My head is still swimming from all the information I took in at Mozcon 2014. As someone who has attended hundreds of shows and conferences in the last decade, it’s says something that Mozcon has become my favorite event ever after just two visits (2013 and 2014). The comradery, the information, the people, the setting (Seattle rocks!) and the spirit of the affair serves to light a fire that continues to burn long after the event is exhausted.
This year, however, Mozcon went quite a bit further, by making me proud.
The event opened (after Rand’s official opening) with a strong female speaker, Kerry Bodine, who delivered the goods on customer experience, then never let up, with three other awesome female presenters—Lindsay Wassell, Cindy Krum and Lexi Mills—rounding out the first day.
The pride I felt had to do with the number of women presenters, the substance of their talks and knowing they’d killed it, shutting up the critics (not likely, but hopefully) who normally huddle after such events and nitpick every damn thing. As each female speaker owned the stage that first day, I was continually saying to myself, “What you got now?” to critics real and imagined.
Let me be clear: This isn’t a male vs. female thing, and I’m not grasping at straws trying to make something out of nothing. What I’m voicing is an opinion based on my own observations. Is it scientific? No. Do critics nitpick men? Yes.
And this isn’t a Mozcon issue. It’s a some-of-us-are-jerks issue.
I’ve continually heard the whispers about females delivering “fluff-filled” presentations that aren’t data-driven or tactical enough for a given audience. These “assessments” have always struck me as odd, especially since the presentations being attacked were often some of the strongest of the event, quashing any notions that the comments were merit-based.
It’s About The Substance Of The Information, Not About Who Is Delivering The Information
Last year’s Mozcon featured a strong lineup of women as well, including Dana DiTomaso, Aleyda Solis, Karen McGrane (one of my content strategy crushes), Lena West, Annie Cushing (the inimitable one), Brittan Bright and Mackenzie Fogelson (my sister-from-another-mother), among others.
I was blown away by each of the presenters, women and men.
However, when Brittan Bright spoke about how relationships are essential to building a strong business, my internal dialogue was visceral, emotive and unfiltered: “I wonder if this audience is picking up what she’s putting down? This stuff is important. Relationships are ultimately what sinks or floats a business. It ain’t SEO or content or PPC.”
Later, during the party at the EMP, I overheard an interesting comment: “Yeah, today was good, but some of the stuff was…a little soft, squishy, not really applicable to what I do. I’d rather it have been more technical, or tactical. That’s just me.”
He gave no real indication of the specific talk he was referring took, but my ears perked up, given that Bright’s presentation was titled “Building Your Business: Relationship and Other Critical ‘Soft’ Skills,” and she had spoken earlier that day. The words incensed me.
As someone who’s spent the better part of a decade advising businesses in the areas of product design/innovation, PR, branding and content marketing, I’ve seen firsthand what elements of a enterprise places it closer to being a success: people, not products or services.
And the better a company is at managing those critical relationships, both early on as the company is expanding and later as the team has swelled to multiples of its original size, the better chance the enterprise has of being a success.
Again, I have no idea who, exactly, this person was singling out with his comments. Also, his was not an opinion that was shared by the larger group, in my opinion. It still grated on me.
The Marketing Community Should Build One Another Up
Earlier this year, I was privy to several Twitter conversations where people were discussing the dearth of women presenters, especially in technology. None of the reasons, er, excuses, given sufficed.
The ongoing discussion served to remind me of past conferences, where it always seemed that the women were being judged by a different, harsher standard than the men, even when the former delivered the same level of depth and analysis as the latter.
While I’m not convinced such feelings will subside anytime soon, those conferences and events that feature women presenters do pique my interest and arouse a sense of pride in me. First, I know the hosts don’t fall for the “we-can’t-find-women-presenters” B.S.
And most important, I know the audience is likely to gain a different perspective, one they may not hear otherwise.
As marketers, we have enough problems to deal with, whether from Google, clients or the overall pace of the industry we serve.
Shouldn’t we be actively building up one another instead of nitpicking every damn thing?
At any rate, I’m happy Mozcon once again delivered an amazing event, one that did not perpetuate the stereotypical crap experienced elsewhere.
I’m very interested to know your thoughts. Please share in the comments below.