Thursday, November 2, 2017
Then this happened! In April, I was looking for an article I had written, and realized I had done a terrible job keeping track of all the writing I have done, and maybe it was time to put what I was thinking about events into one place. It turns out, not surprising to anyone who knows me, I had a LOT to say - about 81,000 words if you were counting!
From one page on sustainability (just do it!) through the seven intentions of people-centric, purpose-driven design to embracing technology, designing our immersive and experiential spaces, seating options, food and beverage programs and learning environments to be people and brain-friendly, and wellness for participants and those of us working in the industry, it is a comprehensive deep-dive into future-forward events.
The reviews so far, humbling and exciting - we can continue to create even more worthwhile and transformative events, together. Let's do this!
Amazon US and other countries too.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
|Thanks to Kristi Casey Sanders for the original share of this|
If you have known me since my teens, you will know about recovering from Bells Palsy. If you have known me since my twenties, you probably still want to carry something for me because you remember when I could not lift my arms long enough to wash my own hair. You may have known me through losing my brother, father and numerous friends and extended family members. I am not alone in facing challenges. I have wallowed, and overcome. I have been resilient because I had to be. It is one of the toughest traits to develop; a skill hard to teach, experience being the teacher with impact. It is a key, core skill for getting through what may come. As we send one child into the world, with the other not far behind, I question if we have taught them this and know it will be only time that will tell. All we can do is be there when they need us.
If you have been by my side working on one or dozens of events, thank you. Every single person has contributed to making each event better and darn it, a lot of these have taken a ton of sustained effort in sometimes seemingly impossible conditions - from the tops of glaciers where you pack it all in and out to remote communities with little infrastructure and fewer supplier partners, to massive sets, movements and strikes, often with unrealistic timelines.
Every time, we dig deeper and get it done. Then we get up and do it again.
Eventprofs know the power of resilience. When a client chooses to leave our agency for any number of reasons, we bounce back and find new clients who can use our support and expertise. When challenges arise, from a tanking economy leading to unexpected cancellations, from security to transportation, mudslides and road closures, venue changes and so much more, we find solutions. We find the people we can trust, we move forward, we adapt.
Many of you have shared your stories with me, from living with chronic conditions to losing what is most important; through illness and recovery, cross-country or global moves and a million brave choices, overcoming large and small fears as we navigate the mundane and complex day-to-day challenges of life. To each of you, thank you for choosing to include me in your journey. I salute your resilience.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
This is Kirk, above with his wife Lorraine and their children Melissa, Nicole and Kenton and below with his sister Zella. This week Kirk is in the biggest "Not Yet" moment any of us can face. As in "Not yet God, I still have work, and play, to do here." So with his family at his side, I would like to tell you a little bit about Kirk and why everyone should send a little healing energy in his direction.
As a member of his community, Kirk does everything, and I mean everything, with the best of intentions. He has conviction in his beliefs, as outlined in his book The God Process and a deeper belief in kindness to all. This was instilled their whole lives by their parents, who were both gone too young, and whose legacy Kirk, Zella and his wife Lorraine have perpetuated - they always start with love.
Kirk loves ice cream, and chocolate, and cookies, and did I say ice cream? His love for ice cream is combined with a love for bike riding, soccer and any other reason to get outside and breathe. It was at a soccer game this past weekend where a faulty aorta burst. He has been through five surgeries this week, and WOW, what a committed surgical team at Foothills Calgary hospital. The deepest gratitude from all who are touched by Kirk is extended, words inadequate for their skill, effort and belief. Each moment, his family keeps remembering to breathe themselves and reminding Kirk why he needs to keep fighting. Each day he is now getting a little stronger.
Thirty six years ago Kirk and Lorraine fell in love and were married. Zella and her friends welcomed Lorraine to the family by removing all the furniture from their apartment while on their honeymoon and replacing it with Barbie and Ken sized furniture. Lorraine decided to stay anyhow. What I know is the strength of their bond and a love that wraps around their family. When you are first married, you are a team, holding hands and facing the world. When you start a family, you become a circle, focused inward with love and outwards to protect. As you grow together you become a quilt, each piece adding to the story, and when something this surprising happens, it is if that has been ripped in half, and now, with each stitch holding Kirk's body together, so this quilt becomes whole again.
I have lost both my father and my brother, and I know how difficult it is to lose a parent and to lose a sibling. For Zella, your bond with Kirk is incredible and I have seen first-hand the love and support you each rely on. Yours is an honest relationship which has survived the loss of too many, and for even just this reason, he needs more time here - and is indeed fighting for this. For Kenton, Nicole and Melissa, your dad is your rock. He is also your parent and for all of us, these are complex relationships, as we go from small children requiring care, to teens and now young adults finding your own paths. Always, you have known you are deeply, truly loved and also for you, it is not yet time - he will fight to see how each of you goes forward in your own strength.
I will close with this - Kirk, there is a big bowl of ice cream with your name on it just waiting. Yes, of course it's chocolate.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Motivation is a tricky sport. Carol Dweck has been studying it for years, and in her TED talk I enjoyed recently on my commute home, what struck me was the idea of the power of "Not yet."
How often do we say "I can't"...
- dance, sing, play an instrument
- climb a mountain
- draw, paint, sculpt
- race a car
- ride a horse, or a llama
- play soccer, basketball or golf
- grow a garden
- win a snowball fight or build an igloo
- run 10k, or wheel 1k
- snowboard a black diamond run
- master a paddleboard
- write a story or even a haiku
- present to a group, or try improv theatre
- solve that math problem
Instead of saying "I can't", we said, "Not yet."
Instead of saying "I failed", we said "I tried."
We remembered that none of us are masters of anything the first time we tried.
We forgave ourselves when things don't go exactly as we had planned.
The power of positive thinking, of reinforcing that learning is a process, and there is more reward in effort put forward than in getting everything right is measurable. It is measurable because when we offer the opportunity to try a little harder and to approach a problem in a different way, and to step up and meet a challenge, we start to see results. We see personal betters, we see organizational improvement. When the lowest ranked schools, the ones with the highest numbers of marginalized students were told, you can do this, just not yet, in the course of a year (one year!) the students believed their efforts could pay off. They wanted to try harder. Time after time, they went from the lowest ranked in a district to the highest.
If we apply this to our own organizations, not just saying "you have to do better" but really looking at how you can apply positive reinforcement for trying, learning, and trying again, you will see innovations and improvements. You will see teams working more collaboratively and you will see individuals keen to rise to new challenges. You will see them enjoying the process.
When we produce events, we have the opportunity to let people try new activities in safe environments. We can provide incubators for ideas and hypotheses to be tested, to see what sticks and to see what may need to be adapted. We can do this in a group of peers who can go from "we're close" to "we got this."
Let's change our language. As parents, educators, and #eventprofs. We got this.
Friday, May 19, 2017
We have all been here, in the throes of preparing to open your event. In this case I had arrived to register six hours after registration was open to find the signs still being painted. Days later speaking to some members of the organizing team it became clear why - this was an event with a reported 15,000+ attendees, and one of 4 events being produced globally, and they don't have an event planner on their team of eighty people.
Shades of the Fyre Festival which had a similar decision making process, and ultimate catastrophic ending were surfacing around this same time. We know there are more than 1.8 million events annually in just the US, and the same amount in just the UK, and let's extrapolate that to the other 190+ countries in the world, and it is stunning to me that events of this magnitude can think it makes sense to bring together thousands of people and not have any sense of organization around the logistics.
Let's face it, it's complicated bringing people together. They have to travel across time zones and with international documentation. They needed places to sleep and eat, and they want to learn and network. Their safety and enjoyment is reliant on our planning.
I know we have an industry with low barriers to entry, with a dearth of formal education, and with clients who don't understand the value that the experienced event professional brings to an event - but examples like this continue to surprise me. When will the world wake up to the value of what we bring across the board? Event professionals who have an ounce of common sense and often years of experience don't just make your event more beautiful and more fun, they make it happen on-time, safely, deliciously, on budget and with strategic outcomes in mind. They give meaning to your brands and ensure your participants leave with more than they arrived with in terms of knowledge and context and memories and often a positive shift in mindset. Intentional event design doesn't mean the painting will be done, it means we are taking all we know about feeding the brains and nourishing the bodies of our guests and creating experiences and environments that are transformational. Don't you want that for your next event?
Friday, April 7, 2017
|Susan Cope kindly shared this picture which inspired|
me to think about taking the road with the bumps,
and being happy about it!
This got me to thinking...
When did we grow up and stop looking for what might be under the surface of a puddle?
Why did you trade in your 'wellies' for designer footwear and stop exploring?
Was it when you decided you are - eek - a "grown-up"? Here is the thing - the events we admire as being innovative are often being led by the grown-ups who are not taking the easy road. They are the experimenters, the dreamers, the moment-makers who are willing to invest the time to understand human nature and develop experiences that build on our human willingness to join group situations - festivals, events, conferences - and take calculated risks, celebrate shared success, test out new ideas, or learn in unexpected ways.
How do I jump in the puddles? I have always had (endured) teasing from colleagues about my unstoppable curiousity - bookmarking sites, endless magazine tear-outs, notebooks full of ideas and walls full of post-its always looking for what will become "sticky". When event technology moved to the forefront I had to know more because this is our new audience, the ubiquitous digital native and while it is nearly impossible to keep up with #eventtech, we can't just lay down and let it overwhelm us.
Are you ready to explore what boundaries can be stretched to create deeper and more meaningful moments at events? This is my challenge - moving past the comfort zone to ensure we deliver events with maximum comfort that surprise, engage, move and transform clients, stakeholders and participants through live experiences.
For this reason, I am excited to attend the invite only Haute Dokimazo in Austin in May - because they are bringing together people who are breaking down boundaries. Who will I see there... You can request your event invitation at the link above, but don't wait!
Monday, April 3, 2017
Participants were encouraged to add their wishes, hopes and dreams for the future to this wishing tree at an annual corporate celebration event. What would you wish for?
We live in disruptive times, and the idea we could just make a wish, and have it come true, is both idealistic and desirable. I have been doing some writing about disruptive times, and include the links below.
We have been through cutbacks, recessions, governances, regulations, and threats from both Mother Nature and other humans, all forever changing our ability to deliver hospitality to our guests in the way we (and our clients) feel they are most deserving of. Yet, as humans, we still travel, meet, attend events, and celebrate all that life brings us.
Disruption at Meetings and Events As human beings, we have been innovating since the beginning of time, from the invention of the wheel, to trade routes, the industrial revolution…. you get the point. Our pace of innovation has rapidly accelerated with the digital age and the sheer number of people on the planet – as inventors and consumers. We understand more about human response to marketing and to experiences than we ever have, and we have the greatest opportunity to use all of this knowledge to elevate experiences, making them more relevant, memorable, and useful than ever before. What we can’t do is expect that anything will stay the same. It won’t.
How are you and your organization moving forward?