The subtle power of mentorship

Posted 1 week, 4 days ago @


When I was the newly hired president of Burger King USA, I worked for the late and legendary restaurateur, Norman Brinker. I was in Norman’s office one afternoon after he had seen a memo that I had written to one of our senior leaders. I was noticeably thorough and prescriptive in terms of laying out the course of action, to which Norman offered an alternate approach.

“I saw your memo to so-and-so and have a thought for you,” he said. “Next time, why don’t you just focus on the objective and leave how he gets there up to him?”

He continued, “Two things will happen: one, you’ll find out how smart he is or ain’t, and two, he might just come up with some new ideas you hadn’t thought of.”

That moment 36 years ago has shaped the way I’ve operated ever since, particularly when it comes to mentoring. While many mislabel mentorship as giving advice, there’s much more to it.

Rethinking the role of the mentor

The principle Norman Brinker instilled in the story above—both as a mentor to me and in my mentorship to others—is that it’s not so much about giving direction. A mentee still thinks and acts on their own, just with the advantage of having a mentor’s wisdom from which to draw. Mentoring means listening, observing, asking and sharing—not guiding or supervising.

Confidence through critical thinking

Let’s say you’re faced with a difficult choice; a mentor, in this situation, will serve as a sounding board. Oftentimes, we don’t know what we think until we hear what we say. You might go into the conversation asking for your mentor’s advice, but once they’ve shared their opinion, you’ll likely carry the discussion the rest of the way. By thinking aloud, you are building confidence in your own decision.

RELATED STORY: Dive into the free Professional Development Guide

Structured mentorship

Mentorship is one of the most underutilized means of passing knowledge between levels and generations of management within an organization. When I talk about structured mentorship, I’m likening it to matchmaking—which is something we do in our Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) and Meeting and Event Management Master’s Programs at San Diego State University. Every student is matched with a mentor based on what they’re trying to accomplish in their personal and professional growth; in many cases, mentors are HTM master’s alumni.

Creating structured mentorship in a corporate setting will naturally involve guidelines and protocol that can at times make the initiative itself feel rigid. But when you match the right people, they usually don’t need much to work with and will figure it out for themselves—yet another nod to the story I told to start this article—with minimal structure required.

RELATED STORY: The how, where and why of networking


Layers of valuable input

A few years ago, I was mentoring a senior executive who wanted to earn consideration for becoming the successor to the soon-to-retire CEO. True to everything I’ve shared thus far, I gave him a template (rather than a roadmap) for developing his own plan of how he was going to get where he wanted to go. When the document reached a point that we both believed it was well-defined and ready to present, he took it to the CEO.

“I can help you do this,” the CEO said, essentially becoming another mentor in the executive’s journey.

I share this as an example of how mentorship can build from one person to the next—especially in the corporate world, where it has the ability to replace authority with collaboration. “Learning from” and “working alongside” are much more fruitful for everyone than “reporting to.” Mentees in our master’s programs often find the experience so intellectually stimulating that they seek to pay it forward and become mentors to subsequent cohorts.

RELATED STORY: A mentor Thanksgiving

A two-way street

The most rewarding aspect of mentorship boils down to building meaningful relationships and learning from one another. I can tell you from my experiences that I have gained just as much insight and introspect from any and every one of my mentees as they have gained from me—and I know my own mentors connect with the same outlook. Everyone has both wisdom to gain and wisdom to share.

San Diego State University partnered with MPI to create the first-ever meeting and event management master’s degree program. Learn more and start the application process now!

The post The subtle power of mentorship appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

10 engaging tips to boost meeting participation

Posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago @

customer experience

It’s time for meetings to evolve.

Meetings are a benchmark of how efficient your company is and also how organized your team is under pressure. It’s easy to forget that meetings are an important element of the customer experience (CX), since they’re just, well…boring.

You could have the best website in the world, incredible brand design and a variety of innovative experiences to offer, but these are not the only elements of CX you should be focusing on. If your in-person business meetings do not garner engagement, your customers will be less than impressed. In today’s hyper-competitive market, you absolutely must wow your potential customers if you want to strike a deal or cement a partnership.

As a leader, you must consistently drive effective communication. Meetings must be deliberate and intentional—your organizational rhythm should value purpose over habit and effectiveness over efficiency.” – Chris Fussell

Meetings are a huge contributor to successful communication, but they’re not easy to plan or manage. Consider that following a detailed agenda and starting on time can reduce meeting times up to 80 percent; unfortunately, only 37 percent of U.S. meetings use agendas. Improving your team’s performance in this arena is worth the hassle.

So how do you make good things happen during meetings? How do you streamline the meeting engagement process to ensure customers have a memorable experience?

We’ve prepared a list of tips and tricks to guide you.

1. Do your homework

This one should be obvious. You only have a small window of time available to make your point—don’t waste it. Are you about to share unnecessary information? Will your customers walk away enlightened or ready for a nap?

Do all necessary research on the prospect and/or industry beforehand, so that your meeting time can be an asset that validates your clients’ trip to your offices. One recommended exercise for understanding a potential customer’s profile is to complete a SWOT analysis. Yes, just like in your college marketing class.

RELATED STORY: Design relevant, engaging experiences

2. Know your audience

Who are you talking to? What have they achieved and what problems are they having? What are their likes and dislikes? How many times have they met with your department or organization before and what were the results?
This relates to the previous point about doing your homework, but it’s also a separate step because you’re using the information to personalize the experience. If you already know some details about the customer (do they like to golf, their alma mater, major industry conferences they’ve recently attended, etc.) it makes it easier to choose a talking point and make casual conversation transition into business discussion.

3. Sentiment should lead the way

When you’re having a one-on-one conversation with someone and you hit on a touchy subject, you can usually tell right away from their body language. In that moment we generally assess how to continue, maybe steering away from the touchy subject if it’s not important.

You should do exactly the same during a meeting. Successful meeting management is about steering conversations based on real-time sentiment and feedback. Get your attendees involved by using tools like surveys and polls. Pose a question and then discuss the answers, in the moment, to gauge the temperature of the room. Then, use the information you gain to influence the rest of the meeting.

4. Enlist some help but return the favor

Your guest speakers agreed to help by giving their time and sharing their insights. In return, make things as easy for them as possible.

Collect post-meeting feedback and then share this information with your subject matter experts. This should help them fine-tune what trends or topics they touched on and how they can improve the overall experience.

Having a speaker’s bureau is incredibly helpful. It allows you to view which exec or subject-matter expert is most knowledgeable on a particular topic and also helps you identify new speakers and opportunities.

RELATED STORY: 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed

5. Be a thought leader

Establishing company executives as thought leaders in your organization and within the industry makes them more relatable to customers. It also positions them as subject matter experts, building clout for your organization. For attendees, the meeting becomes a much more exciting prospect, akin to meeting a celebrity.

Execs can assert their thought leadership with published content and blogs, social media, webinars, speaking engagements and similar events. It goes without saying but this should be done continuously outside of regular meetings or conferences.

6. Preparation is key

We’ve already told you to do your homework. However, don’t just aim to come prepared yourself; you should also focus on preparing anyone who will attend the meeting, including other team members and customers.

Make this happen by sharing the agenda and any support documents ahead of time. This way attendees can even get involved beforehand by making topic suggestions for the meeting agenda, or by proposing important materials they’d like to bring to the discussion.

7. Real-time notifications

Forty-nine percent of people multitask by doing unrelated work during meetings. Keep them focused by sharing targeted insights and updates before, during and after the meeting. The best way to go about it is through real-time notifications and alerts.

Start every meeting on the right foot. Ensure that if the room or time changes, your attendees know right away and have clear instructions on next steps. Send out initial details to serve as a primer for what you’ll be talking about, as this will gear them for more participation.

By the end of 2019, more than 50 percent of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience improvements. The technology behind real-time notifications and dynamic alerts is nothing short of innovative.

8. Acknowledge contributions

So, you held the meeting and saw that everyone was engaged? Excellent! Now, make them feel appreciated with a proper follow-up in-person.

Plan to take a few moments at the end of every meeting or discussion to acknowledge contributions. Who was a top participant? Who proposed a remarkable idea that no one else thought of?

Even just a little praise can go a long way toward building lasting relationships.

9. Save time for feedback

All meeting managers hope to collect insightful, actionable feedback from an event. After all, it’s one of the reasons for having a discussion in the first place.

But is there enough time to do it? More importantly, can attendees deliver feedback in an easy, convenient way?

To make it happen, consider using tech tools such as automated reminders, quick one-click satisfaction surveys or even voice dictation. Find ways to improve the feedback process and cut down on excess noise. This will conserve time for you and your team, while affording attendees ample time to share all their thoughts.

RELATED STORY: Traits of great meeting planners

10. Following up after the event

It’s a good idea to gauge interest and collect feedback during the event, but there must also be a follow-up after everyone has gone their separate ways.

Show attendees their contributions were worthwhile by following up on their suggestions. Send personalized messages or notifications that keep engagement going post-meeting; this is your chance to prove that customer comments were taken into account by your team.

Don’t forget to tie up those loose ends—they matter.

Meetings are vital to customer experience

It’s easy to forget that meetings are a part of your CX, simply because they happen so frequently. In addition, most people—even customers—have been desensitized to their shortcomings.

But you can use these tips to step up your game, boost engagement and build long-lasting relationships with whoever you decide to meet in-person.

The post 10 engaging tips to boost meeting participation appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Industry trends from WEC

Posted 3 weeks, 4 days ago @

trendsDuring MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC) in Indianapolis last year, SocialTables Founder Dan Berger explored a variety of current and upcoming trends impacting the meeting and event industry. The following edited excerpt covers a few of his topics—but keep on reading to watch the entire presentation here for free!


The industry we’re in is changing in front of our eyes. The hospitality powerhouses are going after the industry’s third rail: commission. We’ve seen, just in the last few weeks, pretty much the three largest hotel groups with a thousand plus hotels in their portfolio, cut commissions by 30 percent. At the same time, we’ve seen some chains increase their commissions.

Red Lion just went from 10 percent to 11 percent on group commissions. So, they’re seeing an opportunity, it’s really interesting to see that. Also, other chains have renewed their commitments to third parties. Hotels themselves have been investing in direct booking technologies, so they’re saying we don’t need these third parties necessarily, because we can take that money we’re paying for booking and invest it in technology or invest it in our own sales force.

RELATED STORY: Out of commission: Future of planner business models


On the buyer side, American Express GBT, just bought the sixth-largest demand side planning group. On the vendor side, PSVA bought Hargrove, they’re a GES kind of competitor. And on the tech side, Cvent just announced another acquisition of QuickMobile. So, they bought Matthews CrowdCompass, a few years ago and they just bought QuickMobile because they wanna make sure that they have a stranglehold on the mobile application category.

Prices will increase due to consolidation, as more hotels consolidate, as more hotel chains buy out one another, as more private equity firms buy hotel operators, you’re gonna have prices continue to increase because there’ll be less competition, so prices will only go up. Some chains will drop commissions for group business even further, I think that 7 percent is only the beginning, I think they would ideally like to get to a much lower number. But did you know that actually, hotels charge commission if a corporate chain gives a group lead to a hotel property? They charge them commissions sometimes, much lower than 10 percent, but corporate charges commission for leads they source, and that’s sometimes around 4 percent.

I think some chains will double down on the third-party relationships and say, “You know what, my money is more worthwhile going to a third party to outsource all my group business, as opposed to me investing in my own marketing strategy,” so that might happen too. This is something that we haven’t seen yet, but I think private equity, the really big players when it comes to money, will start moving into the events industry and I think we’ll see consolidation happening with event planning firms.

RELATED STORY: Third-party procurement can cost you your commission

market movement

So, we’ve seen that happening in the DMC world, right? Allied PRA, and other DMCs have purchased small DMCs and consolidated, that hasn’t happened in catering so much because catering is super local, but I think it can happen in event planning firms. So, when you have somebody’s wedding and event planning company, somebody’s meeting planning profession, they can buy that, that’s happened in doctor’s offices, when you go to doctor’s offices, it’s most likely owned by a group of financial investors, not just by the doctor anymore.

So, all this means that there will be seismic shifts to our industry’s structure. Generally speaking, when seismic shifts happen, they happen because of business model shifts, not because of other things. So, we’re seeing the business model shift, where different people are caring more about the money than they used to.


New ways to travel are changing behavior. [Referencing chart] Airbnb is much cheaper than a hotel, so it’s not surprising that it’s competitive, and it’s not just competitive in the United States, it’s competitive all around the world.

By the end of this year, we should see over 50 million Airbnb listings. So, the way you think about it, that’s 50 million additional sleeping room in the world, right? When just 10 years ago, that supply, that sleeping room supply wasn’t available.

And then we’re also seeing another interesting trend: luxury managed departments. There’s a company called Sonder and they essentially do Airbnb, but they actually take the lease, so they’ll lease the apartment, give you a hotel like experience in an apartment. So, more and more interesting business models are coming online, creating more inventory.

RELATED STORY: Contract trends: What’s old may be new again

So, what does that mean for meetings and events? Well, I think one thing that it means is that remote destinations will compete with traditional ones, you’ll suddenly be able to go to a city that had didn’t have the number of sleep rooms that you needed, but now it does because it has another 100,000 sleeping rooms, thanks to home sharing. And home sharing will add inventory in every corner of the globe, so you can have meetings in places you didn’t think about having them before.

Berger covers a number of additional, important subjects related to industry trends—including a lot of tech elements, such as AI, AR, blockchain, virtual experiences, etc. Watch the entire session—for free!—below.

Loved this content? Don’t miss this year’s WEC, DATE in Toronto. Register and learn more!

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Do you have backup?

March 18th, 2019 @

saved in the cloud

In early journalism school, I was taught the importance of a good headline. Hopefully this was a good headline to get you interested.

What back up or spares do you think of when you read the headline?

What backups do I need as a presenter?

It is so embarrassing to spend time on a presentation that you can’t present. The audience has expectations, and you spent a great deal of time and/or money creating your support graphics.

The laptop freezes, the projector is out of focus, the sound is garbled. Has this happened to you? I attended such a meeting this morning.

If I were to depend on any tool for an important purpose, I would always have a backup.

Backups every presenter should have before presenting to an audience

First, always have a power supply for your laptop. Running on batteries is risky when not “backed up” with a power supply.


Next, insure that your laptop is in “presentation mode.” Apple and Windows both have options you can select to avoid pop ups, notifications and those untimely updates when in presentation mode.

Carry two backups of your PowerPoint with you at all times.

The first backup should be on a thumb drive. That will allow you, should you have a computer failure, to quickly switch to someone else’s computer for your presentation. A true PowerPoint backup has the fonts and characters necessary for the design.

The second backup is so simple it just hit me this morning while I was attending an event. Back up your presentation on your phone. If all else fails, you can refer to the phone copy so you don’t have to stop and fiddle with a backup laptop, restarting yours or other interruptions and what typically is a limited opportunity.

What else should I backup?

Always carry a backup “clicker” to advance your graphics. There are issues with RF and Bluetooth clickers that mostly relate to distance and line-of-sight. Test your clicker in advance from everywhere in the room. Find the dead spots so you can avoid them.

If you are counting on a projector provided by others, enquire about the connections necessary. You may also need backup “dongles” allowing you to connect to the projector. Spare dongles and cables are also prudent.

If you are providing the projector, you should have a new backup lamp.

When you are presenting with sound on video, you should also have backup audio cables and adapters—don’t depend on the venue to provide these.

Technical rehearsal

Finally, you want to do a technical rehearsal well in advance of the doors opening for your presentation. Run the projector and your laptop through the entire presentation before the audience arrives.

Assuming any venue is prepared for you to just walk in and plug in without advance preparation and sufficient backup is a disservice to you and to your audience.

Of course, you want to ensure that you and the presentation can both be seen and heard from the worst seat in the audience.

  • Is the bottom of the screen at least 5.5 feet from the floor?
  • Are the chairs set behind columns or other obstructions?
  • Is there ambient light that may distract from your image controlled?

In the presentation I saw this morning the presenter lost at least 50 percent of the allotted time due to a lack of backup options.

The post Do you have backup? appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Traits of great meeting planners

March 4th, 2019 @


After 950 presentations at conference and conventions, I have a fairly good idea of what type of meeting planner is best to work with. Here is the unvarnished truth, (solely on my experience), based on 12 criteria. It’s not all-encompassing, but if you focus on the accomplishing the elements on the left, you’re off to a great start.

RELATED STORY: 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed

Best clients

Less-than-best clients

Complete my pre-speech survey Do not complete my pre-speech survey
Have accurately gauged audience needs Have inaccurately gauged audience needs
Are skilled planners Are first-time or unskilled planners
Have one person serve as prompt liaison Manage by committee with no one in charge
Do not over-schedule their attendees Over-schedule their attendees
Allow me free reign beforehand Hog my time beforehand
Allow me free reign with handouts Micro-manage the handouts
Offer a good flyer and good write-up Offer a poor flyer and/or poor write-up
Provide a hands-free lavalier microphone Do not provide a lavalier microphone
Arrange the room as I requested Ignore the room arrangement request
Have adequate food, restroom breaks Have inadequate food, restroom breaks
Are prompt payers Are slow payers

RELATED STORY: 8 signs your work-life balance is looking good

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Switching gears: Making a change mid-career

February 25th, 2019 @

career success

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will have at least 11.7 jobs during their entire work life.

Um, wait. How many?!

Yes, nearly 12 jobs in a lifetime of work. Personally, I think that number is quite low. Many people are pushing 20+ jobs if you count babysitting as a teen through contract/volunteer work in later years.

They all usually add up to a substantial number. The days of retiring from a company with a gold watch are long, long over.

Plus, skill-hungry Millennials are reshaping the world of work to the point that their job changes have also resounded with some employers, who now may perceive long-term employees as stagnant and oftentimes redundant/outdated.

RELATED STORY: Long-term career options for meeting planners

But how does that translate to a career, which is distinctly different yet entirely related to jobs?

Jobs are what you hold at the present moment (i.e. your name, rank and company). Your career is the larger picture. Think of your job as the raft you are floating on, and the career as the river that is carrying you along.

So, what happens when you want to make a change mid-career?

It’s possible, but you need to be mindful before taking that leap mid-stream to jump onto another raft heading to a different destination.

Skill acquisition

Some things to consider include skill acquisition.

Do an inventory of what skills you currently have and review them against your intended career shift. Do you have enough to make the change now? Or do you need to spend a little time beefing them up to broaden your bench strengths.

Remember, it is one thing to think that you can make a change mid-career; it is another to actually try to make that leap. What you believe you are qualified to do (or really want to do) may vary quite widely from the actual skills you possess when you go head-to-head with people who have been doing this all along and come across as very qualified.

Right now, I am working with an attorney who is tired of the rat rate that is the legal field, and she is seeking to transition to operations, which is a very big career departure.

RELATED STORY: Career challenges for planners

In her case, we evaluated everything she has been doing and determined that she has had a big impact on back-office operations by helping train staff, establishing policies and procedures, removing obstacles, improving efficiencies and cutting vendor costs.

This is a start, but she does have some work to do to build out her career skills in operations.

keep learningProfessional development is a good path to pursue. Don’t know how to do a skill? Go take a class and learn it. Presto! Mission accomplished.

But there’s more to making a change mid-career than just adding skills.

Contacts and mentors

You have to build up a whole new universe of contacts.

When I chose to switch careers from being a meeting planner to a résumé writer, I had to completely reinvent myself.

But it actually wasn’t as daunting as one might think.

If you are contemplating a complete career pivot, it’s important to add skills, but you should also join relevant industry organizations. Those entities are the ones who will provide education/training, but also (and more importantly) networking contacts.

When I made my change, it was hard to start from ground zero as I had no credentials other than I had helped students write their résumés.

But the contacts that I made at the National Résumé Writers’ Association were invaluable. Quickly, I learned who the big players and influencers were, as well as the creative types, and began keeping up with their LinkedIn and Facebook posts, as well as tweets to learn more about the business.

Several even took me under their wing and became mentors. That alone is worth its weight in gold when making a change mid-career.

RELATED STORY: Help me help you: Etiquette and mentors

Mentors can answer questions, provide guidance, assess your work and provide constructive criticism, and also be your cheerleaders. Believe me, there will be times during a career pivot that you feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake. Mentors will help you from second-guessing yourself and provide a much-needed shot in the arm as you make your way through unfamiliar landscapes.

Making changes mid-career can be very scary, but with the right tools, knowledge, connections and resources, you can definitely be successful in switching things up.

And as more Millennials and Gen Z workers move through the workforce, I am confident that not only will they have more than 12 jobs in their lifetime, but probably nearly as many different career incarnations.

If there is any one piece of advice that I can share about considering a career transition, it’s this: If you have to work, then you might as well spend that time at work doing something that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy the purpose of the work, it’s time to find a new career. But before you make the leap, make sure you roll your skills into the next career, and make sure that you continuously grow so you are ready for the next career transition if and when it comes.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Weekly deals and highlights: February 21, 2019

February 21st, 2019 @

 Naples, Marco Island, Everglades – Florida’s Paradise Coast

Meet in a place where business and pleasure go together naturally. Discover the beautiful hotels, offsite venues and meeting spaces of Florida’s Paradise Coast.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

5 ways to eliminate last-minute time-management tendencies

February 18th, 2019 @

time is money

In a whole host of different careers and lines of work, time management is important. In meeting and event planning industries it is absolutely paramount, with many people looking to you as their guiding light in how to pace the whole approach to the event. However, we live in an extremely busy age, with instant communication, constant distractions and an overbearing sense that if you aren’t moving at break-neck speeds then you aren’t succeeding. All of this can lead even the most organized people to slip behind and be forced into situations where they are leaving important things to the last minute.

Here are a few ways in which you can try to combat the demands of the busy world, to ensure that you never slip behind in your time management and find yourself scrambling to get things together.

1. Know your limits

It seems a strange place to start, but one of the absolute keys to avoiding that mad last-minute rush is, sometimes, to not take on the event or meeting in the first place. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse to avoid pushing yourself, but it can be really important that you actually pace yourself in what you agree to.

“Over-committing is such a common mistake I see,” says Vivienne Britton, team leader at 1Day2Write and Brit Student. “I’d much rather someone say ‘no’ to me about taking on a job, than agreeing and then letting me down.”

You’re much less likely to run into last-minute time-management issues if you’re doing the right amount of work rather than way too much.

RELATED STORY: The time is right to simplify and focus

2. Don’t let yourself slack off

Sometimes, the exact reverse of the point above is true. Busy people stay organized, or so the famous maxim says. It’s certainly true that you need to know how much you can take on, but sometimes having hardly anything can actually be a hindrance to achieving what you do have to achieve on time. When you’re in the routine of meeting daily goals and hitting your targets, it feels much less difficult to achieve everything you need to in good time. When you have hardly anything on, you can much more easily find yourself rushing to get the one thing you did have to do done.

3. Track of your behavior (and start now!)

Accountability is key in eliminating late-game panics from your life. Knowing what you are supposed to be doing and then actually recording what you have spent time doing can be a really effective way of keeping things on track in the future. Kathy Bridge, a meeting planner at WriteMyx and Australia2Write, says, “Keeping a log of your activities daily can then become an excellent resource for future projects. You can see where you optimized your time, but most importantly what might have directly caused issues in the past.” Once you know what mistakes you are making, you can then eliminate them until you’ve perfected your scheduling practices.

time management4. Prioritize tasks effectively

It’s a bit of a typical thing to hear, and one which can be quite annoying to be reminded of, but it is really important that you tackle the most difficult, daunting, time-consuming tasks first. Often your perception of what is actually going to end up taking up a lot of time can be miscued—the biggest jobs are the ones that will hurt you most in this regard. If you get them out of the way first, then you are eliminating the possibility of one of them really hurting you with how much time it is taking. You’ll always find meeting your deadlines a lot easier when you do this.

RELATED STORY: The fastest way to save time and money

5. Train yourself to handle the rush

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just end up with a mad rush to the finish line on a project. The first thing to do is not to beat yourself up about it. Things happen: Maybe it was your fault, maybe it wasn’t. Given that you’re in the situation you are, there is nothing that you can do about it. So, a bit of skill with handling the accelerated deadline is actually really important. In the best situation, you learn to avoid the last-minute struggle altogether. But completing the project at all is still better than just throwing in the towel altogether. Figure out how to work under pressure, so when the situation arrives, you can handle it.


So, there you have it, a few ways you can avoid mistakes that force you into last-minute situations. You’ll always run into a few, no matter who you are, so be prepared for those. But, with some good discipline and self-awareness you should be well on your way to tightening up your planning.

RELATED STORY: Sometimes it’s better not to follow the leader

The post 5 ways to eliminate last-minute time-management tendencies appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

The time is right to simplify and focus

February 4th, 2019 @

stress and anxiety

Organizational complexity is strangling innovation, productivity and engagement. It is fogging people’s ability to proactively focus our time and energy on the top strategic priorities. We get sucked into low value, reactive busy work, which contributes to ordinary performance. But we, individually, are also responsible for allowing complexity to drive constant distraction, low focus and low energy. We live highly cluttered lives, have become addicted to checking our phones, are too responsive to interruptions and do not nurture, protect and direct our most productive energy.

We experience a constant stream of interruptions. We have phones that vibrate or ping anytime we receive a new email, a calendar invite or reminder, a LinkedIn or Facebook update or a notification from the plethora of apps that want to keep us engaged. These disruptions break our focus and reduce our ability to think deeply. But we don’t seem to mind. We are now so addicted to checking our phones every few minutes that if we are away from them for any extended period of time, we suffer withdrawal. According to one publication, we check our phones well over 100 times per day and up to every six seconds in the evening.

RELATED STORY: 8 signs that your work-life balance is looking good

If we’re working on our computer, we have instant messaging popping up at random times breaking our focus. We have multiple programs open at the same time and seem to click back and forth between them endlessly. We have the browser open with multiple pages up at the same time. We make it too easy to get distracted and pulled from the work that matters.

We allow our calendars to be booked back-to-back with meetings on every topic imaginable. Our global teams demand an always-on mentality, and that’s what we give them. We do not recognize when we do our best work and religiously protect this time to focus it on what matters most. And we don’t let ourselves recharge our batteries when we’re not doing work, thereby increasing the speed of burnout and generally limiting our potential.

heavy burdenIn almost every one of the 100+ companies I have consulted with over the years, I have witnessed leaders simply going from one meeting to the next. It is a stream of one topic to the next without breaks. No time to reflect, process and synthesize. No time to recharge and refocus. The highest opportunities seem to get lost in the jumble of various things that take up their time. Having to deal with so many things naturally limits the depth of thinking and focus and consequently quality of their contributions on the things that matter most.

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Many of us have simply lost touch of the work that truly delivers the greatest value and impact to the business. We stay busy on the tasks that are apparently most urgent. We are often stuck in firefighting mode, responding to problems, errors or crises that keep us from operating in a strategically proactive manner. I remember a conversation I had with a highly experienced executive coach. I asked him how much time on average his leaders spend on reactive work, like responding to email or attending low-value meetings. He said they spend at least two-thirds of their day, with many allowing all their time to be absorbed by reactionary work. The opportunity to refocus on the highest priorities and remove or redesign how the low-value, non-core, reactionary work is managed is huge. The spike in productivity, strategic impact and cost savings would be tremendous if habits were built around prioritization, time management and focus.

Simplify WorkAnother area that seems to be under-appreciated is our energy. Our energy, both physical and mental, is a driver of our productivity, creativity and problem-solving abilities. We do not do enough to nurture, protect and dedicate our best energy toward the highest priority activities. Most of us don’t even consider how to structure our day so that we best use our most productive time. We also have so much on and are pulled in so many directions that we don’t take time to recharge, let go and refocus. We work late into the night and do not prioritize our sleep. Simple shifts in how you organize and structure your day will increase energy levels, and as a result, increase not only your productivity and impact but also your general well-being and happiness. This is why topics such as mindfulness and meditation are getting more traction in mainstream business. People are discovering that taking five minutes to switch off all the noise in your prefrontal cortex is hugely beneficial as it can help to elevate thinking and reduce impulse reactions to the various fires going on around you.

What if we could take a fresh look at our businesses and our lives, reconsider what is really important and start to focus our time and energy on those things that matter? Imagine the positive effect it would have on your people if you told them they now have permission to do more of the work they were hired for. Imagine their sense of liberation if you removed a big chunk of the activities that soak up their time: low-value training, compliance, meetings that should be emails, expense processing, report building, budget setting, clunky performance management and so on.


Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. He is the founder and CEO of Simplify Work; a global management consulting firm that helps organizations throw off the shackles of debilitating complexity and reignite top performance.

The post The time is right to simplify and focus appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Fyre Festival and planning in cinema

January 28th, 2019 @

fyre festival typewriter

Remember that glorious 2017 music festival in the Bahamas that garnered headlines for its excellent planning, exceptional execution and gorgeous attendees? Fyre Festival was all the rage, until it was supposed to happen and attendees found themselves stranded on an island with no infrastructure, F&B easily surpassed by your average soup kitchen, leftover FEMA tents for housing and, well, no festival.

With so many outlets for fresh streaming content, we’re blessed with two documentaries chronicling the disaster that was the Fyre Festival, which was more of a Ponzi scheme than an actual event. Start with Fyre Fraud on Hulu to get a solid background of the characters at play, their previous dealings/money shuffling and the dream of this beautiful event.

As that concludes and the cringe-chills remain, got over to Neflix for Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, a piece that acts more as a companion—or extended DVD extras—to the Hulu offering.

Rest assured, both films are sure to induce anxiety in planners. Don’t believe me? Check out the Reddit thread, “Watching the Fyre Festival doc as a former event planer feeling TRIGGERED.”

“I have experience in event planning too and the time frame got me so perplexed. 6 months is barely enough time to plan a neighborhood festival,” said redditor 1nformalStudent.

However, watching these movies did make me wish the event—or at least a multiday, island-based music festival more in line with my tastes—was on the table. Turns out, planners thought about that, too: “I am also an event planner and Fyre Festival goer who got stranded on the island,” redditor taytotz said. “This doc made me want to actually throw this festival. Totally doable with the proper team, planning, and expectations.”

Of course, the main problem with Fyre Festival was that the big-picture organizers were experienced con artists more interested in getting large investments for the festival to pay off investors from their other schemes, all to prop up an online talent-booking service (Fyre) that was actually a really good idea. This situation is more about financial fraud than event planning—but since events are such a visible highlight, many people see it as though the event itself was the problem.

After biting my nails and laughing for three hours watching the pair of Fyre docs, I thought more about the representation of meeting/event planning in film. There’s no shortage of feature films that prominently (if not always accurately) depict the chaotic life of meeting and event planners. Think back to the last time you sat in a theater (or chilled on your comfy couch) and cringed as you watched a snippet of your life—wine and all—portrayed on the big screen.

After 16 years in this industry, my antennae still twitch when I get a hint of the meeting/event life while watching a movie. In order to manage my thirst for fodder on this topic, I reached out to a selection of meeting and event industry friends to commiserate and identify more movies that you can add to your queue.

Weddings & parties

Of course, you’ve got the wedding angle—perhaps the most prevalent and more easily accessible to non-planner humans.

wedding couple

“One that I do like a lot is The Wedding Planner. Why? Mathew McConaughey…and it does portray the job somewhat well,” says Tracy Stuckrath, CSEP, CMM, CHC, president and chief connecting officer of thrive! meetings & events.

Something Borrowed with Candace Bergen as the wedding planner. This is a complicated story about two best friends who are getting married but who have a fight and then learn they’ve chosen the same wedding planner and venue,” says Kim Estep, founder and CEO of “I love that Bergen’s character is able to satisfy both brides and delivers a memorable experience despite the emotional turmoil between the main characters. A true professional.”

Courtney Stanley recommends a pair of wedding-based movies to consider.

My Best Friend’s Wedding. I love a good romantic comedy, especially one starring Julia Roberts! The drama around a big wedding, hilarious scandals and a great soundtrack make this movie one of my all-time favorites,” says Stanley, owner of CS Consulting.

“And if you haven’t seen the movie Bridesmaids, it’s time to check this comedy off your list. This hilarious film portrays the events leading up to a wedding in a whole new light. From competitive and dysfunctional bridesmaids to food poisoning and bridal showers gone wrong, Bridesmaids never fails to make me laugh myself off the couch,” Stanley says.

“Additionally, this movie inspired some seriously great memes and GIFs that I throw into conversations and presentations every now and then.”

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MPI’s director of community Kristi Casey Sanders, CMP, CMM, DES, HMCC, gives a nod to Four Weddings and a Funeral as, “a delightful exploration of how events, especially pedestrian life events, can bring people together and change how we see the world.”

This movie also got two thumbs up from Andrea Driessen, chief boredom buster of No More Boring Meetings, “in part for a very funny bit about catering and mitigating guest ‘issues.’”

While we’re looking at social-party-type of events, one recommendation came in for Office Christmas Party, along with some activities you can go through to actually learn and better your professional self.

“From a safety and security perspective, Office Christmas Party is horrifying, but it is also a fun adventure in impromptu emergency planning,” says Jessie States, CMP, CMM

head of meeting innovation for MPI. “Watch it with your team, and every time an incident occurs analyze the risks associated with it, set some SMART objectives and detail what tactics you would take to protect life and property.”


OK, enough about weddings and parties. Over on the F&B/catering side of the world, Big Night, got multiple props.

food disaster

“I LOVED Big Night, it’s about two brothers whose Italian restaurant is not going well as a rival Italian restaurant is out-competing them. In a final effort to save the restaurant, the brothers plan to put on an evening of incredible food,” Stuckrath says. “The first time I saw this was at an ILEA (ISES at the time) event in Columbus, Ohio. We watched a portion of the movie in a theater, then went to the lobby to eat that same course. Went back in for the next part and then again to the lobby to enjoy the next course. The movie event was hosted within another event.”

Casey Sanders says Big Night, “really captures the anticipation and all the work that goes into creating a memorable event and some of the fires that happen behind the scenes.”

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But then her consumable recommendations get a little disturbing with The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover: “Probably one of the creepiest illustrations of the effect of revenge being best served hot. In this case, through one of the world’s most disgusting catered events.”


Of course, the bit convention and trade show side of the industry deserves some play here, especially as pop culture cons continue to grow.

“One of my all-time favorites is Galaxy Quest. I love that the main character, played by Tim Allen, uses Trekkie-like conventions to showboat and feed his ego. He is found at one of these convention by actual aliens who confuse his fictional character as a real character and ask him to come save them in an intergalactic battle. The drunk egomaniac actually goes, involving his bitter co-stars along the way,” says Tyra W. Hilliard, Esq, PhD, CMP, a speaker, professor and attorney with Hilliard Associates.” Of course, the convention attendees who witness part of this just think it’s part of a stunt. Convention magic!”

Shawna Suckow, author, speaker and founder of SPiN, notes, “There are several Apple-like events, with Tom Hanks as the Steve Jobs-type character, in The Circle starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and others. Aside from being Paxton’s last movie, I really like the plot of this movie. Lesser known and not loved by critics, but I love the storyline about our growing lack of privacy. I love it both from an event planner standpoint and a tech geek standpoint. They have elaborate meetings with huge crowds, big tech reveals and cool effects.”

On the political side, Hilliard is fond of The Manchurian Candidate, in which, “The action crescendos at the political convention with the assassination attempt. You don’t know just how badly the convention is going to be affected until you see who he takes a shot at and whether he’s successful. Risk Management Girl (me) thrills at this one, of course.”

Back to the real world

For a conclusion, this fun list circles back around to another Netflix documentary around the world of big-name professional speakers.

I am Not Your Guru. A behind-the-scenes look at Tony Robbins and his events. It’s interesting to watch his team create these events, get the audience insanely fired up, and then try to get Tony Robbins to listen to them and their suggestions. AND his team are entirely volunteers from what I understand,” Suckow says. “Worst-paid, hardest working, toughest boss. Ugh.”

Now, what are you waiting for? Step aside from your spreadsheets and cloud-based organizational apps and grab some snacks…and get you’re binge on!

What are some of your go-to planner-related movies? Share with your peers in the comments!

RELATED STORY: Event planning at the movies

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Category : Blog and Industry News