Sunday, July 5, 2015

Speed Dating and Power Lunches

Over this series of posts I will share with you what I am learning in 34 days, 5 conferences, 12 flights, 9 hotels, 9 hours of time difference, 1 international soccer tournament and over 100 meals eaten out.  So it began... 

Day 1 - 4. Hello Orlando and the Rosen Shingle Creek. A self contained conference property, this space worked really well for Collinson Media's Collaborate bringing together nearly 1,000 meeting professionals for 3 days of events, education and a hosted buyer program done in a six minute speed dating format.  
Wellness rating: 4.2/5 Based on large venue offering lots of walking between spaces but very limited natural light in the convention center area and weather limited outdoor networking when in the hotel.  Universal off-site event was great for lots of walking, excellent food options, and stimulating fun. Food choices overall offered a great variety at breakfast and lunch the dietary requirements were well met by the venue.  This is being added because with 34 days on the road, every choice counts.

Lessons I learned
  1. A super hero theme is extra awesome when you have Bill Rosemann of Marvel Comics come and speak about his affinity for the flawed, introverted humans who become superheroes due to circumstances beyond their control and that each of us has the power and compassion inside of us.  
  2. Presenting a new session I created on How to Unleash Your Inner Creative Superhero was a ton of fun as the overfilled room had an unbeatable energy and it was a blast to see the emblems each person created for themselves before the session was done. From what inspires us to how we become heroes for our clients and how to sell creativity - every minute from the time I started putting this together until after the session was, well, super!
  3. If you are prepared, in six minutes you know if you have a business fit and you can decide to continue the conversation.  This is a hosted buyer format that was great to experience.  I also appreciated that on the second day the Collinson team listened to what people said after the first day and incorporated a break into the second afternoon for everyone to rejuvenate before getting back to business.
  4. Great keynotes inspire participants. Captain Mark Kelly shared not only his powerful story of supporting his wife, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords through her post shooting recovery, but also about the practical lessons he has applied to his life as a fighter pilot and astronaut. Practice and persistence were his key messages and he is right, we don't get better at anything unless we just keep doing it. And we don't do it alone, and a team you can trust is critical to any successful mission.
  5. Chelsea Clinton reminded me that any parent can make time for dinner with their family, as hers did, with a little effort. Having been a planner / producer for twenty years I have missed a lot of meals, so we try to make up for it in other times - it is not always easy but it is important to understand your priorities.
  6. Anderson Cooper is funny, truly enjoying everything about life, and while we all have complicated lives, you can choose to embrace the weird, or you can choose to wallow in the challenges... Nah - bring on the complicated and laugh in the face of impossible! When you are surrounded by really had things happening, show compassion and have empathy for those in circumstances we can't even begin to imagine.
  7. Think like a curator!  Jeff Hurt is one smart man, and my more serendipitous moment was finding Jeff first on my late arrival and enjoying home made guacamole and chips, and maybe a margarita or two over a fascinating conversation. It is these moments when you leave your room that make events meaningful.
  8. Michelle Bergstein Fontanez rocks.  If you don't know Michelle and the work she does, check it out.  I really appreciated Michelle taking time out of her schedule to come and spend time with me analyzing the industry, marketing for events and event businesses and so much more.
  9. Perspective is everything.  In 6 minute and 40 seconds per speaker our Pecha Kucha style session covered wellness (me), sustainability (stylish and smart Trevor Lui), digital integrations in meetings (Matt Love from Collinson), the irony of failing to succeed (the inimitable Courtney Stanley), contract law (ubersmart Lisa Sommer Devlin), favorite apps of planners (delightful Jim Spellos) and Meetings Mean Business (verbose Roger Rickard) and this was fabulous.  The style pushes you to be articulate and concise - and for many of us who tend to talk more - it was a great exercise in constraint - and so amazing to hear and see how each person put theirs together - this we want to do again!
I left this event feeling inspired and headed straight on to the next one, with a small change as my flight on a small regional airline no longer existed, so after being re-routed I eventually got to PCMA Educon on the other side of the state, and next up is my learnings from this.

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