On June 6th, I attended the annual Evanta Executive CDO conference in Boston along with another female sales colleague from Segment. I was swarming around titles like Head of Intelligence, Director of Knowledge, Chief Data Strategist, IT Chief Technologist, Head of Insights and Data Science, and of course CDO’s. Brands in attendance included world class logos like Fidelity, State Street, Hanover Insurance Company, Converse, Talbots, The TJX Companies, Raytheon Company, Bose and others. To say it was the opportune networking event for Segment was an understatement. Technology thought leaders who were all looking to learn more about overhauling their digital data at precisely the time when the data and privacy conversation was incredibly relevant with PII, GDPR and CCPA Compliance all top of mind with these executives.
Being a vendor at an intimate networking event where C-level heads of Technology come to learn, share and network is quite intimidating. You are most certainly a minority; and while these attendees are eager enough to approach your booth (mostly for the swag) but also for the obligatory “and what does Segment do?” you have approximately 30 seconds to capture their attention and create an impact that allows you stand out from the rest of the booths in your aisle.
My first instinct was to be incredibly intimated by this crowd. But I quickly reminded myself that my confidence should – and would – trump everything. So I quickly changed my mindset and headed into the conference with a mindset shift.
The evening prior to the conference, Segment had been one of the sponsors at a networking cocktail hour and dinner. While the format for the cocktail hour was pretty standard (beer and wine on the outdoor terrace) I found myself awkwardly peering at peoples midline to read their names and company on their dangling lanyards- only to find myself amongst a group of vendors – with zero clients in sight. After the obligatory mingling and awkward conversation with strangers we were invited inside for dinner.
There were some rumblings by the hotel staff that we should hurry to grab our seats because “the trivia was about to start.” Turns out, the host was a legit game show professional and 2 time Jeopardy champion.
Your team consisted of the various people randomly seated at your table. You had to designate a team lead who would download and app and all work together to answer various questions. There were 3 trivia rounds that consisted of 10 questions each. Followed by a lightning round at which time scores would be calculated and a winning team (“table”) would be announced. Questions ranged from local Boston trivia to very intense data questions clearly targeted to a supreme technical audience to light data trivia that everyone had a shot at answering correctly.
It was a 90 minute activity that carried us through appetizers, dinner, and dessert, and by the end we were all friends and ally’s all working toward the same common goal. Many high fives, fist bumps, and woo-hoo’s later, we were and exchanging LinkedIn profile information. And the coolest part… we WON! My table won the grand prize and we all walked away with a bottle of champagne and a “The Big Quiz Thing” medal we wore proudly.
That night I connected with executives from State Street, Hanover Insurance, Microstrategy, and an author and thought leader on the future of AI and the total impact of AI on data privacy and data practices across organizations.
The next day the conference began with a 7am networking breakfast. I arrived champagne bottle in hand and placed it proudly at our booth. Throughout the day when executives slowly approached, that bottle of champagne was used to break the ice and allow us to bond over the evening prior. The confidence of that win was evident in the energy I brought to the conference, our booth, and my conversations that day. I was no longer intimidated by the data conference. Instead, I was the data champion of the entire executive conference!
The reality is that nothing changed in those 2 days about how much tech talk I could bring to the table. But that win did in fact allow me to focus on myself and stay in my lane without comparing myself to others anymore. I focused on what I know. What I can do. Versus what others know and how inferior that would make me feel. This shift allowed me to bring my best, authentic self to my conversations and we walked away with so many leads that our marketing team and Segment would be incredibly pleased with.
We ended the evening with a wonderful dinner at Troquet, one of Boston’s finest French dining experiences, and had a wonderful meal, with new friends, at an incredible 5 star restaurant which I may have never experienced on my own.