Year in Review

The past 12 months have flown right on by!  My term as the President of MPI Northeastern New York is quickly coming to a close (only 9 days left, but who’s counting?).   And being that I haven’t written a single thing here for almost a year as well, I thought I should at least wrap it up and say something!

I recently gave my Year in Review speech at our annual awards celebration, and I think it’s worth sharing an excerpt with the masses!  I am so very proud of the MPI NENY Members, it’s volunteers and it’s board of directors.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great leaders and volunteers this year.  Although, we’ve faced many challenges, in the end we definitely came out on top. It’s something worth sharing, because even the smallest of chapters can be mighty!


As a Chapter leader, volunteer and member, YOU control the direction we [the MPI NENY Chapter] take YOUR education and professional development. A recent survey of MPI Members showed that 90% of members agree that MPI aids in their professional development.

One of the best things about being a member of MPI is that YOUR membership belongs to YOU and you alone. And this means, that no matter where you go – YOUR membership goes with you.  Membership in MPI connects you to a regional, national and international community unlike any other.

I encourage you to explore the site, attend an international event (like the World Education Congress), share ideas with those outside our Chapter, or join an online discussion group (think LinkedIn or Twitter).

This evening is not only about celebrating our volunteers & members, but a time to reflect on the past 12 months.  So what has the past year been like? We have definitely had our share of challenges.

  • A new rebate system was established by MPI Headquarters that affects how much of your membership dues comes back to the chapter.
  • The MPI Foundation put a hold on approving grants and grants that had been approved were not fully funded this year.
  • An unexpected membership dues increase for suppliers during an economic downturn – to which we have not fully seen the effects.

But how has this affected you?  Even with all the operational noise coming down from headquarters, you may not have noticed!

Why? Because the MPI NENY board of directors is here to ensure that your membership experience is seamless and consistent. That you are not personally affected by all the nuances trickling down from headquarters.  What’s important to you, is that this chapter is providing you with the educational content and connections you need as a member.

No matter what challenges we as a board have seen or may see come down the pike, what really matters is what we continually do for YOU.

We have much to be proud of as well!  There are many successes to celebrate. Each year we are asked by headquarters to set and track certain goals. We are currently on the path to meet, if not exceed, each of these goals this year.

When it comes to membership – we may be small, but we are mighty!  At 129 strong, our numbers may not have increased, but we have not seen a decrease in membership numbers either. Our membership continues to be actively engaged; with 36% of our members volunteering in some capacity!

If that wasn’t enough to impress you – here’s something else to be proud of! In March you were asked to complete an International Membership Satisfaction Survey. We now have the results of that survey.

Our overall Chapter satisfaction score placed us Number 2 both regionally (out of 47 chapters) & globally (out of 71 chapters).  We scored an 8.93 out of 10 for overall satisfaction.  To put that in perspective – the average chapter satisfaction score for all of the US Chapters was 7.8; a 7.6 in Canada; and a 6.6 in Europe.  Our Chapter received an educational content satisfaction score of 9 out of 10; ranking us Number 1 both regionally and globally.

Clearly, our mission to help our members be their best by building human connections to knowledge, ideas, relationships, and marketplace opportunities is happening on a daily basis – it’s happening right now! And it is because of all of you!


It has been an absolute pleasure being President of such a great organization and I look forward to my year as Outgoing President!  Best wishes to all and best of luck to our 2012-2013 Board of Directors!


WEC Rundown Part 2

You may have noticed that I’m leaving out my experience with regards to the educational sessions…that can be handled separately, stayed tuned.

Here we go, on to days 3 &4…

Day 3 – Monday

Lowes Iron Chef Lunch – Eh, yawn.  There was so little audience interaction, I felt disconnected.  I didn’t know what they were doing half the time.  Plus, I did see that they were working with lobster, and I thought for a second, WE might be getting lobster for lunch.  What a let down.  What we did get for lunch really wasn’t impressive.  And, I’m sorry, but the huge space we were in for this lunch was so cold I was shaking through every event held in here.  Brrrrr…..

Chapter Receptions – Disaster! Okay, I love the outdoors.  But not when it’s 110 degrees and 70%+ humidity! TROPICAL.  The idea itself was great. There were five separate reception locations (all in the same general vicinity at the Pointe Orlando). The idea was to bring several different chapters from around the world together into one of those five locations.  Fantastic.  I love meeting other chapters.  BUT, I did not enjoy feeling the sweat drip down my back as soon as I stepped off the bus, only to get worse as we entered the reception area.  My own chapter members (and many others) started to get cranky.  The wine and beer was warm, there was this odd mist being sprayed over the crowd (hello? humidity and mist…not good for the hair thank you) and too many people stuffed into the same patio area. Our escape?  We made a break for it to the lovely air-conditioned Hooters directly across from us.  Yes, I said it – HOOTERS.  Cold beer, better attitudes.

Rendezvous.  No Rendezvous for me! After jumping from one supplier reception to another and then grabbing a late dinner – Rendezvous was just out of my planner budget, and I needed some sleep!

Day 4 – Tuesday

General Session with Joe Calloway and Kelly Cutrone (People’s Revolution).

Having Kelly Cutrone as part of the general session on Tuesday was a great way to connect with the younger (MTV) crowd. I personally enjoyed Kelly much more on stage that I did on TV!

A few takeaways from Kelly…

  • All steps forward are good steps.
  • Good ideas with great input, become great ideas!
  • Changing & innovating until you reach your successful end point.
  • Take that big risk; don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Repeated failure can lead to success.
  • Find your own way around the barriers, people won’t remove them for you!

And of course, Joe’s motto – There’s no try, there’s only do or do not!

St. Louis Promotional Lunch with Comedian Kathleen Madigan

One word – HILARIOUS! This portion of the lunch was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits and get the room laughing. Kathleen is hysterical. I’m already looking forward to WEC12 in St. Louis!

Richard Petty Race Car Driving – Officially the BEST Offsite Insights experience! Suited up, racing down the speedway at 145 miles per hour…I couldn’t stop smiling.  The one thing to remember next time? Sneakers. The venue DID have extra sneakers (and socks) on hand for those dressed in sandals, or I might have been out of luck! (Never did see that in the paperwork when I signed up.)

As we lined up, thankfully  I was close to the front, as the skies did open up and it poured down on us. Unfortunately, the last 5-6 people weren’t able to take the ride, but they did get TWO tickets each to come out and ride another another.  Very generous!

Closing Reception – Universal Studios
Thank you Universal Studios for taking it up a notch. What a great reception! The City Walk was just awesome, and a great way to experience the restaurants, bars and other venues.  The setup kept all of us in one location, but we could easily navigate to other parts of the City Walk to explore without getting lost.  Once the reception was over, we were led to the Hard Rock (let the party begin!).

Fantastic venue, the Hard Rock.  DJ rocked, the band was awesome, the dance floor was packed… To escape the crush of the dance crowd, you could head up to the second level balcony and watch from above.  As you can see from the pic below (slightly blurry), MPI members love to dance.  We took over that dance floor!

Below… it’s a MOB scene at the Hard Rock!

And the number is?

I read yesterday that the MPI numbers for WEC are out! See quoted article below from M&C, posted by Sarah Braley.

Meeting Professionals International has released attendance numbers for its recent World Education Congress, held in Orlando last month. About 2,500 traveled to the convention, with 225 companies purchasing 3,534 hosted-buyer appointments for the new program that replaced the organization’s usual trade show. Further breakdowns of the figures, such as how many planners attended and how many of those planners were hosted buyers, still are being determined. On the smartphone front, the WEC app for iPhone/iPod took the crown, being downloaded 851 times, followed by 465 downloads for the iPad app and 273 for the BlackBerry; just two people with Android phones downloaded that app.

With regards to the WEC app, (and according to @MPITheresa) the stats above were provided by a data report from QuickMobile.  You may notice that there were only two android app downloads reported by QuickMobile.  According to the Android Market report, there were actually a few hundred downloads.  MPI is working out the bugs as we speak.  As a devoted android user, I was one of those “two”.  But a critique of the app will be saved for another day.

WEC Rundown Part 1

I have many, many things to say about MPI’s World Education Congress, held July 23-27 in sunny (and really hot) Orlando, FL.  The good, the bad and the so-so, but I have been struggling to get the message down.  I did take lots of notes, with my trusty notebook and gel roller pen as well as on my laptop. I daresay to the disgruntlement of some session attendees, who did not appreciate my fingers clicking away on the keys.  It’s nearly impossible to be a quiet typist with these nails! I even participated in an #Eventprofs Chat about #WEC11.  But still I struggle to get it all down in some coherent order.  I’m going to start with a run down of the events I attended (two parts) and take it one day at a time.

Day 1 – Saturday

Good grief, could they pack any more sessions, meetings, events, downloads, uploads, networking, etc, into my day?  Hardly had time to make a wardrobe change at the end of the day!  You know you HAVE to make a wardrobe change prior to the evening festivities.  Or is that just me?  Well, that’s what I pack a 50 pound bag for! And not to mention the shoes…

At least this year my flight showed up and I made it to town in time for the opening reception.

Oh, opening reception…you let me down.  We are herded onto a bus, then herded through Epcot, then herded into a building called the Seas.  Everything is fine at first, but then more and more people come into the room.  I start to get claustrophobic (I’m short, I can’t see my way thru the crowd) – panic sets in. Little did I know, and I’m not the only one, there were two other buildings for us to explore.  I’m not sure how I missed this…I wasn’t told, it wasn’t in my paperwork, there wasn’t a sign that I could see.  My Thought: I think as Shuttles are arriving, drop offs (and herding) should have been divided into threes.  So that an even number of people were led into each location. Did MPI attempt to do this, and fail? Unknown.

I escape the madness of the Sea to find a friend of mine who was in “The Land” – which upon arriving, was filled with about 20 people.  Where was everyone?  Then we traveled to another, Imagination – with even less.   Okay, grab a drink and off to the fireworks.  That was so-so, I mean fireworks, you’ve seen one – you’ve seen them all.  I must have heard “Not up to Disney Standards” at least dozen times.

Oh, by the way, did anyone else feel odd about eating fish, in front of the fish?

Day 2 – Sunday

It’s Sunday (at least I think it is, it’s hard to know sometimes).

Best part of the day, General Session with Simon – and understanding the “Why”.  You can read about my thoughts on this HERE.  I enjoyed Simon’s insights, although he WAS wearing jeans, which I guess are frowned upon when attendees wear them.  But, okay – I wore flip flops.  So there.

Off to the Rise Awards Luncheon – Boy do I feel inadequate. I love to volunteer, but wow, this year’s winners really showed me what it means to VOLUNTEER! I was especially impressed with Courtney Stanley, who won the award for Young Professional Achievement.   In all seriousness, congratulations to her.  I wish I knew exactly what I wanted in college and had been that driven.  I’m always impressed by students who just know themselves so well, and find that one thing that really motivates them; drives them to a goal.  It’s amazing.  She will make a GREAT leader in the MPI community!  And after closing her “thank you” speech stating she needs a job, she’ll now be hard pressed to decide which company to work for – I can only imagine the number of offers that will come her way now!

Blitz – This was a great way to showcase the “exhibitors”.  I loved the set up! Walking up and down the convention center with suppliers along the perimeter – perfect for me.  Fun food, fun drinks, fun people.  Even penguins, an alligator, and a sloth?  Although, it did get a little tight and I had to escape the crowd of people around the Keno game.

The Big DealLet’s play some poker! Caesars Entertainment, Hilton Worldwide and Encore Productions did a great job setting this event up. Loved the Hilton VIP Tent, the live music, and oh yeah – the poker tournament!  Poker isn’t my thing, for some reason I’m just not good at adding up to 21 under pressure.  Okay, correction.  Just realized how little I know about cards, Blackjack is about counting to 21!

What was this tournament all about?  The MPI Foundation of course!

And one lucky tournament player won a $10,000 seat to play at the 2012 World Series of Poker® Main Event.

The odds are stacked in favor of the meetings and events industry since all proceeds from The Big Deal go to fund scholarships and grants.  Even our very own MPI NENY Past President, Doug McPhee, CMP, CMM got in on the action!

Below… The last table standing…

The winner? Congratulations to Eli Gorin, CMP, (pictured center) vice president of global client relations for ABTS Convention Services, for winning The Big Deal at the Hilton Orlando, presented by the MPI Foundation. Gorin earned a $10,000 seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2012. Greg VanDyke of PSAV finished second in the tournament, with Nick Topitzes of PC Nametag finishing third. (Source: WEC Onsite Magazine)

Part Two

What’s Your Why?

Attending the recent MPI World Education Congress in Orlando has inspired me – one of the inspirational talks I attended was the General Session presentation by Simon Sinek, who presented us with several ideas, including understanding ideas like WHY?, leaders vs. visionaries, inspiration, and loyalty.

First a little bit about Simon…
Simon Sinek
is leading a movement to inspire people to do the things that inspire them. His goal is to help as many people as possible understand WHY they do what they do, so that they are better able to only do the things that inspire them.  The most efficient way to do this is by helping organizations understand their own WHY enabling everyone who works for the organization to leave every night feeling inspired and fulfilled.

WHY? – According to Simon, Meeting Professionals are our world’s last line of defense! Oh so true; nothing can replace the human connection achieved face-to-face at an event or meeting. For example, you might think bloggers spend their days interacting online only, but consider this, last year 20k bloggers descended on Las Vegas for a blogging convention. WHY? Because of the human interaction we all need.

Leaders vs. visionaries – what’s the difference between a leader and a visionary? Leaders can clearly communicate what they believe; they have an undying belief in what they say. Visionaries are not always leaders, they may be able to talk (a gift of gab) – but not always great at communicating a true belief.

Inspiration –Those who inspire, work from the inside out.  They focus on the Why first, then the How and finally the What.  The WHY creates authenticity, which leads to loyalty.  Simon’s example company was Apple.

  • WHY: We believe in thinking differently.
  • HOW: We make computers.
  • WHAT: Want to buy one?

Loyalty – Companies like Apple, breed innovation and inspiration. Steve Jobs doesn’t tell people what to make, he provides an area for great ideas to happen.  Leaders don’t create ideas; they allow others to do so.

It is my hope, as President of MPI NENY this year, that our chapter provides an opportunity for members to lead within this industry; to allow others the opportunity to create good ideas and for the leaders to help turn them into great ideas!  Being a part of the Chapter Leadership or a Committee gives each of us the capacity for leadership doors to open and the great ideas to follow.  I hope that everyone considers a leadership position at some point during their time as an MPI member.  It is truly an inspiration and honor to serve.

People show up because they share the same beliefs as you, not for a plan!

What is your WHY?

A Little WEC11 Love

I’m leaving on a jet plane for #WEC11 (World Education Congress) in less than four weeks! Where has the time gone?  When #WEC10 was over, I thought woefully that I have to wait a WHOLE year before the next one.  Somehow the whole year flew by, and now I have to start planning how to fill my precious few days in Orlando.  With only two days left for early registration, I wanted to share eight reasons (in no particular order) why I love attending WEC!

Education & Professional Development
That’s the biggest draw for me, the education that MPI provides during WEC is probably some of the best education and professional development opportunities around, in my humble opinion that is!  This year MPI seems to be stepping it up another notch, with the rallying cry “Get Smarter“; a more hands on, less talk focus.  Attendees will have access to over 100 educational sessions – my mind spins, as I know I won’t have time for them all.

Events & Networking
To name a few… The Big Deal, Rendezvous, Open and Closing Receptions, Offsite Insights, Puppy Cuddling, Chapter Receptions, Golf Tournament, Rise Awards…and the list seems to go on. Sleep is overrated during this conference!

This year WEC will be held in sunny Orlando, FL, probably one of the easiest places for those on the east coast to access and with the prices on plane tickets going up every day – it’s much more cost effective!

I LOVE Technology. I love checking out all the new shiny toys, tablets, smart phones, applications, tools, etc.  This year MPI has created the HIVE! The HIVE is the new gathering spot, located in the Global Village, for showcasing the latest in event technology. It’s the ultimate show-and-tell stage in which a tech-savvy concierge staff of digital and social media experts shares the latest tech tools and wizardry.

Attending WEC gives you that edge; the edge you can take home with you, use as a Chapter Leader on the MPI Board and use within your own company.  It gives you that boost within your career, takes you up a notch as a professional.  I feel more empowered, a stronger leader, a more prepared professional.  I come away with new resources to make my job easier, ideas to help inspire others and feel more confident!

Every time I attend WEC, I leave feeling inspired and rejuvenated. I have new ideas and my creative juices are flowing.  Attending WEC pumps new energy into the meeting professional world!

No More Tradeshow (Now MarketSquare and Blitz!)
I do appreciate the tradeshow, but I don’t love tradeshows, especially not two days worth of wandering somewhat aimlessly around the tradeshow floor.  Nevertheless, there will be time for supplier to market themselves on the MarketSquare and with Blitz!  MarketSquare is a permanent fixture throughout the entire conference, where suppliers can meet with clients, have a representative talk to attendees or simply gain brand exposure. On top of Market Square, there will also be Blitz! This new addition to WEC is set to provide an additional way to give companies the visibility at WEC, with a designated spot for the evening in the progressive reception; no longer a search-and-find adventure for buyers.

I would be remiss not to mention all the friends you make while attending this conference.  It just amazes me the number of people you meet from all over world, who I now consider not just colleagues, but my friends.  Connections are made and kept; I always look forward to attending so we can meet up again!

Now, why do YOU want to attend #WEC11?