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To Lead or Not to Lead: Defining Leadership

| 11/29/2016

In October, I had an awesome opportunity to speak at the University of Houston. I spoke as part of the Dean’s Leadership Series, where I was privileged to engage with a group of future leaders. I was asked to answer this question: What makes a good leader? I emphasized that my point of view is based on my own experiences; I have been led by some great leaders and semi-led by some not-so-good leaders. So, digging in…   There is no such thing as a natural born leader. Instead, those who are willing can develop into leaders through nurturing – not because of nature. While we cannot change our DNA (nature), we can effectively nurture our leadership skills. In your life, you can identify leaders by simply looking around and observing who is good and who is not. You want to emulate those who are great and avoid the practices […]


Seal the Deal with Improv

| 11/10/2016

What is improv? It’s not about telling jokes. In fact, it’s not even about being funny. It’s about people working together to develop an idea, and humor generally follows. If you take an improv class, the curriculum won’t include how to make people laugh; rather, it will teach you to effectively communicate in unknown territory. That sounds like life, doesn’t it?   Every sales exchange is – or should be – improvised. Think of organizers selling sponsorships and trade show space. Envision exhibitors marketing products to attendees. These conversations can be enhanced by using basic improv skills.   Say yes – and   The number one improv guideline is the concept of yes-and. Simply put, this means accepting information from someone (yes) and adding your own (and). Sound familiar? It’s the basic component that keeps any conversation going. You listen to someone and respond with other, relevant information to create […]


Event Attendee Acquisition: What’s the One Thing?

| 08/05/2016

In thinking through topics for this month’s version of “crazy stuff in my brain,” I was sorting through the many conversations I’ve had with our customers and prospects over the last 30 days. Regardless of the initial topic, most every exchange eventually led to a conversation about audience acquisition. Personally, I think in fairly simple terms when considering solutions for acquisition, but find most people over-react or over-think their situations, often employing a sledge hammer when a gentle tap of a finger will do.   Mitch, Billy Crystal’s character in the 1991 comedy, “City Slickers.” Was in search of life’s answers when he encountered the Zen master cowboy, Curly, played by Jack Palance. Mitch eventually achieved spiritual enlightenment once he divined the meaning behind Curly’s Law: “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and rest don’t mean anything.” The secret is that the ‘one thing’ is different for […]


May I Have This Dance? A Look Into the Evolution of Events.

| 07/11/2016

This past May, Shepard hosted its annual educational meeting, SandboxLIVE, where I had the privilege to spend some time with one of our speakers, Tom LaForge, Coca-Cola’s former Global Director of Human & Cultural Insights. Tom is a brilliant mind, researching and studying cultural evolution and how it affects business. In conversation, Tom asked me how the events business has changed over the past 20 years and then he shared some insights that made sense of my observations. His insights shifted my perspective and I wanted to share what I learned, with my own personal embellishments, of course! Thirty years ago, tradeshows were like an eighth grade dance in the school gymnasium. The integrated marketing strategy consisted of the following: signs were posted in the hall (prospectus), the announcement was made at school over the loud speaker (direct mail) and then by word of mouth (social media)—excitement began to build. […]