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Ten thousand customers, partners, and employees plugged into the latest in digital marketing, commerce, and customer service at Day 1 of the Connections ‘18 conference in Chicago. The DJs were bumping and the campground was jumping at McCormick Place convention center. Here are five highlights from Day 1:

 

1. Trailblazing women talk salaries, mentorship, advice to younger selves

 

Salesforce’s Trailblazing Women group, in partnership with the Salesforce Women's Network, hosted an event complete with lively table discussions, networking, and an awesome panel of inspiring female leaders sharing their experiences and tips for navigating.

Moderated by Molly Ford, Salesforce’s Senior Director of Global Equality Programs, the conversation touched on the topics of sponsorship vs. mentorship, negotiating salaries, advice for younger selves, and other important topics for women professionals. Catherine Wood of Ticketmaster, Andrea Armstrong of Alight Solutions, Erica Geil of Groupon, Angelica Munson  of Shiseido, and Tracie Kambies of Deloitte delighted the audience with anecdotes and tangible advice.

 

2. Lucy Liu talks about overcoming racism in Hollywood

 

 

The stereotypes her parents faced as Chinese immigrants to New York City followed her to Hollywood in the form of typecasting, actor/director/humanitarian Lucy Liu told an audience of thousands in today’s keynote talk. Lucy discussed the topic of equality for all — a key Salesforce value — with Ellen McGirt, a senior editor for Fortune who writes on diversity issues. After her roles in the television show “Ally McBeal” and movies “Kill Bill” and “Charlie’s Angels,” Lucy said she would be asked by journalists such questions as, “how does it feel to play a ‘dragon lady’?” a term she said she didn’t know and had to look up. “I learned what these stereotypes were through interviews.”

Her immigrant family’s work ethic made an early impact that has continued, and given her a profound respect for connecting and coordinating work with others, she said. “We started working at a very young age — illegally of course.” Lucy said she worked a job scooping ice cream before she was a teen-ager, resulting in “really strong right biceps at 11.” She laughed, but noted that the creative work she does is almost always with a group of people. “I enjoy it so much.”

 

3. The great value of good values

 

Customer loyalty aligned with a company’s values was the topic of the “Creating Impact with Inclusive Marketing” Super Session, hosted by Salesforce’s Senior Director of Global Equality Programs, Molly Ford. Featuring Tracie Kambies of Deloitte, Andrew McCaskill of Nielsen, and Cristina Jones of Salesforce.

 

Sixty-six percent of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services when the company aligns with their values, Molly said to open the session. In many cases, one of those values is equality. “If you don’t have a diversity strategy, you don’t have a strategy,” said Andrew. As Cristina put it, “try to make your workforce look like the world you live and work in.”

 

 

4. Those marketing execs keep morphing

 

 

Chief marketing officers’ responsibilities are morphing rapidly, four CMOs told an audience of marketers in a panel called “Reinventing Marketing in the Age of the Customer.” Moderated by Salesforce’s Stephanie Buscemi, the panel featured CMOs and marketing executives from DonorsChoose.orgEli Lilly and Company, Vimeo, and T-Mobile.

Even when CMOs find solutions to how to reach and serve customers, “the answer keeps changing,” said Rob Brown, CMO of Eli Lilly, who said he takes a more technical approach today than he would have imagined in the past. Peter Deluca, CMO of T-Mobile, said the rapid changes in the CMO role and in media make marketing’s impact more relevant than ever: “We shape the brand.”

 

5. Get to know the customer of the future

 

The question of the day: What will customer experience look like in 2025? That was the topic of discussion in the session “Customer Experience in 2025: Balancing Personalization and Privacy” and featuring Catharine Hays, co-author of Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints, Glen Hartman — Senior Managing Director at Accenture Interactive, and Harsha Mokkarala — Chief Revenue Officer at 2U, Inc.

One of the big shifts accelerating expectations around customer experience, said Mokkarala, is how people gather information. “Consumers don't want to follow the funnel,” he said. “They want to research and find all the info they need, across a million different places on the web. We need to aid consumers in the research process.”

The panelists also discussed the essential role of trust between individuals and the companies they choose to do business with. “A brand is a promise and trust is big part of that,” said Hartman. “The way promises are kept are with experiences.”

 

See you tomorrow!

 

Salesforce’s President and Chief Product Officer Bret Taylor gives the main keynote at Day 2 of Connections ‘18, kicking off at 8:00 a.m. Tune back into the Salesforce blog, follow #CNX18 on Twitter and watch the livestream beginning at 9:30 a.m. CDT.