Hotel beds

I landed in Puerto Rico last night for our week long event. As with every travel trip – I unpack, put my bags away and try and settle in for the week.
And when we aren’t working – we’re sleeping.
And because I’m a creature of habit, this is what my bed looks like all week.
I could spread out. I could sleep in the middle. But I don’t. I sleep on my side like a robot.

Thought you’d like to know!

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2015 day 19

What’s up buttercups? Whatcha been up to for the last two weeks? You’ve taken down the tree? The lights? The cheer? We are holiday gear and cheer free. And loving it. Bring on the dark, cold days of winter! I’m nuts right? Here’s a recap of what’s been on my mind and in my world (I know, again with the recap – but this is what I can manage right now. It’ll get better)

  • Work has been crazy super busy, but in a fun way. Can you relate? The great thing about events is that you get to see everything you planned come to life. The scary thing about events is that you get to see everything you planned come to life. For good, bad or OMG. Work that my team has been doing for, in some cases, over a year – will come to life. Wish us luck! I’ll post photos along the way.
  • On New Year’s Eve we kept it really low-key. We invited one of our favorite families over to ring in the new year. They brought all kinds of goodies – but the goodiest of the goodies was a box of Magnum ice cream bars. Why hasn’t anyone ever told me about this? Why isn’t this the only thing people talk about? Anyone else addicted?
  • My husband and I are well on our way to seeing all the Oscar movies. Current fave is Whiplash with American Sniper close behind. Although Imitation Game is amazing. And Boyhood. Boyhood was really really good too. And I can’t forget Birdman. Or Grand BudaPHESHT Hotel. Up next for us is Selma and Theory of Everything. And then maybe I’ll pick up a book or talk to my kids.
  • My girl made the cut for her school’s production of Les Miserable – she’s proudly in the pit playing keyboards. I can’t tell you how excited I am. She doesn’t know this but I’ll be helping her practice. I’ll play the part of Cosette, Fantine, Javert and Jean Valjean. I can do it! What – it’s not about me? Sure it is.
  • Had dinner in Philly with our New York friends and laughed so much I made an ugly face – ever do that? He sent me a cute photo of himself which I’m sharing below (also sharing my ugly laugh face which my husband captured).
  • My kids continue their love affair with our cat Lexi. Once in a while I ask both of them to send me photos they’ve been taking – I find that 99% of them are Lexie shots. I shared one below so you can see the love, attention and detail that goes into their photo shoots.
  • The other 1% are silly selfies taken by my son (wonder where he gets that habit from).
  • I also included a small pic of my man giving me some love. Just cause.
    I have been dying to tell you all that. In my heart I’ve been writing the blog every day. In reality I’ve punked out. But as I say to my kids when I forget to pick them up from somewhere, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. It just means that I got caught up in some TV. xoxo

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No ask too many questions!

Years ago, when a large part of my job involved literally making invites ( or melting hot wax in a spoon at midnight in the corporate cafeteria to seal those invites- true story) we would scour NYC for the best of everything. We knew the really good paper houses. We knew which store had the perfect envelopes. We knew where to get great flowers and even prettier vases. We spent hours on font styles and spacing. Hours. But that’s what happy insane planners in their twenties do. Right? I’m sure the Millennials are confused. Oh you of Etsy luxury. You have no idea what it means to be really grass roots. Or maybe you do. I dunno. I’m just a middle-aged Gen Xer trying to get by.
Wait, what was I talking about?
It was so nice in the city today that I walked to a further train station than usual and passed a small, stationary shop. It reminded me of the shops we would haunt and hunt in. My favorite of these oldies was a ribbon store on 28th Street or 29th street. That’s right people. A ribbon shop. Imagine a world without Michaels or AC Moore. Before The Knot or even Martha Stewart Magazine. There was/is a little shop devoted to ribbons. You can look for hours for ribbons for weddings, for gifts, for your hair – whatever you want. What you can’t do is “ask too many questions”. All along the walls are small, but clear signs,” no ask too many questions”.
To this day if one of my kids is badgering me, or if my husband is interrogating my trip to the store – this is what I think in my head. NO ASK TOO MANY QUESTIONS!

Peace out NOLA

The conference ended yesterday and we all headed home after a long 7 days. Like every major event there are highs and lows.

High – we registered 755 people in 5 hours one day. That’s 151 people an hour. About 3 people a minute. No one had to wait. Not one person/family waited on line. That’s miraculous. Also miraculous? We fed, entertained, moved, and formed relationships with this group.

Low – I won’t go into the depth of how horrible the hotel was. It was a case study in bad service. If I were a hotel GM, I’d send my staff there to see how horribly wrong it could get.

In the end, and this is what I told my team, the odds were with us.

Because we had almost 800 people – not everyone had the same experience. Some folks loved the food, some hated it. Some folks made the best of New Orleans – some locked down and never went out. There were smiling faces in the crowd. Many of them.

I know my role on site. I’m the complaint department. I get it. I own it. I went on a daily apology tour, but that’s my job. That isn’t what I’ll remember. I’ll remember hugging a lot of people on the last day. I’ll remember the kind words we all heard. People telling me how amazing and committed my team is. I’ll remember laughing every single day with that team. Laughing hard.

New Orleans didn’t let me leave without a fight either. Flight delays. Turbulence. A missed 4th grade concert. I won’t even tell you about the hit and run I saw while waiting for my car to the airport. Another story for another day.

Here’s some random pics. The ballroom before and after. A beautiful plate of oysters (just because I won’t eat it doesn’t mean I’m not impressed by it!). My first Jamba Juice (too sweet). The stepping stone clings we had all over the hotel – helping people find their way. And then my view on the plane. A thick, cloudy fog that opened up to pockets of sun.

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New Orleans – Day 2

What’s wrong with a day that starts with fried dough? Nothing.
Today was full of set-up and prep.
For all of you who dream of the glam world of events – our day started at 7am and just ended at midnight. Super sexy right?
Here’s a look at some highlights.
We had some amazing beignets, saw some colorful characters on Bourbon street, and began the event set up.
And ofcourse , we had the all staff meeting. When we get everyone in a room and boss them around for an hour. Look at how excited they all are. Not.

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Roots-Trees-Forest

That’s a mantra I heard from a speaker at our last conference. The talk was about leadership. So simple and clear. A good leader has to see the roots, the trees and the forest. Got it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Something about the idea bothered me.
It’s a perfect concept for leadership. Don’t be stuck in the weeds. Don’t get bogged down by the minutiae.
Except that for events it’s all wrong. An event is all about the roots. The dirt. The seed. You start at the top and then you deconstruct.
You focus on every little detail.
Minutiae is my life.
You know that expression “stuck in the weeds”? I’m living in the weeds. So for all you future event planners out there – here’s the truth – Events is weeds, roots and dirt. You’ll be in it. All the time. Knee deep.
I should be a motivational speaker.
I get very reflective on 5 hour flights to the West Coast.
Here’s what I saw outside my window while writing this. Forget the roots – I’m up in the clouds. Oh the irony.

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Ernie Banks Moment

Next week is the first big conference at my new job. And since we are the event and conference group, it’s my team that runs it all. We get the credit or the blame – whichever way it goes. Most of the team is seasoned and has done multi day events before, but it’s the first time at the event for the new CEO. So everyone is nervous. We had our first big walk through yesterday and it went amazingly well. The team is buttoned up and ready – but they are still panicked that they’ll miss something. So I shared my favorite “I think I missed something” story (have I already shared this? If yes, sorry, go surf the internet and come back tomorrow).
Years ago I was doing my first big event in a new job, for two very – ahem – challenging bosses. The event was an interview with Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks. The event was in mid-February in downtown Chicago. Already fun right? For months I stressed about the venue, the weather, the staging, and whether anyone would actually show up to this thing. Did I mention it was crazy expensive? It was. I found the right interviewer for Ernie. I made sure we were taping it so we could use it again for something – look at me being cost effective! No stone was left uncovered!
Cut to the morning of the event.
I had flown in with one of my bosses the night before and had a nice, passive aggressive dinner where she reminded me how important it was that I don’t mess up.
Gulp. Yummy.
The next day, I woke up at 5am – even though we weren’t setting up until 1pm – in a cold, hard sweat with one thought:
I never invited Ernie Banks to the Ernie Banks event!!!!!!!!! Omg!!! WTF??!!
I had visions of how it would go down.
Instead of facing the humiliation, I would just head to the airport and go home.
There were other jobs, I thought.
How could I have forgotten to invite him?
But of course I did.
Ernie was all set to go.
But I was so freaked that I actually called his house at 6:30…I forced myself not to call at 5:30. His housekeeper picked up and I pretended to be his car service and asked,” is a 6pm pick-up ok for Ernie tonight?” She said he was all set and hung up.
Real story.
Please note that this didn’t happen in my first few years as a planner. I was a so-called professional at that point.
Every planner has an Ernie Banks story, it’s part of the job.
Moral of the story – you invited Ernie Banks. Everything is ok.

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