FUZE, Saskatchewan’s only conference dedicated to Marketing and Communications professionals, took place in Saskatoon on April 2nd, 2014. The theme of the conference was the “Power of Community” and sought to explore effective ways to engage your audience and create a community of advocates for your cause or business. This post is from Sara Naimian who attended FUZE for the first time this year and has been gracious enough to share her takeaways on the Deep Dish blog.
My first FUZE conference: I was blown away by the detail and planning that went into choosing the speakers and content. Here are my takeaways from the conference:
1. Community is everything (really, everything)
The community is nothing without individuals and communication.
The first speaker of the morning, Maureen Douglas, reinforced the value of happiness through mutual understanding when planning large events (a la Olympics, in her case). Marketing is all about communication, but you need cooperation when you’re stepping into someone else’s territory to ensure that all parties are not just satisfied, but happy. Respectful discourse is the key to harmony; “public engagement is a social contract”.
2. Aboriginal Strategy and Relations
Like Maureen, Leanne Bellgarde emphasized the importance of solidarity within the community. Bellgarde, director of Aboriginal Strategy at PotashCorp, reinforced the importance of engaging the Aboriginal community into Saskatchewan’s booming future.
Taking the time to understand the rhetoric of Aboriginal cultures and train others in the importance of First Nations communities will allow us to understand two fundamental facts. The first, that Aboriginal culture is not for sale: it is not a commodity, and the myths and stereotypes that persist (really, about any culture) need to be dispelled. The second, that diversity and understanding are crucial to planning the Saskatchewan’s future.
3. Storytelling is how we connect!
The “Storytelling” theme was pervasive throughout the conference. For Khayyam Whakil, it was particularly through video; only 20% of people will read your website content! Only two out of ten people are actually reading—not skimming—this right now!
Khayyam said it best: Tension and discovery, the heroic journey and the visual metaphor are the stuff the best stories are made of. Think Harry Potter, James Bond, UP!! Tell your story and stay romantic, always.
4. The Cornerstone of Startups
Entrepreneurs emphasized the importance of the most important people to your business—the people in your life! They are your primary investors, can inspire you, and help pull you through the rough patches. Sometimes this means money, but probably not—the lesson here, folks, is marry rich! (Just kidding).
I’ll say it again: the people closest to you are the cornerstone of start-ups; they will be your inspiration and the reason you continue when things are bleak. While not everyone makes it to Dragon’s Den, everyone has a story to tell about their inspiration, and can in turn, inspire others.
5. The Fireworks (I won’t lie, I drooled a little…)
Aaron Draplin’s presentation, in my opinion, was the fireworks at the end of the night (even though the conference ended mid-afternoon, haha). Entitled “Tall Tales From a Large Man”, Draplin had the audience roaring with laughter when he shared his tales of growing up. Despite his the pre-computer days of forging designs by hand and photocopier, and working for the Obama Campaign, Draplin spoke with a humble posture of learning and gratitude.
Draplin emphasized the Eastern American work ethic, and how grateful he felt just to have a job…and that sometimes it’s okay not to work for money. Hard work should never be taken for granted, and we should never forget the treasures this world has to offer, past or present.
You don’t need to win an award to tell your story, or have written a book, or wear pants most of the time, according to Draplin. One can’t help but wonder if his beard is full of the secrets to happiness…
About Sara Naimian – Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, my childhood was spent daydreaming and reading at night with the help of a flashlight. I started and finished an HBA in English at Lakehead University, and attended University of Saskatchewan in the middle. I am sought after for my bizarre taste in music (85% of my music collection is not in English).