Monday, November 19, 2012

Celebrate Every Day

Some of you know that "Brain-friendly" food for meetings is a particular passion of mine and a subject I speak about at industry conferences. It is critical to provide nutrious food when you want people to engage and learn at your events.

BUT...Food and beverage should add to a celebration and when we add something festive to the event from blue martinis to ice luges and food that is artfully designed, it adds to the experience and adds to a sense of celebration.

But, imagine if we treated every day and every interaction as something special. How would our lives change?  This weekend I was at the store purchasing wine for a dinner we were going to - one bottle of bubbles for the friend how had achieved her black belt in TKD, and a beaujolais nouveau, because you can only get these once a year - now - and it seemed like the right choice. 

In front of me a woman struggled to lift her six pack of beer and three trio packs of champagne piccolo bottles to the counter. I assisted her with this as she was quite elderly and it was difficult, and assisted again as she put them into her roller bag. Here is what she told me "I can't drink coffee anymore, so now when guests come over I offer them champagne."

You can bet that as I enter my 8th decade, you too will be served champagne when you visit!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wrestling Alligators

It turns out that wrestling alligators is a "hot new sport" where primarily men take on reptiles, avoiding masses of perils along the way. There are even schools popping up that facilitate training for man vs. beast.

The key pieces of advice from my research into the feasability of wrestling alligators include:
  • "Know your limits"
  • "Avoid the areas of danger" (that includes the jaw area primarily)
  • "Understand their strength (they are about 50% muscle)
  • "Feel when they are ready to strike"
It seems to me the same advice could be applied to meeting and event planning. This research began you see, when I was assessing what I am good at in my job, and what came to mind is that I am exceptional at wrestling alligators.

The bigger the beast of an event, the pointier the teeth, the more challenging the battle ahead, I can't wait to tackle it down, building grids and schedules, meeting and listening and sharing ideas and tracking unending streams of correspondence... approaching committee members, retreating from each area of the beast to gain perspective, trust and ultimately win.

Winning being defined by the culmination of all the goals and objectives being met as a spectacular event - one night or five days, conference, with or without exhibition, multi-day, mind-blowing incentive, it makes no difference really what it is when you win. The euphoria that follows the 300 hours of planning, sometimes within a 25 day period, is what keeps us doing this.

Keeping the above advice in mind:
  1. Know your limits - and build the right team to support the event.  Make time for rest, take time for exercise (remember the alligator is 50% muscle) and eat food that provides the nutrition you need. Even if it is only a snack every four hours, make it all count.
  2. Avoid the areas of danger - know who your stakeholders are and understand their agendas. Keep the end guest experience in mind at all times, so if you have to make a stand, it is for the "right" reasons.
  3. Understand their strength - unlike alligators, events take a team when you want to win. Know who is good at what; who you can count on for the details to be taken care of, and who you need to move into a more suitable role. Make the most of your own strengths and all of theirs.
  4. Feel when they are ready to strike - be open to the great ideas; and watch out for those whose (hidden) agendas you are not paying enough attention to.  Be prepared to go into the jaws to avoid getting taken down by the tail!
What can I say - bring on the alligators!

end note:

Dear family, I will see you in a few weeks, there is a beast that must be conquered

Steampunk marionettes, figure skaters and an Olympic Cauldron - "Fire and Ice"