Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because no one expects me to buy them crap. It's a time where we can take a break, reflect on what matters and count our blessings. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are some things I've been thankful for this past year.
- Face-to-face meetings. I can surf the Web all day for cool stuff, but it's only in conversation with people that I truly discover anything useful. At PlannerTech, I stumbled upon some interesting tech tools. At IMEX America I finally got face time with people I'd been social media dating for years. At SoMeT there were brilliant ideas about connecting and activating your social communities. At PYM LIVE and the many events I educated at I got to talk with my audience and find out what challenges the meetings industry faces and some of the possible solutions. Even the big fat turkeys — the stinky, creaky, old-school events I suffered through — were worth going to because of the conversations I had and connections I made there.
- The power of communication. Whether it's spoken, emailed or typed up and hung on a wall, words are incredibly powerful. They can educate, set a mood, affect behavior, get people excited, piss them off, close a sale, comfort someone in grief and make a friend for life. I've always valued it. But this year more than any other, I've realized how difficult honest communication can be for some people, especially those in leadership positions. And that's made it easier for me to be compassionate, patient and willing to help people articulate their thoughts and plans of action, both internally, at home and in the field.
- Obsession with content. In marketing circles, this has been the year of "content marketing," which means that people are now trying to sell you things with stories. As annoying as that is, it's great for self-educators because there's a wealth of free material, including fantastic case studies and how-to guides floating around for you to consume on topics ranging from using hybrid meeting technology, to creating social media calendars to, yes, developing your own content marketing strategy. If you stop and think about why you sign up to receive what you want to read and how you stumbled upon it, it will give you fantastic ideas on how to bring potential attendees to your events using little breadcrumbs of content.
- Rise of the storyteller. From the world of event marketing, the importance of having a story for your brand and your public experiences is bleeding into the everyday world of meeting planning, which is very exciting for me to watch. Because it means that in addition to dates, rates and space, everyday planners are beginning to think about the experience people will have at their events and how to weave that storyline through their communication strategy, meeting design and execution.
- My health. Not to be maudlin, but many family friends have passed away this year. More are battling cancer. And most shocking of all, a meeting planner I knew recently died of pneumonia in her sleep while on-site at an event. From what friends told me, she had bronchitis but didn't take the break she needed to rest and recuperate. The result: an annoying cough turned into something fatal. I don't take my mobility or my health for granted any more. And now I'm obsessed with taking frequent breaks to de-stress and recharge. I hope you do the same.
Are you counting your personal or professional blessings? Share them with me in the comment section below.