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!


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?

Celebrating Our Members

Last night was the MPI Northeastern New York awards celebration. The MPI NENY Awards Celebration is the culmination of the chapter’s year and was definitely an evening filled with celebration, as we recognized the talents, skills, accomplishments, and dedication of our members and industry colleagues.

As part of last night’s ceremony, I had to give a speech.  Truth be told, and despite what others might tell you, I did not spend a whole year writing this! I spent at least 2 months, and then changed it two days before the event.  And then added more stuff two hours before the event.  I was so nervous the night before and the day of, I really thought my stomach would revolt. It didn’t help matters that I was speaking last.  But a glass (or two o)f wine later, and I’m good to go. We had a special guest, MPI Chairman Eric Rozenberg (@Yoda18), who flew in from Belgium.  It was our very first international guest speaker.  And if you haven’t heard, he’s on his farewell tour.

As odd as this might be, I wanted to share my speech with the world.  And share a very special video from MPI President & CEO Bruce MacMillan (@BMACMPI) who generously recorded a special message for us about WEC11.

A few words from the new President…

I would like to thank everyone once again for coming out tonight.  The June awards celebration is truly a special time for our Chapter and our members as we recognize their accomplishments.  Congratulations again to all our award winners this evening.  Your volunteer efforts are truly appreciated and I look forward to working with you this year.

Thank you to Eric Rozenberg for coming all the way from Belgium to speak at our event tonight; making our Chapter the last stop on his farewell tour as MPI Chairman. It was an honor to have you here.

Here I am at the beginning, the beginning of my term as President.  I’ll admit this is scary; public speaking hasn’t been my forte.  But Jack Roddy gave me some words of wisdom…I should pray for inspiration or at the very least I should just picture everyone naked and I’ll do just fine.

As I transition into the role of President, I would be remiss not to thank Doug McPhee.  During my time as President-Elect, Doug has truly been an inspiration to me.  He has helped me to listen first, consider all sides, and then make a decision.  He has encouraged and supported me; he is and will remain my mentor.  Thank you again Doug for all that you have done for our board, for our Chapter and for me.  But just so you know, and as Jack can attest, you aren’t off the hook yet.  I’ll have many projects for you going forward!

We all know the saying less is more.  And we also know, good communication is a key aspect to our industry, but do you have the feeling that email is taking over the world?  Or at the very least, it’s replacing the phone call? I’m guilty of emailing my own co-worker while we are in the office at the same time.

In an effort to save your sanity (and mine), one of our goals as a chapter moving forward is to cut back on our emails to you.  The last thing we want is for you to delete an important email or for your server to mark us as spam!  The monthly newsletter will soon turn into a bi-monthly one, with more focus on articles, members, newsworthy items.  We will create a weekly email blast; similar to ones you may receive from International, which will provide links to upcoming events, important info you need now, etc.; condensing our event invites and reminders into one weekly email blast.

We encourage you to utilize our website more.  We will be posting the information you need, the events you want to attend, the people you need to contact, etc. online  Every link you click on will bring you to our website for more details – and for every question you have, as Cindy tells me… It’s on the website.

You may not have heard yet about my love for social media.  Yup, I’m the nerd in the front of the class, waiving her hand frantically to answer the question.  Social Media isn’t just for nerds!  I want everyone in this room to consider for a moment their own social media presence.

Social media IS your friend. No really, it is.  Yes, privacy settings exist, you can block people, you can lock down your profile – but then I wonder, why did you set up an account to begin with?

As a strong proponent of social media, I encourage all of you to follow us on Facebook, to stalk us on Twitter and to speak your mind in our LinkedIn Group (MPI NENY). I don’t expect everyone to be a part of every social networking group available, but business is being done within the social media arena, and you may want to consider being a part of a few (or at least one) – as they aren’t going away any time soon! Some of the best info and networking opportunities I’ve found, I’ve found on Twitter.

I just read this morning that: 56% of those who follow a brand on Twitter indicated they are “more likely” to make a purchase of that brand’s products compared to a 47% lift for those who “Like” a brand on Facebook.  AND Twitter is viewed as the medium in which consumers can directly communicate with the stewards of the brands they are most interested in. (But I digress…)

Keep in mind when deciding which networking communities to join…. “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure!” We are very busy people, so it’s okay to be picky!

Our Chapter is all about Education – consider our chapter slogan, MPI NENY is the bridge to innovative knowledge and connections!  We’ve listened to you, we’ve taken what you’ve said into consideration, and our 2011-2012 educational plan is a strong one.  Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the education committee, led by VP of Education, Deb Goedeke, you will be pleased and surprised with what we have in store for you.  Remember to complete the membership surveys as they come in, as feedback is what drives YOUR education direction.

With your education in mind, I would like to turn to now to the World Education Congress and the MPI Foundation.

Many of you may know about this little conference in Orlando, FL that’s coming up in July.  If you don’t know, you probably should!  This will be my third year attending WEC, and believe me it provides some of the best professional development and education around.

Another great MPI element is the MPI Foundation.  For 25 years, the Foundation has been investing in the people and programs that shape meetings and business events into a $100 billion industry.  With generous donations from MPI Members, the Foundation is able to provide access to grants and scholarships.

The Foundation is there for all of you in this very room.  Recently, one of our very own members was awarded a scholarship to attend WEC.

Life is funny sometimes, and this member would have missed the opportunity if she hadn’t checked her junk mail.  After perusing the “junk mail” she came across an email from MPI whose subject was “Need Financial Aid for WEC?”  The deadline to apply was less than a week away!  Perhaps we should all be checking quarantine more regularly!

She completed the application over the weekend, faxed it in on Monday morning and by 2 PM that day, she was notified that she had been granted the $2,800 scholarship that includes housing, airfare and conference registration. She will also take the CMP exam at the conference.  How fantastic is that? What a great benefit as a member to have access to a scholarship like this.

Join me in congratulating the WEC scholarship winner – Trina Avalos!

To close things up, what’s the deal with WEC?  You might be thinking why should I attend this year?  What’s in it for me?

Let’s hear it directly from MPI International President & CEO, Bruce MacMillan who has recorded a special video just for us!

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.