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Build Business and Ctrl+Alt+Delete

Ctrl+Alt+Delete. That familiar sequence of keys we use when our computer is over worked, when too many applications are open for it to function at its best, or when a program or the entire computer freezes up.

As marketers and business development professionals, we too can become over worked, over stimulated, and in need of a refresh. The SMPS Build Business Conference is the ultimate Ctrl+Alt+Delete. I spent three days soaking in information and advice from industry professionals, learning how they have built relationships and successes.

Gathering with over 20 Boston Chapter members, merged alongside 1,000+ members from other SMPS Chapters from across the country, promised to be a week to remember. The schedule was filled with keynote speakers and industry leaders, and we kicked the conference off by hearing from those that make the real difference, the SMPS volunteers themselves.

It was insightful to hear how other chapters engage their members and community, openly sharing successes, struggles, and challenges. My eyes were truly opened to the amazing success of the Boston chapter, and I left with ideas for changes that could further benefit our members. Jeff Hurt, one of the breakout speakers stated, “Having a network that is supportive and encouraging is conducive to brain health and productivity.” His words rang true as 50+ SMPS chapters came together to better SMPS as a whole. It set the tone for a week of encouragement, supporting each other, and uplifting our teams to not only be the best but also highlight each other’s strengths and strengthen each other’s weaknesses.

There were so many breakout sessions of value to choose from and I couldn’t be happier with the information and lessons learned from the ones I attended. Here are two lessons that I brought back with me.

Fighting Fear

Fear of failure holds me back from the pursuit of greater things. What if I fail others? What if I fail myself or the task given? Brian Parsley reminded us that fears are overcome by influence. Even if it is our own influence or the mind games we play with ourselves, he challenged us to define our fears and change what is unauthentic and perceived.

He stated, “Imperfect action, is better than NO action at all.” Complacency is the pursuit of nothing, while challenging yourself is the pursuit of betterment. Better to fail and know then what didn’t work, than to never have tried at all. Hearing his conviction and determination when he spoke hit home for me knowing that those words are certainly true. Show passion in all you do, and others will buy into it, because selling is about delivering an emotional experience to your audience.

Finishing his session he reminded us to be genuine and intentional in our conversations. He also challenged us to keep in mind that colleagues, clients, friends and all others want to feel three things:

  1. Important
  2. Valued
  3. Appreciated

If we as humans can achieve that feeling in all who surround us, then we will be successful in understanding just what it takes for us to grow our networks and our businesses.

Getting Smart about the Brain

Jeff Hurt continued to make a lasting impression on the week, as he lead an intriguing session on applying neuroscience insight and knowledge to leadership. Captivating his audience from start to finish, he filled our brains with knowledge about our brains, and taught us to rearrange trigger points to become more productive in our daily lives.

As marketing and sales professionals, he began by reminding us that our brains think and dream in pictures and colors. How do we relay those colorful pictures into stories that others can understand? Especially, those who may not see our point of view in the same light.

Our minds have a cognitive limit of 3-4 important pieces of information per 30 seconds. We can overload our brains with a plethora of information that we hear or see, yet our minds are a filing system trying to determine what is and isn’t important to remember. By rearranging our trigger points, he told us that we can sort out the positives and the negatives faster. That also includes interactions within your office and with your team members.

We have all had an experience where someone hasn’t appreciated our work, appreciated us, or has shared a negative comment, all throwing off our day completely. In the session, we focused on how we felt after that circumstance and how it turned into lost productivity. We learned how to identify and understand what is triggering us, and shift our focus quickly to regain control over our emotions and not let others derail our productivity.

In a world of constant distractions, we lose focus on what is important and need to hone in and find focus on the specifics of the information needed to make decisions. More isn’t better when it only acts to overcrowd your brain. Focusing on less information is best because it leads to better quality.

This conference trained my brain, rejuvenated my spirit, and strengthened my relationships in the Boston community and the greater SMPS community. Build Business was my Ctrl+ Alt+Delete, it reset my priorities and realigned my goals. It was an honor and a highlight of my year to attend.

SMPS Boston is proud to offer our members scholarships for professional development opportunities. Sarah Shields Duval was one of the recipients of this year’s SMPS Build Business Scholarship, which covers the full cost of registration. Learn more about all the scholarships SMPS Boston offers.


Sarah Shields is the Architectural Account Representative for Dal-Tile Corporation serving the Downtown Boston and Cambridge communities. She has been working within the A/E/C industry for 8 years as both a Business Development and Marketing professional. A passion for learning, hard work and meeting new people has allowed her to grow a strong and supportive network - giving her the opportunity to travel throughout the United States serving different companies and market sectors.

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