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22 May, 2017

Event Recap: Uber Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY

Mary Noonan

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The Uber Conference, held in Saratoga Springs, New York this April, promised to be an opportunity to connect with 300 A/E/C firm leaders, marketers, and business developers – and it certainly did not disappoint. Surrounded by some of the Northeast region’s leading professionals, I had the opportunity to attend this energy charging event.

Opening keynote and creator of HARO (Help A Reporter Out), Peter Shankman, drew me in immediately with an inspiring talk on how possibility starts with a single idea, and how future design is about creating conditions for your own success. He shared many personal stories explaining why he blames his ADHD for most of his career success, with the message that what we may consider our weaknesses can actually be our strengths.

During the CPSM session Strengthen Your Immunity, Chuck Roberts led us through seven important actions to help prepare for the next industry downturn. I learned how to give my firm the necessary competitive advantage and resiliency while elevating my own status as a marketer. Later, the A/E/C Marketing Think Tank CPSM session focused on solving real issues conference attendees experience through a 360-degree evaluation of industry peers. Many of us shared similar issues and frustrations, so hearing input and solutions from the group was both refreshing and motivating.

The main conference sessions touched on subjects like how I can change how I am seen and related to as a marketing professional in Brent Robertson’s Marketing the Marketer, and how my firm could benefit from targeted marketing research in Sasaki’s Standing Out By Going Niche. In The Antidote to AEC Burnout, CPSM Matt O’Connor’s personal story of coming back from an extreme low really resonated with me and similar feelings I’ve had in my career. This session focused on what we can do as marketers to avoid the kryptonite of burnout and maintain the energy needed for success. My way of looking at things was challenged in Greg Stone’s Artful Business: 50 Lessons from Creative Geniuses, and Tracey Johnston taught me how to get extra mileage from my firm’s case studies in Turn Your Case Studies into a True ROI Platform.

But things were not all business and learning at the conference. In the evening, Uber attendees were released into the city for some fun. At the welcome reception, hosted at the Saratoga Automobile Museum, I joined fellow SMPS DC friends to nibble and mingle among one-of-a-kind automobiles while the Night at the Derby proved that SMPS members are not only talented professionals, but fashionable race fans in our best hats and bowties. Although no fortunes were made at the races or casino, we had a great time getting into the Saratoga spirit.

The conference ended with a keynote by Connect and Improv, LLC. Led by Ellen and Jenny, the group was encouraged to step out of our boundaries. Through skills rooted in improv comedy, I learned how to use building language to form more innovative and collaborative environments.

I left the Uber conference exhausted and energized at the same time – taking home some actionable items I can apply to my everyday position while forming and strengthening relationships with some of the best people in the business.

For those who weren’t able to make it, I leave you with my top three key takeaways from this year’s Uber conference:

  1. Be sure to take care of yourself. As I was reminded many times, you can’t be a marketing rockstar if you are mentally or physically exhausted. Take time everyday for you to recharge and reset.
  2. Never underestimate the power of your network. From support and job opportunities, to learning about the newest marketing and industry trends, your network is invaluable and one of your most important resources.
  3. Take time to sit back, step away, and reconsider things from a different perspective. A fresh set of eyes is invaluable when challenged.

As you can see, this conference was packed full of information, inspiration, and networking, and I’m already looking forward to seeing everyone again at next year's conference in Baltimore.

Mary Noonan, CPSM, SMPS DC Special Events Co-director
Region Marketing Director
Resource Environmental Solutions