Instant Friends!

Hi all! For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, you can catch a recap of the magical night at the Opry that KP and I had last night in her post titled The 4593rd Grand Ole Opry. It was seriously amazing. I can’t even express how great a performer Eric Church is in person. He sounded just flawless, on stage alone with his guitar. Anyhow, for all the details just click the link above. Right now I am moving on to the next day…

On Sunday, we had a bunch of touring and activities planned, so it was up and at ’em bright and early. We stopped at Starbucks for coffees first thing, of course. We then headed to the check in point for the walking tour we had scheduled. When we got there, the man at the tour booth told us that our reservations had not come in to him, and that there was no one there to give the tour. After a couple minutes of him scrambling and trying to figure out what to do, KP suggested that we could ride the hop-on, hop-off trolley instead. He agreed and booked us onto the 10:45 trolley tour. He then looked around, and realized we might be able to get onto the 10 AM tour instead (which would work really well for our very packed day of sightseeing). We went to see if we could catch the trolley at the second pick up location, but as we rounded the corner it was pulling away. “Where’s the next stop?” I asked. “I’m pretty sure it is the Ryman Auditorium,” KP answered. “We can totally beat them there”. Challenge accepted. We power walked up Broadway, coffees in hand, praying for a red light for the trolley so we could catch up. It turned the corner towards the Ryman and we were still about a block back. When we rounded the corner, we realized it was still sitting in one spot. The tour guide must have been speaking or waiting to let some people on or off. We both began to run, then stopped when it started moving. KP’s arms were in the air, trying to flag down the driver to wait for us, but he continued to pull away. But wait – he stopped again about a half block later. We both took off and ran. KP reached the trolley first and banged on the side door as the driver was readying to continue along the route. He opened up and let us on, while the rest of the passengers giggled at our unkempt appearance.

The rest of the trolley tour was rather mellow, though not unexciting. We got to learn a bunch of fun facts about some things we had already seen, and we did get to go a couple places that we had not yet made it to. Check out the list below for some fun tidbits or places we got to visit.

– We drove through Nashville’s Bicentennial Mall, which is basically a large park full of Tennessee-related monuments. It was built to celebrate Tennessee’s bicentennial anniversary.
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– We stopped briefly in front of the Nashville Farmer’s Market, which is supposed to be worth a visit. This is one of the places we likely won’t get to wander this time around, but it is definitely on the list for my next visit to Nashville.

– Any Toby Keith fans out there? Have you ever heard his song “I Love This Bar”? Well… it starts off with “We’ve got winners, we’ve got losers. Chain smokers and boozers…”. Guess what! There are a couple bars in Nashville that are side by side, called “Winners” and “Losers”. They are what he is talking about in the song. Also, Toby Keith penned that song at our favourite hangout on Broadway, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Why can’t we just stumble across Toby Keith writing a song at some random bar? Click here to check the song out if you don’t know it.

– There was a building without a sign that I totally saw on Music Row yesterday and thought was important. Guess what! It’s Reba McEntire’s talent management headquarters. Stars like Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson, to name a few, are clients. Also, fun fact: Faith Hill was a secretary here before she hit it big.

– Did you know that Nashville has a to-scale replica of the Parthenon? It was built once upon a time when Nashville was being promoted as “the Athens of the South”. This is the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon in the entire world. KP and I were very excited to visit this place as it is one of the locations Percy Jackson visits in The Lightning Thief. Yes, that’s right – we are SUCH teen fiction fangirls. When the trolley driver asked if any of us wanted to hop off for a quick picture, we may have leapt up with an emphatic “YESSS!!!” and skipped off of the bus. This was one of the places we wanted to visit, but weren’t sure if we’d get there as it was a bit of a trek, so this was definitely the silver lining of missing out on our walking tour. KP’s luck balances out again – walking tour cancelled, but we get to go to the Parthenon. It was a good trade off.

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This tour deposited us back near the hostel, so we decided to head back there for a little while to spend some time catching up on blog posts and to eat our groceries instead of going out for lunch. I know KP already wrote about our hostel in Fangirling – Nashville Edition, but I just want to throw my two cents in. I really like this place – the main area has such a nice open concept, which makes it into a wonderful gathering place for anyone who is staying there. We have always felt totally at home in the common area, whether blogging, having a couple beers, playing pool, cooking, or hanging out with some fellow hostellers.

One thing we accomplished while back at the hostel was leaving a note for our new roommates to meet us at Tootsie’s that night. Our previous roommates had moved out that morning, so we were hoping we might get someone new in the evening. If you’ve read our blog posts from San Francisco, you’ve probably heard about our failed roommate note attempt. Since then, KP and I have decided that we want to continue to do this and hope for a positive result sometime! So we wrote a note with a link to a post, which you can see here.

The next thing on our jam-packed itinerary for the day was a tour centered around ABC’s TV show, Nashville. KP has covered that portion of the day in her posts Nashville’s Nashville and Is it still stalking if you’re paying for it?, so you should definitely go and take a look at all the cool places we got to see on that tour (for example, somewhere Rayna stood that one time. Deacon might have been there too. Just kidding, I LOVED the tour). While we were waiting down by the water, we looked over at this red piece of “art” across the river, and saw someone doing a photo shoot or filming a music video. Not sure who they were or really what they were doing, but check it out for yourself:

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After we finished our second tour of the day, it was off to a hockey game for us! We made a quick stop at the hostel to drop off the souvenirs we purchased, then made our way to Bridgestone Arena for a game between the Nashville Predators and the Minnesota Wild.

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We had a dinner of hot dogs shortly after arriving at the game, and were in our seats well before puck drop. Now, I’ve been to hockey games in a lot of places. I even used to help run the Oiler games in Edmonton. I have to say, this game in Nashville was probably the weirdest I’ve ever been to. I swear we needed a script to understand what was going on with the crowd. Luckily, we had a nice local lady beside us that didn’t mind translating. Some examples of the weirdness:

  • When announcing the starting line up for the opposite team, the entire crowd had coordinated responses. It went something like this:
           Announcer: The starting line up for the Minnesota Wild tonight – Ryan Suter!
           Crowd: Booooooooo!
           Announcer: Jonas Brodin!
           Crowd: Booooooo!
           Announcer: Nino Neiderreiter!
           Crowd: Sucks!
           Announcer: Mikael Granlund!
           Crowd: Sucks!
           Announcer: Jason Pominville!
           Crowd: Sucks!
           Announcer: Marek Mazanec!
           Crowd: And he sucks too!
  • Whenever someone on the other team got a penalty, the entire crowd started making this gesture with their hand – no, not that kind of gesture! – the lady next to us explained that they were making their mascot’s teeth, since he is a saber-tooth (obviously).
  • Speaking of mascots, Gnash was totally the highlight of the game for me. He rode in on an ATV, taking a jump onto the ice! What a daredevil! There was one point that he did a choreographed dance routine that lasted for probably at least 5 minutes, and he went ALL OUT. I tell you, there’s nothing like a mascot doing the dance from Thriller.
  • Whenever the announcer let us know that there was a minute remaining in the period, the entire crowd answered “Thanks Paul!”. So polite of them, don’t you think? Especially in contrast to the way they treated the starting line up.
  • The crowd booed loudly everytime Suter touched the puck. Our host sitting next to us explained that they were mad at him because he didn’t give Nashville a chance to counter the offer he took from the Wild. I’ll admit, I’ve been in buildings before when something like this happened, but this crowd was REALLY committed.
  • When we hit the end of the game and Nashville hadn’t scored a goal, I had to ask our host what their goal celebration was like. After hearing her description, I am extremely sad I didn’t get to see one. Apparently they play “I Like It, I Love It” by Tim McGraw and cut to a video of him wearing a Preds jersey and singing. Then they call out the rival goalie telling him he sucks and that it’s all his fault.

Weird right? I’m sure there are other examples but I just can’t think of any more. That being said, those should be more than enough to illustrate my point. In the midst of all the craziness, KP and I found time to get another snack – a S’more Waffle. While KP was waiting in line for that, I jumped over to another vendor to grab a coffee. On my way there, I ran into a girl we had met the day before at Blush -you can read about it here. She had told us she was coming to the game, and that she was on a blind date. She joked that we may need to save her from it, but she didn’t give me the signal so I guess it was all going well. I’m really starting to feel at home in Nashville, running into people I already know! Anyhow, here is a picture of our S’more Waffle. It was magically delicious. We’ve decided we need to start eating more waffles. S’more waffles, chicken and waffles, waffle everything.

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After the game, we filtered out and went to our favourite hangout – Tootsie’s! It is located right across the street from Bridgestone Arena, so extremely convenient. Also, we knew that our favourite band ever, Orio and the Goodfellers, was playing again and we had told lead singer Anthony that we would come see him once more. If you don’t already know the story, check out KP’s blog post here to read about the first night we met him. This time, we walked into the bar and within minutes had picked up drinks and somehow managed to get our same seats at the bar as before, despite the fact that the place was relatively packed. A different band was playing as it was still early, so we settled in to wait and enjoy the music. It wasn’t long before a couple of guys came to ask us to dance – one from Boston, and one from England. We discovered within minutes that we were all staying at the same hostel – instant friends!!!! We danced and laughed and KP tried to teach Tom (the Brit of course) to two-step. After a few songs, we all made our way back to our seats at the bar to hang out, but it wasn’t long before the guy from Boston disappeared for the night. Poor Tom was just stuck with us! It turned out that he was fairly nerdy, kind of an ass, a Slytherin, and (of course) British, basically making him KP’s soul mate. We ended up spending a fair amount of time with Tom over the next couple days. He totally thinks we’re the most fun ever (if he’s reading this and says differently, it’s totally not true).

Around 10 PM, it was time for Orio and the Goodfellers to take the stage. We were excited. While he was setting up his equipment, Anthony recognized us and waved emphatically from the stage. I waved back enthusiastically, and Tom looked over and asked me what was up. I then informed him that we were about to see our favourite band ever, and that we would be staying until 2:30 AM. It wasn’t long before we heard a shout out from Anthony over the microphone in the midst of sound check – “Hey Canada! How was Eric Church?!?”. We shouted back at him, trying to express all of our Eric Church related excitement in a cross-the-bar conversation over a country rock band. Throughout the night, he made a couple “Canada” and “Alberta” references… Since, you know, we were his favourite people in the room.

The night was just as much fun as the last time we were at Tootsie’s. We bought a different album from Anthony and had him sign it. Personalized, no big deal. Actually, I should say that I went to buy the album and returned with it still in plastic wrap. KP looked at it disgustedly and said “That doesn’t look signed to me”. Silly me! I turned right back around and relayed the message to Anthony. He laughed and pulled out his Sharpie for an autograph. We also got a typical fangirl picture taken with him.

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One of the highlights of the night was when KP and I looked over and recognized the funny flail-dancing businessman from our last Tootsie’s experience standing in the same place he had been standing on Friday night. He was just as excited to see us again. We all chatted for awhile before he moved on to another bar. See? Just running in to people I know all over the place!

We spent the rest of our evening rocking out to the musical stylings of Anthony and his band, while Tom judged us for our country music knowledge, and for tipping Anthony $20 for our hours of enjoyment (and to hear Springsteen – we needed to hear some Eric Church to relive the previous night’s magic). We made friends at the end of the night with a random fangirl who seemed to be enjoying the band as much as we were. When I asked, she told me that her sister had been visiting Nashville 8 months before and had just fallen in love with Orio and the Goodfellers, so when she was coming to visit, she knew she had to see them play. KP and I closed out the night rocking out right in front of the stage with this random girl while Tom alternated between looking on judgementally and epically failing at country dance.

When the bar finally shut down for the night, we made our way back to the hostel with Tom in tow. The three of us spent a bit of time in the common area having a snack and drinking some water before it was off to bed. After all, there are still more adventures to come.

When we got to our room, everything was still as we left it – so despite the fact that our roommates hadn’t shown up, KP’s heart wasn’t broken like that time in San Francisco.

Love KG

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Welcome new roommates!!

Hello new roommates! Just a quick note to say hello and that we are excited to meet you.

We are two Canadian girls named Kristin and Kristin. Yes, that’s right. We have the same name.

Welcome to Nashville if you are just arriving. We will be at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (on Broadway and 5th) tonight after the Predators game, watching one of the best music acts we’ve found here. Come on out and join us!

Here we are so you can recognize us! These are even today’s outfits to make it easy.

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Hope to see you tonight!!

-Kristin and Kristin

Better than that time we walked through Tenderloin

I can scarcely believe KP and I have been staying in our hostel in downtown Nashville for only one night. Yesterday was just one long and exciting day, and you can read up on everything after the end of my conference in KP’s post “Fangirling – Nashville Edition”. We certainly had a bit of a long and rowdy night, so slept in today. For us, this just means we were both awake and moving no later than 10 AM. We had big plans for the day! And lots of walking to do!

Now, for some of you the title of this post may be a little confusing. But for those of you that remember our time in San Francisco, you may know that we have a tendency to walk everywhere. One of those times, we accidentally walked though the Tenderloin area in San Fran – not exactly family friendly. Walking around in Nashville was nothing like that. Despite the fact that we forgot to ask someone to highlight and circle any areas we should not walk through on our map, we did not have any issues.

First thing in the morning, we stopped at the hostel front desk on our way out to print all the various tickets to the various things we had hastily planned for the rest of our trip. These included tickets for the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium tonight, so we wanted to make sure we had everything ready ahead of time. It took about half an hour, but the guy working at the front desk finally figured out how to print what we needed. We then hit the road and headed to Starbucks for our morning coffee (or in KP’s case, chai latte). Next we hopped on a free bus that was to take us to the Gulch, an up and coming trendy neighbourhood in Nashville.

I’d just like to take a minute here to discuss these free buses. Literally no one has mentioned these buses to us other than the shuttle driver from Opryland to downtown the other day, who just happened to mention it in passing (THANK YOU SIR). If I worked at a hostel, literally the first thing I would do would be to tell my new arrivals all about this awesome free bus system to help you get around Nashville! Here’s a map of where you can go:

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It really is free! I just wanted to make sure any future Nashville tourists that stumble across this post know all about the Music City Circuit.

We got off the bus at the edge of the Gulch, and wandered around the area. It wasn’t long before we stumbled upon Blush and spent approximately an hour and $400 on clothes and boots there. Fine… I’ll admit, I went a little crazy. But I still think it was a score. It was actually a little hilarious since this store was totally geared towards both KP’s style and my own – quite the feat considering we tend to go different directions. My style icons include Taylor Swift and Scarlett O’Connor, while KP’s main inspiration is Harry Styles. One day you’ll see us recreate this photo of Taylor and Harry together:

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We also had the greatest interactions with the two girls that worked there. One of them was Nashville born and raised, and the other was actually originally from Canada! We ended up standing around for a few minutes even after we had paid and just chatting and joking around. Shopping at this store was just such a wonderfully positive experience for us!

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Next, we headed on to Music Row. This is an area just away from downtown Nashville that is famous for a very high concentration of music industry related businesses, from labels to talent agencies to entertainment lawyers. It actually was much closer to the Gulch than KP and I had thought, and before long we were wandering the quiet streets of Music Row.

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Most of the businesses in this area are crammed into little houses, though there are a few exceptions that exist in sprawling compounds. Many houses were available for sale and lease, and KP and I spent much of the walk discussing which of the houses we would like to have, and what we would do with it. We decided a small record label couldn’t possibly be that difficult to start up. I mean, we’d only need to do well enough at it so that Simon Cowell would want to buy it from us eventually, then we’d wash our hands of the whole thing. Not too crazy, right?

When we reached the end of one side of Music Row, we continued along to Hillsboro Village. We had heard this was a trendy area of the city, and who doesn’t love to follow a good trend? When KP and I found the Hillsboro area, I looked around and said “We have found our people!”. There were fun and fashionable-looking stores, intriguing restaurants, and many young people wandering around.

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We made a beeline for lunch at the Pancake Pantry, which KP had read about. It was supposed to be absolutely amazing (and it was). She had also read that it was almost famous for its long lines, so we were pretty excited about the fact that there were only two groups ahead of us when we arrived. Before long, we were seated and poring over their huge menu, consisting mostly of pancakes and waffles. I ended up getting the Georgia Peach Pancakes, and KP got the Sweet Potato Pancakes. We ordered a plate of hashbrowns to share. I think this was one of the best meals I have had this trip. It was cheap, delicious…. and not overly healthy. Regardless, I would return to this place any chance I get.

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After lunch, we wandered around a few stores in Hillsboro, and decided it was about time to head back up the other side of Music Row and catch the bus back to the hostel. We had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry tonight and wanted to make sure we had a bit of downtime before we needed to go! We made it back and spent a couple hours catching up on blogging and getting ready for the big night. KP covered the rest of the day in her blog post, The 4593rd Grand Ole Opry.

Love KG

“The Hot List”

After Thursday night’s (relatively tame) shenanigans, I was glad to be able to sleep in a little bit later on Friday than the previous couple days. I had a ticket to a session called Michael Cerbelli’s The Hot List beginning at 9:30. I didn’t really know what to expect, but from what I had gathered it was a decently big deal. I had no idea what I was in for.

I rolled in only a few minutes early, crappy hotel room coffee in hand. The room was a large banquet hall with probably 1500 seats set up in front of a massive stage. There were large screens on either side of the stage that were running a “pre-show” video. It wasn’t too long before the crowd settled in and the show began. Basically “The Hot List” was a collection of items, entertainers, and concepts that Michael Cerbelli thinks the event world should know about. I can’t quite figure out how to write about all of this, so I guess I will just pull out my favourite things from the show.

The first segment was something that was created and produced to target our event specifically. I can’t really explain what it is, but I can link to a video of what was performed for us live on stage. I really think this is worth a watch, especially if you are involved in planning events of any kind. Here it is, the performance by the talented Steve Connell. This was one of my favourite parts of the show.

In the following couple hours, Cerbelli acted as host to a variety of acts, from an Australian operatic man band, to extreme Pogo-ers, to glow dancers, to the world champion of magic, to moving mechanical contraptions, and much more. Cerbelli also shared with us a variety of unique products that could help to make any event a success. This entire show was fascinating, informative, and fun.

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After this show, I attended my last session of the entire conference. “5 Things Every Event Professional Needs to Know About Leadership” with Nan S. Russell was a session full of very useful information. Nan herself was very knowledgeable about the topic and encouraged discussion and questions throughout the hour and a half. Leadership is a valuable skill and quality to have in almost any workplace, and especially in events, given the importance of people and communication skills to this industry. This session was a great way to end off my time at The Special Event 2014, but I am sad that it is over.

As soon as I was done, I met with KP by the fire in the Magnolia lobby of the hotel, and we took the shuttle downtown to check into our hostel for the weekend. This was the start of many new adventures! I was finally able to actually be a tourist in Nashville. To read about the rest of the day on Friday, check out KP’s post here.

My learnings and favourite things from today:

1. The opposite of trust is control.
2. Great managers don’t manage people – they manage process.
3. “Get them looking where the trick ain’t. That’s the trick.” – Steve Connell

Love KG

Be yourself… or the least offensive version of yourself

On Thursday I woke early again to work my second Hands on Hundred session of the week, at the Masters’ Brunch. This event was taking place at The Rosewall, a new event venue in Nashville. I wasn’t prepared for how lovely the venue would be, even aside from the beautiful decor the planning committee had put together. We were told that the Rosewall was where Taylor Swift’s CMA after-party was hosted – pretty cool to be in a venue like that!

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I spent a couple hours polishing glasses, setting tables, and doing whatever needed to be done to pull the last pieces of the event together. The event itself was short and sweet – there were a couple speeches, and a brunch which smelled delicious (but which we volunteers did not get to eat). We did, however, get to sit at the bar chairs so that we had a view of the speakers, so that was pretty neat.

On the bus back to the hotel, I made friends with a girl from Arkansas that I had been volunteering with all morning. We chatted about events and our jobs and which sessions we had been to so far. When we arrived at the hotel, she and I grabbed a quick lunch together prior to heading to our separate courses. I now have someone to look up whenever I’m in Arkansas!

My first session of the day was “How to Sell Out Your Next Fundraising Event” with Shanon Doolittle. Shanon was a great speaker, and had so many creative marketing ideas to share, that in some cases were specific to fundraising events. I found her session just full of tips and tricks and best practices that I can totally see myself using in the events I currently plan. From business card inserts, to event and auction trailers (a novel idea you can check out here!), I can’t wait to start putting some of these things to use!

My second and last session of the day was “Networking: The Most Important Marketing Tool to Growing Your Business” with Kevin Molesworth. This may have been my favourite session of the entire conference. Kevin was funny, real, likeable, honest and knowledgeable. I laughed and I cried, and he provided some great examples of why networking is important, as well as some tools to become better at it. Networking is not easy, and he knows it, but now I have some ideas of how to take a step in the right direction.

After my last session, I hopped on the shuttle to downtown Nashville to meet KP and go for dinner/take in the local live music scene. You can read about our evening in her post You Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em.

My learnings for today:

1. Be consistent.
2. Focus on the experience – not on the event. Focus on the donor, not on the charity.
3. Branding is not a logo. It’s a feeling – an experience.
4. When networking, be the best version of yourself… or the least offensive version.
5. Write your own eulogy, then live it.

Love KG

Balloons and Fabrics and Confetti, Oh My!

I woke early again the next morning, this time to work my first Hands on Hundred shift of the event. I was to help out at the Opening General Session, greeting people and pointing them in the right direction. This ended up being a really short and low-key event shift, but we did get to see most of the keynote speakers at the session as well. We were whisked away before the end though – we had to head down to the Exhibit Hall to be ready to launch confetti when it was officially announced open.

This leads me to my new favourite thing – Flutterfetti. For those of you who have never heard of Flutterfetti (I hadn’t), it is so much fun. Basically you have these disposable tubes that you can launch confetti from with just a flick of your wrist. It took a couple attempts for me to perfect the technique, but it wasn’t long before I had it all figured out. The Flutterfetti training was pretty intense for our group:

1. We used an empty Flutterfetti tube and walked through the motion with the direction of the lady from Flutterfetti.
2. We had to do a full, normal paced walk through of the technique one by one. The Flutterfetti lady critiqued our movement and we repeated until we got it right.
3. Once we showed her we could do the motion correctly, we each got to have one real practice shot (I launched mine into the wall).
4. We waited for the exhibition to be announced open, and we each got two shots to “throw” into the crowd (I perfected my technique on my final shot, so much that everyone “ooohed” and “ahhhed” over it – I was pretty proud).

Once all this happened, I felt totally Flutterfetti certified. Just saying. I’d really like a certificate actually.

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After this was all cleaned up I was done my shift. I headed up to my room to have a little bit of downtime and then spent a couple hours in the afternoon touring the exhibit hall. I was unprepared for how absolutely magical a special event trade show is. I wandered up and down the aisles in awe of the beautiful fabrics for sale and decor for rent, as well as the unique entertainment ideas and interesting pieces of technology. I was absolutely in my element and totally could have wandered through there for the rest of the day. But before long, it was time to head to an education session!

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My first session of the day was “Better Pitches: Mastering the Unexpected” with Matt Elwell. During this session, we were provided with a bunch of different tools and exercises that improvisers use to deal with the unexpected in any situation. These can be used to build skills that would come in handy in almost any line of work. I was definitely provided with some thing to think about in relation to just general conversation.

My second session of the day was “Contracts & Negotiation III: What You Don’t Know Can Cost You and Your Clients!” with Mona Meretzky. Mona was extremely knowledgeable on this topic, and provided us with many do’s and don’t of negotiating contracts with different groups, whether for venues, vendors, or clients. I found this session extremely informative and most, if not all, of the information will be useful for me on a regular basis.

By the time I finished this session, KP had made it to the hotel! Hurrah! I thought about getting some Flutterfetti to launch for her arrival celebration (because, you know, it’s the best), but that didn’t really pan out. You can read all about her final day in Denver as well as the rest of our evening in her post, It must be my lucky day!

My favourite learnings and tidbits from the day:

1. Plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
2. Always be prepared to embrace an unexpected moment.
3. Ask for more than you expect.
4. Flutterfetti is the most fun thing ever.
5. Event trade shows are better than pretty much any other trade show.

Love KG

Event Conferences are Fun!

I woke up in the morning bright and early to be ready for my first conference day at The Special Event 2014. Professional outfit: check. Notebook and pen: check. Desire to learn: check. I was ready!

I had five sessions and one special event that I planned to go to that day, so my schedule was pretty jam packed. It started off with a long coffee line, forcing me to go somewhere else to order a drip coffee like some peasant. But as soon as I got to my first session, I was in a much better mood.

“New Trends Inspired by Hollywood & Pop Culture” with Hillary Harris was my first session. She is just amazing. Her talk was full of ideas and inspiration for what will be big in events for 2014. I now know how to be on-trend for the year! Some examples: protein-filled breakfasts, morning weddings, fine patterned textiles, craft beers, the colour blue, fish (specifically fluke), switch LED lightbulbs, Pharrell Williams, corduroy furniture, culinary cocktails, and freekeh. Things that are out? Flavoured vodkas, distressed anything, books, burlap & other textured fabrics, and faux leather. Hillary’s session was colourful and funny as well as inspirational and informative – one of my favourites!

I had time for a quick coffee break before the next session – “EXACTLY How to Charge What You’re Worth” with the fabulous Marley Majcher (@thePartyGoddess on Twitter). What an awesome lady! She is funny, humble, blunt, and really knows her stuff. She assures you that no matter how bad things are, she has most certainly been worse off than you. She shares the knowledge she has gained over the years through her various businesses and experiences, and she is incredibly honest throughout it all. She walked us through the method that each of us can use to determine how much we make and how far we have to go to be where we want to be.

My next session, “Spark – Fueling the ‘Whiz Bang’ in Events” by Keri Miller was all about looking for inspiration for event concepts and designs everywhere and always. Keri started off showing us a video that her son had put together that was chock full of photos that were interesting and inspiring in some way. Keri went on to walk us through some of the large events she has worked on that provided great examples of thinking outside the box to make an event unique. I have to say, I’ll be starting more than one event inspiration board on Pinterest after being in this session!

My fourth session of the day was my least favourite – “Strategic Events: Ideas Worth Executing!”. The idea of something on strategic event planning was very alluring for me, but in the end, this session fell a little flat. The “workshop” they were trying to get us to do was confusing and didn’t get the point across as well as the organizers had hoped, but I appreciate the overall message that we, as event professionals, should be coming up with a plan for conveying the key message of the event and getting lasting value from that message.

My final education session of the day was “The Truth About Buying Talent… What You Need to Know”. This session was a panel format, with 3 individuals from the Association for Entertainment Professionals who provided a lot of information and valuable hints about purchasing talent for any size event. I found this session interesting, but was honestly pretty fried by the time I got to it, so I had some trouble focusing.

After this session was over, I went back to my room for a bit and heard that KP’s flight that evening was cancelled as well! That’s three flights from Denver to Nashville in a row via United that had been cancelled. I couldn’t believe it. You can read about her adventures from this day in her post, #strandedinDenver. I did speak to her later in the evening and she let me know that she had things figured out and would arrive in Nashville the next day, if all went according to plan.

It was soon time to join my friend from Boston at the “TSE Starts Here… Whatever Makes You Feel like a Rock Star” event. It was a kick off event for the conference and took place at the hotel, which was handy. There are several showcasing events thoughout the week that serve a dual purpose: as networking events, and as a chance to see many of the things we spend the week talking about put into action.

This event really did do a few things to make you feel like a rock star – there were “red carpet” areas where you could take photos, and a live band that you could do karaoke with (whether you want to take over as lead singer, back up dancer, or even drummer!). There were also impersonators roaming through the audience – Dolly Parton, Elvis, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and more…

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I had a lovely evening meeting a bunch of people from the Boston area and got back to the hotel room in time to FaceTime with KP before bed.

I want to share some of my learnings each day, in my own words (or favourite quotes from a speaker). Here are my favourite pieces of advice from today:

1) For signs of trends to come in events, watch fashion closely – our industry is about 6 months behind them (and your specific area may be even more than that)!
2) The key to charging what you’re worth, is knowing what you’re worth. When you know it, you can sell it!
3) Look for inspiration anywhere, everywhere, and always.
4) Think about entertainment at the very start of the planning process – sometimes later is too late to get and provide what you really want.

Love KG