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I Was a Virtual World Speaker

This update comes a little on the late side, but I figure it’s still important enough to share!

I gave my very first presentation in the MPI NENY Virtual World (The Easy Button) in November, where I shared tips on how to run a smooth and successful event.  Now, I’m not the world’s greatest public speaker. I get butterflies, talk too fast, and I am pretty sure gibberish becomes my native language.  On the other hand, social media comes naturally to me; I enjoy interacting with online communities.  I blog, chat and tweet; I have a Facebook and a LinkedIn account.  I thought presenting in the Virtual World wouldn’t be too hard.

Like any F2F (face to face) event, there were technology issues. It was a speaker’s nightmare when my power point presentation with a YouTube video would not load properly.  Thankfully, with the help of savvy tech support, it was corrected in time.

My power point presentation wasn’t the only technical setback.

  • Attendees needed extra time to become oriented and customize their avatars, which consequently caused the presentation to begin later than expected.
  • There were several headset and microphone issues. Some people could hear us, but not speak. Some could speak, but not hear us. The worst issue to arise was that some participants couldn’t interact at all and subsequently logged out entirely.

So here I am, standing on a virtual stage in front of a small group of avatars.  I begin my speech, which opens with a funny YouTube video.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell if anyone is laughing or groaning.  I continue on.  I talk with my hands to my computer screen, I laugh at my own jokes.  I’m probably talking too fast, but I can’t see the audience’s reaction to what I’m saying.  Ten minutes later I come to the end of my presentation and ask if there are any questions.

Bueller? Bueller?

It has been said that a virtual audience is limited to your voice and your slides so you must make an impact with both, and this is no different from an in-person delivery.  That statement may true, but speaking from my own experience, I was unable to tell if an impact was being made at all, as the audience’s reactions were missing.  I couldn’t see them.

You might be asking yourself, then why even hold a virtual world event?  What is the point?  I still believe the virtual world is a viable solution to those who cannot attend a F2F event.  Offering a virtual platform for professionals to attend large events such as MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC), or small meetings, such as an MPI local chapter board or committee meeting, allows professionals to participate and stay in touch, even if they can’t be there in person.  It is a tool, albeit not a perfect one, that gives us one more way to meet, to learn, and to communicate ideas.

As public speakers, we also need to adapt to the Virtual World environment. Speaking to your computer screen instead of an audience you can see and hear – well that’s a big learning curve for anyone. You have to readjust your expectations and presentation style.

I firmly believe that virtual events won’t replace F2F events, but as technology continues to grow, virtual events can only continue to become a more viable solution.

About the MPI NENY Virtual World

MPI Northeastern New York has a Virtual World.  If you haven’t seen it, visit the website at for more information. In 2008, the MPI NENY Chapter launched this cutting edge technology initiative to benefit both planners and suppliers and grow chapter membership. It was the first MPI chapter to offer this unique web-based program. Virtual participants can attend events, network and explore member products, all from the comfort of their office (or sofa). Our main objective is to offer an environment where chapter leaders and industry colleagues from all over the world can connect with others without having to travel.

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A man desires praise that he may be reassured, that he may be quit of his doubting of himself; he is indifferent to applause when he is confident of success.
Alec Waugh

It’s that time of year when we go out of our way to show others how much we appreciate what they’ve done for us.

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating.  A little thanks and praise can go a long way, no matter what stage of life you’re in, be it child or adult. Never be afraid to recognize the accomplishments of your co-workers and employees!  Do not let another person’s rise make you insecure or resentful.  All too often we forget to thank others.

In my opinion, one of the WORST things you can do as an employer (and even as a co-worker) is NOT praise an employee for their accomplishments and contributions.  Employees who are involved in activities outside the office that develop their own personal and professional relationships are some of the best kinds of employees. If supported internally, they can even be some of the most loyal. They are continuously striving to do better, to enhance their education in order to learn new skill sets to keep them one step ahead of the game.  A benefit to any company!

CHRISTINΔ's photostream

Remember, employees don’t always do those things just so they can leave their jobs; most often it’s so that they will STAY at their jobs – and be viewed as an asset.  What better asset to have than an employee who is ahead of the curve, keeping the company up to speed?  Unfortunately, without support (and I don’t mean a pat on the back for every little thing) you will eventually lose good, loyal employees to someone much more supportive.

As an event professional, I am thankful that my employer supports my volunteer activities.  As a member of MPI and a leadership volunteer on the MPI NENY board, I am able to remain apprised of changes in the events industry, in contact with new and potential suppliers, and keep my education and professional development on track.   In my volunteer world, I continue to serve on the MPI NENY Board of Directors as President-Elect.  I am so honored to work with so many volunteers! I know how hard they all work, both as volunteers and for their own paying jobs every day!  MPI NENY has some great volunteers, who give up so much of their free time to the benefit of the Chapter.  It goes to show how much being a part of MPI NENY means to the people involved.  We love our profession.

Consider the following from “A Touch of Business” (

  • Employee recognition boosts morale and employee performance.
  • Employee recognition should not be considered a reward as much as “employee courtesy and consideration.”
  • Have an open-door policy where employees feel comfortable sharing thoughts and opinions.
  • Create a “family-like” atmosphere and recognize all employees for your appreciation of their hard work.
  • Employee recognition is most effective when giving pats on the back during the day to each employee.
  • Employee recognition adds pride in your business. After all, it is the employees who make your business run. Be the first one to say, “I’ve got the best employees on earth” and watch employee performance improve.

So let’s acknowledge our hard working employees, celebrate dedicated volunteers, and thank loyal clients.  They should be recognized not just at the end of the year but throughout.

Happy Holidays!

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Vision, Mission, Value

Vision, Mission & Value: Do you know the difference?  I thought I knew, but many of us are guilty of blurring the three into one and using them interchangeably. During the 2010 MPI Chapter Business Summit, which was held in Dallas, TX in September for the MPI Chapter Leaders, we discussed the differences.  Who knew how drastically different they could really be!

Here’s the run down:

  • Vision: What will we look like in the future?
  • Mission: Why are we here?
  • Value: What solutions are you providing; who do you solve it for; and why is this solution different (or better) than the alternative?  This can become the foundation for your brand!  Why are we the better choice than the competition, what makes us stand out?  What is distinctive about us?

    By Nina Matthews Photography

To bring a little clarity into the room, know that everyone wants to matter.  A value statement can provide meaning to a volunteer (and a member). Belief in a purpose gives volunteers a reason to stick with it, and in turn helps to prevent volunteer burnout!

  • Understand your assets and relevance (strengths)
  • Matter on what matters

It’s Time to Create Your Value Statement!

We are all chock-full of good ideas.  It’s fun to come up with new ideas for our chapter and members.  The problem becomes instituting those ideas, committing to them, and following through.  All the new ideas become moot, if they are not taken seriously, or if there are too many ideas on the table and not enough manpower (or need) to really make those ideas come to life.

What’s next? So you have a list of good ideas and you want to implement them, but are they all necessary and something desired by your membership. Take a moment to think about two things that can improve the direction you take and refocus on membership needs.

  • What do we do first? (What will you start)  Okay, you have a list – but you need to prioritize and choose that one thing that you believe in, that you really want to focus on.  Pick something that matters to your members.
  • What do we stop now? We all love to buy new things, that “ooh shiny” feeling.  It makes you feel good right?  Well, a little retail therapy always helps me, but then I find I have a pile of things and I haven’t replaced the old with the new.  When I buy something new, I need to get rid of something old.  Try to keep things in perspective; the same can be applied to your Chapter/Association.  If you’re going to start something, and really focus on it, you should also pick something to throw out.  What’s NOT working or just isn’t in your power to maintain effectively?

You might be wondering now what have I done, or what has my Chapter has done, with all this information?  Well, we created a value statement! MPI Northeastern New York is the bridge to innovative knowledge and connections.

With that value statement in mind we decided that we need to focus on which forms of communication (social media) work best for us and which of those applications our members are actually using. My chapter is lucky to have so many board members who are tech-savvy and comfortable with the ever-changing online communities that are available.  It has made keeping up with the “Online Jones” pretty easy.  This won’t last forever!  Sooner or later our savvy board members will move on, and while we hope the next generation will be as techie, it is not a guarantee.   The same goes for our members, not everyone is a “techie” or social media guru.

Our plan is to narrow the playing field to the top five social media tools that work best for our members, (MPI NENY Website, Virtual World, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn) with emphasis on the website!  While it’s possible to sign up for every social media outlet available, this does not mean each tool will be used effectively.  Consider your audience! Is your audience listening and engaged; which tools are they using?

Okay, you’re thinking – so you stopped something, reduced the number of social media tools.  But what will you focus on – what will we “start”?   I’m going to quote directly from our President, Doug McPhee, CMP, CMM:

Leadership is about commitment and competence. We are leaders not just volunteers. All the chapters are looking at member growth, engagement and strong educational programs, especially for planners. Succession planning is obviously important for all chapters. How do we engage our members?  ASK them to participate. We know that people become involved and attend things because they are asked. When recruiting for committee positions consider strengths that will enhance the committee.

As the new year approaches and the nominations process begins, we will add Director positions to our Board so that we can divide up responsibilities and take the pressure off the Vice Presidents!   We are a small Board – currently there are only eight of us.  Did you know that 89% of members access MPI through their chapters? (Bruce MacMillan, MPI President & CEO) By adding Directors to the Board, we will more effectively engage our members, provide leadership roles for volunteers, and gain new insight as to what our members need and want from us as a Chapter.

Now I ask you:

  • What what will you start and stop this year?
  • Do you have a value statement?
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Where’s My Sledge Hammer?

I read the following blog yesterday, and it really bothered me.  Not the author, but the content.  It drives me crazy that this “glass ceiling” still exists and that we just can’t take a sledge hammer to it once and for all.

Still Behind

By Jessie States

Women don’t receive assistance in reaching their future career goals because they are typically in lower-status positions, according to a new study by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Indiana University South Bend.

“We have laws that prohibit discrimination and enforce equal pay, but that only touches the surface,” department chairwoman Gail McGuire said. “We need to look at informal professional structures, not formal ones. These are the real sources of inequality.”

McGuire studied one of the largest financial services organizations and evaluated its informal network support. The firm is a major employer of women, but they tend to be located in lower-status positions. The men, a minority in the organization, occupy higher-ranking positions.

“Since men have higher status positions, they are hoarding and monopolizing critical resources,” McGuire said. Women received more social support, especially from their female colleagues, than men, but, McGuire warns, this has less of a career pay-off for women in the long-term.

So men are “hoarding and monopolizing” all the resources, making it more difficult for women to have access to funding for education and professional development. What a world we live in.  Yes, it’s great that we have a social support group, but what good is a social support group for your career? Take control of your own career – you can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you.  Invest in yourself! (Thanks for the tip Dawn Rasmussen!) My self-investment? MPI, WEC and local Chapter educational programs.  I want to make sure that I keep up with the changes in the meetings/events industry – you never know what unexpected changes could come your way!

Yes, I see that I’ve lumped all “men” into one little group, and of course I realize that this is not par for the course for everyone.  But clearly the sting is still felt since we’re still studying the effects of men versus women in the professional world.  I work in the political arena, its typically a man’s world – I see the unfairness everyday.

Next, I Googled “Glass Ceiling” only to find this scary study on Wikipedia.

David R. Hekman and colleagues (2009) found that customers prefer white male employees, which is why such workers may continue to earn 25 percent more than equally-well performing women and minorities.[13] Hekman et al. (2009) found that customers who viewed videos featuring a black male, a white female, or a white male actor playing the role of an employee helping a customer were 19% more satisfied with the white male employee’s performance and also were more satisfied with the store’s cleanliness and appearance. This despite that all three actors performed identically, read the same script, and were in the exact same location with identical camera angles and lighting. Moreover, 45 percent of the customers were women and 41 percent were non-white, indicating that even women and minority customers prefer white men.

There is this glass ceiling, but according to that study, women themselves still prefer white men, so what the heck are we supposed to do about that?  How are women supposed to break through if we continue to see ourselves less than?  Or view men as doing a better job?

Did you know about these other related terms? (Thank you Wikipedia!)

  • Brass Ceiling – In the traditionally male-dominated fields of law enforcement and military service, some people use the term “brass ceiling” to describe the difficulty women have when they try to rise up in the ranks.[32] “The brass” denotes the decision-makers at the top of an organization, especially in the military; it is an example of synecdoche.
  • Stained-Glass Ceiling is a sociological phenomenon in religious communities similar to the concept of the “glass ceiling.” The concept revolves around the apparent difficulty for women who seek to gain a role within church leadership.
  • Bamboo Ceiling – The exclusion of Asian-descendants from executive and managerial roles on the basis of subjective factors such as “lack of leadership potential” or “inferior communication ability” where the East Asian-descendants candidate has superior objective credentials such as education in high-prestige universities (in comparison to their white counterparts with only lower-prestige university credentials).[33] For example, research shows that there are a decent number of partners at leading prestigious law firms in the United States who did not attend top notch law schools. However, you will seldom find an East Asian American partner of a leading law firm who did not attend a “Top 16 Law School” (according to the US News ranking).
  • Concrete Ceiling – This is a term used to describe the type of barrier minority woman encounter. Caucasian women may face the glass ceiling in the workforce, but be able to break through it from time to time; however, minority women’s glass ceiling tends to be more solid and unyielding. This ‘concrete ceiling’ is due to minority women facing both issues of sexism and racism which intensifies their obstructions in advancing within the labor market.[34]
  • Expatriate Glass Ceiling – After breaking through the first level of the glass ceiling, many women are beginning to face an additional barrier. This is a term used to describe this second level of obstruction which prevents women in managerial positions from receiving foreign management assignments, projects, and experiences that is becoming increasingly more important for promotion into the upper-level managerial positions as documented by Insch, McIntyre, and Napier.[35]
  • Glass Closet – The exclusion of openly gay men and women from certain jobs, especially in the media.
  • Glass elevator (or glass escalator) – Some believe there is a rapid promotion of men over women, especially into management, in female-dominated fields such as nursing.[citation needed]They say men in these fields are promoted with ease – they actually have to struggle not to advance due to facing invisible pressures and expectations to move up from where they currently are. This is based on traditional gender roles and stereotypes that men are expected to be in the chief roles, while women are to be in the subordinate positions. Therefore, in the fields where men are less common, they receive differential treatment that favors them to exert their authority and control in the workplace. Others believe that men in female-dominated professions are discriminated against and treated worse than women, the way women are treated in other professions.[36]
  • Glass cliff – A situation wherein someone has been promoted into a risky, difficult job where the chances of failure are higher.
  • Celluloid ceiling, referring to the small number of women in top positions in Hollywood, as documented by Lauzen (2002) and others.
  • Glass Labyrinth – referring to something related to a maze and can find the way out of and get through; otherwise thought of as finding a path through power in an organization.
  • Sticky Floor – refers to women who are trapped in low-wage, low mobility jobs in state and local government.[37]
  • Sticky Ladder – A term used to describe women’s struggle to reach the top of the corporate ladder. This term describes the theory that women are not incapable of reaching the top; they just get “stuck” on the middle rungs of the ladder.
  • Glass Floor – Many men have college degrees and would like to advance further in our culture, but due to a lack of opportunities and an increasingly woman-friendly workplace, including men in positions of power who would rather hire attractive young women and women in positions of power who would rather work with women, remain stuck in low-pay jobs with little chance of advancement, including blue-collar jobs that do not require higher education and “temp work,” which requires the work hours and stress of regular office employment, but with less pay and no benefits.[citation needed]
  • Glass Wall – Refers to the phenomenon of high rates of women advancing to executive positions but only in certain industries.[38]

The effect has also inspired a musical, bearing the same name. “Glass Ceiling” (2006), written by Bret VandenBos and Alex Krall, examined and parodied the idiosyncrasies of both males and females in the corporate workplace.[39]

My thoughts…

You want something, go get it. Make the effort to invest in yourself. Don’t let someone else stand in your way of fulfilling your dreams.  If someone stands in your way, and you allow them to do so, you’ll wind up regretting it.  If you are happy with your life and your career, it will show.  Respect yourself enough to know that those holding you back may not be your real friends – surround yourself with people who understand and support your dreams.  And you’ll find the path to your goal much smoother!

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Seize the Tiger – Career Management

Taking the Tiger by the Tail – Seizing Control of Your Career Destiny

Dawn Rasmussen, CMP
President, Pathfinder Writing and Career Services

Dawn Rasmussen

I began Pathfinder Writing and Career Services after working over five years as the state school to career director for a workforce training program in 49 high schools in Oregon. During this time, I coached literally thousands of people on how to write résumés and provided job interviewing training to help new workers prepare for their careers. Additionally, I worked with employers on student placements in their businesses.

Since then, I have been a frequent guest speaker, and have led the introduction course for the hospitality academy for homeless and at-risk youth at New Avenues for Youth, where I also taught students the importance of having an effective résumé.

Throughout my own career, I have always maintained that mentoring and volunteering is an important part of giving back to the community, and have received several top industry awards, including the Meeting Professionals International (Oregon Chapter) Mentor of the Year Award, President’s Award and the Oregon Governor’s Tourism Achievement Award. I currently am volunteering my expertise to the Portland Job Finder support group and also teaching a free class on résumé writing through the WorkSource Oregon (Oregon Employment Department) to help teach people the power and impact that résumés can have on a person’s career.

Learner Outcomes

  • Build a forward-thinking resume – a strategic, keyword rich document that is a career blueprint.
  • Understand your value proposition and how to go about finding the types of companies that appreciate your career assets
  • Learn to build a ‘spiderweb’ of network contacts.

Why did I attend this session?

Now who wouldn’t want to attend a session with this title? Seize control of your career destiny! Once this session got started, it really could have gone on for hours.  People have so many questions about the layout and design of their resumes.  The downside of this session was that it was scheduled to run from 8:30 AM to 9:45 AM (that’s what it said on the Z-card), but it was cut 15 minutes short by Dawn.  Perhaps she didn’t know she had 15 more minutes?  There wasn’t enough time for Q&A either. Several audience members piped up and asked questions during Dawn’s presentation, but she kept saying “Okay we need to move on now” (or something to that effect).  The presentation was too rushed, it was difficult to even take notes.  I was hoping materials might be available online, but I haven’t been able to find them.  Thank goodness I’m a fast typer!  Here’s what I took away from this session.

What is Career Management?

  • Career Management doesn’t mean you’re leaving your job, but rather getting the best knowledge and skills to be the best at what you do right now.
  • Career Management is being open to possibility at all times (a dynamic, fluid experience and mindset)
  • Career Management enables you to meet change head on so that you can respond nimbly to new opportunities or future job transitions
  • Career Management prepares you to move laterally or within the job or if you’re laid off

Today’s job market is no longer a passive experience; you are your own advocate.  If you don’t take control of your career you will get left behind. – Dawn Rasmussen

This become very apparent in a separate session I attended, Success: Moments that Matter with Hattie Hill.  That session was a panel discussion, but what really struck me was how one of the panelists took control of her career.  At the moment I cannot remember her name, terrible I know.  Her story began that her husband had started a new job in Washington, DC, they were moving, and she had to begin a job search.  She reached out to her contacts (80% of jobs are found through someone you know – Dawn Rasmussen). After she had exhausted her search via her contacts in the industry, she knew she had to do something drastic.  She wrote her own job description. There was a former client she had worked with, she knew they had a need, and she created a job specifically for that need and presented it to the company.  The company hired her, and two years later still say it was the best thing they have ever done. Wow.

If you don’t take control of your career, you’ll get left behind. – Dawn Rasmussen

What do employers want?  How do you prepare?

  • Be cutting edge: Employers cut those who are not highly skilled and knowledgeable
  • Step up and invest in yourself:  Employers are cutting back on company paid professional development – your career development, promotion and reputation depend on YOU
  • It’s not job security – it’s employability: What are you doing to keep yourself employable?
  • Be ready for the worst: Don’t wait until you HAVE to do something.
  • Know your value! Do you know what you offer to your current/prospective employer? Be in the moment of where you are in your career and the value that you offer.

What about my resume?

There were so many takeaways on how to design your resume.  Below are some of the pointers Dawn shared with the group.

Resume Pointers

  • Have a professional email address
  • Ditch the objective statement (employers don’t care what you want) – have a job title headline instead (create your brand)
  • Resumes are not obituaries they are a career map. Theme your resume with correlating key words.
  • Keywords – Don’t use skills or qualifications, instead careers expertise
  • Work History – Theme it (chronological/functional format), show career progression, actions and results.
  • Education: In an era of age discrimination, don’t put graduation year.
  • Professional Development should be listed under Education; be specific and give details to session titles, year it took place, and sponsorship organizations (i.e. WEC)
  • Affiliations & Involvement – How are you demonstrating your leadership by volunteering or bolstering your credibility by professional association?
  • Update your resume every six months
  • Keep track of your accomplishments, professional development and leadership roles

Do I need a Cover Letter?

Absolutely! Dawn told the group, no matter what, you should always include a cover letter, regardless of whether or not you think it will be read.  If you are emailing your resume, you can either attach a cover letter and mention the attachment in your email or provide the cover letter as the body of the email.  Remember, even if you provide the cover letter in the body of the email, be sure to attach a formal copy of it with your email (along with your resume).


According to Dawn, never supply a potential employer with a list of references unless they specifically ask for them.  If they ask for references, it’s usually because they want to hire you! Don’t forget to stay in contact with your references! You need to cultivate a network of top tier references and maintain a relationship with them.  A reference should never be surprised to hear from your potential employer checking up on you – coach them on what to say, so they can be your cheerleader!

Final Thoughts on Career Strategies

  • Keep yourself well read (keep on top of things)
  • Educate yourself, keep learning
  • Volunteer
  • Retain industry memberships
  • Point yourself toward your next step
  • Get on LinkedIn to build your network
  • Make lasting connections – don’t be a one hit wonder or user (build a relationship)
  • Build familiarity and cultivate internal advocacy for you
  • Roll your skills into the next opportunity (leverage skills set for next job)

And remember!

Your career is yours alone – you are your best advocate! You are the driving force behind getting what you want from your profession.  Don’t be afraid to try something new, be brave!   

Be positive – it will change your perception and others perception of you. Operate from a place of abundance – give back and you will be remembered as being generous. – Dawn Rasmussen

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It’s Izzy Improv at WEC10

Practiced Spontaneity: Cultivating the Leader Within Through Improv Theater Skills

Izzy Gesell

Speaker: Izzy Gesell

About Izzy: Izzy Gesell, MS Ed, CSP is an “organizational alchemist.” As a keynote speaker, workshop leader, professional facilitator and presentation coach his skill is in transforming something commonplace into something special. His humorously serious and seriously humorous programs help people thrive and prosper during these changing times as they become more confident, spontaneous and effective. As Author of Playing Along: Group Learning Activities Borrowed from Improvisation Theater. Izzy was one of the first to bring the concepts of Improv Theater into the business world. He has also contributed to the International Association of Facilitator’s Handbook and Humor Me, a compilation by America’s most prominent humorists.

Learner Outcomes

  • Become a more effective leader by understanding how to be more responsible to self and more accountable to others.
  • Define and discuss the concept of self-talk and how it impacts both inter-personal and intra-personal communication.
  • Know how and when to use a technique to disagree without being disagreeable.

Three qualities of agile leadership and improv

  1. Presence – stay in moment
  2. Acceptance – what is rather than what should be
  3. Trust – suspend judgment and let process unfold

Why I picked this session

The name of this session alone grabbed my attention.  But what really won me over was the possibility that I might have to stand up and speak in front of a group of people I didn’t know. It was the possibility that I might be asked to step outside of my comfort zone.  I’m not an introvert by any means, but it IS a little intimidating to be asked to stand up at the drop of a hat – and not have a single idea what might be asked of you.  Scary and thrilling at the same time!  Truth be told, I did not volunteer to stand up in the crowd, but here’s where we learned leadership lesson #1.  The room was packed, and we had our first volunteer.  I don’t precisely remember what she volunteered FOR at the time, but I do remember that it broke the ice in the room.  It changed the entire attitude climate of the room, suddenly people were more relaxed.   Lesson?  Your actions have impacts on others.

Izzy let us know great leaders step up for their own reasons and fail with their own truth.  People are always watching you, what you do has an impact on others and how they feel.  A few thoughts:

  • Leaders make others feel safe – their actions make others want to participate
  • Leaders need to engage and participate in order to get others to feel the same way
  • Use humor to relax others – Humor is engaging, but can be dangerous (shield, weapon or bridge)
  • The very thing that keeps up stepping into the unknown – actually brings us together once we take that leap.

Three Qualities of an Agile Leader

Consciousness & Presence

Consciousness: According to Izzy, effective leaders have a lively awareness of possibilities and a strong belief in their own abilities and the abilities of others. We all know that volunteering for something is scary, we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure.  This fear actually causes us to fail.  If we would just take the leap and step up, then failure is not an option.  Those who step up actually receive a surprisingly high amount of support from others to succeed.  One of the best qualities of leaders is that they show up and they speak the truth without shame or blame.

Presence: is a power leadership quality! Be in the here and now – focus your wandering mind.  Consider your
Point of Concentration.  What is the smallest bit of information YOU need to focus on in order to move forward toward YOUR goal.  Izzy suggested that as leaders, we need to let go of the things we cannot control.  There are times that even with the best of intention, we inject our thoughts/ideas into others, even if they don’t need our help. It’s time to go with the flow!

It’s important to remember, that although we want to go with the flow, that leaders must also be focused.  Ever tried to talk to your boss when he/she is texting, emailing, surfing the web, making a phone call…etc.?  We cannot be effectively present when we are multi-tasking.  According to Izzy, multi-tasking is not the solution it is claimed to be, people become impatient and make mistakes. I find this true in my own life – we are so busy, and so impatient – that waiting five or ten minutes to get an answer via email feels likes a lifetime.  When not too long ago, I used to have to wait until the end of day for an answer.  Now my boss/clients are emailing me after work hours AND expecting an immediate answer.  It’s really time for us to take a step back and reflect on this – and if we are effective leaders in this capacity.


As leaders, Izzy stressed the importance of dealing with reality as it is, rather than as we’d like it to be.  We explored a very thought provoking “game” where session attendees (at their tables) made a statement (a concept) and the others at the table had to build upon that concept using the word AND.

For example, someone would say: 

  • I could really go for some sushi.
  • The next person would repeat: You could really go for some sushi AND I could really use a drink.
  • Third person: You could really use a drink AND I need to send an email. (And so on).

The purpose of this activity was to stress the importance (and difference) of AND versus YES, But.

The second activity used Yes, But to combine concepts.  The results were much more negative.

For example:

  • I would love to have some sushi.
  • 2nd person: Yes, you would love to have some sushi, BUT I would prefer to go home early.
  • 3rd person: Yes, you would prefer to go home early, BUT I would like to have a drink.  (and so on)

The concept AND provides a means to build upon, a positive atmosphere and acceptance of what the other person has to say.  The concept Yes, But becomes defeat, negativity – a zero sum game. This brought us back to the point that people are watching (and listening to) you, and will respond according to how you make them feel.

During a dinner event after this session, I tested the AND and Yes, But concepts out.  AND it was very true. I’m trying to make it a point to use AND more often, and less Yes, But.  It definitely makes people more comfortable and a part of your conversation.  Stating Yes, But all the time, causes people to feel less than.  For instance, a conversation with your employer about all the good things you have accomplished on a recent project could be instantly negated when he/she uses says Yes, you did all that hard work – BUT… What do you remember?  Everything AFTER the word But.


Another great leadership quality?  Suspending judgment while allowing the process to unfold.  Effective leaders remain open to unforeseen outcomes.  According to Izzy, the process that leads to trust in itself will lead to high levels of self-confidence.

Izzy’s session was one of my favorites, and I plan  (will try my best) to integrate Izzy’s concepts into my daily life (personal and professional).  I think it’s important that we work hard to make others feel important on the job, as well as when we get home.  

So I leave you with this! What is the smallest bit of information YOU need to focus on in order to move forward toward YOUR goal?  (Point of Concentration) How will you focus your wandering mind?

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WEC AfterGlow

MPI Sand Sculpture - just outside the Vancouver Convention Center

I survived!

Finally back in the office after four days in the beautiful city of Vancouver for MPI’s World Education Congress.   I am happy and sad at the same time.  Happy to be home, and sleeping in my own bed again, but sad to leave behind my new & old friends for what may be another year before I see them all again!

It’s my goal over the next week, to provide some useful feedback from the event, mainly my thoughts on the sessions and events I attended.

If you are looking for Guru updates, my thoughts on this program can be found here: Guru Series.  Share your thoughts!

Social Media Gurus - WEC10

There has been lots of focus on the general sessions, and YES, the general sessions this year were fantastic!  I was especially taken by John Furlong, CEO for the Vancouver Organizing Committee, 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games during the general session on Sunday.   The session was broadcast live this year, but you can watch the archived video here: My only issue with the video is that I can’t fast forward/rewind – but not sure if it’s just me?

Before I share my feedback on the knowledge sessions - three in particular I plan to focus on – I want to share the fun.

The WEC Tradeshow -  I had to get my fun video in while I still had the chance!  This year, the guys at OmniPress who also maintain the Engage365 online community, were giving away free t-shirts to those of us brave enough to participate in a 30 second or less video.  How could I pass this up?

WEC – It’s not all work and no play!

Below are some of the functions I attended, friends I made and food I ate!  More serious updates to be posted later! Enjoy.   (Side note, I’m not happy about centering all the photos in one straight line, but I couldn’t figure out how to make them look nice)

There was always plenty of good food (Dessert tray at WEC TradeShow)

And cold beverages (Starwood Event)

Party with friends at the Hyatt Culinary Competition (L-R) Elizabeth, Me, April

I met the Voice of Meetings and Events - Glenn Thayer! (L-R) Alisa, Me, Glenn & Char

Closing reception - I'm pretty sure the owner didn't think this was a good idea!

Posing with the sexy construction workers on Granville Street, WEC Closing Reception (Char and I on the right)