Being a junior team member at a media agency, you always hear the grandeur of CES. Vegas! The tech! This is the event brands live for! Never did I think my first time at CES would be on behalf of a non-profit, or that I would find it to be so relatable and make as many positive connections as I did. Check out the five things I learned on my first trip to CES.
1. Pack Your Walking Shoes
First off, I did more walking than I ever expected. In the 3 weeks I’ve had my Apple watch I had grown accustomed to feeling as though I let it down daily. But not at CES! I met my step goals by 11 a.m. each day and consequently am in the market for a cobbler to replace the soles of my shoes.
2. Learn from Top Leaders
The beauty of CES is it attracts the coolest people in our industry. I had the pleasure of attending Advancing Diversity Honors held by MediaVillage. From the serene quiet of a Caesars Palace ballroom, I listened to Lisa Sherman (CEO, Ad Council), Kay Koplovitz (Managing Partner, Springboard Growth Capital), Aline Santos (EVP of Global Marketing and Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Unilever) and other industry leaders tell their stories of how they are #AdvancingDiversity in the workplace. They didn’t just share vague anecdotes but powerful, personal stories and they discussed ways they are reshaping their companies.
3. Follow Your Bliss
I truly believe there is a panel, break-out group, or summit on whatever your interests may be. Landmark Ventures put on a Social Innovation Summit focused on Tech for Good which was right up my alley.
The day began like a traditional conference with speakers on a stage (and a man casually snoozing in the chair next to me), but quickly evolved into much more. Some of the companies who spoke had booths set up next door where you could ask questions, engage, network and explore what they had to offer, which led to me being photographed with a personal message written across my arms by a company who is “an amplifier of individual stories.”
While I love having my picture taken (#portraitmodeonly), I got the most out of the small group break-out sessions. It was a CYOA (Choose Your Own Adventure) and I opted for “Driving positive change through AI and Digital.” Pretty heavy stuff, but having an open forum to meet with like-minded thinkers is exactly what I was looking for.
4. Check Out the Tech
After two days of diversity, social good and AI, I felt the need to balance it out with some good ol’ fashioned consumerism. And by ol’ fashioned I mean the newest, smartest, techiest gadgets you can imagine.
I renamed “the floor” a more fitting pseudonym: “Smart Bed, Bath & Beyond.” Smart swimsuits? Check. Smart blinds? Obviously. Autonomous smart office? If that means it does all my work for me then YES PLEASE. Insider tip, if you attend CES and are feeling in need of a power nap, there are smart mattresses galore and people are NOT afraid to lay on them.
I enjoyed exploring the tech because it allowed me to be more creative about how I could incorporate a cause or campaign into one of these gadgets. My personal favorite was the iCuisine, a set of smart kitchen tools that alert you when groceries in your fridge are about to expire and provide recipes for what you can make with the food in your fridge – this aligns perfectly with our Save the Food campaign.
5. Don’t Forget to Network
After all of that, Vegas is still Vegas. Use that never-ending nightlife to your networking advantage! It’s a chance to meet up with that person who you keep rescheduling coffee with.
That company you’ve been trying to break but can’t seem to find a way in? You will most likely find them at the Chandelier bar. It’s completely normal to approach strangers and strike up a conversation starting with “So where do you work?” before even asking what their name is. I left with a stack of business cards and walked into the office to emails from companies who were on my prospect list for months.
If you’ve been wavering on whether to endure a week in Las Vegas and likely the most overpriced hotel rooms you will ever encounter, I would say CES is well worth the trip for any media maverick looking to go to the Super Bowl of technology.