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The Time David, Dharmesh, and Rand Made Me Pause and Reflect at INBOUND 2017

INBOUND 2017 is over. This year was the most widely attended INBOUND by 97th Floor with 13 of us making the trek. I can now definitively say, more really is merrier.

The keynotes have been impactful. Brene Brown expressed a call back to truer human connection. Michelle Obama shared some close experiences from the White House and what she’s been up to since. Ed Catmull declared thoughtful insights on creativity gained from a lifetime of work and imagination.

The breakouts have been insightful. There are topics and speakers as far as the eye can see, which made for a very specific experience for each attendee. Never a dull moment in breakout session topics, from coaching tips to SEO tactics to improv lessons. There was something for everyone, every hour.

Boston has been beautiful. The history, the food, and the passion here are unmatched. I feel strangely drawn to this city. For me, it’s never easy to leave Boston.

But can I get real for a minute?

I had a subtle but impactful moment of gratitude at INBOUND 2017. It happened on my last day, just before walking into my last breakout session. I saw Dharmesh Shah, who was speaking with David Meerman Scott and others. Dharmesh shortly left, and Rand Fishkin joined the group. As I creepily watched these digital marketing giants, while pretending to be occupied with my phone, I thought about why I look up to these people. Don’t get me wrong, they are massively successful pioneers in the space I work in and there’s unmistakeable celebrity appeal too. All this is true, but I wasn’t feeling starstruck or intimidated. It was something else, something harder to express...


Years ago, while still in school, I read David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing and PR. I was studying PR while reading this so there was a natural pull for me. Immediately I learned how PR has changed and that made me panic, because here I was getting a professional education in all the old rules. But just before my panic took hold of me, I saw hope and a career for me. The fire had been lit. True enough this book was my playbook during my first internship as a PR practitioner.

Still hungry for more application on the subject on marketing, I picked up Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. I blitzed through the book in a week’s time, and shortly turned to the certifications Hubspot offered. Not only was there concrete information on my new favorite subject, but a community of practitioners and students willing to share everything. I was sold. This was my career. But I didn’t quite know how to start.

Enter Moz. I stumbled across Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO and have forever been set on the path of the SEO. I had found what I needed to be somewhat self-taught so I wouldn’t appear a complete novice when I graduated school and joined the workforce. Even after the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, I was still hungry and luckily Moz had a open kitchen policy for knowledge. I became a closet fan of this Whiteboard Friday thing hosted by Rand Fishkin, who was a perfect blend of awkward, cool, and genius.

Snap back to reality

Standing in the hallway near breakout room 210 AB, I come back to reality and realize that I’m in a really awesome place in my life. I had a killer week in Boston with some of my best friends. I’ve learned some actionable and specific information during my sessions at INBOUND 2017. I have the job of my dreams. And all this is largely due to these ballers who have shared it all with me and others.

INBOUND is probably the only place where all these parties (myself included) would be together, and that lead me to a place of introspective reflection. It was short, but a powerful moment I wanted to share and express gratitude for.

Thank you David.

Thank you Dharmesh and Brian.

Thank you Rand.

Thank you INBOUND 2017 for bringing it all together.

And thank you 97th Floor for the growth and mentorship.

PJ Howland

PJ is the VP of Industry Insights at 97th Floor. He coordinates insights with others at 97th Floor to ensure we're all elevating each other through good content.

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