Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Memories

Well on a slightly brighter note this week, we have finally uploaded the video of the building of the MPI WEC event this summer, and this was a BLAST!  Yes, it was July - but every memory of this night was great! Check it out

Monday, September 27, 2010

Life IS the messy bits

I believe generally, I am a realist. Not really pessimistic, often optimistic, but always with a large dose of checkpoints on life, to make sure we are on track. My favorite quote was on a flight where I watched Letters to Juliet, and Claire expresses her view that really, "Life IS the messy bits." I generally agree. 

Today I find myself continuing to be upset, completely, reasonably, hysterically upset over the senseless loss of 15 year old Laura, a teenager from our neighborhood that I did not know. National Post story

We live in a neighborhood filled with schools and churches, temples and recreation centres. Our neighborhood is full of homes filled with love, and children in every block. We live where we should feel safe.

There was simply no reason that anyone, walking across a well used path in the middle of the day, across a soccer pitch, between two schools and beside a football game in progress, would have any sense they were about to be viciously, irrecovably attacked, and that in the morning, their family would bear the unbearable loss of their child, taken brutally and for no reason. No matter what your belief system, we cannot ever believe that violence of any nature is anything other than reprehensible behaviour. 

For most of us, today has been a busy day as the rest of us move on with our busy lives. Work to attend to, chores to absorb us, learning, working, and whatever else may come up, but not for this family. For this family, they have so much still go to through, and "normal" does not ever return. I know. As do many of you, who each have your own stories of loss.

I tried to find joy today. Meeting with clients who are very happy with the fantastic progress being made as they prepare for 3,000 conference delegates to descend this weekend.  In seeing an instructor whose graduating class I spoke to last week who told me what a positive impact my 30 minutes of sharing my experiences in this industry made on their students.  In stopping at Mink chocolates and investing in some delicious bars to share with my work colleagues, something I know will bring them pleasure, both in the receiving and in the eating. In thinking about an amazing weekend with my cousin, cooking, sharing and flying home and watching Babies, an astounding story of four babies in four parts of the world, and how each will have their own unique experience, and never passing judgement, showing how we can all find joy, laughter and love in our own place.

Still though I know I will go home this evening and talk with my children before they return to school tomorrow, where they will have a moment of silence and "age appropriate" discussions and counselling in their elementary school classrooms, where Laura was once a promising french immersion student also.  How can I explain to them how important they are to us and how we would do anything, ANYTHING to keep them safe in the world.  That they should not be afraid to walk across a field to schoold but they have to be always be cautious, and never be alone. That it will never be an option for them to go alone.

I tried to feel joy as the rain fell gently on my skin, and I could FEEL it gently washing away the vagaries of the day, but not enough to heal. Not yet.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dinner Party Planning

What possessed me? It seems we are a family with competitive spirit. The rest of my family competes in both team and individual sports, but since my arm surgery and rebuilt nerve tunnels don't make me the best team member, I find other ways to compete. Mostly against myself, in improving a run time, or just finding the time to run.  #TR30 is going to happen later in the fall - thank you #TR30 tweeps for the extra motivation to get out there and make a meaningful change! But that is not what this is about.

In the meantime, here I am at my cousin's house in Toronto, and tomorrow we will cook and talk and see if we are the right fit on Dinner Party Wars, which naturally we want to be, and naturally we hope to then win. Like I said, what possessed us to even apply? It seems like fun, and the spirit to entertain and cook and enjoy and yes, win, well, it runs in the family. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Room with a View, week 2 - The Vegans arrive

This may be the coolest meeting ever from what it means to the world. An organization that manufactures globally has brought together in Vancouver, a city working on its sustainability for future generations with this initiative -  Vancouver greenest city by 2020 a group of people dedicated to the same values.  They are together to look at every business unit and find more sustainable opportunities from products with no glues or toxins, to improved factory conditions and maximum positive impact in the communities they are part of.

Of the sixty, one-third are vegetarian / vegan and all have been riding skytrains, walking and taking the aquabus for their transfers required this week.  The food prepared by one of our favorite local caterers has been stellar, with many positive comments.  A member of the green table network, it is important to Culinary Capers to be a responsible part of the food chain also, and they have been a great partner to event planners for two decades.

The first evening included members of First Nations from here to welcome and bless the meeting, with a Chief from New York who is also working closely with their team to identify ways of including this culture in continuing initiatives to create a more solid future. This was held at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, a perfect venue, not only for its spectacular setting and art, but also for setting the context that we have been here for thousands of years and we need to take care of our earth for the many generations to come.  Not one or two they suggested, but think ahead in your planning to seven or more generations from now.  Daunting, yes. Possible? Absolutely!

Again, we have used a sustainably manufactured furniture line to dress up Creekside, and it looks great! They are ready to engage!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Room with a View

To truly engage learners they need a combination of great environment, facilitators and presenters who understand the message and the method of delivery that will be the most beneficial for the learners and their organization. This week we have an amazing example of clients who know their audience, understand the messages they want to deliver, have brought in the right speakers and facilitators to deliver that message and then worked with us to create the setting.  The right venue helps too and in this case it is Creekside, a new legacy venue created out of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, where this was a key part of the Athletes Village.

The message they chose is how to stay lean.  This is one that has been around for a number of years, and in these economic times, and particularly for our clients who manufacture and sell globally, one of renewed importance.  There are lots of places to find information on it - this is just one. - one look at Toyota's Lean Model

Here are a few pictures of where they get to meet, and where they get to eat, all inspired by nature, with sustainability planned throughout, a part of meeting in Vancouver that is easy to accomplish. The girari furniture line is a sustainably built line, and one we love to use for both its stylish features as well as its overall philosophies. The plants you see are all grown locally, and will all be sent to good homes following the meeting. The dining choices are healthy, they can fill their own water bottles from the coolers or the tap, and the group is transferring mainly with their feet, on the Skytrain and using our Aquabus system. Excellent choices all around.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Egonomics - What do YOU need?

As some of you know, I have worked across various sectors of the industry. I have been a PCO/Meeting Planner, an Event Producer at a DMC, a Sr. Event Producer (hey that's what happens when you change jobs right...) at an Incentive House, and now a Director of Creative and Production back at a DMC.

In any job we have had to answer this question, "What VALUE do you bring?" Whether asked by a meeting host (often in a profession completely unrelated to what we do and senior in their world), or a seasoned planner, my answer is consistent, “We will give you back time and use our expertise to create a memorable experience for your guests".

Anyone who is working in meetings and events is busy, working on mutliple projects for multiple stakeholders, who all work to their own time schedules, usually engaging less than three weeks before a program, and of course wanting us to adapt to their input. This is not even stressful, it is an anticipated reality.  The reality is, in any job or position I have had in this industry, our teams have always risen to the challenge and made it happen. We don't do this alone, we do this with our highly engaged and professional supplier / vendor partners - who also understand that we are all always only as good as our last event. 

Our last event is also very specific - very specific to meeting the individual needs of each and every guest who has participated, as everyone has an opinion.  Now I have been doing this long enough that in the olden days, we collected thousands of paper evaluations and spent a lot of time collating these results, which were shared with one or two people.  Then we moved into online surveys, an amazing tool for the instant results you can obtain, and again, reviewed by a handful of people.  Now as meeting and event professionals, we have the added challenge of social media, a great tool for marketing, and a tool where now, in nano seconds, any spectacular moments can be shared, and any flaws can be exploited for all the world to share, with words, pictures, video all able to be streamed instantly. As if there wasn't already enough pressure on us!  Are we ready to work tirelessly (or with a lot of 'insert energy beverage of choice') to create an end-to-end memorable experience for our participants - HECK YEAH!

This week I participated as a virtual participant in Event Camp Twin Cities  twitter #ectc10 and it was phenomonal to hear the same messages from a room and a virtual room of people who CARE about making events more meaningful - and how we will continue to do that now and into the future.
This is what I will continue to love about what we do - everyone who is part of our extended team, does what they do with passion, energy and a true expertise and we are so lucky to wake up every day not knowing exactly what the day will bring, but knowing what we do makes a difference to the people we touch.