Archive for October, 2009

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SPECIAL EVENTS

October 30, 2009

I love this time of year for many reasons – one of which is that the market is flooded with the latest books – just in time for holiday shopping. And of course, I can’t resist, so I spent every penny of discretionary funds in my budget this month on replenishing my resource library. Thank goodness for Barnes and Noble’s “used books” option that saved me almost 50% on the purchase prices!

I’ve oohed and aahed over Preston Bailey’s Celebrations and Colin Cowie’s Wedding Chic and had a whole evening of brainstorming with myself on potential applications as I absorbed Ultimate Materials page by page. And I still have a stack next to my desk of new design, tabletop, and culinary tomes including Damn Good Food from our own Hell’s Kitchen– mixed in with the latest positioning on Metrics and Analytics, Shaz Smilansky’s Experiential Marketing, and Carol Krugman’s Global Events –all food for the brain as we approach winter and that time of rest and renewal in between all the event industry shows in the first quarter.

I started my day this morning, at 5AM only to find we had no electricity AND I had not shut down my laptop last nite, so no computer either, as the battery was drained. So, I didn’t even feel guilty as I was tempted with that stack of new ideas – and pulled Simple Stunning Parties from the pile.

Surrounded by candles, flashlite in hand, I curled up in my reading chair for an hour or so of exercising my imagination as I waited for sunrise and light. Almost immediately a paragraph caught my eye and made me sit up and take note:

Special occasions seem to encourage people to appreciate each other openly. They have permission to put aside their differences for a few hours, to laugh and talk and feast together. They gain a sense of life’s preciousness and their own good fortune, a feeling that a place in time is being held just for them.

Over the next few weeks, as holiday parties become the focus for us both personally and professionally, this is, I think, a worthy goal-to create experiences for our guests that make them feel this way.

As the book’s author, Karen Bussen, went on to say..

(This) is an invitation to celebrate life…and to spend time with people you care for, toasting and tasting the wonderful flavors nature has to offer.

And when it is over, there will be ample time for the restoration and renewal waiting for me next to my desk.

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CURIOSITY…

October 28, 2009

Almost killed this cat!

Been hearing from industry friends that a former colleague of mine has been soliciting LinkedIn recommendations from them-which they have been unwilling to give, based on their experience interacting with her.

So when members of that same group started forwarding e-mails from that same colleague asking them for assistance in her job search, I took a minute to read through the message.

My first reaction was one of envy that I do not have that same skill of self-promotion. She does it so well, and it is so difficult for me to ask for help or boast of accomplishments. So thinking, “Good For Her “, curiosity spurred me on, tempting me to check the Linked In Profile.

Again, I saw a well-polished and impressive profile of a capable individual – until I scrolled down to Honors and Awards.

That’s when I almost stroked out!

2009 ISES Award Winner (sic)
Best Event Design & Décor/Best Corporate Event Planning (sic)/Best ISES Team Effort

Quite an accomplishment, I’d say-since those ISES Minnesota Star Awards were earned for an event that was executive-produced by me and was the result of the efforts of a very talented team of event professionals and companies which did not include her!

Took me almost 24 hours to calm down, realize that anyone that understands what the awards were, knows she was not involved, and to let it go.

But the thought that still keeps buzzing in my head is that if it “just ain’t true”, how much of the remainder of the polished profile just ain’t true” either – and why would someone risk injecting that doubt into a recap of one’s life’s work?

I just don’t get it.

But at the end of the day, I give thanks that I have escaped that life I shared with her and am back where I belong-thinking about how the world has changed and a new paradigm of leadership is evolving…one that does not have room for those kinds of antics!

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HOW DO YOU SPELL MEMORABLE?

October 26, 2009

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I

Yesterday, as I was searching for something else, I stumbled across a promotional postcard I used “back in the day”. It sang praises to the Minneapolis Riverfront as a great destination for special events and was the impetus for the Creative Events/Apples Catering Esprit Award for Best Off-Site for an event we staged along the East Bank for 2500 guests for Carlson Marketing in 2001.

Along with it, I found this clipping (with the source indecipherable):

People who live beside moving water have been given the gift of living light and even if they never come to recognize it as such, any other light, no matter how clear or brilliant, is pale and static to them, leaving them with a sense of loss, of vulnerability, as if they have suddenly found themselves without clothes.

“I have to be near the water,” they will say. “I can’t live away from the ocean”…or the river, or the creek, or whatever water throws them back to the sun, or the boiling storm clouds, or the pearl of moving fog, or the wash of sunset.

But what most of them are really saying, without knowing it is:

I CAN”T LIVE WITHOUT THAT LIGHT THAT DANCES WITH ME. I WEAR IT LIKE A LIVING SKIN. WITHOUT IT I AM INCOMPLETE.

Somehow, some way, I have to get back to the river and daily walks along its shores so that its living light can refresh and inspire me.

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IF I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW…

October 24, 2009

Recently, I have been assisting a local corporation review vendor general capabilities for both their annual user conference, and their corporate sales and services incentive program. This is a role reversal for me, as I spent a lifetime on the other side – responding to client RFPs for similar meetings and events.

It’s been a lengthy process as we developed briefs on each event, pertinent questions for which we needed answers, searched for local and national vendors, and then answered the inevitable questions raised by each recipient of the RFPs. Eventually responses started to arrive, and over the last two weeks, I have accumulated almost 2500 pages of materials.

I have just finished reviewing and judging the results for the second event under consideration.

I feel like I deserve to spend the afternoon at the spa as a reward for my perseverance.

It took far too long to learn this life lesson, but after I apologize to every client who has ever gotten a proposal from me full of the latest buzz words of the day used to communicate that I am the only one that knows how to do this right, I am going to make a new checklist for myself.

Not only must I watch the paper poundage, but re-read and re-read and re-read. Although an occasional misspelling, grammatical error, or forgetting to change all the client-specific names in the stored copy is irritating, it is nothing compared to ignoring directions, pretending to be something one is not, using a superior tone, or telling me I have to work on desired outcomes first, when I have provided C-level desired outcomes in the brief! Thank goodness I normally have–as did these vendors–some good ideas buried in all those superfluous words to give some sort of a payback to the poor readers.

Had I only realized years ago what a miserable experience this was from the client perspective, I am sure I could have invented some other way of doing this. Any ideas about how we can initiate change?

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AN AFFAIR

October 24, 2009

A year ago, we heard a rumor that involved a friend, and posing as event guests, we set out to investigate the scurrilous gossip and scandal. We secretly gathered the evidence and offered suggestions to curb the exploits we found objectionable. And our friend thanked us for the expose.

Over the last many months, we have kept our private eye on the behind-the-scenes intrigues- offering our support, suggestions and praise for positive actions as the situation warranted.

Yesterday, that friend and I had a catch-up breakfast at the Wilde Roast, and I was absolutely delighted to hear that this touchy situation has exploded into a full-blown AFFAIR!

Life is short! So Share the AFFAIR with the Chocolate Extravaganza. I am going to be there and you should be there too! Check out all the provocative details at http://www.theaffairmpls.com

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EMERGING TRANSPARENCY TRENDS

October 9, 2009

Four months ago my life changed again, as I activated my fall-back position at Creative Events to tide me over as I began a search for a better fit professionally in the work arena. I was immediately blessed with a flood of opportunities and on day two of being a “Displaced Worker”, I had two contracts to deliver event services. Between reviews of Job Boards, networking, an interview or two, and simply juggling the real work on my desk, I have hardly had time for friends or family, and certainly have not had time to decide if I continue this search for one more “new life”, or happily return to an old one and get on with developing some marketing materials and a business card to celebrate the rebirth of Creative Events by Kranz..

I did set a goal though, of trying to make that decision by the end of the year so that if I remain an independent, I can market in the first quarter and be ready to go with paying clients by second quarter. And now with October flying by, I am beginning to feel the pressure to make up my mind.

Today, I may have moved one step closer to clarity. Cleaning up my mail boxes, I stumbled on the September Trend Briefing dealing with Transparency.

We’ve all come to understand that customers make choices based on product reviews and price comparisons as transparency became a new buzz word. As an advocate for transparency in pricing, I do not think clients should expect to pay a premium for services that are provided by my vendors and not by me directly. So pricing transparency is not a concern- I charge a fair price for my expertise and time and I pass on all costs from partners without a surcharge for me. Nor are product reviews an issue as I strive to deliver the best I can to exceed client expectations, with a solid track-record, references, and awards to back me up. So the emerging transparency trend was not top priority on my “learn-more-list”.

But today I discovered product and price cover only the basics. The “whole” picture will matter to our customers, who, when looking for the best of the best, take into account not just price or superior quality, but eco, health, social and ethical concerns as well. Of course, I thought to myself, that makes sense.

As I evaluate new job opportunities, most of those additional influencers are fairly easy to ferret out – but the most important of those, to me, is ethics and truthfulness. And by its very nature, one tends to assess that by experience, not research. I am not sure I want to risk judging that attribute incorrectly again as I look for a new work home that allows me to be who I am.

We all have experienced how painful it is to learn you have somehow “misjudged” and now need to extricate yourself from a bad situation. For most of my career, I have done well, but I’ve also experienced one or two mis-steps. So I want to avoid that kind of pain again-at least in my work life. I need to stand tall on my reputation of these many years of doing the “right” thing.

So thanks to the broadening elements of transparency, I am beginning to see that coming home to Creative Events may be in my best interest long term–at least until all the meetings/events world catches up with our customers in terms of the “whole” transparency trend.

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CONGRATULATIONS

October 9, 2009

Congratulations are in order today:

To a personal favorite of mine, Diana Pierce at KARE 11 for her induction into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in recognition of two decades of bringing us the nightly news;

To President Obama, for being awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize;

and, to the five vendors responding to the CUE RFP before the deadline. Thanks for the headstart!

It’s Friday and Life is Good.