A few hours after Ignite Business Event Expo 2014 opened, the booths were temporarily closed and Jennifer Gilbert, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of New York's Save the Date stood at the podium. She quickly moved beyond her polished image and reminded us that while "the scars don't show" how event planners react during and after setbacks determines success.
Jennifer is a survivor who did not let a vicious attack that she suffered during her early 20s define her. After the attack, when the joy in her life was elusive, she made a conscious decision to create joyous celebrations for others.
Jennifer started in the industry by cold calling on ad agencies and law firms to interest them in event planning services. At a time when corporate event budgets had been cut and many of New York City's freshly renovated venues were empty, Jennifer came up with a new model for event planning. The venues paid her for delivering the clients and her event planning services to the clients were free. Jennifer established what has become a highly successful event planning business through persistence and the same resilience that help her survive and recover from the attack years ago.
Fast forward to 2014 when 111 of the S&P 500 companies have just issued profit warnings. Jennifer advice to event planners is to never let the cycles of the economy intimidate them or dictate their success. She advised event planners to identify what they do well, focus on that and outsource everything else. Invite clients to lunch get them to identify their problems. Offer to help and focus on creative and practical approaches to uncover solutions. Collaborate with suppliers and other event planners, even if they are competitors and forge alliances.
Other take-aways included never take no for an answer. Modify the request based on feedback, persist and "find the yes" - a win-win solution for the client, the supplier and the event planner.
From an interview, here is some of the compelling content Jennifer also shared at Ignite Business Event Expo.
The next morning, after de Vah Quartet started the day with a energizing performance, Canada's David Usher, Artist and Creative Mentor, delivered his keynote focusing on the creative process. He stressed the fact that the Internet was a game changer and creative thinking is now an absolute must to keep abreast of change. Creativity is a skill that can be learned. The key is to be open to new possibilities. Like a child at play, step outside self-limiting rules and boundaries and take risks. In fact, he encouraged attendees to set aside at least 30 minutes every day for brainstorming and creative thinking.
David role modelled risk taking by stepping through the 4th wall, interacting with the audience and inviting one of the attendees up on stage to experiment with a new device that amplifies the heartbeat so that musicians can create music based on the natural rhythm. I thought "Now that's what I am talking about" as David role modelled how to create a compelling presentation by break up the "talking" with video clips, audience interaction, art (in this case songs), and photos.
Practical tips included, when the inevitable setbacks come, accept the fact that fear and resistance are part of the trail blazing process. Suck it up and keep moving. While creativity is essential for coming up with new ideas, a structure to translate ideas into action is essential. Many great ideas are never delivered as enough attention is not given to execution.
This video clip demonstrates David's point that creativity doesn't just flow or happen. It's 95% hard work, dedication and editing. This applies equally to creating new music and planning events.