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?

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!


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” (http://www.atouchofbusiness.com/tips/biz/0130-employee-recognition.html)

  • 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!

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?