This week’s episode Charles was asked to speak at an event for those in the wedding industry. Listen this week as he shares strategies and ideas that will grow your business and events, guaranteed.
Kelsey from Lynn David Events joins us to talk about her experience in corporate events. She shares her story getting her to the point of starting her own corporate event company.
Tell us about you.
I have been a corporate event planner for 13 years. I absolutely love it. I love partnering with organizations to bring their dream to reality. I spent the last 8 years working for an amazing company, John Wiley and Sons publishing company. Its 215 years old. Thomas Jefferson was president when they opened their doors. I was able to manage 150 events a year, just me with them. I got a really well rounded education and experience. Everything from a 700 person conference all the way down to an 8 person board meeting. Runs the gamut of everything. I’ve taken what I learned from them and struck out on my own this year, and started my own event planning company (Lynn David Events). I named it after my children, Neva Lynn and Brooks David, my 3rd baby.
How do you become successful in corporate meetings?
I think what separates a novice event planner to one that will go the distance and succeed is understanding that as an event planner you have a responsibility to understand the corporate goals and objectives and how the events support those goals. Ways that you need to do that is really be apart of the leadership discussions don’t be shy to ask to sit in on meetings, the non confidential ones of course, ask questions. So many corporations hold the same conference every year or convention just because that’s what we do, that’s how we do it. But why? What are you trying to achieve? What is the overall corporate goal or objective that this one event is trying to satisfy? How can you change this event to make it better and better? What are you trying to get the attendees to walk away with?
How do you set yourself apart and how do you add value?
Once you can understand what the goals are and why you are holding these events, the executives will look at you in a different light. You’re not just executing on this event every year, you’re playing into their goals and objectives and they’ll see you as more of a team player for the company. Then you are able to have those strategic conversations and look as more of a strategist in the company. What’s the goal of the event and you can better allocate your budget to achieve that goal instead of googling it and saying “30% of your budget should be spent on food and beverage”. What’s the goal? Are you trying to elevate the event to be looked at as educational experience, playing in that realm, then you will want to spend more money on a quality keynote speaker that people will recognize. What if you are trying to launch a new product or elevate a new brand? Then you will want to spend more money on A/V and production to really make that that product or that brand come to life, really play up the colors of this brand. But you also need to know your audience right? So if your audience is a bunch of foodies you’re going to want to still maintain a very healthy budget for the food and beverage while you’re trying to elevate your brand. Or take brand elements and put it into the food and beverage, like putting the new logo kind of showcased on top of the cheesecake would be adorable like ways to achieve your objectives but also strategically spend money to do so.
I feel like I almost can remember, to like the day, the turning point in my career when I was stopped being looked at like a party planner “oh she’s an event manager, she’s strategic”.
How do you sell a keynote to your organization?
Bring it back to the overall goals and objectives. You gotta think the executives your leadership team they’re getting pressure from higher ups from the CEO from maybe a board to achieve these goals and objectives and if one of them is to really become a player in education space or to build attendance and the attendees really value content and education it is a drop in the bucket $100,000 for a keynote speaker that’s going to maximize attendance and really put yourself, the company,and the event as a major player in education or content that’s a drop in the bucket.
What else do you have?
I think one of the biggest tips I can give anybody starting off in the corporate event space is you really need to create mutually beneficial partnerships with suppliers and vendors, and I want to repeat mutually beneficial. Because I feel like early on in your event planning career, you think the way you succeed is you negotiate the cost down as far as possible right? And you need to understand you want your partners to make money you want them to look at you like a partnership where they are really caring about the project and also making a profit on it so they’ll want to work with you again. Having a partner is a one off you’re creating that long term relationship that this is what you do. You should interview suppliers whether A/V or production or what have you, that share the values that your organization does and somebody you want to be in the trenches with. Tell me one event planner that has been at it, at an event that didn’t have something go wrong, and the reason why they’re always fine in the end, it’s because of your partnership. We’re in this together and we are succeeding together. You want to have someone you click with that’s going to also look at you like “I’m your partner and I’m excited about this event excited about the next hundred events we partner on”.
For new planners in the corporate realm, it’s a very controversial topic among event planners but I believe you should be transparent about your budget to your partners. So many people think “but that’s my power. How can I negotiate, how can I get the price down, how can I get more for less?” You can’t have a good partnership unless you’re transparent, open, and honest about the budget and the scope of the event. If you do that right away you’re already going to be in a better spot when the event actually happens because you’re going to get the quality you’re going to get the equipment that you need and you’re going to be within budget because the partner that you decided to work with at the beginning they signed up to be that budget.
What else do you have?
What I didn’t understand early on in my career which I would love just to make sure that all your listeners do, is not every corporate event planner has a very clear career path outline for them by their organization. I mean maybe you’re blessed to be working in an advanced division for a company where there’s 40 other event planners and maybe it’s a little bit more clear where you can go in the next 5-10 years, but I didn’t have that. I was really the only one corporate event planner. My advice is you need to know that you can look outside the organization for professional development, opportunities, education for networking and you’re not on an island. You’re able to turn to organizations like MPI or ILEA or what have you, to seek out professional development to network with your peers. It’s an incredibly giving industry like you’re saying with you know somebody that might be a competitor as an independent planner I have been amazed by how all the other independent planners in the Twin Cities are so willing to help.
I think breaking out of the walls of your office exposes you to so many things in the industry because you know if you’re doing the same 5-10 events every year and you really are kind of craving new ideas, you’re craving like new technology going to industry events going to these annual association meetings and talking to other planners about what they’re doing, it sparks so many great ideas and not only introduces you to new people like new suppliers it can maybe bring in technology for you. You can also talk to people openly. I encourage people to not get stuck in the walls of their cubicle. The industry is very giving and you can seek elsewhere for networking and education.
What else have you got?
Also breaking away from your office, getting out of your typical 9-to-5. What’s incredibly important and if you’re a planner you understand that there’s events always held by different venues our national sales manager, Hilton, Loews, Omni, Independence they all hold events and invite planners to them over the course of the year and I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities because the whether again you’re you are in a division of 40 event planners, or you are a team of one what’s incredibly important is to stay up to speed on the other different venue options out there and hotels are changing every day. They’re changing flags, they’re renovating, there’s new hotel popping up, there’s new venue a special event spaces in every market. So many times I’ve had someone from the corporate leadership team come to me and is like “we wanna hold an event in three months, we wanna wanna have it in Nashville”. You don’t always have time to hop on a plane is scheduled to be great no I got a handful of properties that I have on the phone with them.
Large corporations often have event teams and planners inside, how often are those people also contracting external planners to plan things?
It’s actually becoming more and more common. So as you know event plans for a year or budgets they ebb and flow from year to year based on the plans and those goals and objectives for the corporate organization so you don’t always want to hire another head to be a full-time employee. We don’t know if we’re going to need that additional person the next year, so a lot of times they’ll save one or two head counts on their team to contract out other planners like myself and other amazing ones in the Twin Cities. But what’s great, is good quality independent planners, can be an extension of your team in any capacity if you need that ,if you need them to understand the product the clients the attendees whatever so they can actually interact with your guest they can do that, if you need them just behind the scenes doing the grunt-work that frees up others on the team they can do that, there are resources out there.
How do you choose the right independant planner?
I think really going out and being a part of these associations and networking like we discussed before. I think that’s incredibly important because you get to know who is in your industry and as we were talking about everyone has their niche, right, like what they’re really good at, what they focus on, what they really excel at, what they bring to the table. You can get to know someone and see if you have a need and you have someone as a resource who would fit what you’re looking for.
As you gain experience in this industry, you can’t do it all, and you don’t want to do it all. As you get more experience you become more self aware and figure out what your passion is and what drives you, you’re able to focus on that one area that you can bring purpose to.
What other tips do you have for being great and succeeding as a corporate events planner.
As corporate you have to think every company has a brand identity and that needs to be brought to life and consistent through the events. If you went to a target event and it didn’t have red you’d be like who is this? Everyone has a brand a core identity, brand personality, but also quality and consistency needs to be in events.
You can contact Kelsey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meeting Minds by EideCom
Interested in growing your events? On today’s episode Amy Zaroff shares her experiences in the events industry and the core values of her business! Today is all about creating your business’ culture through core values to grow events. Check out Amy Zaroff at www.amyzaroff.com
Talonya Geary is part of the Tony Robbins organization, an author, and an entrepreneur! She is talking all about what it means and looks life to live on purpose, her new book, and what question you need to be asking yourself.
TELL US ABOUT THE THINGS YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT HOW TO LIVE ON PURPOSE AND HOW DO YOU DO THAT EVERY DAY?
I love that you are asking that question! It is so important. When I first started speaking in 2012, I spoke about hard skills with a soft skill twist, like negotiating tactics and communication, but over the last 5 years I’ve gone through my own transformation and realized those things are great but I was looking for something with meaning. I wanted to know the “why.” I think people are asking that question now more than ever. I don’t think they were asking it to the degree and frequency we are asking it now, but now if you aren’t asking “why am I doing ______,” you are kind of asleep at the wheel! Some people don’t even know they are asleep so hopefully this wakes them up!
HOW DO YOU WAKE UP EVERYDAY AND FIND PURPOSE IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING?
The distinction to make here is that it is a daily practice. My analogy is this, and maybe it’s just me, but I thought living on purpose meant you get hit by some meteor and the meteor gives you your purpose. I feel like people are waiting to get hit by that meteor! If you know what your purpose is and your waking up everyday and chasing that, then some people are like, “where’s my meteor? It hasn’t hit me yet.” Instead of realizing that you have to make the choice every single day to live on purpose. I’ll give you an example of someone that lives physically on purpose. So you have someone that has a really good body and is really healthy. Well that person has to choose every day, several times throughout a day, to live with a body on purpose. Meaning, drinking water over soda, working out instead of sleeping in, etc. They have to make that choice at every crossroad. Same thing goes for living on purpose. I wake up every day and I write in my notebook. I have 6 principles I answer every day. Those 6 principles can be found in my book. I make the choice every day to live by those 6 principles and rewrite them every day. Or if I find one that doesn’t serve me anymore, I update it and I check in with it. For me, living on purpose is a choice. It is something you do everyday and it is something that is within everyones reach.
SO YOU ARE WAKING UP EVERY DAY AND DOING MENTAL EXERCISES, IN A WAY, RIGHT?
Yeah I do a spiritual exercise too, but I have done this for so long that I think this way. People ask me what my secret is and the secret is that I wake up everyday and I go do. Consistency. Every single day. And because of that there are some days that I have less time, say 3-5 minutes, to do this practice but I’ve conditioned myself, this is my life style, so I think this way.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT CAREER? SOMETIMES WHEN YOU ARE NEW IN YOUR CAREER YOU STOP AND WONDER IF YOU ARE DOING WHAT YOU ARE CALLED TO DO, HOW ARE THEY TO KNOW? ANY GOOD INSIGHT ON THAT?
For me, the end game is “how quickly do I get to serving others?” I think the end game should always be “what is it going to take for you to get to where you’re living a life of contribution?” And if you are working and your life is all about you and how much money you are making, you are going to be addicted to yourself and that is a quick road to disappointment.
To me, I share this in my book, living on purpose meant starting to change the question to, “how can I serve somebody else, a community, an industry?” And there were days I had nothing to give and I still asked that question. By nothing to give I mean I had nothing. I was a mess. I still forced myself to ask that question. How can I stop obsessing over myself and instead serve and give to something other than myself. At one of my businesses we do corporate talent development and I always tell people, “you have to focus on getting to where you’re living life at a level of mastery” and I learned that from Tony. Then, they always ask me what that means because it seems so out of reach, but when you are living at a level of mastery it means your cup is running over. You now have enough that you can pass onto others. I guarantee everyone has reached a level of mastery somewhere in their life.
LET’S TALK ABOUT PEOPLE THAT KNOW THEY ARE DOING WHAT THE LOVE, BUT THEY DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION. HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THE ORGANIZATION OR COMPANY YOU WORK FOR IS REALLY DOING THAT FOR OTHERS AND THAT YOU CAN GET BEHIND THEIR MISSION?
I used to do consulting for companies in helping them design their strategic plans. It was interesting that all these entrepreneurs and great businesses had no strategic plan. To them a strategic plan, especially entrepreneurs, think a strategic plan is for a Fortune 500 company. It’s not. It’s a set of guiding principles that guides that organization every single day to reach goals that then get replaced by new goals. For those that have completed a strategic plan, the second phase (or third depending on what model you follow) is always about values and beliefs. What do we value and believe as an organization, as an industry, and as a culture? A lot of people aren’t fulfilled because their values and beliefs individually are in complete conflict with their organization or industry.
HOW DO YOU MAKE AN EVENT THAT SERVES OTHER PEOPLE? AT YOUR TONY ROBBINS EVENTS, HOW DO YOU DO IT WHERE YOU ARE SERVING OTHER PEOPLE AND THEY ARE THE ONES WALKING AWAY WITH THE WIN?
Well if you’ve ever been to a Tony Robbins event you will hear this question, “How do I add more value to them than anyone else?” Tony’s guiding principle is 100% about serving. I know Tony on stage and behind stage and his guiding question is the same. He is all about adding value to every body at every time no matter what.
HOW DO YOU CRAFT AN EVENT THAT SERVES THE AUDIENCE WELL BEYOND THE VALUE THEY PAY FOR?
We are asking that question, first of all. We ask that question when marketing, when selecting music, etc. I always relate it to: integrity. How do I infuse so much integrity into this experience that it leaves everyone shocked. We don’t skimp on anything. We want every person to feel the integrity, from the moment they open an email to the moment they leave the door.
SO IT SOUNDS LIKE COST IS KIND OF AN AFTER THOUGHT? IT’S MORE ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE.
It’s about the why. If you’ve heard Tony speak at some past staff events he talks about how he used to have 12 day events where he was basically paying for people to go through transformation. But those years after years of him paying to keep integrity is the reason why this man makes millions of dollars.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK. WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
The book for me is 100$ my purpose right now. It is called “#goDo: How to Live on Purpose” The title comes from a song called “Go Do” by an Icelandic artist, Jónsi. The book is in three parts. One-third my personal story and how I’ve overcome horrible tragedy, like my brother’s suicide. It’s also what I’ve learned in the past 10 years and how you can implement that. Basically, it’s a 6 step daily goal setting exercise. The third part of the book is the data and research behind the 6 steps. I didn’t set out to write a book, I set out to get my life together. Like I said earlier, 5 years ago I was egocentric, now as I wrap up the book I am proud of it because it finally has a real person behind it. At the end of the day, the book is not about me, it is about contributing and serving others.
WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE?
Great question! You can preorder the book now. Go to talonyageary.com/preorder and you will get an autographed copy shipped right to you. It hits the streets, bookstores, and Amazon on August 23rd! If you want a sample of it, text Go Do to 345345 and that’ll send a preface of the book, a bit about me, some testimonials from some very influential people, etc.
Look up Unleash the Power Within for everything with Tony Robbins! To talk to Talonya, email her at email@example.com!
Meeting Minds by EideCom
Cole Hatter is a world-renowned speaker, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. In 2015, he started the event Thrive, a conference for entrepreneurs focused on not only making money, but Making Money Matter. In this quick, 30 minute episode, Cole shares with us his inside tips and tricks.
HOW DO YOU GET SUCH AMAZING SPEAKERS? Like Grant Cardone, Les Brown, Gary Vaynerchuk, Robert Herjavec, Jack Canfield, Kevin Harrington, Eric Thomas, Ed Mylett, Tai Lopez, Naveen Jain, and Jesse Itzler.
We get 600 speaker requests a year and many are doing well financially, but you also have to be a pretty rad person to be speak at THRIVE. We have to be selective.
HOW DO YOU TAILOR YOUR CONTENT AROUND SUCH A MEANINGFUL MESSAGE?
The theme of Thrive is Make Money Matter. Make Money Matter is about making an impact. For example, TOMS shoes. We weave that into the event iN two ways: some speakers are just there to teach on how to make money. It is extremely tactical, not just some cool morning routine. We see Thrive as 70% How-To and 30% about what a difference your money can make. And other speakers are speaking to the heart issue of the entrepreneurs. By Sunday, you will have cried, laugh, and have several pages of notes about what you are actually going to do to start making money immediately.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE EVENT GOING IN THE FUTURE?
The vision is to fill stadiums! Which is why we keep Thrive affordable. If you compare Thrive to similar events, they are usually 3x or more, more than that. Which can sometimes create confusion, like there must be something wrong with our event because we charge so little, but we want to get this message to the masses. Thrive gives its profits to a charity each year. Last year it was Claire’s Place Foundation and we gave $178,000. This year we’re partnering with Water.org, which is about providing clean water to people in third world countries.
WHAR WERE SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES DURING THE FIRST YEAR?
Events suck, period. It was incredibly challenging and ,ore emotionally taxing than any other business I’ve ever had. Mostly, because there are so many variables and I have less control. I have 26 speakers that all have lives and every year there is one or two that have an emergency and have to cancel, etc. Also, hotels. They are such a rip off. Marketing is also very difficult due to all the free content online. What sets us apart is that all of our speakers bring NEW content. Plus, the networking and experience is unbeatable. You can’t network on a podcast. Despite the challenges, we keep doing it because we get to meet amazing people and for the stories of success we’ve heard come out of it. But, don’t be a seminar junkie! When are you taking the time to implement what you are learning? I would suggest going to one event a quarter and listen to podcasts always. Learning how to do push ups is one thing, but actually doing them is another. Get information and then implement.
HOW DO YOU CRAFT YOUR ROSTER TO MEET THE MISSION OF YOUR EVENT? BECAUSE EVERY EVENT HAS A MISSION AND A GOAL.
I like how you prefaced that. Our mission: teaching entrepreneurs how to start for-purpose organizations or convert their current organizations to be for-purpose. It is a combination of finding speakers that are just going to teach tactics, as well as some that have lived out the for-purpose aspect. Our goal is to have butts in chairs and to make it a huge success. So another consideration is finding people who have audiences. You need to have influencers on the roster.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE LAS VEGAS FOR YOUR EVENT?
Thrive was created as a result of losing two close friends that died when I was on my way to Las Vegas. So I did this event to honor them. The next year we did it in San Diego and it was great, but the Manchester hotel was not available for Thrive 3 on the dates we needed. So we went back to Las Vegas last year and were at the Hard Rock. This will probably be the last year in Vegas because we are about to outgrow it. So it started in Vegas out of sentiment, and it’s now in Vegas strictly for production and it is a destination area. It’s easier to get some to go to Vegas than say, Minneapolis. Vegas is more touristy and fun.
ANY LAST THOUGHTS FOR ANYONE WHO ORGANIZES CONFERENCES OR TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE A REALLY GOOD, MEANINGFUL CONFERENCE?
Conferences are becoming extremely popular. You have to figure out a message or narrative, like Make Money Matter, and you need to have a massive following so people want to show up just to see you! When I first started Thrive I had no following and no email list, but I said screw it and did it. The reason it worked is because of the heart of the mission. No one there knew me or cared about me, but I did have big name speakers draw a crowd like Gary Vaynerchuk, Keith Ferrazzi, and Robert Herjavec. And a unique, special mission. There are probably more events now than ever, so if you want one that draws a crowd it has to be something people cant get somewhere else. If you come to Thrive, it feels like nothing else. We work so hard to make that happen, from the color of the lighting to having Bulletproof coffee in the lobby, etc. Put thought into the ambiance.
HOW DO WE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THRIVE?
It is this September, the 14, 15, and 16. The website is attendthrive.com. Use promo code: MMM to receive 20% off!
Meeting Minds by EideCom