Inbound 2015's Most Inspiring Female Speakers

Denamico September 3, 2015


Inbound 2015's Most Inspiring Female Speakers

Why write about inspirational women?

Back in 2013, I attended my first INBOUND conference (HubSpot's annual inbound marketing conference) and was disheartened by a striking lack of female speakers. Sure Arianna Huffington spoke and was quite amazing, but as I looked back at my notes, 100% of the breakout talks I saw were from men. Aside from Arianna, all the keynote speakers were men. I offhandedly tweeted about it, mentioning HubSpot and was surprised to get a reply from then-CMO, Mike Volpe. He apologized about the lack of women, asked me to email him to share my perspective, and sent then-Product Manager, Meghan Keaney Anderson, a woman and HubSpot powerhouse employee, to talk to me about the issue.

I wrote about the whole experience before attending last year’s INBOUND conference because I was impressed by the improvement between 2013 and 2014.

Last year, HubSpot made a special point to bring in amazing female speakers like Shiza Shazid, Ekaterina Walter, and more. This year, HubSpot has doubled down on their efforts to bring in a diverse, interesting, and inspiring group of women speakers. They've also added women-focused sessions to promote leadership among women in marketing and breaking down barriers in the industry, which is a completely new and exciting addition to this year's agenda.

As young professional women ourselves, my colleague, Diane, and I think it’s important to see ourselves on stage as we attend conferences like this one. It’s exciting and inspiring to see other women sharing their insights and experiences like the bosses they are.

Before heading to Inbound 2015, we wanted to take the opportunity to recognize HubSpot for their efforts in featuring more women and highlight some of the most inspiring speakers we look forward to hearing at this year’s event...

Lindsey’s Top Picks:

Brené Brown

inbound_marketing_conference_brene_brown-888530-editedWho she is:

Dr. Brené Brown is a best-selling author and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. According to her website, she has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Her latest book, Rising Strong, which was released just last week, is about what it takes to recover after failure. In addition to her research and writing, Dr. Brown is also the Founder and CEO of The Daring Way, an organization that brings her work to organizations, schools, communities, and families.

Why she’s inspirational:

When it comes to being a strong person, embracing one’s imperfections, daring to be vulnerable, and persevering after failure, Brené Brown literally wrote the book (4 books actually.) Even more inspiring than her resume, I admire the way she translates research data into meaningful insights she then shares with millions via content. It’s one thing to be a book author, but quite another to be a CEO, public speaker, thought leader, blogger, professor, and researcher - not to mention she’s a wife and mom.

Her INBOUND talk:

Dr. Brown’s talk will kick off on the keynote stage the first full day at the conference - 9:00-10:00 am on Wednesday, September 9th. As I write this, I don’t see any information online about her topic, but I’m sure she’ll talk about her most recent book, Rising Strong, on overcoming failure. I hope she talks about her own inbound marketing strategy and whether she’s experienced setbacks - even failure - creating The Daring Way, her website, and all of her content.

Susan McPherson

inbound_marketing_conference_susan_mcpherson-228679-editedWho she is:

Susan McPherson is the founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, a communications consultancy focusing on the intersection between brands and social good. A “serial connector, passionate cause marketer, angel investor, and corporate responsibility expert,” Susan and her firm provide “storytelling, partnership creation and visibility” to corporations, NGOs, and social enterprises.

Why she’s inspirational:

I’ve long felt that businesses should be more accountable to create social change. Susan has dedicated her career to helping companies do just that. In addition to her work at McPherson, Susan is committed to organizations that empower people - especially women and girls - around the world. She’s on the boards of Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education; USA for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency; and The PVBLIC Foundation, an “in-kind grant making organization that harnesses the power of media assets to drive social change.” She also acts as an advisor to several non-profits, including Girls Who Code, She’s The First, The Adventure Project, and The OpEd Project. In other words, Ms. McPherson is pretty much who I want to be when I grow up. Every day, she uses her mad communication skills to make the world a better place.

Her INBOUND talk:

Susan’s talk, “Advertising and Social Good - A Perfect Marriage or a Recipe for Disaster?” will take place in Room 162 AB on Friday, September 11th at 11:45 am.

Natalie S. Burke

inbound_marketing_conference_natalie_s_burke-574306-editedWho she is:

Natalie S. Burke is the President & CEO of CommonHealth ACTION (CHA), a national public health organization that provides health equity training and learning experiences, community in-health programming approaches, and the development of multi-sector strategies for health promotion. They work across sectors and communities to develop plans, policies, and operational infrastructures that advance equity in health for under-resourced people and communities. She describes her work in her own words by saying, “As a strategist, I focus on the connective tissue that forms organizations (people and entities in relationship) and how to strengthen it. As a facilitator, I cultivate spaces to exchange ideas that create change. As a writer, I use what I know to say what needs to be said. As a leader I know that world-changing is serious business but then again, what better way is there for me to spend my time?”

Why she’s inspirational:

Like all of these ladies, Natalie’s work speaks for itself. She leverages her leadership skills, health care experience, and policy chops, to raise public awareness about health inequality. Beyond raising awareness, she works with “corporate and community leaders whose decisions produce health through will building and perspective transformation.” In other words, she combines her values, health research, public policy, and cross-sector collaboration, to create real change for marginalized groups seeking health care. Personally, I’ve long been interested in inequity at our nation’s schools, a different yet similar cause, and I’m looking forward to Natalie’s talk to see if there are opportunities to leverage her insights.

Her INBOUND talk:

Natalie’s talk, “Moving ‘The Table’ Requires You to Get Out of Your Chair” will focus on "the table" as a symbol for leadership and social change. Attend in Room 210 at 2:30 pm on Thursday, September 10th.

Gretta G. Gardner

inbound_marketing_conference_gretta_g_gardner-773104-editedWho she is:

Gretta Gardner works as a legal advisor for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. For nearly two decades, she has strived to end violence towards women by shaping guidelines, policies, and procedures. Currently she serves as the Family Violence Director for Justice Planning in Austin, Texas, and she is also the Chair of the Austin/Travis County Family Violence Task Force.

Why she’s inspirational:

Ms. Gardner is inspiring because she’s trying to put herself out of a job. Her goal is to put an end to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence by helping criminal and civil justice systems respond more effectively to these issues.

Her INBOUND talk:

Her talk “Stop Domestic Violence - The Ultimate Sales Pitch” will describe how she tries to “sell” the concept “that we all have a human right to be free of violence from our intimate partners.” You can attend the session in Room 210 on Wednesday, September 9th at 10:30 am.

Diane's Top Picks:

Lisa Genova

inbound_marketing_conference_lisa_genova-551088-editedWho she is:

If you saw last winter’s emotional tale of the struggles of Alzheimer’s, you know Lisa Genova’s work. She is the author of Still Alice, which was made into a movie in 2014, featuring Julianne Moore. As a neurologist, Lisa has done research at the National Institutes of Health, Massachusetts General Hospital East, Yale Medical School, McLean Hospital, and taught neuroanatomy at Harvard Medical School. Prior to her success as a novelist, Lisa served as a medical consultant to pharmaceutical companies.

Why she’s inspirational:

Despite numerous publisher rejections, encouragements to try non-fiction and the suggestion that she could be committing career suicide by self-publishing her first novel, Lisa pursued her goal of spreading Alzheimer’s awareness through Still Alice. She shows a critical vantage point that is often overlooked in stories of neurological diseases, which is that of the patient. She has gone on to tackle additional conditions such as Autism, Huntington’s Disease, and Traumatic Brain Injury in spectacularly moving stories written from the perspective of the person experiencing the condition first-hand.

Her INBOUND talk:

Her talk “If You Could Do Anything You Wanted” will share her journey from a neurologist to a novelist and help attendees to uncover their answer to the question. Check it out in Room 210 on Friday, September 11th at 11:45 am.

Amber Case

inbound_marketing_conference_amber_case-680857-editedWho she is:

Amber Case calls herself a “cyborg anthropologist.” She’s made a career out of examining the way humans interact with technology. Case observes how people participate in digital networks, including how we form values, communicate, establish our personalities, work, and play. She is an entrepreneur, researcher, and author, as well as the founder of, a private location-sharing application. Plus - she has great hair.

Why she’s inspirational:

Case has been called a digital philosopher, and the title fits. She not only studies the interaction between humans and technology, but she also makes predictions about the evolution of society.

One of her passions is the future of data ownership, and she is a fierce advocate of digital privacy. Her ideas about “calm technology” will no doubt influence how we perceive and interact with technologies of the future in our daily lives.

Her INBOUND talk:

Her talk, “Designing Calm Technology,” talks about the cognitive overload we suffer as a result of our digital lives. There’s a disconnect between our how we interact in our real lives and how we interact with technology. The term “calm technology” refers to a level of technological maturity in which our primary task isn’t computing - it’s being human. Attend in Room 210 at 12:45 pm on Wednesday, September 9th.

Kelsey Tainsh

inbound_marketing_conference_kelsey_tainsh-797633-editedWho she is:

Kelsey Tainsh is a world champion athlete, a T.V. and movie actress, and most recently an inspirational speaker. Suffering from a brain tumor at a young age, Kelsey spent most of her young life as a varsity lightweight rower and giving back to others through volunteering and public speaking.

Why she’s inspirational:

At the age of 15, Kelsey learned that her brain tumor had returned after ten years. During or after her surgery to remove the tumor, she had a complete right sided stroke which left that side of the body completely paralyzed. Once a very active young woman, Kelsey had to learn many of the things that we take for granted, such as remembering how to tie shoes. Kelsey vowed to one day be able to run, row, and surf as she used to, and she has accomplished those goals, while also graduating from the University of Florida.

Her INBOUND talk:

Her talk “There is No Such Thing as Normal” shares how personal crises can lead to future successes. Kelsey will share how personal obstacles can lead to better leadership, problem solving and more. That change in perspective can lead to great breakthroughs for a company no matter what the obstacle is. Hear her inspirational story and insights on Thursday, September 10th at 2:30 pm in Room 210.

Tara Hunt

inbound_marketing_conference_tara_hunt-922184-editedWho she is:

Tara Hunt is the Director of Audience Development at Totem. As an experienced marketer, startup founder, author, and mom, Tara has spoken extensively on digital marketing with a focus on the social web. She has spoken at over 150 conferences and has been using social web tools for over 23 years.

Why she’s inspirational:

Tara has done it all in online marketing. She’s founded her own successful company, she’s worked for a startup, she’s worked outside her native country, and has rallied for the interests of the consumer and of the marketer. As she writes, “people are individuals and not ‘targets’. People don’t buy brands, they buy hope, stories, memories, necessities, etc.” She also has a great video blog and says she's hoping to encourage more women her age to get onto YouTube.

Her INBOUND talk:

Her talk “Transform Your Strategies with Better Research” will focus on how the best strategies come after unearthing a deep understanding of your audience, including their culture, behaviors, emerging trends and more. Attendees will leave with a set of tools and processes to guide their own audience development and successful campaigns. Check it out at 10:30 am on Thursday, September 10th in Room 157 ABC.

We highlighted some of our most admired female speakers presenting at Inbound this year, but there are so many other amazing women we didn't talk about. Which ones inspired you? Who did we leave off? Connect with us on Twitter at @lindseymgraff and @dianekulseth, or leave a comment below...