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  • Writer's pictureAlison Conigliaro-Hubbard

Drawing on Instinct and Emotion: Executing with Impact

20 years ago I responsible outbound marketing for a high growth business incubated by Cisco (Andiamo) – that would later burgeon into its multi-billion-dollar data center business. We were building an advisory board of high visibility customers and prospective customers who would ultimately become the influencing peers to all the other prospective customers.

As architect of this experience, I knew these were the keys to an IMPACTFUL one. The attendees needed to:

  1. be allowed to voice their opinions freely

  2. feel they were heard by the product and engineering teams

  3. hear from peers who had already chosen the technology

  4. feel important

  5. walk away with an experience they would not forget

ALL of these mattered. If even one was missing, I knew we would not hit the mark. The last 2 were about drawing out an emotion; a feeling these valuable IT leaders would walk away with that said, ‘I really need to keep THIS relationship going’!

I was adamant about hitting these marks, and especially those last 2 because I had the most creative control over those. I knew these 2 would seal in a lasting impression.

It was in Scottsdale. The day-time activities with customers and product teams went as planned. People listened, shared ideas, offered constructive criticism, asked questions, built a peer-to-peer-to-vendor collaborative atmosphere I have yet to see since.

Then came time for the evening event – a beautiful dinner for Account Executives to connect with customer guests, together with the rest of the team. This is where I had to bring the ‘special sauce’ that would tie a bow on ‘IMPACT’. I kept this a BIG secret from almost everyone before this night. It was a crazy idea – but my gut said go for it – my instinct has been a strong creative partner over the years. The only people who knew were my outstanding event team helping to execute this event.

Scene: 6 large round tables with white tablecloths, wine glasses, candles, and all the accoutrement for a luxurious evening under the palms on a patio in Scottsdale, Arizona. Weather, perfect and musician playing. This was all meant to make these customers feel as valued as they were to us in growing the business. Their perspectives meant so much as we put our souls into building what would become a core revenue stream.

Then it happened. Out of nowhere in the middle of dinner, from the corner of the patio saunters a behemoth 2000lb bison with a man riding on top and within moments the bison was walking between the tables of people. Out came the flaming ring for the man and his bison to awe us with their skills! I can still see the looks on people’s faces as they stood up from their chairs, cameras in hand, and sellers and customers and leadership all became a UNIFIED group of humans sharing in an experience nobody would ever have imagined.

Every single person at that event ultimately became a customer. And years later, I still hear about that bison surprise from time to time, and how it was so memorable.

You see, making a lasting impact in anything we do is not just about dishing out a bunch of slides and data. It’s about delivering an experience that shifts an emotion; that changes the connection for everyone involved. That’s impact. I knew that if I had told everyone beforehand that we were bringing a gigantic bison to dinner, few people would have understood. But the value this 2000lb detail brought that tied the entire experience together, was priceless.

Using our imaginations to paint a vision, being willing to take risks & trust our instincts to deliver IMPACT, no matter how off the charts crazy it may seem, can make all the difference in the world.

Someday I’ll have to tell you about the nerf data center…

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