don’t connect with people digitally, engage them. Lean in and find them on their terms.
- “An insight is not an insight if it doesn’t lead to action.”
- Focus on the problem not the data (reminds me of Patch Adams). Use Data to solve the problem, don’t use it to create problems.
- Beware of the “new drug” for business… BIG DATA
- It’s important to cross-train your team, have them work across functions and seek them out.
- 5G with the IoT is the answer to solve the challenges of Blockchain (which seemed to be all the rage, but now I hear almost nothing about the technology).
- It’s important to leverage all tools. There is power in mixed methods, leverage MR with UX and more, don’t keep them silo’d.
- And always, wear a jacket, even in Arizona during August… the conference rooms can get cold!
Chief Operating Officer, Veridata Insights