In my humble opinion, being an event planner can drive you a little crazy sometimes. The long hours and pressure can take its toll and change your attitude. So can all the praise and misdirected appreciation when an event is a huge success.
Over the years I’ve seen ego and self-interest ruin several high caliber event executive directors. When they become bigger than the purpose they serve it is usually fatal to their careers. I understand what it is like, sometimes it is hard not to let it all go to your head. The good event planners that are capable of enjoying a long steady career in the special event industry don’t let it go to their head. They show appreciation for their team and know the importance of staying humble and kind.
You know in the movie City Slickers where Curly asks Mitch if he knows what the secret of life is? That one thing. This is that one thing! Thank you Tim McGraw for so eloquently capturing the secret to life. If you live life this way being an event planner won’t drive you crazy.
Remember that scene…
Photo Credit: Quotesgram.com
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [points index finger skyward] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles and points his finger at Mitch] That’s what you have to find out.
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I spoke to a group of university students studying public relations last week. The students all had an interest in entertainment, special events and sports so the journalism school offered a panel of guest speakers to discuss these types of careers. The program started with a moderator asking questions and then we finished with a question and answer session.
I enjoyed participating in the panel. The students had great questions and were very engaged. During the question and answer session one student asked about networking. He is a DJ that specializes in a very specific type of music. I could tell he was passionate about his work. He said he was occasionally in situations where he was building relationships with contacts at parties, but often the next day he would regret what he did or said because he had been drinking. This young man’s situation is not rare, especially in the service and entertainment industry. These things are bound to happen unless you take extra precautions and know your limits.
This was the networking advice I gave him…
Protect Your Reputation
Do whatever you can to protect your reputation. Then I went on and explained how when I was growing up my mother told me I had a midnight curfew because nothing good happens after midnight. I could see his eyes about to burst out of his head at the thought of a midnight curfew, so I recommended he give himself a curfew around 2:00 a.m., which isn’t bad in this 24-hour town. He is a DJ so it is important for him to be out networking, but it is also important for him to leave before all the drama goes down and people start acting crazy. If people perceive you to be a partier that has too much fun, they won’t perceive you to be a smart expert in your field. Perception becomes reality. People fail to realize how important reputations are to being successful.
There is so many fake people in the world today, it is exacerbated and encouraged by social media and reality television. People can tell if you aren’t genuine. There is a certain sixth sense that most people have that allows them to tell when someone is fake. If you want to build good working relationships and your network you need to keep it real. This doesn’t mean you should over share, it just means you need to be authentic so people will get to know the real you. People like helping and doing business with people they know and trust.
Diversify your Network
Don’t just network at parties and industry events. Every person you meet has something to add to your life. It is important to have a broad network with people from many different fields. Grow your network to include people with different backgrounds, ages, races, religion, political views, special interests and hobbies. You wouldn’t believe how many opportunities I’ve had because a friend mentioned me to a business acquaintance, friend or family member. I recommend joining clubs and pursuing hobbies that will introduce you to people from different circles. Life Lesson: Don’t just make friends at “da club.”
These are just a few words of wisdom shared with the journalism students. I appreciated the student asking such a direct question about networking. One piece of advice that I wish I would have hit harder is to keep an open mind while developing your network. Keeping an open mind and meeting different people in different situations will introduce you to new possibilities you never dreamed of, and will help you grow as a professional. This is a life lesson that once learned can really make a difference.
I have a confession to make… I’m a reality show junkie. I can’t help it. I am addicted. I admit I watch some of the dumbest shows on TV, and I enjoy them! My favorite part of watching reality TV is finding that small morsel of valuable content. The life lesson, the ethical dilemma, the cultural significance, the hidden leadership and management skills are what I’m hunting for when I watch reality TV. It is like “Where’s Waldo?” but instead it is “Where is the hidden lesson?” It is amazing what you find sometimes under the surface when watching these shows, which is why I’m a fan of several shows on Bravo TV and E! Television.
One of my newest guilty pleasures is watching Below Deck on Bravo TV. Right before finals last winter, they had an episode marathon. I needed some downtime and a pick me up, so I watched a whole day of the show. I love boating so I found myself captivated by the boat and crew. I also found so many delicious morsels of content that I was then hooked.
Photo Credit: bitchbybravo.com
The leader on Below Deck is Captain Lee. He is an old school, call it how you see it, pull no punches kind of guy. Service is the number one priority on his yacht, and if you screw up he isn’t shy about calling you out. He also has strong leadership skills and builds a great crew culture during the season. He has integrity and leads by example. Captain Lee is a great character! He always has the best comments and assessments of situations. His advice is right on target. He is so eloquent with his words of wisdom that fans have gone to the internet to document his comments as Captain Lee-isms.
Check out this hilarious Below Deck promo video!
This week I finished watching the most recent season and last night I watched Part 2 of the Reunion Special. Captain Lee shared one of the best life lessons ever during the show. He said “You have only one shot at integrity.” Isn’t that the truth!?! Think of how many people are missing this basic concept in life. Integrity and trust go hand-in-hand. It is all about being honest and fair. I’ve been reflecting on his message a lot today and how it relates to being a professional.
If you don’t act honestly or fairly you can damage your reputation and not get a second chance. Once you make an impression it can stick. When it comes to business deals and relationships there is a lot of value in your integrity. It is incredibly important. Your relationships can often make or break you in business, especially in the special event production industry. No one wants to work with someone they can’t trust that doesn’t have integrity. You either have it, or you don’t.
So there you go. I may be addicted to reality TV shows, but at least I can find the life lessons buried in the fluff.
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This has become my mantra over the last few years when dealing with challenging situations in my career as an event producer. It has also become a lesson I try to teach my interns. Life is messy, it is unfair, and it is chaotic, especially when you work in the special event industry. It is the nature of the beast and you have to learn to deal with it or it will deal with you.
Here is how it works… something ridiculous happens or something happens and you have a better idea but no one will listen. You get frustrated, sometimes to the point of where you want to pull your hair out. What do you do? You say to yourself, or out loud to your closest coworkers, “I’m not in charge.” Then you take a breath and make a decision on how you are going to react to the things you can control and how to accept the things you can’t control. Making a decision about how you are going to react puts you back in the driver seat of your life and gives you control.
You won’t always agree with the people calling the shots, but the only thing you can do is give up or accept that you aren’t in charge and move on. You also need to realize that even when you are “in charge” there are still outside factors out of your control and you need to be able to gracefully handle these challenges. Sometimes when I’m in a situation like this where I am in charge, I’ll crack a joke about “what do I know, I’m not in charge.” Then I give them a big smile so they know I’m teasing them and they realize I am in charge and they better do what I ask. The statement is helpful in both situations where you are in charge and where you are not in charge.
Intern Alli got the message! She wrote this in her blog about interning with us back in 2013. Image Credit: Alli Williams – The Business Casual Life Blog
It might sound goofy but it really works. You can even change the tone, and sometimes add the appropriate amount of sarcasm, in your voice to reflect each unique situation. This all started out as a joke between me and my coworker but it has since grown to become a great way to deal with challenging situations and change. By deciding how you are going to react to the situation you gain a little control over the situation so it doesn’t control you.
I use this statement a lot and it usually gets some laughs from those around me or at a minimum it breaks up the tension. It is self-deprecating in a way, and humbling at the same time, so it makes it easier to see the humor in most situations so you don’t get so angry.
Next time you are in a difficult situation that is out of your control just tell yourself “I’m not in charge” and see if it makes you feel better.