Recap of ObservePoint’s Validate Conference

I’m writing this while on a plane from Salt Lake City back to the Bay Area, despite a 3 hr delay at the airport, with a smile on my face. Validate 2019 by ObservePoint was one of the best conferences I’ve been to in quite some time. Why? What made it so special? It combined all the right elements: great and inspirational speakers, awesome networking opportunities, and an absolutely stunning setting. 

Let’s break it down.

Great speakers, collaborative sessions

The speakers at Validate 2019 were top notch, with heavy hitters in the Analytics industry such as Adam Greco and Michele Kiss of Analytics Demystified, James McCormick of Forrester, and Kevin Jorgeson, world-class athlete and climber of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. 

Kevin’s talk was especially inspiring, as he talked about summiting the Dawn Wall and how it wasn’t about conquering the challenge, but about achieving a dream. He drilled home the importance of teamwork, and how we can each lift eachother up with just a few simple words of encouragement, as well as use our own unique skill sets to improve the outcome of the whole team. I loved that after 1.5 days of talking about analytics and data governance, Kevin pulled us all in with his incredible story which spoke to all of us in a relatable way (hypothetically, of course, I’m not about to go climb the Dawn Wall or anything). 

I also really appreciated the format of the breakouts, as they were meant to be more collaborative than most conferences (right down to the seating structure, which was a giant U shaped set of chairs/tables). Rather than each speaker having a prepared talk and going on for an hour straight, the sessions were facilitated by the speakers, talking about a particular subject, with a few prepared slides to guide the session, but with an open format for discussion and sharing within the group. It was great hearing others in the room chime in with their experience and tactics for dealing with tough issues or creative new methods of solving analytics challenges. I attended sessions on taking advantage of creative tools and analysis hacks, data governance, learning from our (analysis) mistakes, justifying the analytics investment, and CDPs. 

While there, I was lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in the ‘Industry Experts Panel’ to chat through new trends in the analytics industry, how successful teams are structured, and data privacy and GDPR. It was a ton of fun to be up on stage with James, Michele, and Paul to share our collective knowledge and I did my best to sound halfway intelligent next to that amazing lineup 🙂 

Networking done right

One of my favorite things about going to a conference is the networking. I think the desire and opportunity to network is often about the little things, not just the 30 min breaks in the schedule, and Validate was structured perfectly to take the most advantage of our time together in Park City. 

As I said, it starts with the little things. Things such as a top notch breakfast and lunch, served buffet style with standing tables throughout the room, just screaming “let’s chat over these delicious scrambled eggs and chocolate croissants.” There was also plenty of time to chat during the networking breaks, a pervasive attitude that chatting with others was a top priority, and an atmosphere that was just begging you to take a walk with someone and talk about life, analytics, data governance, and all the other fun things those of us at these types of conferences like to nerd out about.  The beautiful lounge at the Montage called my name more than once for a comfy cozy fireside chat with other conference attendees.

The right mix of work and play

Add to that amazing afternoon activities such as hiking, fly fishing, mountain biking, and golfing, which served to get us out of the conference setting and chatting with our fellow attendees. I opted for hiking both afternoons, and loved the scenery and the trailside chats. What an awesome way to bond with others while taking in the beauty that is Park City!  

Stealing Liz’s adorable Alaskan Klee Kai puppy for the hike was an added bonus 😉 

And I can’t forget the evening activities in downtown Park City. The first night we were treated to an amazing dinner at Riverhorse, where ObservePoint rented out the entire upstairs and threw a private party just for us. The second night took the cake though as I flashed back to my early 20-something self singing along to an awesome karaoke lineup and dancing the night away at an Omniture Summit… Such a fun evening at OP Rockwell to finish out the conference! Thanks for helping me reminisce about my early analytics days, ObservePoint!

Bottom line 

The setting was amazing, the people absolutely awesome, the atmosphere reminiscent of the earlier days in our industry when people generously gave of themselves to teach others and help push us all forward, and the parties a blast. 5 out of 5 would attend again! 

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