Looking Back While Looking Forward

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As we launch into 2018, let us give gratitude for all of the positive ways events connect us to our world and bring people together for the good of humanity.

When I reflect on 2017 and the meaningful events that I had the opportunity to produce, there is one that stands out above the others.  Over the years I have worked with many non-profit organizations to help them raise money for their cause, but I’ve never had the chance to work on something that hit so close to home.  

Two years ago, one of my son’s best friends had an accident that would forever change his life.  While going down a slide into a pool, he broke his neck and is now a quadriplegic.   This past December, I had the rare opportunity to work with my son to produce a fund-raiser for Alex, which was one of the most rewarding events ever.

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It was an amazing night of giving, friendship and music, and I’m so appreciative for all of the people who helped make this event such a success.  It took a village (and beyond) to pull this together.   Working side-by-side with my son Chris, whose band Freaks of the Sea brought everyone together for an unforgettable evening, was one of the most rewarding experiences of the year for me, and I’m grateful for this.

Stress Management in the Event World

Most people would never guess that Event Planning is listed as one of the Top 10 most stressful jobs to have but if you do it for a living, you know it's a difficult profession to practice “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

Juggling hundreds of details and personalities is not for everyone. It's extremely fast-paced, requires quick thinking and often there is no rule book to guide your decisions.  As event planners we have to learn how to manage the stress if we wish to continue in the industry without losing years off our lives. 

Over the last three decades in event planning, I've worked hard to find ways to manage the stress and keep myself healthy.


Here are my essentials:

 

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  • Exercise:  Whether it’s a daily walk, or a yoga practice several times a week, taking a break to move our bodies is essential to keeping a level head in the midst of chaos.
  • Meditation:  This is a big one.  The hundreds of details that fill our brain at any given time don’t allow us to truly “shut down”.  I’ve recently learned that daily guided meditation (using one of the many available apps) can really clear my head and give me perspective.  Just 10 minutes a day can restore and refresh and help reduce event-related anxiety.
  • Diet:  Pre-event stress really sets in a day or two before the big day and sometimes it seems like the only thing that will get you through is more chocolate, coffee, and a glass or two of wine at night. These might provide some temporary relief and can be fine in moderation, but if we make them our go-to,  our bodies and minds will suffer. Load up on good healthy green salads and juices, and lots of energy-boosting protein.
  • Sleep:  A good night’s sleep contributes to overall well-being and staying sharp but it's often hard to relax, shut down and get the rest we need, especially as the event draws near.  I keep a notepad next to my bed and try to do a ‘brain-dump’ before I go to sleep to release all of the random event details running through my head.  Otherwise, I tend to wake up in the middle of the night with something that I’ve forgotten, and sometimes can’t get back to sleep.

One of my motivations for creating the HipHolster was to keep myself organized on-site and to do away with the stress of misplacing my phone or keys.  Having all of my event essentials on my body simplified the way I kept track of these things and in turn, reduced my stress!

SHOOT FROM THE HIP: Confessions of an Event Producer

Communication overload. 

I have to laugh.  The first major event I produced when I was in my twenties drew nearly one-half million people for the largest one-day event in Portland. The year was 1984.  No computers.  No cell phones. No FAX machines. No voice messaging systems.  Just a stack of pink “While You Were Out” notes with phone calls that needed to be returned.  How did we do it?  We just did.

We had planning meetings, and then everyone left and did what they said they would do.  A few phone calls and meetings, and that was it.  No going back and forth 20 times to review the smallest details.

I often miss those days.  Technology has certainly made things simpler in many respects, but it’s also made simple tasks more complicated.  Too often, people are offering up their opinions when not entirely necessary, but because of the computer, everyone gets copied on all emails when most people don’t even have time to think about one more thing.

The solution?  More concise and timely communication, and well-defined roles and responsibilities.  And how about just picking up the phone and solving a problem on the spot?  Now THERE’S an idea!