by Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM
• Insightful thinking and strategies
• Planning for changes in the meeting and event industry
• Asserting planner value
My close friend is a bespoke tailor. He is always impeccably dressed. It’s a natural byproduct of what he does for a living and he realizes he is a walking billboard for his services. Another friend is a designer of kitchenware and is married to an architect. You should see the remodel they just completed on their kitchen. Everyone who visits wants to hire them, and rightly so. My girlfriend who owns a salon never has a hair out of place and is a walking ad for what a great stylist can do to enhance your looks.
Event planners are another exception to the ‘benefit from your own skills’ rule but in our instance, it’s not by conscious choice. It’s commonplace for our days to have no clearly defined end time. Our work-weeks often spill into weekends. Many of us accomplish more before lunch than most do in a day. Add to that that every friend we have calls us when they need something planned and you have a description of 85% of planners in the industry.
How is it that we, the meticulously organized, hyper-energetic, and over achieving miracle workers are simultaneously underpaid, profoundly misunderstood, and undervalued professionals? Because we direct our talent almost exclusively outward. We don’t apply our planning skills to enhancing our careers. And we are hurting ourselves in the process.
Granted, many of us have a career path and goals. I’m referring to applying our skills to fix an industry-wide epidemic of misconceptions about what we do both by our organizations and by the public, a concrete plan to add our voices to executive level meetings, and subsequently, illuminating the undeniable value strategically planned meetings bring to organizations’ bottom lines.
If we want to experience the respect our actions and work product merits, it is imperative we band together as an industry, create consensus around an overarching professional goal, and develop and become fluent in a shared, strategic vocabulary, which we’ll use to create a universal understanding of the exponential value we deliver every time we deploy our talents. Simply put: we need a plan.
My goal is for our industry to take flight and soar to new heights. I’m dedicating a sizable portion of my time to assisting the transformation and creating a long overdue change to incorrect, but long standing, assumptions about what planners do for a living. Because, if someone tells me one more time that, “I’m so lucky I get to travel for a living,” I can’t be responsible for my reaction. (Good news; a future column provides multiple solutions on combating that challenge without violence or yelling.)
“The Strategic Life” series has been designed in conjunction with Midwest Meetings® to hand you the tools necessary to define, defend, and demonstrate your positions’ value, the vocabulary needed to eloquently articulate your points, and credible data to back up your statements. It will also spotlight those who are already speaking up and taking the industry to new heights. By sharing their insightful thinking and strategies you’ll be able to implement them in your own programs.
If you want to get involved start focusing your energy inward. You can start by sharing this column with every industry professional you know and commit to becoming part of the solution. Introduce me to people who should be featured so they can tell their story. Share this article via social media and start thinking about how much there is to gain and how uniquely equipped we are to create a plan to achieve our goal. It’s exciting.
I admittedly used to admire my friend the tailor’s clothes and my hairstylist’s great looks. By committing to put my talents to use in my own career and serve as my own billboard I can now afford to hire them both with a lot more frequency. A little targeted effort can yield fantastic results. And few things look as great on a person as success.
The time to achieve a new level of success and a professional image that is tailor-made to the value we bring is long overdue. Continue the conversation and add your voice. Find me at: Christy.Lamagna@Strategic.Events, www.MidwestMeetings.com/Christylamagna, and @SMEChristy.
When Christy joined the meetings industry 25 years ago, event planning was more of a concept than a recognized profession. In the ensuing two and a half decades, she proudly participated in its evolution. Christy has earned multiple certifications, writes thought-provoking articles, and teaches strategic planning at the University level. Christy’s latest mission is to bring the industry and the talented professionals who share her passion for strategic planning the respect they deserve.