Archive for October, 2012

Now…. direct from IMEX and the Venetian Showroom in Las Vegas….

What is the future of corporate meetings and incentive travel?  How do we address the challenges facing event planners in the new millenium?  

These are the questions facing attendees of the 2nd annual IMEX event being held now in Las Vegas. Ten thousand professionals have gathered at what is the largest event of its kind ever held in America. I was asked by MPI to provide the educational keynote on the first full day of the conference. Honored and a bit intimidated by the venue – I was preceded by the ever flamboyant, martini-toting Las Vegas  ex-mayor Oscar Goodman and his ‘showgirls’. Dean Martin tunes welcomed me to the stage. I felt more than a bit out of place.

Were these really my people… my fellow professionals?

I must give the audience credit. It became immediately obvious they were there for more than fluff and feather boas. For the next forty-five minutes I explained the essential role that meetings and meeting planners play in today’s world. We have lived as hunters and gatherers for ninety nine times longer than we have as civilized, citified folk. I related that telling stories and learning around the campfire is in our DNA and that today’s meeting professionals are the fire-starters of our modern times, setting the stage for the tales that must be told, person to person. There are tales and truths that cannot be conveyed effectively by contemporary social media. When it comes to the transmission of real wisdom, humans need the kind of spontaneity, multi-sense and omni-dimensionality that only up-close and personal experiences can provide.

But most important was the need for meeting planners – in this era of unprecedented change – to take the ‘spirit of adventure’ into their jobs. To ‘leap before they look’ and be willing to take the kind of risks that bring a meeting to life … and life to a meeting. I urged them to ‘aim high’ and keep the highest goals for both attendees and society. I reminded them to ‘keep on their bearings’, insisting always on the primacy of relationships. And finally to ‘enjoy the view’ – embracing life’s fleeting nature and to fill every day with celebration and appreciation.

For over twenty years I have made the meetings industry my people and the work my adventure. If we do our jobs right we make a difference… not just a living. Feather headdresses and martinis at 9:00 in the morning are entertaining but there are deeper, more important issues to address. And it is our obligation to tackle the hard questions, insist on using the might of the meeting to accelerate social change. ‘People on mountaintops are not heroes, they don’t change the world’ I concluded ‘But those of us who insist on creating change every day through our lives and work might just make this planet the place it needs to be.’

My injunction to my peers: tell a better story. I must have made an impression, for I was rewarded with a standing ovation – almost unheard of from that audience. But more than that, I felt like I had come home. Not to Las Vegas… but to my tribe. Feathers… martinis… and all.

My All-Time Favorite Quote (Click to Enlarge!)


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