Posts Tagged ‘recognition’



March 26, 2011

I’ve sent my kudos to Leslie Larson and her team who took some risks, thought out of the box, and changed things up. Their great efforts produced a Star Awards that worked well. I’ve sent my thanks to two key vendor partners that could not be recognized because they are not ISES members (MCC and Kelber Catering); and now I have unpacked the three crystal symbols that represent the recognition I received for my part in the production of the CRV Experience 2010.  They look good up on the shelf with the “I AM CRV” team picture and the framed set of CRV buttons!

All in all, the CRV Experience received five Star Awards:  Best Corporate Event over $75,000; Best Event Décor and Design; Best Creative Design; Best Technical; and the one I most wished for, Best ISES Team.  That one alone made it all worthwhile. 

One last time (in the context of CRV 2010 at least) I will say again: this was a group of people that were melded together by trust and respect for one another.   They committed to the CRV Experience-driven by the possibility of delivering excellence.  In the course of ten weeks, we invented new best practices to raise the bar in our industry and together, we proved through collaboration we can change the event world and how it “rethinks”.   Along the way, we verified that needs-based creativity produces value.  Best of all, we produced an interactive learning experience that drove results for our client.   And there is nothing better than that.  I confess had we not been recognized for that team effort, I would have been devastated.

I had not anticipated the number of people that would personally seek us out to give us a word of congratulations, and I wondered why I have never thought to so overtly do that myself in other settings. 

That unsolicited peer recognition to me seemed so much more powerful than the organizational recognition.  It rated right up there with Shelly Elmore from TCB casually sharing that the whole magazine was abuzz since they featured the article in March about Boston Scientific and how great it was they have taken the lead in using new formats of meetings to engage employees and get two-way conversations going with BSCI leadership.

So it seemed to me I had battled the funk and won…that is, until Kim and Marilee came to say goodbye and closed the book on this chapter.  I was quickly engulfed again in the black cloud and had to make an early exit from the festivities.  Later, safely at home and enjoying a celebratory snifter of Remy Martin, it occurred to me that perhaps I had blamed the tradition of awards and recognition celebrations in error for my gloominess earlier in the day…could it be that I was just dreading saying goodbye to the two best client contacts I have every worked with?



March 25, 2011

I planned my first corporate awards ceremony in 1971 as part of an incentive program to Rome, Italy.  Between then and now, I have been involved with 400-500 of them around the world – either as the planner, the producer, the recipient of the recognition, or to support someone who was a recipient.  So far, there are not too many that stand out from the crowd.

On a personal level, there are three.  I immediately recall receiving the President’s Award from Skip Gage at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.  I had the most fun at one held in Florida someplace where I missed my name being called to receive recognition for becoming a Goalmaker.  And I am most proud of one I received from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for my volunteer work on the riverfront.

On a professional level, most are a blur, or worse, are occasions I would prefer to forget.  Because the truth is, this tradition of public acknowledgement and celebration generally does not meet expectations.

I admit – I am a purist about this.  I believe that some how, some way, we have to keep trying to find a meaningful way to celebrate the featured work- not an individual’s popularity or efforts to campaign for votes .  And I continue to believe that some how, some way, we will discover how to do that if we just keep trying.

 Meanwhile, I have a hard time connecting to the trend of making the recognition event all about the party.  I would blame my attitude on “age” but the truth is, I felt this same way 30 years ago.  We strive for a bigger and better party; we sometimes elevate the recipients to some god-like level; we emphasize noise, dance and drink; and usually forget about not only food, but respect for simple attendee and recipient creature comforts.  It’s “all about the work” has morphed into  it’s “all about the quest for a bigger and better party.”

And for some, that is success. I recognize that for the extrovert, being the center of attention is the  be all to end all.  I just wish there were some figures to support HOW MANY of the rest of us are tortured because we prefer to be backstage and not in the limelight.  And I also recognize that the planning of those events provides a great opportunity for the sponsoring organization as it serves as a base to build community.  Committees of volunteers give great energy, time and effort as they work together to conceive, design and execute their vision; and in so doing, they become a community that helps strengthen that organization-not just at the event, but on-going.

As usual, as this week approached, I have been filled with trepidation – not about whether we will “win” because that has already happened last August when we delivered the work; and we have certainly been recognized via local and national press as well as a place on the agenda at RETHINK.  However, I knew by today I would be in a funk about this whole practice of Award and Recognition. 

And last night the MME Best of Awards did nothing to help me stave off that funk.  A surge in popularity brought attendance to over 450 people – far too large a crowd for the “W” but it’s hard to switch venues at the end…and there is not much one can do about bigger crowds than planned in that venue.  I can criticize, though, the food and beverage service.  It should be good, shouldn’t it? – it’s Manny’s after all.  And therein lays the problem.  A great restaurant does NOT a great caterer make.  Even good restaurant food does not easily translate to good banquet food nor the knowledge of how to deliver it to a large audience.  And one bar -Yikes what a disaster.  Suffice it to say, the experience was good for connecting with a few; not too good for networking, and I have no idea who won in any category except those pre-announced! 

That certainly did not help my trepidation about this evening at the Star Awards!  So, I am afraid I won’t get much work done today – I need to focus on managing an attitude adjustment and talking myself into appreciating the evening for whatever it turns out to be.  A “been there; done that” attitude just won’t do.  I need to rise to the occasion. I owe it to the team and to the CRV client…and to the ISES volunteers that are producing the experience.



March 4, 2010

Recently, thanks to my colleagues, I was nominated to be considered for the MINNESOTA MEETINGS AND EVENTS 2009 Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.

Not aware this was in the works, I was surprised when Ann Warner of the magazine shared that Tiger Oaks Publications and the Editorial Advisory Board had selected me as the recipient. Although I hope I was gracious and reflected that I was honored, what was also racing through my mind was “This is an award usually given to old people at the end of their careers – I shouldn’t be getting this – I am not done yet! “

Nevertheless, tonight at the MME Best event at TCF Stadium, I will humbly accept – at least for the years I have invested – the recognition.

As I reflected on exactly what it was that I have achieved over the years, my thoughts took me back to an early passion for theatre – not as an actor, but that person in the background doing make up, painting scenery, designing costumes and student directing productions staged in high school and college… and of course, the one arranging the cast parties! Even then I rejected the celebrity of the performer – let others be the stars, I wanted to build the foundation, create the environment, and celebrate the successes.

When a dear friend, Mr. J, my high school drama and speech teacher sent me off to the “real world” with wishes for “bigger and better parties”, I’m sure he had no idea that indeed, I would do just that and would spend some 40 plus years passionately making meetings and events not only my avocation, but my lifetime vocation.

That interest and passion have led to opportunity after opportunity presented to me to move forward with that next “big event” – as an early player in the incentive world, to one of the first to meld show production with meeting management as a performance improvement tool, to a pioneer in Event Marketing in the early 90s, and certainly as I launched Creative Events in 1992. It was often the “first time” for much of what I tackled – and so, I was blessed to be the one making the rules, rather than having to follow the rules.

Mr. J and others – certainly those who tried to manage me over the years -would have predicted that I would not adhere to the norm but would rebel and question every rule and fully presume I could change things.

That optimism has not abandoned me. I still think I can change things – so I will continue to work in this industry into the foreseeable future. For stimulation and new viewpoints I will continue to tap into the energy of those younger that surround me today in this business, while drawing upon the inspiration of industry icons before me – such as Ruth Code. So I will keep going – still on that quest to deliver that perfect event that involves, engages, embraces and empowers those that attend-and pays dividends back to its sponsor.

Meanwhile, thank you so much, Tiger Oaks- for honoring me with this award. It’s become a new encouragement to keep going – to make it to wherever I think I am headed!



February 23, 2010

Despite much of the meeting and event industry’s certification focus being placed on the logistics and accoutrements of our business, I assess an event or, for that matter, a member of the event industry, based on the three broader competencies of our business – design, evaluation, and support elements.

Thought-leaders in the industry are concentrating on the expanded definition of design-that essential first step in the process. Others have directed efforts to portions of the cost/worth/risk evaluation, and most of us are familiar to some degree with support elements from technology to décor, entertainment to floral, and that always illusive “WOW”-factor. But mostly overlooked is that primary obligation to our clients – assessing the risk of the event and of our plan.

So I was looking forward to a recent ISES chapter meeting with a program that advertised a panel discussion on logistics and security issues. It dove-tailed well into the recent State of Industry keynote by Eisenstodt and her positioning of future trends and the core competencies we will need to be successful in that changing environment (see blog posted 02/05/10). Unfortunately, I left very disappointed-despite the excellent efforts of the panel moderator and the input of police and fire panel members.

The report on the local state of the event industry while professionally done, was the first indication that as a chapter, we may still be “living on the surface”. The impact of the economy dominated the study, of course, but I was disconcerted to hear little about marketing, message, needs and outcomes, and a whole lot about difficulties of tight budgets and pleas for don’t cut the food; don’t cut the décor; don’t cut the linens. That coupled with an emerging planner vs. vendor mentality raised a red flag that perhaps we are not quite as “collaborative” as we would like to think we are! It also signaled that it may have been beneficial for more ISES members to hear the Eisenstodt message that understanding the economy-driven pressure on both sides helps maintain ethical negotiations and provides a formula for a win-win solution. (see blog posted 02/04/10).

Nevertheless, as the panel discussion commenced, I was engaged and ready to participate and learn. And I was disappointed- not by the preparation or presentation done by the moderator – but by the responses from ISES members sitting on the panel.

We blew it. This was an opportunity to learn more about one of the most important thing we do as members of the broader event community. This was an opportunity to engage the many, many new faces of corporate event planners that were drawn to the meeting looking to increase (or perhaps share) their knowledge. And we did not get the job done.

We are better than this. ISES Boards and members have worked hard to gain recognition for our chapter in the ISES world using ISES-based measurements. Now it is time to earn recognition in the real world as strategic players delivering low-risk, meaningful results- arm in arm with our client partners.