Nov '16 | Silicon Valley Video Production Company CONNECTs

At the end of October, I had the opportunity to go to Intuit’s engaging and wonderfully showy Quickbooks CONNECT conference in San Jose. Even though I work at a Silicon Valley Video Production Company that focuses on making corporate videos, the conventions of the corporate world remain unfamiliar in many ways. As a corporate conference newbie, I didn’t quite know what to expect with keynote speakers carrying the star-power of America Ferrera and Michael Phelps, not to mention afterparty headliner Third Eye Blind, but I knew I was in for an experience when the day started at 9am with a pump-up drum quartet wearing clown makeup and LED costumes. Although I was the only attendee in my vicinity with my jaw dropped and my phone out taking pictures, the oddly communal nature of that experience set the tone for a group that was ready to get together and learn how to best make their businesses work.

For those of you who don’t know, Quickbooks is a revolutionary accounting software that has grown and changed with the onset of modern technologies to help small businesses thrive. As such, most of the sessions throughout the day were focused to benefit small business owners. Sessions such as “Cracking the Social Network Code” and “Finding your Personal Brand” gave tips on leveraging social media and presenting yourself and your business to the world, while “5 Lessons for the Self-Employed” and “Managing for Success” taught best practice on how to run one’s business. For me as an employee and contractor, not a business owner, my focus at the conference was not to learn specific tips, but to shape my big picture understanding of what it means to have a small business. Here are the top 5 general rules I learned for finding success in business:

1. Be Self-Defined

Lesson number one in “5 Lessons for the Self-Employed,” be self-defined applies to every corner of business, marketing, sales, and product development. In the session they highlighted the legal side of that rule – define your business by getting the proper licenses, corps designations, healthcare, and payroll – but be self-defined applies to so much more than that. Define your intent, your product, your culture, and your marketing methodologies. Getting specific is good because undefined goals can only work against you.

2. There Can Only Be One “Personal Brand”

While your business might have multiple services you see as very different from one another, you can’t include everything you do in the brand you put out into the world. Find your most important service (maybe you need to work with professionals to decide this), put it in a sentence, and make that your brand. For example: “Patina Pictures is a Silicon Valley video production company helping companies discover the right mix of words and visuals to meet their corporate storytelling needs.”  Everything else you do will become part of that brand, rather than taking away from it. 

3. Delegate

Yes, you love your business. You’ve built it up and like things done the way you do them. Well, as they say in writing – kill your darlings. If you want your business to be successful, it’ll have to grow and you’ll have to have people work under you. Learn how to delegate tasks and manage people capably and with respect; do not be one of those horrible bosses who end up sabotaging their own business. In a session I attended, good management was broken down into seven distinct steps: define the task for your employee, determine a measurable objective, share necessary resources, give the authority needed for success, communicate that delegated authority to relevant parties, create milestone measurements, and provide feedback. Let your employees be successful at working for you.

4. Get an Accountant

This was an Intuit Quickbooks conference after all. Having the right software and an accountant to help you balance the books, plan future moves, and make sure you’re not breaking any laws will give you a much higher chance of having a successful business. The leaders of the session gave a stat that businesses with accountants are 50% more likely to succeed. That’s enough to convince me!

5. Believe in Yourself

While this rule seems more like it should live on a cat poster then be a lesson in business, America Ferrera and Michael Phelps convinced me otherwise. Having faith in your ability to accomplish your goals, trust that your business will to contribute positively to the world, and belief in your capabilities despite hardships may be the most important quality to help your business thrive. Not only will believing in yourself make you more effective, it will inspire trust in those around you, and building a business has to be a team effort. And trust me, whenever you feel as though you can’t do it, listen to Michael Phelps talk about the process of becoming the most decorated Olympian in the history of the world (that’s the history of the world — take that Ancient Greece) and you’ll start to feel better.

So these are the 5 lessons I pass on to you of Intuit’s crazy yet informational CONNECT conference. The corporate world can be a strange place, but it definitely taught me a lot I can apply to my life and my work at a Silicon Valley Video Production Company. Hopefully you learned some things too. Until next time!

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K'Dee Miller is the Founder & Creative Director of Patina Pictures.

Her feature films have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, Newport Beach Film Festival, among others. Her corporate video clients span from technology companies such as Microsoft, RingCentral, DocuSign and Adobe, to Bay Area nonprofits such as Team4Tech and Hamilton Families.

She's studied her industry from every angle, receiving production training from The Juilliard School, an MFA of Writing from University of San Francisco, and a BFA of Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

She is currently in the process of writing a memoir about growing up in the wilderness of Alaska.