Friday, October 22, 2010

Relax, Chill Time Increases Productivity

When you are brain dead try this - Chris

What a great list of the things we already know we should do. When we feel "brain dead" we should definitely try at least one of these - and not just push through and get it all done - we have all been in this place and we know the work is not exactly its peak anyhow, so hey, cut ourselves some slack.

I would love to be able to take this one step further. Every afternoon somewhere between 2 and 4 - this happens. I think if we can't institute siestas, we should at least be able to take a 20 minute break to do any of the above - eat, nap, pray, walk around the block... whatever re-energizes us to come back and accomplish the balance of the day with success. 

Next week - this will be my new goal - to take this time and then - maximize productivity when I am ready to re-engage.

Don't tell my boss...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Team Talent

I only want people around me who can do the impossible.” - Elizabeth Arden
I read this today and just could not decide if on my team I want people who challenge what we do and continually raise the bar, or if I really want people who can do the impossible.
What does impossible mean?  Many of the programs, events and trade shows produced in our industry are like running marathons, with hills, curves, long hard runs and mental, physical and sometimes even emotional challenges to overcome as we run with and ahead of our clients, anticipating, planning, preparing, training and then finally, side by side, going to the finish - and doing what may seem impossible. In our case it is ensuring that thousands and thousands of people every year leave Western Canada educated, engaged, informed and inspired about where they have been, what they have experienced and having increased loyalty to our organizations and associations.
If this is my criteria, then it does seem like it may have its challenges, and maybe I do want people around me who can do the impossible!

Monday, October 18, 2010


So I have arrived for class tonight and am again surprised that there is still a sign up in the foyer space that says. Do NOT rearrange the furniture.  The furniture is 20 stuffed blue chairs lined up around the space on the walls, 3 here, 4 there. This foyer is in the hospitality management area of an institution that prides itself on being progressive and connected to the industry. Yet, they don't assume that these same progressive students that they seek to attract may want to sit and face each other to have a conversation, and heaven forbid - they might not move a chair back against the wall. Seriously?

Obviously this institution (and likely many others) could use a dose of "Event Camp" to up the progressive ante on the models and methods of engaging learners and creating the next level of professional entering our industry.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In Theory...

Just when I was thinking about how much fun we have playing at our job...

A week later, we find ourselves at the Law Courts with a smaller group - just 150, and again, a team of people who are truly excellent at the detail they put into events and who each brought their expertise to share with these guests. This night had many special treats for the guests, from a short / long limo ride through the streets of Vancouver, to walking the red carpet and being greeted by their executives, to fabulous food and then, to begin the night, a rousing performance by a group of high - energy and talented youth sharing their enthusiasm. As dinner drew to a close, they enjoyed a string quartet and then a fast-paced and exciting awards presentation. They could never have expected what happened next... and this is where, when I talk about immersing yourself in what we do - well this was one of those performances that transcends!

Oh String Theory, how we adore thee! Imagine if you will a circle harp that stretches as far as you can imagine - in our case 66' - over and above all the awards presenters - invisible and visible at the same time. Add drums in at least four configurations I can recall, guitars of all tones, gorgeous violins, whistling... yes, whistling, incredible vocal opera, and a little rock and roll rhythm to make it all accessible, and well, honestly it does not even begin to describe the magical performance created. This is such a talented group of musicians, dancers, performers - all these titles are inadequate for what they present. This is a group who is taking music of various genres to new extremes and who obviously love, love, love sharing what they do.  This love of performance came through and this audience appreciated the entire experience.  I cannot wait to have this experience shared again!

When I play

This morning on the way to her soccer game, my daughter said, "Mom, you know what I love about soccer? Once you are out there, it is all you have to think about."  So simple. This is how I feel about events.  No matter if the lead up is 2 years or 2 weeks, once you have the pre-event, and especially when the load in begins, it is all about the focus on bringing all the ideas to fruition.

Last week we had so many great things happen. We found out we are nominated for the BC Event Awards, Best Opening Reception, for the MPI WEC 2010 Welcome Reception, (MPI Cantrav video) with some amazing competition!  As I looked through the entire list of nominees, I felt so lucky to work in this industry, and so proud of all the nominees. Many of these events I had the opportunity to see, participate in or see photos of, and WOW is all I can think. What amazing professionals we are surrounded by here!

We also had the opportunity to produce four incredible events, each with their own personality, and each perfectly suited in a myriad of ways to the participants.  First we produced an Opening Ceremony for 3,000 professionals that was in a challening venue, and took some risks, and was flawless.  This group moved up to their welcome reception, an event for 3,000 that showcased a cross-Canada experience.  This particular event was very special for many reasons, including
  • the partnership and trust with the clients who were excited to embrace new ideas - and they have done this conference for 25 years, so they know their group!
  • what the suppliers brought in professionalism, in taking this to a new level and in stepping up to bring simply crazy ideas to life
  • our whole production team was on site and critical to making this all come together - and being able to share the event experience with them
  • the balance of the team that supported the conference portion of the event - all consumate professionals, who are friendly, fun and forward thinking - so great!
I have many favorite moments from this first week where we produced three great events in three different and distinct downtown venues. First the performance that combined acrobatic cirque with dance to showcase the nature side of Vancouver with the urban integration those of us who live here and love this about our city.  The windows to the "kitchen" were delightful, the asian areas inspired, the fireworks spectacular, the entertainers... from Tiller's Folly, to the sounds of the Pipa and the Forbidden Flutes, Jahnke Jazz in more than one configuration, and Leslie and her amazing quartet who brought our final night to an incredible close... we are so fortunate to have such an amazing pool of talent in Vancouver to choose from!

Unbelievable still to me are the six performers who agreed to wait on tiny platforms surrounded as fabric lanterns 50' above the guests for nearly two hours - out of sight and ready to astound the guests when they suddenly appeared and did an incredible performance that culminated in fireworks over the harbour.  Spectacular, on so many levels.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Taking Control of time, is it possible?

This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.

Hmmmm, just saw this quote somewhat randomly on a website about viral marketing and it reminded me that being responsible for our time ultimately is up to each of us. As we manage the new reality of some long - term planning for events combined with many events with short lead times, it is tougher to do this. For our creative sparks, and everyone we work with, it has been too busy for a while, so the shape of the world is in flux.  We have been concentrating on what matters - delivery of top-notch programs with sustainable products and awesome entertainment, and keeping us motivated and energized on a daily basis, and having fun along the way.

Shaping our world, well that is still in the works, and for the sake of our families and ourselves, we are working on it...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Event Camp - Like Minded Thinking

For so many reasons, what Event Camp has started is an amazing step forward in keeping our industry at the forefront of thought leadership for creating more engaging life-long learning experiences. Check this out for yourself.

Why is the Event Camp Community Special

Each time we are able to bring some element, whether introducing new seating styles (exercise balls anyone?) to virtual breakouts, or transparency in learning styles, it is all an opportunity to extend the life of the meetings people attend.  When we set the stage for better connections to be created, it allows opportunities for people and their businesses to see growth and return on the time invested in the education and networking available.

Thank you thought leaders for starting this and let's keep it growing.  West Coast anyone?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Face to Face - the reality, the research

There has been a plethora of research recently on how meetings are most effective - face-to-face, virtual or hybrid, or a combination of this and more. We need to consider many things in our planning to determine what is going to fit the needs and meet or exceed the objectives
  • pre-assessments - what education / team building needs to happen - what are they looking for
  • meeting objectives
  • management objectives (corporate or association)
  • sponsor and exhibitor needs
  • relevant education for a variety of levels of participants
  • meaningful teambuilding 
  • networking opportunities
Most of these require PEOPLE to make them successful. People seek relationships and want to do business with people they know and trust.  The best way to create this base is through shared, authentic experiences that provide opportunity for dialogue. The research is fascinating - thank you Maritz and Cornell for your continued leadership!
Perspective on Face to Face Meetings

As much as we can seek to understand, and provide research and show tangible results, sometimes we just need to see a group bring this to life. This was our experience this week, as we welcomed 3,000+ people to Vancouver, and saw the relevant education, well thought out exhibition with full service amenities gathering space, and excellent events all bring together people again and again. Last night at the Closing Reception, the sponsor, the staff members of the association that had worked to bring this to life, and hundreds of delegates met for the final time until next year, and they ate, they talked and finally, unexpectedly, they DANCED. My favorite moment was the man who put to the side first one cane, and then the other and DANCED until we finally, 30 minutes past the stated end time, ended the music and as they finished their beverages and conversations, they trickled slowly out, leaving 6 days of meetings and events feeling fully satisfied with their experience, and knowing the value of these relationships as they go forward in their careers and back to work. Truly, face to face at its best.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You are Always Planning the Unexpected

This may be one of the greatest compliments I have ever received and it was just this week, but it was related to events both this week and from other events the giver of the compliment had experienced with us over the summer. It really has made me think about what I love about what we do. We are often asked for "out of the box" "creative" ideas that will "wow" our guests, and then find out that the budgets don't match the wishes, or that what creative means to us is vastly different from what it means to the clients.

We love to create surprises and this week has offered us myriad opportunities to do this, and for this we thank a client who had trust, and who wanted to do a little bit of shaking up of the norm. As the chief said "it is time to move this organization forward" and we embraced the challenge to keep things safe and elegant, but to add the unexpected. Adding the unexpected has generated comments from "This IS a party", to "they were in a cage" (they were not, it was a Circus SkyLadder), to simply, "WOW!"

From the fantastic keynote speaker they selected, to the surprise of the performance that culminated with a flash mob coming out of the audience to help move the thousands upstairs, a fabulous reception with the Vancouver Convention Centre pulling out all the stops, to the fortune tellers that were lined up all night, the light dance and the silk aerialists that had waited 50' above the audience for 98 minutes... to the fireworks that lit up the harbour, this welcome was a memorable start.

We have continued the week with dinners, performances, venues and delightful surprises, and we are excited about tomorrow's closing... and then on to the events that follow.

Next week is a 50' violin - new group, just as much "unexpected" we believe to come!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One week later

It is now one week since my last post. There have been moments of silence at school, at the soccer fields, and for more than one family, there will be many, many more. Last week I wrote of the loss of our local teen, and how this has impacted our community. With no resolution to the reason or perpetrator of this, we all wait and watch more carefully over our children.

In another part of the world, another local girl, a friend shared with many, has moved into her grown up life, fallen in love and lives on a gorgeous island with her husband and small son.  This last week they too suffered a tragic loss, as their newborn, at just two weeks old passed away. Again, a loss that cannot be explained or understood. Not for these parents, or their first son at just 2. One tiny life lost and an impact that will diminish as they heal over time, but will never go away. Our hearts extend to this very special family during this tragic time.

We also avidly read the blog of Omer, Janet and Elizabeth as they keep us up to date on Elizabeth's recovery from her bike accident this summer.  We are so thankful to see she is healing, and now able to share time between home and Sunny Hill, and that progress is being made daily in all areas. We will continue to watch and cheer for each small victory and thank Omer for keeping this blog so current.

As our ordinary life goes on, with the incredibly busy time that autumn always is, with family, school returning and homework ramping up, fall sports well underway with practices and games for soccer, testing and tournaments for tae-kwon-do and curling beginning again in the family, we look forward to Thanksgiving weekend, and spending some time with our friends and family and appreciating what we all have. 

Next week our son will attend with 15,000 children and teens from BC the Me to We event, begun as part of the Keilburger's Free the Children movement.  They will have the opportunity to hear Jane Goodall, Jason Mraz and the Dalai Lama, among others share their journeys and their stories with impact with this next generation, who will continue to work on making our world a better place.

Over this past weekend I also produced an amazing show with the support of an incredible team and with clients who were willing to let us take some risks for the opening of a conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This involved yet another 24 hour shift - the same I said I would never do again - but in the end all worth it - so stay tuned for details of this astounding welcome our guests experienced! Yes, those were our fireworks...

The reminders to be thankful are plentiful, we do need to take time to appreciate all we have.