Sunday, October 30, 2011

Feel the Color of Every Note

When guests walk into an event, I want to make sure that they leave the event richer for their experience.  Every event will have its own goals and for our clients we want to ensure that once these are clarified, at every step of the planning we keep these in mind and create details that will add impact to the message.

Feel the Color of EVERY note. I want to hear the gasps as people enter a room to unexpected delight as they know by the soundscape, lighting and design details that this will be something special. They will taste the food more, enjoy the conversation more and feel the experience more deeply. Physiologically we have created a space where neurons are firing and their brains are releasing chemicals that add to their increased pleasure and their neural pathways are open to making more memories, more memorable connections and leave the event feeling sated.

A great event has peaks and valleys, swooshes of colour created both literally and through entertainment and activities that engage and excite, that make them feel alive and part of an experience greater than just themselves.  Isn't this what we all want?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Pain of Being Human

We all recognize Pain. And Joy. It is what makes us human, the ability to feel across all spectrums. It is our ability to wade through what happens in this place called life, and to live it to the best of our ability that defines us as who we are. They are times it seems nearly impossible, and there are also times we don't win. When we lose friends and loved ones and feel that we may never be the same again as part of the life we were comfortable with is sliced away. Sometimes this is very sudden, and sometimes we know it will come and it is just a matter of time.

How we get through these times is always highly individual, and we each have to do what is right for us in this time, and the rest of us simply have to give support, time or space as needed, when needed.

When I was 30 my dad died suddenly, on the other side of the world. When I found out I naturally called my husband who had just started an 8 hour shift and had to honor that commitment (as his job relates to public safety). I went to the home of very special friends who knew they didn't need to do anything to make it better, I just needed to be somewhere that I knew support was. Their at the time 4yr old daughter was a joy then and now and she helped me refocus. Their son, then just 16 months old had never been a baby that was interested in other people. If you were not his parents he pretty much would not come or play with others. This evening he must have had an inner sense he was needed and he crawled right over and was content to sit with me from the time I arrived until it was time for bed - something that had not happened before (and now at 15 would never!)

Earlier this week and again tonight I have had people contact me to cancel social plans because they have had a personal catastrophe that quite simply has to take precedence. In both cases I was told over a written medium (email or text) and in both cases I feel there is no adequate response - that whatever I said was not enough to fully express how I want to reach through the the medium and wrap them in a giant hug and protect them and tell them I understand pain, and I wish I could lessen theirs, at this moment.

I know intellectually that we will all have times that we feel intense happiness, the kind that makes you want to burst. We will all feel the intense perfection of a moment, when you know you are exactly in the right place at the right time celebrating the perfect moment with the right people. That is joy. When pain comes knocking, as it inevitably will, I wish you the strength to give in to the pain knowing you will come out the other side, and the willingness to believe that there are people to support you and to reach out to them.

Being human won't always be easy, but we don't have to do it alone. For those of you feeling pain, please accept this virtual hug in the spirit it is sent.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do you Believe in Infinite Potential?

As we (get older) gain more experience in the world there is often the tendency to default to what we know will work rather than experimenting with what might work. The word "might" always leaves the door open to possible failure, and the vulnerability associated with the potential to fail is an uncomfortable place we prefer to avoid. Potential-limiting.

Yesterday we had some friends for dinner and as the evening wound down we ended up with a small group discussing Einstein's theory of relativity, which suggests time and space are not as linear as we presume.  The interesting thing about this is the discussion was that it was a high level look at the possibilities, taking place mainly between a 12 year old and a 17 year old, the latter who had just written an essay on the subject for a scholarship application. The application is to Cambridge, who award four full scholarships to Canadians each  year. She definitely sees herself earning one of these spots. Infinite potential.

What if we approached our opportunities open to the possibilities, knowing we may be wildly successful... or we may fall flat and have to pick ourselves up and try again? Who was the first person to look at a stalk of grain in a field and wonder how they could turn that into something else? Who made the first mills that turned wheat into flour, or bakers that turned flour into bread?  We can imagine the first loaves were not spectacular, but the potential was there, and now we have literally thousands of varieties of loaves made from a seemingly unending variety of ingredients. Infinite potential.

When it comes to meetings and events there seems to be a default to the safe zone - open rounds or theatre style seating, presenters who talk at us, food and beverages that are easy to provide but often nutritionally light (think danishes/pastries, sandwiches with processed meat and white bread, etc.), and little room for feedback. Safe.

What if instead we considered the infinite potential of choice and gave the responsibility for the potential learning and connections to our participants? If we provided events that considered content, program design and meeting flow at every step? This might include nutritional, brain-friendly food choices, presenters who welcome feedback and questions using comfortable-for-the-participant methods (ARS, text etc.) during the sessions, attendees able to share content with each other both during the session and in white space, and ultimately where we collaborate and create a space where connections that allow  you to apply your new learning to your current situations can be made, enhancing your overall experience.  

Anytime you doubt the potential of thinking differently, consider how the people within corporations such as Apple and Oracle are considering the potential impact of each decision and making choices that ripple; or watch an episode of Extreme Home Makeover, where they not only change a home, they change lives, week by week, one thoughtful decision at a time. There is infinite potential if we choose to embrace potential.

What if we all looked at an old tree stump and saw instead a great place to spend time and contemplate?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dinner Party Wars - 1 year later

With "the Golden Colander"!
Have you ever watched a reality show and thought "I could do that"? This is what led my cousin Jacqui and I to being on Dinner Party Wars  which aired yesterday on my very favorite channel Food Network Canada.

Now we watch a fair amount of FNC at our house and when I saw the ads I thought "I could do that" and went on line to see who could! (that was August 2010) Great news - I could apply on line to be on the show! Two glitches - who would want to do this with me AND they film in Toronto and I live in Vancouver! Who did I know that is fun, loves to cook and lives in Toronto - ba da bing, Jacqui! I send a text message "do you want to go on food network with me?" "of course" and now, the rest is history.

Captured forever and on TV. Here is the weird thing. I never wanted to be on TV. Never. I am at heart a Producer, the girl behind the curtain who makes sure the show goes on - and is never seen. Would I do it again? Probably not. Did we have the best time ever doing it? Heck YES!

The things we enjoyed the most included
  • the production team - experts at what they do, with a vision, keeping it fun
  • spending more time together as cousins than since we were kids, a total blast
  • cooking - we cooked and tasted and cooked some more and loved it
  • eating and drinking and laughing and enjoying the other dinner parties
  • the competitors were good opponents, they kept us on our toes!
  • the hosts are just exactly as they appear on TV - warm, witty, edgy, fun - they totally embrace the experience
Last night Jacqui flew to Vancouver so we could watch the show together, and this was the perfect dessert to a smorgasbord of fun!