Friday, April 7, 2017

Not Taking the Easy Road

Susan Cope kindly shared this picture which inspired
me to think about taking the road with the bumps,
and being happy about it!
As we navigate life and plan events for our clients (and their organizations) it can be tempting to take the easy road, stick to the status quo and stay comfortable, to stay 'out of the muck'. 

This got me to thinking...
When did we grow up and stop looking for what might be under the surface of a puddle? 
Why did you trade in your 'wellies' for designer footwear and stop exploring? 
Was it when you decided you are - eek - a "grown-up"? Here is the thing - the events we admire as being innovative are often being led by the grown-ups who are not taking the easy road. They are the experimenters, the dreamers, the moment-makers who are willing to invest the time to understand human nature and develop experiences that build on our human willingness to join group situations - festivals, events, conferences - and take calculated risks, celebrate shared success, test out new ideas, or learn in unexpected ways.   

How do I jump in the puddles? I have always had (endured) teasing from colleagues about my unstoppable curiousity - bookmarking sites, endless magazine tear-outs, notebooks full of ideas and walls full of post-its always looking for what will become "sticky". When event technology moved to the forefront I had to know more because this is our new audience, the ubiquitous digital native and while it is nearly impossible to keep up with #eventtech, we can't just lay down and let it overwhelm us.


Are you ready to explore what boundaries can be stretched to create deeper and more meaningful moments at events? This is my challenge - moving past the comfort zone to ensure we deliver events with maximum comfort that surprise, engage, move and transform clients, stakeholders and participants through live experiences.

For this reason, I am excited to attend the invite only Haute Dokimazo in Austin in May - because they are bringing together people who are breaking down boundaries. Who will I see there... You can request your event invitation at the link above, but don't wait!


Monday, April 3, 2017

Using Disruption to our Advantage


Participants were encouraged to add their wishes, hopes and dreams for the future to this wishing tree at an annual corporate celebration event. What would you wish for? 

We live in disruptive times, and the idea we could just make a wish, and have it come true, is both idealistic and desirable. I have been doing some writing about disruptive times, and include the links below. 


For Corporate Meetings Network, the Power of Events in Disruptive Times  When “unpredictable” is the new buzzword for the economy, everyone in the meetings and events industry should be a little nervous.
We have been through cutbacks, recessions, governances, regulations, and threats from both Mother Nature and other humans, all forever changing our ability to deliver hospitality to our guests in the way we (and our clients) feel they are most deserving of. Yet, as humans, we still travel, meet, attend events, and celebrate all that life brings us.


Disruption at Meetings and Events  As human beings, we have been innovating since the beginning of time, from the invention of the wheel, to trade routes, the industrial revolution…. you get the point. Our pace of innovation has rapidly accelerated with the digital age and the sheer number of people on the planet – as inventors and consumers. We understand more about human response to marketing and to experiences than we ever have, and we have the greatest opportunity to use all of this knowledge to elevate experiences, making them more relevant, memorable, and useful than ever before. What we can’t do is expect that anything will stay the same. It won’t.

How are you and your organization moving forward?

Monday, December 19, 2016

On Losing Lilly

Life is not fair, or reasonable and much of it makes no sense. Saturday we lost Lilly, this bright, creative, Viking warrior artist. It is unimaginable, and unbearable. A perfect day on the bright, crisp winter ocean with her father, a dinner with family friends and Norse poetry, one minute painting her brother's Christmas picture, the next, gone. With no clear reasons yet why she was taken suddenly, today I will tell you about Lilly and her family while we wait; for answers, and for the daily things to happen that will fill the yawning chasm of time and space she used to fill so completely.

I have known Zella, my sister-friend since I was 17, Richard since I was 19 and Lilly and her wonderful brother Morgun always. From the colic to the giggles, to playing with slugs (hey they are creatures too) on Bowen Island to a fascination with the Aquarium and all things living, Lilly deeply lived with a connection to land and sea, and the peace and sustenance both could offer. To forage, she forged her own knives. To fish, she crafted her own lines. To live, she followed her own path. Not one always easy for a parent, the labels applied could include "train kid" when she spent two years traversing North America with her rescue puppy Vader; she lived many places where she was known to reclaim unused yards and turn them into gardens with shared bounty; a sailor living on her own boat and navigating the islands of the west coast, finding artists' communities to call home, collecting friends at every stage of her journey.

Lilly never understood "stuff" beyond having the basics you need to live. For her this included paints and sketch books, a mandolin, enough clothes to stay warm, and enough food to survive without waste. Never afraid of hard work she has wrestled mistletoe at nurseries, farmed on land and in the sea, milled grains to make bread, crafted traditional Easter loaves complete with tiny bread birds and has filled all our homes with stunning artwork. Most recently she was working with Richard, learning welding from this master, and sorting through the boxes of memories that make a home with her mother, shared laughter and meals, walks and puppies, and time to reconnect. A painter, sculptor, sewer, gardener, gatherer, jewelry maker, she was always collecting interesting pieces of nature - treasures from the sea, greens and mushrooms, beach glass, rocks, bones, wood - to make into something beautifully unexpected or delicious. 

With our kids we have spent nearly every New Year's Eve in Sechelt, which means every year we have had Nicholas's birthday here, and almost every birthday cake of his life Lilly has crafted. The unique stockings we, and quite a few other friends use each Christmas were created by her and as I sit quietly in the early dawn there are some on this mantel now. The art she has been creating since she was a small child is on every wall, and the decorations she put up this year to welcome the season surround us.

Any parent with children of a certain age (teenagers) knows the feeling of your child arriving home and leaving a trail of their stuff from door to destination, and the mild annoyance they have taken over your space so completely making it their own as you pick up this and that, tidying and perhaps, muttering about the "mess". To think that Lilly will never again come in the front door and leave this trail that so clearly states, "I am home and here to stay for as long as it's convenient for me" is unfathomable.

There is nobody who lived life more completely as their own, on their own terms and always without harm to others. There are many lessons in this for the rest of us if we choose to take them. Always respectful of individuals and animals, bending the rules that didn't clearly make sense and creating a life that made sense for her, this was our Lilly.

Take care Lilly, we know you are watching over us, probably knitting something with your namesake grandmother right now while you cook up your next adventure.

Monday, October 24, 2016

IMEX16 Full of Nice Memories


When you go to your boss with a conference program in hand, you sell your attendance based on the content available which you promise to return to your organization with, bringing new tools and ideas to your work and your team.

For participation in an exhibition you are selling the possibilities of sales, at the show and in the future as the supplier. As the planner we like to attend because when we meet people face to face in dedicated B2B meetings we have the opportunity to exchange real information and to build trust in those who would deliver the event in our selected destinations and venues.

Why you return a second, third or in the case of IMEX a sixth time it is because of the connections you make. Through hosted and planned meetings to serendipitous aisle-way meet-ups to the many evening events that take place, both hosted and buy-in (often supporting a variety of initiatives), the people you meet and the conversations you have will always bring a new perspective. 

It is also a friendly event, and this is important because most of us have some level of introspectiveness, some anxiety of meeting new people and some level of effort required to maintain momentum over a multi-day event of meeting new people, and when there is a friendliness inherent in the overall event - it makes it easier. This may sound trite, but it is not, and requires a conscious effort in the planning and community building which happens year-round. Don't underestimate "nice" - the world could use more of it!

It is a place of connecting
  1. In-session actionable learning with both general sessions and sector - specific sessions including corporate, association, future leaders, sustainability, and faculty (to name a few!) which is relevant, current and can be applied when you return.
  2. To destinations that understand meetings and incentives and can speak intelligently about how theirs fits your needs - and with 157 destinations on the floor this is truly the place to find where you could take your events.
  3. To the latest trends in all areas with knowledge gained in the Inspiration Hub, the Playroom, in group meetings in the various booths, in tours conducted to experience event technology and innovation, and even the fabulous meditation room. By seeing what is being shown and how it is being shown in ways that are useful to your clients we all take away new, actionable ideas.
  4. To sustainable thinking, the list of initiatives keeps growing and many of these ideas can be easily implemented at any event.
  5. To global thought leaders across all sectors. In the pictures above there are meeting planners, event producers, company owners, faculty, event tech leaders, sustainability experts, and those working in sales, procurement, venue management, hybrid events and creating learning environments. In all cases these are people I can turn to when I need key information on any subject related to our industry, and really these are just a few of the people I connected with over the course of IMEX16!
  6. To leaders and their successes. The Convention Industry Council Hall of Leaders and Pacesetters recipients were and are all amazing, hard-working, humble and kind. Leaders indeed.
  7. To business. Ultimately every investment of your resources must lead to this, and when you bring the world together, business happens.
As always, I return home full of ideas I can implement, and wrapped in the warmth of friends, collaborators and colleagues from around the world, looking forward to returning again to continue the growth. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Using Our Time for IMPACT

A real "week in the life"
The life of an #eventprof (event professional) is ALWAYS busy. Work, life, taking care of family and self, unrealistic deadlines, it all adds up to a calendar that looks something like this. Add in travel to events you are producing, speaking at or learning at, or maybe even "sneaking in" a vacation and it comes back to being busy, tired, and even burnout.

So what if we measured time not by busy-ness but by impact. If I consider even the week above - a recent week - there was as you can see only a small amount of time left to do "real work" outside of meetings. Of course the small open spaces you see were used for answering the seemingly endless emails we all receive, most that allow us to keep moving work forward. But, we made huge progress on the #BCTECH Summit program by using meetings to consult with industry, researchers and stakeholders who are vested in the education we will be offering that will be relevant, forward thinking and actionable. IMPACT. We met with groups who can support our marketing initiatives to more deeply and broadly share the why of participating in the Summit - because we know the success from last year with conversations that led to conversions and this needs to be shared.

The big block you see at the end of the week was a soccer tournament to raise money for KidsUpFront that BCIC placed a team in. When they needed more girls to play I was ready to jump in - and voluntold Julia since I have never played - a classic Mom move. This was fun to watch and raised money for a great cause. IMPACT.

I have just packed and am ready to head for four days at IMEX16 where I will spend some time leading tours through the event technology space, sharing the possibilities with meeting planners who are seeking solutions that will make their work more efficient or productive, that will provide useful data for building and designing their meetings, IMPACT. Oh and also a lot of fun as I know already I am heading into hours of great conversations about how meeting professionals are changing lives one meeting at a time.

So the next time someone asks you how it's going - don't reply with "so busy" instead think about how many lives you have impacted - through dollars raised, food or waste diverted, knowledge shared, or inspiration provided.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Events with Purpose...Because it Makes Sense

Events with Purpose. Meetings with Heart. Sustainable Meetings and Events. These are all the articles we see now, as our industry collectively shifts to keep up with what our consumers, our event participants are demanding.


Welcome to the Night Circus. This net-zero event in 2014 saw 1,200
dancing the night away to local performers bringing a story alive.
Produced by Kelly Aleda while we were at Cantrav.
Perhaps I am naive, or perhaps I was lucky enough to have my event roots in Vancouver, and that my "anchor" events, my first two large-scale events where I did my most rapid growing and deepest learning - had these values embedded. We started working on both of these in 1993, and the first was GLOBE 94 - "Global Opportunities for Business and the Environment" which was and still is one of the largest events focused on cleantech and sustainable thinking as a core business value, across all sectors. From waste management to recycled paper, and recycling everything, thought was given to all we produced and end-to-end use.

In 1995 we worked with the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), the Vancouver Convention Centre and several local chapters of the major meeting and event planning associations to write the first Green Meetings Guide for the city. With the Vancouver Convention Centre now being a LEED Platinum Building and Vancouver working towards being the Greenest city in the world by 2020, sustainable living, and by extension meetings - well, it's just how we roll.

In 1996 I was part of the incredible team that brought the XI International Conference on AIDS, with the overarching theme of One World, One Hope to life. From planning for simple, nutritious meals and a medical centre for the 1,500 participants living with HIV/AIDS to the process for ensuring the highest level of education for the 13,000+ medical practitioners who attended from around the globe - no stone in inclusive planning was left unturned. This was a feat accomplished by hundreds, and included technical groundwork such as laying new T1 lines to broadcast the information to a wider audience - the early days of "hybrid"! We spent days educating the many who would touch the lives of our participants during event setup, operation and dismantling - and were scared in doing so they would catch AIDS - they would not. 

When I think of these and so many other associations, topics and forward thinking corporations I have worked with to create sustainable, stunning, experiential events that have led to new knowledge imparted, collaborations strengthened, deals made, and friendships built, I know that we have always considered the objectives and created spaces that allow these to happen. Meet with purpose... yes. Let's keep doing this.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

EventTech is Here to Stay


A Limbic Media social rainbow - connecting participants one disk at a time.
Keeping Up is Hard!
Two years ago I wrote about digital fludity and what this means as we plan events.  While there are many very cool ways we are embedding technology into events - from holograms to robot concierges, wayfinding and crowd management, multi-projections and multiple live streams, the ubiquitous mobile apps and their ever expanding capabilities, and so much more - the learning is never-ending

Join Me for Tours at IMEX16
One of the many things I appreciate about attending IMEX is the sheer volume of relevant and current knowledge as they listen to what participants want and need to know more about right now. At IMEX October 18-20th I will be leading EventTech tours which will begin at the Media Centre multiple times throughout the three days - join us and hear from five different types of event technology companies (each tour is different) and their thoughts on the future of event planning and the technology supporting these changes. On Tuesday and Wednesday you can augment these tours with Innovation Tours led by Glenn Thayer at alternate times. A great way to learn quickly more about what is going on right now - ideas and tools you can take away.

If you really want to see what's next - check out the IMEX Pitch Competition.

Why We Need to Keep Up
In this recent post for Event Manager Blog I looked at The Attendee of the Future and what this means to how we need to plan events now. Fundamentally our expectations have shifted and our collective audiences now expect to receive information in the way they want it - paper, desktop, and mostly, mobile. As planners we also want (need) to be able to work any place and in any time zone, and with as little paper to carry around as humanly possible. We can do initial site inspections as virtual walk-throughs, and manage our clients' needs 24/7 with the cloud based tools available. Then we add Facetime to talk to our families and sleep and fitness apps to help keep us on track as we attempt to find balance! It's all digital, all the time!

As event professionals we know technology is not going anywhere except deeper into our lives and those of our participants. It is exciting - and I look forward to learning more along with all of you!