The sun rose early in Salt Lake City (or at least it felt like it!) and our morning keynote sessions started off with neuroscience and math...before 9am! A hard sell? Not if the audience is a group of researchers, and not if the speaker is Dr. David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work and director of the NeuroLeadership Institute. 

Rock is fascinated by how the brain finds insights, and what state the brain needs to be in for insights to happen. Rock shared how the brain constantly toggles between 'toward' and 'away' states and neuroscience has shown that the brain has a much higher capacity for insights in a toward state, and you need to get your clients in that state too for them to be more open to insights. It's important to use data to facilitate insights rather than use data to create a defensive position/threat state in your client (the 'away' state).  

What's the ideal brain state for insights to happen? Quiet, inward-looking, slightly happy, not directly working on the problem...and sleep is also big. Afterwards, the room was buzzing about facilitating insights through sleep pods, yoga at work, and why insights often happen in the shower.

Next up was the engineering portion of the morning, and it was one of the most entertaining and lively sessions of the conference (new hashtag: #engineerswithpersonality)! This section was kicked off by Jared Smith (brother of CEO Ryan Smith) sharing the hypergrowth story of engineering at Qualtrics and why he left Google for Qualtrics. Smith was followed by Steve Brain, head of engineering, formerly of, and denizen of "business casual, Park City-style."  

"I was told to wear a jacket and look smart. This is business casual, Park City-style"
The engineering team introduced new product features including One-Click NPS,  a "Survey Health" dashboard, some snazzy new SMS survey options (demoed live during the session), and some other great features which for all intents and purposes remove the need to pull data out of the survey system to manipulate in Excel. There was lots of chatter, applause, and a few 'awesome' exclamations from the audience as the new features were introduced.

Johannes Seemann was on hand next from IDEO to discussing design thinking and share a case study of creating new lunch experiences for the San Franscisco schools. Seemann's talk provided actionable takeaways and examples of combining stories with data for greater impact. 

The excitement in the room (remember, a room of researchers) was palpable for the next two speakers, the co-authors of The Ultimate Question 2.0. How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World Fred Reichheld, the father of Net Promoter, and Rob Markey. Reichheld spoke to the genesis story of NPS, how loyalty is tied to growth, and the need just not to measure NPS but to create a system. Markey followed that up with examples of how NPS systems are created and highlighted the key NPS system requirements including a reliable outcome metric, closed-loop feedback, learning and action, and strategic priority to earn loyalty.

After lunch the breakout sessions continued, covering topics from employee engagement to mobile surveys and special tips for increasing survey response rates. 

After a short break to shop at the #Qswag store, make some additional networking contacts and answer some emails, it was off to a winter wonderland-themed dinner with an Olympic twist in honor of the Games in Sochi. The high-flying entertainment was provided by the Flying Ace All-Stars - a group of Olympic freestyle skiiers, trampoliners and stuntmen in double-trampolines. Quite a show! 

Overall, from an event organizer's perspective (part of what my company does is produce large-scale tradeshows and conference) the Qualtrics team pulled off quite a feat for an inaugural event. By selecting a great venue (I definitely recommend the Grand America), booking fantastic keynote speakers, enlisting key 'name' clients for sessions, and somehow getting Boyz II Men and Third Eye Blind, they pulled off an event that had halls buzzing this afternoon about how Qualtrics was going to top this next year.

And the team was always iterating. As researchers, I think it warmed our hearts when after filling out a survey last evening regarding Day 1, several logistical changes were implemented for Day 2 (add more Q&A, get the camera boom out of eyeline, etc).  It was clear that the information was not only gathered last night, but analyzed and discussed by the team and changes implemented before start of Day 2. I'm not sure when (or if) the team is sleeping, but I was impressed by the acknowledgement of feedback and the quick implementation of changes.   

Additional feedback I heard around the halls today included how congenial and friendly the Qualtrics user base is, as a result networking seemed more "open and easy" than some other events.  

Garrya Dunston, institutional assessment coordinator at Savannah State University, said today something that I think many of us felt: "It's the first one, but the inaugural Qualtrics Insights Summit feels like a reunion." 

Can't wait for next year! Safe travels back home to all our new Qstar friends.