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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pooh, Pain and sunshine

Anyone who has been reading with me for a while knows I write mostly about events, sometimes about life and occasionally about impact points. Today is about these. There are certain, unexpected phases of life that happen to us of which each must be embraced for who it brings us and what it teaches us. 
The phase in our 20s where it seems like we go to many (first) weddings, launch our (first) careers and often meet our lifelong friends through work, college or happenstance - the idea that we meet people for a reason, season or lifetime beginning to make sense.  Last weekend we had the opportunity to attend the wedding of our godson Dylan to the beautiful inside and out Megan and to share this with their family and friends, and to watch them set out together to face whatever life will bring.  The bride obviously gorgeous in white, the groom wore Batman Converse. 
Dylan and Megan we could not be happier for you
Most of us have many positive memories of our 20s (or are building them now) and much of who we become happens now.  It is also often the first time we have to learn to deal with loss, of a friend or family member, and it is how we manage the grieving process, the support we have available and our own inner chutzpah kicking in that gets us through these times, giving us strength we did not know we had yet. In the words of AA Milne and Winnie The Pooh “If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.”  
In our 30s we tend to focus on our careers, many begin families, others are just meeting their life partners, and life generally is full of deep potential. Careers and relationships may change and momentum carries us forward. I adore seeing all my third-decade  friends bring their charisma and joy and drive to their workplace and lives. On the flip side from other perspectives there is a certain displacement, a disconnect between a generation that is not so good at balance or work/life integration and the community that comes with this, and there are thousands of workshops and articles on what this and the next generations means to the evolving workplace.  I admire their sense of lifestyle, or again in the words of Pooh Bear  “When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
It is the next phase that is seemingly more challenging, the age where our parents are aging and our friends and even their children are facing challenges that seem grossly unfair. In two words 

Last Christmas we received what we thought was a typical Christmas card from our old neighbors whose cards always featured a picture of an adventure they had been on this previous year - salt mines in Turkey, exotic beaches and jungles. Last year it was of them in front of the Victoria Cancer Centre and the story of their daunting, overwhelming year. We received this two weeks ago. We were once again reminded by the two oncologists of how rare it is that she was sitting there talking to them considering the original prognosis.(0.5%)  They will continue to hold their collective breaths for another 6 months at which time they will consider her out of the danger zone (statistically speaking). This is good news for sure and we invite everyone to lift a glass of wine in thanks…in six months it will be champagne. 
Bring on the bubbles has never seemed so wonderful.
We have too many friends currently battling cancer, and while they are winning the battle their personal and unique wars on cancer are full of challenges and none is without its scars. The tools we have are poisonous and often experimental, but when the choice is to live through some terrible days, to live... I applaud their courage and am thankful they have made the choices they have.  Keep fighting to win!
We interviewed a wonderful man last week on Event Alley - Izzy Gesell  and while the show was about the lessons in Improv for business, what intrigued me as much (since this first makes a lot of sense to me) was the work he does with cancer patients and their loved ones on patience, acceptance and trust, all tools that are needed by everyone involved in the care and outcome as you move from curing to healing. 
Last week someone passed me in the hall during IMEX and while continuing on their path said two simple words Hello Sunshine.  While literally said in passing, as offhand as anyone could say hello it made me think. If I thought consciously each day about what I was bringing to my family and colleagues, or our listeners on the weekly Event Alley show or in any presentation I give - I would choose to be exactly this, a ray that brings light and gives energy to others.  I rarely watch the news - in this age of connected and social everything we get all the bad without seeking it, and we phone people when we are troubled as often as when we are delivering exceptionally good news, and we connect in ways that are often personally sent through impersonal forums - text, facebook, twitter, linkedin, in blog comments... yet we still seek connections that are meaningful.  For all of you I do not get to see enough as the regular demands of life are real, know you are never far away in thought.  
I live with a man forever looking on the bright side and know how lucky I am (and our children are). If I had to sum up my feelings with a final Winnie the Pooh quote it would be this If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”   Go ahead, hug a bear.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

IMEX14 - Socially Aware


I am always impressed with the work of the IMEX Social Team. Miguel Neves and his team truly understand all facets of on-line, and brought together all their lessons (includes a good video recap) and continued to grow.  They again worked with How-can-I-be-social to facilitate conversations with on-site and virtual participants around the globe and had a lot of fun with the IMEX Social Team capturing information all through the space.
Their enthusiasm, experience, no fear to experiment and embrace what is happening NOW, and continue to learn... all of this is what adds up to an excellent ongoing partnership. 

This is the year of the selfie, and you can head to this link to tag yourself in the picture above! Seriously - this is quite awesome. 

 From IMEXLive, sponsored by Hilton Worldwide and The Events Network on BOB-TV there are many great interviews captured (also available in the app), and in the Vancouver booth, Kiki for the fourth year captured interviews with many locals and leaders.  CNTV in a co-production with Sonic Foundry and PRG also broadcast live from the show with these and more interviews being available as part of IMEX TV each day.  It is always fun to see what people are saying about the show and our industry and to have so many great avenues and perspectives adds to the story.

Brandt and I were also on site with the Event Alley Show and had the opportunity to dig deeper into what is going on right now in the industry and how we all impact it. This is a great episode and thank you Brandt for pretty much doing it all! 

The tweets were off the charts, with the extended reach into the millions, and we were able to capture this and showcase it with QuickMobile and its newest offering, Concerto. For me as a planner who loves social, I am digging this new tool!  The ability to be social from within the app (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) is also a great feature.
Concerto on the screen in our comfortable QuickMobile space

IMEX continues to be a leader from social to education all encapsulated in a serious buying show and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next year.

In the meantime you can check out this IMEX America Live Link to see all the action.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

IMEX - Social Good and Results

IMEX is the ultimate place through the year to facilitate connections and collaborations. Anyone who has been to an event of more than 50 people however knows how hard it is to find people, and that any serendipitous moments in time should be treasured.  
There are many things that happen at IMEX though which happen to facilitate connections, and here are a few - if you have more, please share!
Photo from Trevor Lui

  1. The hosted buyer program with web based and in-app requests and changes available. This may be obvious, but the power to choose who you want to meet and potentially do business with is very powerful.
  2. Fun on the show floor is never ending from coffee in Columbia to champagne in France, sushi in Japan, beer at the Euro-party, and oh so much more to be found as hospitality is truly celebrated. 
  3. Found on the IMEX Facebook page - as you can see it is going to be an awesome experience
  4. The fantastic project to support Shade Tree was again both a great success and a fabulous opportunity for those who participated and those who benefitted.  For anyone who has participated in a well designed and meaningful CSR project, you know the value runs deep, and the shared feelings last forever.
  5. The relevant education program offers something for nearly everyone in attendance.  This is well thought out and it begins with MPI Smart Monday, includes CIC Seminar and campfire sessions, FRESH thinking in the Meeting Design Institute booth space, the Future Leaders Forum, association and corporate focused learning, and other sessions offered throughout the show floor and it is a great way to find like-minded people in either short or deep-dive sessions. It is hard sometimes, particularly for introverts, to reach out and meet people, but I can assure you from experience taking a deep breath and introducing yourself to someone beside you comes with its own rewards.
  6. Evening events. Again, while this sometimes these events can be a bit overwhelming. Tips from Padraic earlier this year really cover what you need to know.  This year I missed SITENite (always excellent and sold out in 48 hours!) but had the opportunity to attend the FRESH dinner the Keep Memory Alive Center, a superb venue which gives all their proceeds to the brain research institute attached, with a level of space and food service which will keep every planner who hosts an event there happy. Yes, it is really this cool. Then you add in the great people, the philosophies that drive their menu planning, the drive to move guests after each course (first the men, then the ladies, new flatware appearing for each course) and the scrumptious food and this was all in all a worthwhile evening.
    Inside the Keep Memory Alive Center with FRESH
  7. Evening events continued at the blowout that is Rendezvous. What can we say as they moved venues this year to the Drai night club in the new Cromwell Hotel.  The atmosphere was spectacular, the people I saw were ready to connect and this year we could actually hear each other, always a pleasant surprise, and overall a really fun evening full of great networking, all in support of a worthy cause and raising (drum roll) over $190,000.00! 
  8. Hosted buyer events. These are endless, and range from amazing to overwhelming and this year, from the stories heard, was no exception. Dinners and cirque shows, and at the Four Seasons a helicopter rained rose petals into the pool, one of the many events that are buzz-worthy!
I would love to also hear about your experiences and the highlights.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

IMEX - My People

Let me begin this post by stating categorically, I will forget someone, and this is not with intention. It also only notes people who I saw this year, and not those who were missing (Padraic and Patrick, Midori and many more). The reason we want to go to IMEX is for the face to face connections. Those that happen due to the appointments and the serendipitous aisle and networking function spottings which often lead to great conversations, and the inspiration to be found in both expected and unexpected places. Here are a few of my favs from this year.

BTW - this is LONG - so pull up a beverage, and think about who you want to add, and please comment and add!

Ray Bloom and Carina Bauer have been integral to the success that was first IMEX Frankfurt and is now both this and IMEX America. I deeply appreciate that at the beginning and the end of each show, Ray is omnipresent saying welcome and thank you to all.  It is this warmth and interest that extends throughout his team.


QuickMobile and Lumi support MPI Foundation!
QuickMobile is the amazing team I have most recently joined and one I am enjoying being part of. Yes, we build the app for IMEX, and I think it is pretty special in terms of what it provides to participants. As a meeting planner, seeing how this team seeks first to understand needs and to determine what elements of a mobile event app will be most useful to deliver information and create adoption leading to participation is a source of joy. All members from the Dev team to support and release, QA and project managers and those of us attend the events and those in the office that support all the functions - it is a full bodied team effort. 
To be successful today requires deep and seamless integrations based on understanding what will make meetings more meaningful and can be delivered well. With the smart innovations we have with Lumi (some of the great people above) it is one example where we have a deep integration that works because of a shared interest in meetings, and also in having fun, something critical to being successful in this demanding industry. I have met many, and am impressed with all.

Glenn Thayer The Voice of Meetings and Events 
@TahiraCreates: Yep that's real @glennthayer #IMEX14 pic.twitter.com/O7ZRglHhm9The Best mc in the industry!
Claire Smith is the VP, Sales and Marketing at the Vancouver Convention Centre and she has been an inspiration to me since I did my Event and Convention Management Diploma Practicum (planning the 2nd Annual Partners in Professional Planning conference) a good number of years ago. Claire was also on the committee when we produced the Welcome Reception on their stunning plaza for the MPI WEC in 2010 - when I felt we had come full circle in my chosen profession.  To hear her excitement in discussing her day with the Future Leaders Forum reminded me of the passion she carries still for our industry and her unending fascination with the shifts and trends we face.

Mike McAllen was one of the first people I met through the EventProfs community, and not only is he a honey of a guy, Grassshack Road Productions is a thoughtful production agency, and their AV for Planners offer to help planners better assess AV for their meetings is one of the most interesting tools produced to date.  Mike is also the reason we held EventCamp Vancouver which had a profound positive impact on my life - I always enjoy seeing him.

Mariela McIlwraith is a leader in sustainability, having co-authored with Elizabeth Henderson Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics in the Meetings Industry, a surprisingly easy read for a dense subject and the book I now use when I teach Sustainable Event Management at BCIT.  This 30 hour course provides a strong base for the students to filter their events through a triple bottom line model of people, planet and profit.  She more recently was the Executive Editor of the ninth edition of the Convention Industry Council manual. This is the key study guide for the CMP and I am proud to have been one of the many contributors to this, with its focus on strategy and sustainability weaving together seamlessly with logistics. More importantly, she stands true to all she believes and who she is, and I always enjoy catching up with her to see what is on the horizon.

Paul Salinger is a shining example of bringing sustainability to an organization, and his work with GMIC over the years has pushed the industry in ways we can embrace.  Plus, he is humble, fun and kind - and gives a mean pecha kucha! 


Embedded image permalinkDr Tyra Hilliard and Jessie States provided one of the best hours of the conference for me in a rather impromptu meeting. They are brilliant, dedicated, funny and true examples of doing what you believe in for your best life. Experts in risk and contracts (Tyra) and meeting design (Jessie) among other things - these educators, best in class speakers and brilliant women are included in those I look forward to seeing time and again. Plus when Mary Boone tweets that she wants to join the party - you know this is a group of power women!

Lenny Talarico is a multi talented man who is a key part of the MGM Events team (yes King I missed you this year).  I met Lenny my first year at IMEX and over the years my fondness grows - he is a true professional, a creator, a performer who understands performance, an ISES mentor and CSEP, and their team is always willing to give back - including these gorgeous arrangements at the FRESH dinner on Tuesday night. 

Brennan McReynolds provided one of my highlights of the week when another tech firm did not recognize the EventFarm brand and I was treated to a most excellent repartee which included alpacas and holsteins among other animal friends.  Thank you for that! I first met Brennan at PCMA Convening Leaders this year when he used his other skill set to help planners figure out ways to add more health and fitness to their busy lives in an activation with the Vancouver booth there. What I learned is that he knows a lot about my favorite subject - the intersection of humans and technology to improve meeting experiences. 


The IMEX team members have proven themselves year-over-year to be willing to challenge themselves. First with education, Dale Hudson and her team have selected excellent programming, and then have created a warm and easy atmosphere for the speakers. Richard Allchild and Achilleas have been my main contacts throughout the years I have been coming to IMEX and every interaction has been professional and productive, with a little bit of good humour along the way. Suzanne Medcalf showed her good sportsmanship riding the bike with us in Vancouver last year, and has once again proven her teamwork and enjoyment in the job this year through a number of interactions.  Miguel Neves has brought new meaning to the social and online communities that make up IMEX, and his impact is not going unnoticed. We had occasion to have an in-depth conversation with him at MPI WEC and his view of the industry at large, the role associations play, and the impact the business of meetings has globally is refreshing and clear.

BTW Richard - my final day selfie with you had 11 retweets, to a mere 4 of me *in bed* with @MeetMrHolland.

Tech Start Up Competition - results link. What is new is a key part of any great event and this year judges included Miguel Neves, Senior Online Community Manager at IMEX Group; Julius Solaris of Event Manager blog; Dahlia El Gazzar, CEO of the Meeting Pool; Liz King CEO of Liz King Events and Brandt Krueger, tech whiz and an industry instructor who translates geek to I get it.  An excellent group all around and people I consider a key part of understanding how the many faces of technology are rapidly impacting our events.

Speaking of tech... Social Tables have continued to grow their team from their CEO Dan Berger to include a team of smart people who understand the role they have to play in creating the software for floor plans that will change the way we can choose to design our experiences. I always enjoy time spent learning (and in witty banter).  


Campfire Boxes...
Maarten Van Neste and Dominika Fudula were there with the Meeting Design Institute banner flying high, but their role in the industry goes deep and wide. I consider myself creative, and I have lost many nights to thinking about better ways to design meetings and events but Maarten makes me look as if I never had a new idea. I appreciate this as it pushes me, and the ideas he shares, and the way he shares them continues to push us forward. I like that. 

It was great to spend some time with my Event Alley co-host Brandt Krueger (Lindsey was too busy with her own events to join us).  There are a number of people we interviewed on the Event Alley Show this year I had the chance to meet face-to-face, including Sam from Song Division along with his smartly down-to-earth boss Andy who were also a part of the CIC Hall of Leaders Gala, adding to the fun of the event.  Bridging the career gap we had a great conversation with Jeff Leggett, and it was great to see him immersed here.  One of the most articulate people with a wide perspective on the industry is the CEO of ICCA Martin Sirk, and this is one of the best interviews of the year. I was also so pleased at the FRESH dinner to be joined by Julius Solaris who again brings a deep understanding of the industry and its shifts.


Kiki L‘Italien. I always enjoy seeing live the lovely Kiki.  She again conducted (for the fourth year) interviews from the Vancouver Booth at IMEX.  Known as a creator of extraordinary member experiences for associations, her forward thinking mindset combined with her fantastic attitude always make her a pleasure to be around. Her ability to share knowledge and to connect through warmth and empathy for the challenges we face, combined with a deep understanding of the modern tools to do this makes her an important voice in our industry.

Gerritt Heijkoop - when you open this site you will see it is in Dutch but when you meet Gerritt, or hear him speak it is easy to forget that English is not his first language. (note the Google translation is imperfect and often a little funny but I do not think he would even mind). You might notice his kinda famous red sneakers. I had not seen a presentation for a while from Gerritt, and the engagement from the audience was simply off the charts - which is a great thing in a sea of speakers!  What I really appreciated was his philosophy of vivo.nu which translates to every day being a little bit different than the day before, and often different than you might have expected. I think many of us in this industry can relate to this! For IMEX he was brought in to support the social media experience (extraordinary) and is often seen as a host or doing interviews, a nice repertoire to include when you need to add a little bit (or more) of energy to your events.

And now... I rest and go to be woken in the middle of the night with those I missed!

Please add comments with your favorite people or moments or the posts you have done too following another amazing and intense show.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

IMEX14 - The Beginning

I love when Padraic Gilligan does his recaps of shows and I will attempt to do him justice with my own reflections on my experiences at IMEX America this year.

For the past three years I have had the great pleasure of supporting the Vancouver team in their booth, and this year, we focused on creating a more usable space (with the talented team at Cantrav) and I think we not only accomplished that but created visual impact worthy of this very fantastic show.  While I have transitioned this as I changed jobs, it was bittersweet to do so, and I may have stopped by more than once to visit.



Last year QuickMobile had a fantastic space filled with iPads and sportily dressed staff rocking the colors and sharing information in their inimitable style. This year we opted to invite people into a relaxed atmosphere where they could learn more about mobile with us, enjoy a foot massage handily placed under the table during their meeting, and have a respite from the busy space all around us.  Of course, we have to focus on technology, so in addition to demos, they could also see our newest social capture tool Concerto tracking Twitter activity on the screen, or check out the Augmented Reality built into the pictures on the back wall. That is right, the ARt (blown-up covers from our most recent resources designed for meeting planners) was really AR!
this portion of the booth featured Augmented Reality fun
Anne Thornley Brown as always shared her best booths of the show, and we have to say while it is impossible to choose only a few, she has chosen some excellent pavilions. 

This of course all happened before opening day, much as the great IMEX America app was launched and the excitement begins before we arrive as appointments are made, the floor plan is explored, we see who is going to be there and we procure tickets for the evening events including perhaps the CIC Hall of Leaders Gala, SITE Nite, the FRESH dinner, MPI Foundation Rendezvous and so many other events that take place throughout.

When I joined QuickMobile it was because I love the intersection of human needs and mobile technology, and to see the intuitiveness, interaction and analytics which will now facilitate a year-round community for IMEX Exhibitions - that is what makes my job interesting.  I cannot wait to see what next year brings.

ps. there is a LOT more to talk about so watch for other posts to come! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Event Alley Fun

Content. 48 hours of content uploaded every hour. How do you possibly find that all important "Context" within the Content? Finding what is relevant for you, relevant for your industry is a challenge. I am a voracious consumer of content and always have been, so when I was invited to be part of Event Alley Show this year, I thought it seemed like a great idea.
Lindsey preps for a live show
at MPI WEC this year.


So far, so good!  The Event Alley Show guests are what define the show, and we have had some amazing people join us including most recently Evan Greene, the CMO of The Recording Academy (the Grammys), Simon T. Bailey, Julius Solaris, David Merrell and Chad Kaydo on trends and the business of design, Ruud Janssen and Roel Friessen discussing Event Model Generation and so many more.  We have also done live episodes from PYM Meetings, MPI WEC and the IRF Annual Invitational.  Explore and see what you can find!

We also occasionally do audio only Show Plus episodes and have talked with Roger Simons of MCI about event sustainabiliity, Andrew Walker about MPI's CSR initiatives and King Dahl about large scale events, among others, and I enjoy hearing what these smart people have to share with us.  In teaching Sustainable Event Operations at BCIT earlier this year I used a number of the interviews - with Shawna McKinley, Mariela McIlwraith, Karen Swim (PR) and Michele Sarkisian (EPCAT and human trafficking) as we explored the people - planet - profit impacts of events and meetings.

We have recently updated our playlists and the range of subjects from Technology to Event Design to Sustainable and Responsible Meetings provides excellent listening no matter where you play in the meeting and event space.

I definitely have some favorite episodes - but encourage you to check out our YouTube channel for the videos, or Event Alley Show on iTunes or Stitcher if listening podcast style fits your life better. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Event Model Generation

Tahira and Ruud at MPI WEC in Minneapolis 2014
Does your meeting planning team struggle with getting buy-in? Do you wrestle with dreaming up new ideas for your events?  What if there was a tool that fostered open discussion, encouraged creativity and still focused on meeting your business objectives?

I began my exploration of meeting design and how it can change the parameters of how people meet and more importantly what they get out of it several years ago. I have continued to enjoy the evolution, which for me led to co-authoring this chapter in the ninth edition of the CIC Manual, collaborating on EventCamp Vancouver and meeting people from around the world who share my passion.

As we delve into human nature, environment creation, presentation delivery and interaction based on neuroscience to increase engagement, analytics and return on investment of meetings, it always comes back to objectives before design.  There is always a challenge to derive the objectives and create an easy to understand story to present to your stakeholders about how you will use a meeting (or incentive event) to fulfill these objectives.

During this journey of learning I came across TNOC and the smart, forward thinking Ruud Janssen. About two years ago Ruud introduced me to the book Business Model Generation, a pre-cursor to what has now become his newest venture with Roel Friessen Event Model Generation.   This is a process which encapsulates all the information you want to collect about your event and its reasons for being and KPIs, and allows you to put it together in a simple visual presentation to share with your stakeholders. This is an incredibly simplified explanation, and because they are REALLY good at telling their own story please see this link for more detailed information.


Why do I think this is cool enough to write about?  There is always a need to be able to explain why an event is the best choice - whether as a marketing tool, a sales driver, a fundraiser or as the best way to deliver content and networking connections to your stakeholders, vendors and participants as examples. In 20+ years of producing meetings and events "EMG" is the best tool I have seen for getting everyone on what is now literally "the same page" - a one - page concept for success.  I have gone through this process on smaller events and have found it very useful - I can only imagine if this was enterprise-wide how impactful it can be to consistency in storytelling through your event touchpoints!  I am excited to see them bringing this to America at what is arguably the biggest industry experience of the year (IMEX).  Yes there is a cost for this, as they have assessed a value for the content you will return to your organization with, and is reflective of the time spent bringing this to fruition, and the expertise of the presenters in delivery.  In an industry where we often don't pay speakers (and we are not alone) and at a show with a focus on a hosted buyer program there are risks in this and I applaud all the organizations who will take risks for quality education.  

Registration information for the Las Vegas event 

ps There is a good chance they will show up with Swiss Chocolate. (hint hint)