Friday, May 24, 2013

Power of the Collective

Collective Lego
Flashmob. Lego Master Builder Creations. Group Yoga. Conferences. 

Nobody makes me smarter than my children. Last week we joined other families at Oakridge Mall in Vancouver where Lego was building an 8' Yoda out of bricks. Each participant had a picture of the small parts they had to do, and an 18" Yoda to show what their collective work would lead to - a very statuesque Yoda.  After Nick had been building for a while, I thought it was perhaps time to go, but he was not ready. I suggested he could still build Lego when we got home, but that was NOT the point. As an experience creator, I should have already known / sensed that this was not about building squares into more squares - it was about how he was contributing to the whole. This took three days of people wanting to participate in a collective win, and they succeeded on every level.

We have seen examples around the world of this - LuluLemon leading 300 people in yoga at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver, Chicago parks hosting a day of exercise, where each hour the activity changed and hundreds participated in each, and marvelous examples such as Diner en Blanc, where it is about being together in a collective experience that is the point. Please do share your favorite examples as well!   

How should this impact our thinking when it comes to events? I believe sometimes we get so wrapped up in the details - number of servers, access to exits, are there enough restrooms, what shade of red is the linen - that we forget the reason we are doing all of this - to create clean, safe environments for people to COLLECT, CONNECT and enjoy SHARED experiences.  If you have ever seen a video game developer conference - hundreds of people in darkened spaces seemingly working alone, heads down, focused on the task at hand - you might think this makes no sense. Until you see them all get up, stretch, head outside to the saunas, peeling off clothes as they go, rolling in the snow, and having beers together and talking about their awesome creations of the day does it begin to make sense as to why they want to be alone together to create.

Flashmobs are another great example of bringing people together in an unexpected way. If you asked most people if they would get up and dance in the middle of the day, in full daylight, in public, they would say "unlikely". But if you get these same people involved in creating the human bonding experience that is a flashmob, where a shared rhythm is found and a connection to the people and place, so in the present is made, they are up for it - and to see these is always a little bit magical.  (we LOVE planning these)

The power of being together, of collecting for idea sharing, for conversation, for the human touch that can only be found live, this is the power of the collective. As meeting professionals we can never forget why we do this, and how much joy we can share.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Grandma Says

Grandma still plays badminton
This month our son had to interview his grandmother and ask her four questions about life. Her answers are so simple, and so smart, I told her I was going to share them here.

The first was to describe a very special event in her life. This was easy, "The day I was married to your grandfather." - in 1957. Norm has since passed on, but as their daughter in law, I can tell you how lucky they were, and their children are, to have had such an example of love through laughter, adversity, joy and challenge and how it really is the glue that can hold you together through it all.

A life lesson she would share. "Be yourself, love your family, be honest, and don't be afraid of working."

Advice for her grandchildren. "Choose a good partner, take care of your health, continue school as far as possible, find something you are interested in doing."

Hope for her grandchildren. "A good long life. Work hard for everything you want or need."

Thanks Grandma, that is great advice!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How Would You Sign Your Day

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at and participating in the Incentive Research Foundation meeting, and met many wonderful people who are supporting the important work of the foundation, and I will share more of these experiences from an Event perspective later.  This post however is about Impact Points, and is about a serendipitous meeting over breakfast with the lovely Michele Sarkisian, who shared two stories with me, that with her permission I am sharing here. There are two parts to this story, the first being the work that she has been doing in Atlanta to help educate people about human trafficking, particularly related to children, taking place around the world, and in the cities and suburbs of, well everywhere. 

This is an issue it is easy to ignore, as it is hidden from most of us, but one that those of us in the hospitality industry can make a positive impact on, by noticing and reporting things that are out of the ordinary, such as a youth arriving at a hotel with no baggage, alone or accompanied. For Michele, one of the people who has inspired her around this work is Marilyn Carlson Nelson, a force in the industry who early recognized the contribution the industry could make.  She is not alone as you will read in the link above and also in this article by Keith Johnston who shared the work that Kimberly Ritter and Nix Conference and Event Management of St. Louis are doing to raise awareness - also worth a read. 

There are many successes and industry innovations this woman and this family have brought to our industry, but this is a story of a great loss and the thoughtful approach to life that came from this that Michele shared with me the next time we met.  While it is documented that the Nelsons lost one of their  daughters just shortly after she graduated from high school as valedictorian in a tragic auto accident, the impact of this is so personal that even having lost a sibling, I cannot imagine their pain.  The next part that Michele shared was as something that inspired her and which I asked if I could share.  Although it is neither her story to tell or mine, it moved me to consider the power this could have on our lives, and I believe Marylin Carlson Nelson will understand the spirit in which we are sharing it, because it is moving, inspiring, and something we can all aspire to. As one of our most recognized women leaders, her belief in sharing knowledge that inspires positive change is world renowned and has had a global reach.  

The story continues that shortly after this tragedy, they went back and read their daughter's valedictory speech, full of youthful optimism, hope for the future and a pledge to live every day to the fullest. From this her and her husband came up with a strategy to view their life as if it was a masterpiece, and do what they could to live up to this, which I share here.  At the end of every day, they would ask, "would you put your signature on this day?"  If you imagined your life as a great masterpiece, and today was a painting, would you put your signature on it?  Did you do your best with every interaction?  Did you put in your best effort at work?  In your relationship?  With that program at work or the challenge you faced that day? 

We should finish each day with a sense of pride in what we have accomplished, whether it is producing a spectacular event, fairly negotiating a contract, truly taking the time to play with a child, cooking and appreciating a meal with your family or friends, planting a garden space, or finishing your own masterpiece.  Whatever it is you do in a day, take pride in how you do it, endeavor to succeed in the challenges. savor the victories, and  add your signature.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

June full of idea sharing

The kind of food I hope to find
at meetings (Vancouver Convention
Centre, March 2013)
It has already been an incredible year of traveling, sharing knowledge and learning, with PCMA and The Special Event in January, the Green Meetings Industry Council in April and in just a few days I will join the Incentive Research Foundation for their annual meeting.

June is usually a time of birthday celebrations for my family and getting ready for exciting summer programs. While these remain true, this year there is back to back education that will be fantastic for meeting professionals, and I thought it might be fun to mention just a few which are all within ten days, making it impossible to attend all, but fun to think about!  

June 5 - 7, SPINCon, Atlantic City
For Senior Planners (10+ years) SPINCon is continuing to offer leading edge speakers in what will be a thoughtfully experimental environment with a focus on connecting planners to talk to each other and this looks great.  Two years ago I was able to go to this conference and can feel good about recommending it.

June 8 - 10, CMP Conclave, Spokane Washington
I have just renewed my CMP for the second time, and have been working on writing some elements for the next (9th edition) of the CIC manual so I was very excited about this being so close to home. I thought this might be the year to attend a conclave, but you really can't be in two places at once, so I won't make it, but especially after having met Wendy @frameworkmtgs at PCMA this January, I know that Spokane is going to rock this one - making it full of both great conversation and wine - enhanced social networking.

June 11 - 13th, AIBTM, Chicago (exhibiting)
This one is a must attend as I both love this show, and have the opportunity to support our Vancouver partners in activating the booth. In addition to the great people, the touchscreen experience of Vancouver, to learn about apps to support your planning with app gurus Dahlia El Gazzar who has been leading Wine and Apps sessions for local Chicago planners and Keith Johnston @plannerwire who is always talking tech, enjoy some BC wine, learn about audience engagement strategies with Katie of MYB and more!  That is just in our booth - check out the program for the many educational and connection opportunities that will be filling up these three days from the partnerships they have with ACTE, PCMA, ICCA, MPI, IAEE and SITE to their own Future Events Experience happening n the show floor.  I look forward to seeing many of you there!

June 13 - 15, Collaborate Marketplace, Denver (speaking)
I am thrilled to have been considered to speak at this event and to be able to join in and participate in sessions with what is an awesome lineup of speakers at this event designed for corporate meeting planners. If you haven't already checked this one out, I recommend you do - the feedback from previous years is awesome!

I look forward to new ideas and new connections, and to hearing about what others are sharing and learning along the way.