BL&T No. 123: Thoughts After Attending NRF


This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


"The more deeply you understand other people, the more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them. To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground."

From "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey [Book]


I came to NYC on Friday to attend NRF's 2023 Retail Big Show for the first time. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I left my schedule mostly open to leave a buffer for spontaneity, like a last-minute lunch this afternoon. With a better sense of the event, I'll plan to have a tighter schedule during the day next time, but I’m happy with how everything panned out this time around.

Over the last few days, it's been a lot of fun meeting new people, reconnecting with familiar faces, and chatting in person with folks I've only met on calls or over email (sometimes, not realizing until we're standing in front of each other!).

As I packed my bags up this morning to head home later today, there were a few thoughts from my NRF experience that I wanted to spend more time with here.

1) Say hello. I remember attending events on my own when I first moved to NYC, walking around, hoping someone might say hello to me. Since then, I've realized how silly that was, and if I want to meet people, it's up to me to say hello. These days, I'm comfortable with the brief discomfort of walking up to a group of people I've never met and introducing myself. NRF has been a good reminder of how worthwhile it is to take that step and embrace the uncertainty on the other side. If I hadn't done this during my time here, there are so many people I wouldn't have met.

2) People work with people. From learning about an agency rep's former competitive skiing career to an app founder's journey from NJ to Tel Aviv, learning about people's interests and experiences has been a memorable part of this trip. When attending conferences like NRF, it's easy to fall into talking exclusively about the industry, what our agency/company does, etc. While these topics are expected and can be helpful context, I've enjoyed going beyond when talking to folks during my trip, hearing more about their background, journey, and role today.

It's wild how you can work with someone for years and never learn about who they are outside work, which can deepen your connection and strengthen collaboration. Throughout my trip, people have remarked on how refreshing it's been to go beyond the expected conversation. It's nice to think I've walked away from this experience with some new friends I'd love to collaborate with vs. a stack of business cards of names and titles.

Funny enough, as a side note, I met a Director of Sales at an IT infrastructure company who has an amazing singing voice and produces music on the side. We talked about making music together this year. We'll see.

3) Value in face time. I made the same remark after our first team retreat in October. When working in an office for so long, I never thought much about the value of spending time with clients, partners, and co-workers in person. After events like this, it's top of mind. I'm grateful our team can work together and with clients without being in the same room, but to me, it makes us appreciate the time we can spend together and make the most of it. I'm excited to continue meeting with colleagues and industry folks throughout the year at gatherings and industry events like NRF.

Thought Starter

What is one thing I can learn about someone I work closely with this week?


The E-Commerce Corner

Amazon announced last week that it will give all US-based merchants access to their Buy with Prime service. For brands that have done well on Amazon, this could be a win, giving them a path to grow their DTC channel and get more insight into Amazon customer data.

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