How Accepting Your Weaknesses Will Help You Be Successful

Are you constantly afraid to try new things or worrying how potential weaknesses of yours will eventually lead to your failure? Have you ever even considered that your perceived weaknesses could possibly be turned into strengths? Come on… we ALL have weaknesses. We're human! But if you can figure out how to effectively address them, it can be an extremely powerful tool to move your business to the next level. 

So go ahead… get honest with yourself. What is holding you back? What has been a big struggle for you in order to effectively accomplish the things you are working on? Don't be hard on yourself, but you have to be honest in order to work on these weaknesses and how you can address them. Than what?

Knowing Is Growing

Think about how many times you have been in an uncomfortable situation at work because you didn't really know what the topic at hand was referring to. Or you were asked to accomplish something at work that you knew was a big weakness of yours. What did you do? By staying complacent, you're always going to have that weakness. But by digging in and taking more action to learn the obstacles that you face, you are going to only grow in your career. Knowing is Growing and the more you know, the more effective and necessary you will be at your job!

And better yet? That weakness is going to disappear if you're working on strengthening it! 

Find The Right People

Surround yourself with the right people and you'll be able to have them complement the weaknesses that you currently possess! Get them on your team! We all know it takes a village to successfully run most businesses and by making sure you have strong people where you're weak, and vice versa, gaps will be filled where you need them the most. 

Pick the Best Relationships and Situations

By knowing who you are, 100%, you are going to be able to assess what relationships and situations will work best for you. You'll be able to save everyone from false expectations, which will put you in the best situations that will help you grow. Be real with yourself and you will never be accused of being in denial over anything!

Need an example of how this could work in the real world? Well… let's say you're not a good public speaker. Start working on small group conversations or one-on-one situations instead! Learn to be really good at it. Connect with people and draw them in! Before you know it, you'll soon find yourself much better prepared to do more speaking when necessary. 

Start developing the mindset you need to work through your limitations and fears and before you know it, your weaknesses are going to turn into strengths you didn't even know you had! Face it… nobody likes admitting their weaknesses and we, as a race, generally do our best to only show people our strong side. Pretending they don't exist, though, or worse yet, pushing through them and doing a poor job can have tragic consequences. Don't let that happen!

Best Destinations for Business Events

One thing that is always a great motivator to increase business event participation is by holding the event at a destination outside of the norm. Who doesn’t love to travel, even if it’s for business? I love that you get the best of both worlds in trips like these. I generally am able to enjoy a productive business event (or be the one in charge of it!), while spending some downtime checking out the local fare. So when you’re thinking about planning your next business event, consider one of these top 5 places that are oh so popular right now! 

1. Orlando, Florida

Who doesn’t love a little fun in the Florida sun! This is also the perfect destination if you want to turn it into a family vacation, as well, because… HELLO! Disney World! Universal Studios! Sea World! It’s a family’s paradise!

If you’re looking for ways to relax and unwind on a solo business trip, Orlando is your place, too. It ranks 2nd in the United States with hotel rooms that are available and is very well-suited to different meetings, events and conferences of all types! It’s a popular resort destination and is within driving distance to lots of great beaches, where your attendees can escape from the fast-paced life! 

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is a great choice if you’re looking for something that is great for a year-round destination. Convenient lodging is around everywhere in New Orleans, since a majority of the hotels and lodging options are within walking distance to downtown and the French Quarter. That makes things very convenient for all of your attendees! You’ll have everyone begging for a return to the “Big Easy” in the future!

Just picture it. Cruises on the Mississippi on a riverboat. Exploring the swamps and boyous that are right outside of the city. Having a meal prepared by some of the finest chefs in the Unites States. And spending an evening of entertainment at one of the many fun French Quarter music clubs and taking a streetcar back to the hotel.

What a memorable business trip that would be! 

3. Las Vegas, Nevada

Looking for a destination that has endless options for your attendees, despite what your meeting is for? Than consider Las Vegas! Over the years, the city has earned the distinction as one of the world’s top meeting and convention centers by offering all of these options! 

With the endless amount of shows that you can attend, to the gorgeous hotels and conference centers that your group can spend their time in, you won’t be disappointed. And don’t forget the amount of top-choice restaurants that you can choose from. What an incredible location for a business event where there will be a lot of opportunities to network at different events throughout your stay!

4. Washington D.C.

If you’re looking for something a bit more unique and historic, Washington D.C. might be the perfect location for your next business event! With it being home to some of the most recognizable monuments and buildings in the world, there are endless opportunities for events of all different kinds and sizes! 

With tons of museums, restaurants and culture to experience all over the city, your guests will be pampered and given the best options of everything! Set up some fun downtime for them to take a backlit stroll of the National Mall when meetings are over, or experience the history and allure of the Smithsonian Museum. 

5. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is one of the Top 10 Destinations for business meetings in America, rightfully so! With it’s springlike weather, beautiful landscapes and proximity to popular destinations like Napa Valley, there is something here for everyone’s tastes!

Fun things to plan for your attendees after business hours? A trip to Alcatraz, exploring the Golden Gate Bridget, and enjoying a ride on a quintessential cable car, are just a few of the fun things that guests will be able to experience. 

Outdoor enthusiasts will love this location, thanks to the enormous redwood trees, the gorgeous parks and beaches, and the unique architecture that San Francisco boasts.

Whatever you decide, you won’t go wrong with one of these five locations. Business meetings are meant to include a little fun, so make sure you’re offering things to your attendees that will make them EXCITED to attend your event! 

5 Common Meeting Mistakes

Did you know that approximately 11 million meetings take place EVERY DAY in the United States? That is simply mind-boggling to me! Even worse… a third of them are generally unproductive. And time is money! An estimated $37 billion is lost every year because of employees and leaders taking part in unproductive meetings. Yikes!

I see many mistakes happen over and over again in many different types of businesses. Heck… I’ve been guilty of a few of these myself in the past. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned from my mistakes! You should learn from them, too! 

These are the top 5 Common Meeting Mistakes that I have encountered on a regular basis. Avoid them at all costs!

1. Trying to Be and Do Everything

At the end of the day, the goal of all of your meetings should be to solve some problem or item that has cropped up within your business. You know which ones you need to solve in order to get everything else in the business running smoothly, but maybe you aren’t the right person to solve them all.

Get clear on who you need to bring into the meeting so you do a really good job in getting the things fixed that need fixing. Why waste peoples’ time if they aren’t directly related to a specific project that you need to have a meeting on? It can be a fine line on inviting too many people versus not having the right people in the meeting that you need. 

Even better… why are YOU attending every meeting that you could easily delegate to someone else? You’re much better off solving the few problems that align with your specific goals quickly and easily, as opposed to wasting your days in meetings to attempt to solve problems that you probably aren’t qualified to be in on. It just results in solutions that may not best be suited for the problem, or worse yet, your employees resenting you for stepping in on something they easily could have handled. 

2. Having Too Many Of Them

Did you know that according to business research, they have found that a third of all business meetings aren’t productive? Look at how much time you’re tying up your employees, as well as yourself, that could be spent doing things that would actually effect the bottom line! Consider having fewer meetings and make the ones you do have as productive as possible. 

For those times when you feel a meeting is needed, shoot a quick email or phone call over to the intended recipient and see if there is a way to get what you need before calling in the affected individuals for a face-to-face meeting. 

3. You Have a Weak, or Non-Existent Agenda

Let’s face it. I’ve been a part of more meetings that I can remember where there wasn’t a specific agenda that was outlined on what we were going to be going over in a specific meeting. And I’ve been guilty of not creating one, as well! Sure, I’ve went in knowing the general idea of what the meeting was about, but an itemized list of what REALLY needs to get decided? Not a chance.

How are you ever going to see if your meeting is going off the rails if you don’t have an agenda in front of you?

Another great idea when it comes to an agenda, is not letting it bind you to the timeframe of the meeting. What if you’re able to knock out what you need 15 minutes into a 60 minute meeting? Than call the meeting over! Make sure you have a list of discussion points and action items available and when each one is reached, cross them off. Once the items have been handled, move onto the next thing in your day! Because one thing that is super unproductive is sitting in a 60 minute meeting that could have been handled in half that time!

Finally, if you go through the work of setting an agenda, make sure that it doesn’t change as the meeting progresses! Don’t let others come in and hijack an agenda item or have the topic get changed. And it’s not a bad idea to have times assigned to each topic, as well! This will help the meeting stay on track and you’ll also make sure that all of the important topics get covered. Even if you’re able to whiz through them quicker than the timeframe you allowed, it’s better than dragging on and not accomplishing half of your goals.

Don’t forget to do a quick recap at the end of the meeting, as well, to discuss who is doing what and deadlines are assigned to items. Preparing an tentative agenda with minimal feedback at the end of a meeting may also help to move things along. 

4. Not Being Results Oriented

You pay your employees for results, right? So why are you setting up meetings or allowing them to set up meetings where results aren’t going to be achieved? I’ve witnessed the endless circle of meetings to talk about a specific project, just to watch it fizzle and not move onto the next step. Why? Because they aren’t results-oriented. 

Paint a picture of what you expect people to walk away from the meeting knowing. What specifically needs to be accomplished? Make sure you are recording important actions that are coming out of a group discussion and in order to make sure actions are moving forward, assign them to people before the meeting ends! If an action isn’t assigned or someone isn’t working to complete it, nothing will be accomplished after the meeting is adjourned. 

5. You Don’t Have an Effective Facilitator

Who is bringing the discussion back to the topic when things go off kilt? Who is helping to dig into topics when they come up and is keeping everyone focused on the agenda and goals at hand? 

Great facilitators bring out the best in a team and are responsible for insuring that the agenda is followed and adhered to. While they may also record the items that are happening during the meeting, they generally are there to make sure the meeting is effective. 

Step up that meeting leadership role and you will learn that you are generating enormous influence among your employees! You also will be keeping things productive and make individuals feel that things were handled successfully. 

Running meetings can be a bit like an art! There are lots of things to consider to make sure they are as beneficial as possible. Take responsibility for the meetings that you are a part of and pretty soon you’ll have people asking what your secret is to running such good meetings!

15 Motivational Quotes from Super Smart Ladies

Ladies, if there one thing I love, it's a great motivational quote from another LADY! When the days are tough and the stress is high, there is nothing like knowing women have came and went before me and have been pretty darn successful in their endeavors. It isn't just about the guys, everyone! These ladies are fierce and I absolutely love getting a little motivation on those hard days from these quotes below. These women know how to rock it and are absolutely some of my favorite lady bosses!

1. “Do what you have to do, until you can do what you really want to do.” - Oprah

2. "Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential." - Sheryl Sandberg

3. "Passion and persistence are what matter. Dreams are achievable and you can make your fantasy come true, but there are no shortcuts. Nothing happens without hard work." - Diane Von Furstenberg

4. "A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult." - Melinda Gates

5. "Decide what it is that you are and then stay true to that thing. My brand is based very much on how I live my day-to-day life." - Rachael Ray

6. "You're not in competition with other women. You're in competition with everyone." - Tina Fey

7. “Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will absolutely be doing things different from everybody else.” - Sara Blakely

8. "Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It's hard work that makes things happen. It's hard work that creates change." - Shonda Rhimes

9. "Life-fulfilling work is never about the money -- when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it." - Eileen Fisher

10. "I didn't get here by dreaming or thinking about it. I got here by doing it." - Estee Lauder

11. "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself,"I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." You must do the thing that you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

12. "We need to accept that we won't always make the right decisions, that we'll screw up royally sometimes -- understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success." - Arianna Huffington

13. “Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct.” - Barbara Corcoran

14. "Being an entrepreneur isn't just a job title, and it isn't just about starting a company. It's a state of mind. It's about seeing connections others can't, seizing opportunities others won't, and forging new directions that others haven't." - Tory Burch

15. “You combine hard work, creativity and self-determination, and things start to happen.”       - Sophia Amoruso

What do you use to keep yourself going day after day? Let me know what your favorite quote is in the comments and let's rock this world!

Is Your Business Stalling?

We all face the highs and lows that come with running our own business. But sometimes, those lows don’t seem to be on their way back up. Why? There can be numerous reasons, but usually, it has something to do with one of the following. And trust me… no judging here! I’ve been there, too, trying to evaluate what needed to change in order to turn things around. If you’re stuck, take this to heart! 

1. Lack of Foundation

If you’re marketing towards the wrong group and not getting any benefit from it, you may start to feel confused, frustrated and ready to rip someone’s head off! Why are these things not working?!?! More than likely, because you're catering to the wrong audience and you may not even be sure of what it is, yourself! It’s crucial to know your target market and what you need to offer to them BEFORE you start spending the money and energy to move forward.

Make sure you’re clear on the foundation of your business, such as the mission and vision you plan to move forward with. Write it down! Define exactly what your business will do, for whom and what the desired outcome will be. 

2. You’re Not Consistent

Are you consistently getting out in front of new potential clients? Building a successful business means consistently marketing. Not just through Facebook or by sending out eNewsletters, but by venturing out and marketing in new ways. Have you considered doing a webinar? Are the programs you offer consistent for what the marketplace is looking for? It can be tiresome, but sometimes you just have to be like the Energizer Bunny. You need to keep going and going and going and going…

Be clear on what your business represents and who your ideal client is. It may change over time, but at least you’re positioning yourself for what you truly love and eliminating potential confusion!

3. You’re All Over the Place

Are the things that you’re putting out there making sense? Do they align with each other? Or is your website look and feel radically different from your Facebook page? Are you creating content that aligns specifically with who your ideal client is and is it aligning with the rest of the content you are promoting? If you’re all over the place in what you’re putting out there, you’re going to have big problems appealing to a client when they aren’t sure what they’re supposed to be looking at. Don’t be creating content that isn’t about your core business or what you represent. You’ll only start attracting potential clients that may help you build your email list, but ultimately will never purchase anything from you. 

Figure out fast what you want more of and what you need less of. If things are going in too many directions, decide the direction that your business needs to become successful. Don’t become your own bottleneck!

4. You Quit. Already.

I know how hard it can be to run a business. Building a business is even more difficult! Unless you’re one of those lucky few who capture lightening in a bottle, chances are you aren’t going to get it right the first time around. But… that doesn’t mean you can crawl under the covers and simply give up. Stay hungry! Think Big! Stay Productive and see the results crop up. You can’t rely on luck to build a solid business. Work on building your systems, target your ideal customer segment and get that train rolling again!

It may be just the right time to get those new skills, info and resources that you’ve been dragging your feet on!

Do you see yourself in any of this? How have you weathered the storm? It may be just the right bit of tough love that some of us may need, and I, for one, am never too proud to make sure my business is doing the best it can, not just for me, but also for my clients. Success is a result of the work we do each and every day, not just hoping for the best. Tweak things that aren’t working and remember… it’s a journey! 

Identify Your Ideal Client With Three Simple Tips

One thing that many entrepreneurs struggle with is to define their ideal client. Nobody wants to wander in the dark hoping to just haphazardly find some clients that may or may not fit into what they are trying to do with their business. We all think we know what that means right away, but do you? Are you aware what types of ads your ideal customer typically responds to and where you should advertise to maximize your exposure to these clients? Are you telling the right story within your marketing content in order to engage potential clients? 

These are all questions that can be easily answered after you do some research on what you feel your target market would be. So how exactly should you identify your ideal client?

1. Know Thyself

You’re not going to be able to identify your ideal client if you don’t have a firm grasp on what your business is and what you do best. What are your favorite projects to work on and what type of work do you enjoy doing the most? Are you offering items outside of your zone and if so, why? Is it worth it? What type of product or service that you offer brings in the biggest profit and does it align with what you enjoy? 

The main point here is that it’s hard to market to your ideal client if you don’t even enjoy the work that you’re doing in your business and can’t identify the goals that you have planned. If you don’t enjoy what you’re currently doing, what can you do to change it? 

Make sure you have a firm grasp on this in order to resist any flip flop on a marketing strategy. Don’t cater to different types of clients week after week. 

2. Be Specific

Think about things like gender, age, where they reside, how much money they make, what is their typical family life like (kids, pets, spouse, etc.). What challenges or fears do they cope with? Think about one specific type of person that you would offer your products or services to. Work on doing everything possible to align with that one ideal client’s wants and needs. 

Also consider characteristics that your ideal client may share. Are they all women? Do they all attend the same types of events? Are they in the same industry? By thinking about things that they have in common, you will also be able to get more specific with the ideal client that you enjoy working with. 

Speaking of enjoyment, who have you worked with in the past that you really didn’t enjoy the relationship with? What past clients of yours did you really hit it off with and have a wonderful working relationship with? Take stock of the characteristics of these various clients to see the patterns and traits that clients have that you work well with. This will help you narrow down your ideal client and help you be more specific!

3. Know The Competition

Like it or not, you are going to have competition. We all do. But by understanding what they offer, who they appear to be catering to, what their price points are, what they do well and what they struggle with, you are going to be able to narrow down things in your own business that will give you opportunities to get more specific with who you want to work with.

You will begin to see the openings in your business to find more clients that meet your specifications and even better, you’ll be able to see what you may need to do better to gain these new clients or even work with the clients you already have. We can’t always run on autopilot and expect our business to grow. We have to do the footwork to make sure we are as knowledgeable as possible, in order to make sure we are working with the clients that will help to make our business successful!

Don’t let this process get you confused and off-track. You’re not alone! Many business women struggle with this same issue and even get it wrong on the first go-round, so take the pressure off yourself and think this through. Also, note that while your ideal client may not change exactly over time, it may evolve and grow to reflect your evolving business. Make sure you take some time on a regular basis to see if your business model still fits the ideal client you are marketing towards and become as effective as possible in your marketing efforts! 

Time Management Tips for the New Year

And just like that, 2016 has arrived! Have you set new goals, promised yourself to improve in different areas of your life and particularly, your business? If you’re like most of the people I know (including myself) that answer is a big yes! And one thing in particular that always helps to balance life when it is managed correctly? Time! That’s why these Time Management Tips for the New Year are certain to set you off in the right direction. Learn how to finally run your business the way you want, instead of allowing your business to run you!

1. Set Boundaries

So let’s be real. Show of hands on who has a REALLY hard time saying no. Ummm…. raise your hand! I know that most of us have this issue. It’s like it’s engrained in our female DNA to always be people-pleasers and say yes to as many things as possible, even if it’s not in our best interests. Why do we do this to ourselves? There have been times when I didn’t even know what the word boundary meant. Responding to emails 24 hours a day, setting up meetings on weekends, which were supposed to be devoted to my family, allowing texts to come through at all hours of the day, no matter if the matter-at-hand was something trivial that definitely could have waited. It was my own fault! And I know I’m not alone.

Through the years I’ve heard this from countless business woman who have had the same struggles. They feel that push/pull that comes from owning a business or being at the top of a company. It’s nothing new! But no matter what your career aspirations are, it’s important to know that you don’t need to make yourself available 24 hours a day for everyone. Taking time for yourself will only make you better for your business and will give you the energy and focus you need to clearly see your goals through. 

If you’re afraid to set these boundaries, fear not! Generally, I’ve found that if you explain things nicely and put the timeframes for when you WILL be available, people will get it, respect it, and follow it. Give it a shot! As Warren Buffet has said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that the very successful people say NO to almost everything!"

2. Delegate

OK, now I’m SO guilty of this one! I think I need things done a certain way. My way, if you don’t mind! Even if I don’t enjoy specific tasks, I’m determined to be the one that finishes everything up, just so I know that it’s all done exactly how I want.

This is a part of myself that I have worked on a lot over the last year, and I’m happy to say that I’m still alive and kicking and the world didn’t come crashing down! Can you even believe it! If you don’t enjoy doing a specific task in your business, why in the world are you wasting your time doing it? Spend your time on the things that bring in money, that you enjoy, and that ONLY YOU can accomplish. 

So you’re a one-woman show who doesn’t have someone around that you can delegate things to? Not a problem? Virtual Assistants are becoming more and more commonplace in today’s technology-driven society and something that I have benefited from myself. By finding the right fit, they will truly become someone you rely on and appreciate when you’re looking to alleviate the burden of items from your plate! 

3. Be Intentional

Take one day a week to spend on specific tasks that you generally work on inconsistently throughout the week. For example, block yourself off for the entire day. No coaching, no meetings, no consultations, nothing. This will allow you to focus on your own business and the things that you can whip out without having to stop and start them over and over. You’ll more than likely find that things are getting done faster and you have streamlined the process!

It’s also a great idea to do all meetings you are going to need to do on specific days. Stop breaking things up over 5 or 6 days a week and be intentional. Schedule yourself for all day on Tuesdays and Wednesday for the meetings you are going to need to have. But make sure you give yourself a little buffer between each meeting so you have a chance to check email, grab a snack, or hit the restroom!

I’ve also found that by leaving one day a week open, which for me, generally is Fridays, I am able to finish up those not-quite-finished activities that have cropped up or that I just didn’t get a chance to finalize. It also gives me time for my own personal development and education. Obviously, some weeks need to be tweaked depending on what is going on, but by breaking my weeks down to specific activities for every day, I’ve found that I’ve been able to accomplish a lot more and stay focused in the time that I have. 

Another way to stay intentional is by spending 15 minutes every day to plan either the day ahead of you right away in the morning, or the following day, once your ending your work day. Complete this time plan and you’ll keep yourself on-track for the intentional items that need your attention. Also keep in mind when your best focus for the day lies. Are you a morning person? Than try to fill your most important tasks right away that need your 100% attention. Are you better in the afternoon? Than save those tasks for later in the day. By completing your most important tasks at the time that works best for you, you’ll know your day has been a success!

Schedule the time for yourself for these specific activities and you’ll create the time blocks you need for the high-priority items you need to keep at the top of your list!

4. Give Yourself A Break

Despite how you may feel right now, you don’t ALWAYS have to be on the go! Stop feeling guilty for taking a little time for yourself and take the breaks that you need to reenergize and stay sane! 

Another way to give yourself a break? Stop answering all of those phone calls and emails just because they show up! Disconnect if you need to. Turn your email off for a specific amount of time to make sure you don’t have that distraction to take yourself away from what is at hand. Better yet? Use Tip #3 and be intentional for the time you answer email and return phone calls. Schedule it and make sure you have this daily plan to keep yourself on rack! This eliminates the need for any guilt and will give you time for those breaks you rightly deserve!

A third way to give yourself a break is by knowing that you can’t do it all in your head. Why are you so scared to create some organizing systems? Get that calendar to work FOR you that you carry around everywhere on your phone, computer and tablet and stop trying to remember everything that goes through your head. Being organized is going to save you tons of time. Most organizing systems aren’t complicated to implement, it’s all about streamlining the things that filter through your desk everyday. Stay on top of everything and make sure that projects, to-do lists, and other information doesn’t fall to the wayside. 

5. Stop Multitasking

We’ve all heard how we should be queens at multitasking in all areas of our life. What? You mean you can’t make dinner, help the kids with their homework, close that big deal at the office, and work out for your required 30 minutes at the same time? Well… me either! Multitasking may sound like that buzz word that people used to be so on top of, but it turns out that it actually takes away from everything you’re trying to do. Your focus isn’t on anything in particular and that means that all of those things you’re trying to “multitask” on are not getting the best of you. Do one thing at a time! 

While multitasking may not be recommended, that doesn’t mean that you can’t work to batch similar tasks together in a specific timeframe. If you know you need to schedule 3 meetings, write 2 agendas, and build content for your next 2 seminars, it wouldn’t make sense to intermingle those tasks. Schedule yourself intentionally and group the like tasks and do them consecutively. It will keep your mind in the right focus and allow everything to flow instead of having to re-orient yourself to a new task. 

I’m going to break my own rule, though. Just once! And that’s when you’re waiting. You may not consider it “multitasking” when you’re riding the subway, or sitting in a waiting room, or staring blankly into space when you’re on the elliptical, but things can be done here! Are you waiting to read that latest article that was sent to you about meeting spaces and you’ve been struggling to find the time to finish it? Bingo. You just found it! Utilize this time where you otherwise would just be sitting and bored (and perhaps getting irritated if you’ve been waiting for long) and be productive! That’s the only time I’ll promote multitasking!

Give yourself the focus you need for the most important things, but don’t let the idle time you may have go to waste. 

If you currently find yourself being interrupted often and pulled in a million directions, try to use some of these tips to take back your time! You want to be happy with the work you do and happy with the life you’re creating. It’s possible! By knowing yourself and setting your limits and priorities, you’re going to take back your time and watch wonderful things take place!  

How to Handle Attendees Taking Over A Meeting

If you’re one of the lucky ones who have never had to deal with this, than kudos to you! For the rest of us, we’ve all had that experience where you’re in the middle of a meeting/conference/workshop/event and all of the sudden some of the attendees start taking the topic in a different direction and before you know it, you’re talking about what Uncle Fred does at the Holiday Dinner table instead of the 5 ways of being the Most Effective at XYZ! And who wants to be the mean buzz kill to get everyone back on track when they all seem to be enjoying the organic conversation so much? Certainly not you! But alas… it’s your meeting and it’s your responsibility to make sure that everyone gets what they came for - information!

So what are the best ways to make sure that everyone stays on track over the course of your event? These tips will help you navigate those murky waters when you start to feel the meeting sliding into quicksand!

1. ALWAYS Prepare a Clear Agenda and Circulate it Early

One way to easily make sure that everyone is able to stay on track during your event is to make sure they are well aware of the agenda before the meeting even takes place. Obviously, things can roll off course here and there, because you want to make sure you’re allowing time in your agenda for Q&A and helping people out with specific questions they may have on the topic. But overall, I’ve found the most effective way to keep things on track is to have timeframes included with the specific parts of the day. You’ll be surprised how many people will want to adhere to those timeframes once they see things laid out and know what exactly is going to be accomplished over the course of the event. 

It is extremely efficient to think hard about the purpose, nature and structure of the meeting before it takes place. You want to make sure you’re going to have time to cover all of the topics that you are aiming for and by giving everyone the agenda well before the meeting, they are going to have time to process what they need to prepare beforehand, as well. Nobody wants to be surprised when a meeting pops up and they are expected to give reports, numbers, feedback, plans, etc. So give everyone the common courtesy that you would want and make sure they are fully aware of what they need to do to prepare for the event! This is going to greatly help the effectiveness of your meeting and make sure that everyone stays on track for the duration!

Don’t forget to include key topics, approximately how long each segment should last, what the expected outcome should be, etc. This will give the attendees a VERY clear agenda on what is and isn’t on topic and will better guard against digressions and distractions over the course of the event. Your goal should always be to leave participants feeling that a sensible process has been followed and they are clear on what the objective of the day will be! We all want to leave meetings feeling like we accomplished something!

2. When Things Get Off-Topic - Park It!

Despite having a clear agenda and making sure that timeframes are built around all of the topics that will be presented, there are still times when things may wander off course. Someone may have a specific question on something that is happening in their career that doesn’t quite fit with the timeframe or theme, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t any less important. Instead of having everyone get involved in a topic that wasn’t on the agenda (which means that you’re going to easily lose 20 minutes of efficiency once everyone weighs in!), Park it!

What does that mean? Well… have you heard of moving things to the “parking lot” during meetings? If not, it’s a super fast way to get everyone back on track, while making sure that the individual who raised the off-topic subject will get their time to discuss their issue in the near future. Basically, a great way to make sure that this happens is to have a flip chart at your event that you label specifically “Parking Lot”. When comments and issues arise that aren’t related to the specific issue at hand, record them on the flip chart and most importantly… don’t forget them! By tracking the issue, you’re telling the attendee that it matters to you what they are saying, and you’ll circle back with them at a later time about their comment. 

3. Don’t Forget the Main Reason for the Event

Once things start heading in a direction that clearly has nothing to do with the main reason for your meeting, it’s your responsibility as the leader and presenter to make sure that things quickly get back on track. How do you do that without causing a breakdown in the entire event?

Remind everyone of the priorities for the day and what results you need to have accomplished by the end. Ask everyone if the course of the current conversation is going to move in that direction or is it taking away from the goal? Are the items that have been brought up best to be used in a different meeting or moved to the “parking lot”? You don’t want to have to hurry things too much at the end because too much time was wasted reining people in over the course of the meeting. This will only result in poor decisions being made, or worse yet… no decision being made at all and the meeting was a complete failure and waste of time. 

If things are going in a different direction, but you see that there is merit in the conversation, you may want to consider assigning it for discussion or moving it to a “subcommittee”. You want to be respectful of the information that is coming into the meeting and you want to make sure that everyone feels that their voice is being heard. If new ideas are cropping up that would be beneficial that weren’t thought about or introduced before that ARE on topic, make sure you are giving them the opportunity to be heard, while keeping things within the timeframe allowed. You want to make sure you are creating an environment of participation and inclusion.

4. Never Criticize in Public

Remember… politely, but firmly steer the meeting back in the right direction when things start to get a little crazy! You may have some very outspoken individuals in your room and you want to make sure that corporate politics don’t get in the way of what you are trying to accomplish. Everyone is there for the same reason - either you work for the same employer and really are on the same team, or you’re attending an event to better yourself in some fashion. Everyone is in this together! This is why you want to make sure you shut off public criticism before it even starts. It can be so destructive to morale, as well as to the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Gently remind everyone what the point of the meeting really is and deal with attempts to take the meeting in a more critical direction as a simple misunderstanding. You want to make it clear that criticizing others won’t be tolerated and that your area is a safe-zone for trying to move things in the right direction for everyone involved!

We all know that there are some who can dominate the conversation and take advantage of answering every question when the group is asked to participate. Make it a point to ask others for their ideas, as well, and make sure you’re taking into account the body language of the group. Maybe it’s time for a quick, impromptu break to break up the problem of someone in particular speaking too much. 

5. At the End, do a Debrief

Once everything is said and done and everyone has gone their merry way, take some time to sit down and go over what went well and what could have been better. Was the meeting/event as effective as you were hoping for? How well did all of the objectives for the day get met? This will help you continue to improve how you run meetings and make sure they are as effective as possible going forward. It is so beneficial to see where we struggle and what we’re doing well. How else will we get better at leadership?

You’ll also want to make sure that while you are in your meeting or event, you’re quickly summarizing what was said and ask everyone if they agree with that at the end of each agenda item. You want to make sure that everyone is understanding things in the same way and make sure you’re taking notes of things that need to be followed up on and may require further discussion at a later date. Also think about sending a meeting summary to all of the attendees so everyone is clearly on the same page once the meeting has concluded. This will help a lot when someone disagrees with how something went later down the line. There will be a clear summary on what was discussed, if anything was assigned out, or if things were moved to a later date!

Overall, it’s certainly not uncommon to see meetings get hijacked by attendees. It can be such a hard thing to manage in the moment, but the more you handle these types of items while they are happening, the less they will happen in the future. You’ll be more comfortable in leading the agenda and making sure things stay on track and attendees are going to know what does and doesn’t fly with you when they’re sitting in your meetings. You’re going to get the hang of this, lady! 

Staying Fit While on Business Trips

I'm not even going to try to fake it. Working out and staying fit while on business trips isn't exactly high on my priority list when I'm traveling on business. I have to much to DO! Too many places to SEE! Too many restaurants and new foods to TRY!!! And we all know how convenient everything is when you're away on business (it's soooo easy to grab that junk food during a snack break!). I absolutely love what I do and I love being able to go to different areas across our lovely Earth to to immerse myself in the city or countryside for the short amount of time I'm there. I don't want to think about "staying fit".

But alas… there are many things we may not LIKE to do. But if we didn't work on staying fit with all of the business travel that many of us are lucky enough to take, my waist size would be going up, while my energy level continued to go down, down, down. So, staying fit on business trips is something I am committed to doing, even if I do a few things that may slip through the cracks, unlike when I'm at home and in my steady routine!

So how does one even attempt to stay fit while traveling to business events, seminars, conferences, etc.? Try some of these tips and no matter where you may be jetting off to, you'll be able to stay healthy, happy and energized!

1. Pack A Workout!

I really don't enjoy using fitness centers at the different hotels and resorts I stay at. Something about it just screams "you don't belong here!" and half of the things that are in the center I either don't know how to operate or don't work right. So I've gotten into the habit of packing a couple items to make sure I make the little time I have efficient when I'm traveling! 

Simple things like a jump rope, resistance band, and a step counter will really help you to stay accountable. I've packed some DVD's before and downloaded some workouts on my phone and tablets! And you can't even try to make up the excuse that it takes up a lot of room, because we know those things take up barely any room at all! When I'm in new cities, I love to explore. I take walks and check out the things that are on my to-do list, so by having a step counter with me (I use a FitBit watch) I'm able to see just how active I am being on days I'm away from home. It also allows me to track the calories I've burned, stairs I've climbed and many other fitness goals that keep me moving all day long! I generally ask the front desk about any sightseeing things I should check out in the area where I'm at and most of the time, I have a list a mile long of places that I can walk to and enjoy! Better yet? Find those stairs and hike it up instead of always using the elevator!

This does mean that I'm packing my sneakers, too. They can take up a little more room when you're trying to cram everything in a carry-on, but my tennis shoes are one thing I've decided to make my non-negotiable. It's too easy to slack on some workouts when I'm away when I have the excuse that I don't have the right shoes! No more! (Here is a tip… wear your tennis shoes when traveling and you won't have to worry about cramming them in your carry-on!)

Exercising while you're away on business isn't just about getting a good workout in. It's been proven that it helps boost immunity, which is a biggie when you're traveling! There was a time when I was ALWAYS getting sick after a business trip. It also reduces stress. There have been plenty of times when my stress-level is through the roof at events, especially if I've helped to plan them and get everything set up perfectly. And I'm always amazed at how much better I feel after just one workout! Just keep it simple and have fun, and it will become second nature to get moving more when you're away from home on business!

2. Stay Hydrated

When I'm on business, there are always tons of options for a cool drink when needed, whether it be at the craft services table, or after a long day hard at work. But make sure what you are choosing is optimal for staying fit. The answer? Water! Don't take advantage of the free sugary sodas that may be available to you at your business conference. And don't hit the coffee too hard, either. 

Traveling can really dehydrate you, so make sure you're sticking with some extra water along the way. You're consistently exposing your body to germs, different temperatures, changing elevations, etc., which can take a toll on your skin and your body water levels. Start your day off with a glass of H2O and you'll be happy to begin the day with a dose of hydration!

3. Eat Smart

One of the big life-savers for me has been bringing some snacks with me that I know are healthy and I enjoy. Having so many unhealthy options right at your fingertips the entire time you're away from home can be a major hurdle. So why not stock your hotel fridge with some baby carrots, fresh fruit, yogurt, and whatever else you may eat on a regular basis at home to keep healthy? You are going to really cut down on those excess calories you don't need and when the temptations come roaring their ugly heads, you'll already be satisfied from the smart snacks you provided for yourself!

Than there comes all of the meals where you're expected to show up and not cause a fuss when you're at a restaurant. I've been there. And what do I do? I just order the easiest thing that looks good to me, regardless of the health benefits. And than I curse myself later.

Instead, you just have to be smart! I know what my weaknesses are, so if I know I'm going to be going to a specific restaurant, I try my hardest to get a peak at the menu online and figure out what I can eat beforehand. I'm not caught off guard and don't feel like I have to ask a ton of questions and hold up everyone else's process. I have even called the restaurant before to ask them questions about some food choices beforehand. Easy! Try to go with things that are steamed, roasted or broiled and avoid fried foods at all costs (I KNOW, I'M SORRY!). Ask for dressings and sauces on the side and before you know it, you're going to be keeping your meals as healthy as possible!

4. Make Time For YOU

So if you're committed to this staying fit thing, you're going to have to schedule that into your day. I know, I know… stop groaning. It's true! Something as simple as waking up a half hour early can help you get a quick workout in before the day starts. Because I know myself… if I don't do it right away, I'm going to find a million reasons on why I can't do it AFTER the conference that day! Or, what happens even more often is that I'm invited to meet with a few colleagues or new faces after we wrap up for the day and there goes the "me time" I scheduled for a quick work out. Just get it done right away!

Trust me, the studies don't lie. They have proven that working out gives you more energy and also makes you more conscientious about your food choices throughout the day, which means you'll be starting out on the right foot before you even set foot in your business event! It's a win-win, especially with how draining business travel can be! It also really helps me kick the jet lag to the curb if it has found me sleeping in a corner halfway through the day!

5. Rest

Oh, weary traveler, there is so much to do in so little time. But what happens when you wear yourself down? You get sick. You make poor decisions. You are tired. Did I mention the poor decisions? Therefore, it's imperative you get that beauty sleep you need to always be in tip-top shape all day long. If you're presenting at your business event, you REALLY need to be on your game. But even if you're just a face in the crowd, there is nothing a presenter hates more than to see people nodding off because they aren't getting any rest.

I get it. You are jet lagged. You had a half a day of travel delays. You had to participate in that late-night dinner last night to keep everyone happy. It's not always going to be possible to get that 8 hours of shut-eye. But do the best you can to maintain some boundaries around your time to make sure you are giving it your all and rocking out the entire time you are away on business!

Business travel can be tough! You never know what exactly is in store for you and can be jam-packed with tons of itinerary items the second you walk through the door. That's why it's even more important to maintain a healthy diet while you're on the road. No excuses!

Safe travels!

Networking for Dummies

How many times have you went to a business conference or event where you literally felt like you were the only one in the room who just wasn't connecting with anyone? You felt awkward, out of place and totally weren't jiving with a single soul. It's pretty much the worst feeling in the world, right? So how can you avoid that? Do you feel like your networking skills could use a little reboot? Do you even know how to network effectively or are you just throwing yourself out there all willy nilly in the hopes that you'll connect with someone?

There are some items, when it comes to networking, that you should focus on. Whether you're trying to grow your business or your career, find more specific customers, or just build a valuable support network of business people just like you, networking can be crucial!

Throw these things into your bag of tricks and dummy you will no longer be!

1. Find the Right Platform

Ask yourself what your specific goals are when you are participating in a networking event. You want to make sure you are picking the right groups that will get you what you're looking for. Are you looking to learn things? Make contacts? Or are you strictly in it for business connections?

There are a lot of things that inhibit someone's ability to really connect with people at a networking event. And a big one is that they're are simply choosing the wrong events. Some may think the more they attend, the better chance they have of getting what they're looking for. But, if you're selective and pick out the events that really are in your field or are what you are passionate about, you will spend less time finding the right strategic partners!

If you feel you've been attending some events that really didn't get you anywhere, note the tone and attitude that you felt while you were there. Think about why you really think it failed to give you the outcome you were hoping for. Is it really because of you, or were you picking up on cues where the support and vibe just wasn't your thing? Not every group is going to be the group for you!

2. Pitch With Confidence

While nobody wants to really think about having to "pitch" themselves, that's really what networking is all about. Just don't put so much pressure on yourself when you think about meeting new people and keep things fun. After all, you're there to build relationships, not just pitch yourself or your business. The key is to be genuine and authentic. Build trust and these relationships will arrive with clarity! Think about asking open-ended questions that really involves the person you are talking to. It shows listeners that you are really interested in them and opens up the discussion so much more!

Also make sure you have a clear understanding of what you do. I know that may sound super weird, because who doesn't know what they do? But for real. Take a second and make sure you have a stand-by answer for what you do, why, for whom you do it and what makes it so special. You're going to get asked this question a lot, so you might as well make sure your "pitch" is flawless! Share your passion for what you do! And you never know when you might get some referrals in there based on the answer that you had that WOWED someone!

3. Manners, Manners, Manners!

OK ladies… this should be a non-issue, but you have to make sure those manners are in check! And if you're more of an introvert, this may even be more important! While you might be in a good mood and feel 100% pleasant, us introverts tend to make others feel like they can't enter our world because we just stink at letting people in. Networking is not the time to do this!

Make sure you do things as simple as smile! Not only will you put your own nerves at east (fake it 'til you make it!), but you also are going to present yourself as being friendly and approachable. Those are keys in networking!

This one may seem obvious when it comes to manners, but don't be the person that walks in the door 20 minutes after the event started. Get there early! It will still be calm and quiet and you'll be able to scope out people who haven't delved into groups of their own yet.

Also, don't hijack the conversation once you finally warm up to people. Nobody likes the person who ONLY talks about themselves. Be a conversationalist, not just a "talker". 

4. Step Outside of The Box

You want to be seen as a powerful resource for others! Make sure you're positioning yourself to be able to articulate what you are looking for in a networking event and how others can help you! While networking can put some people in the most awkward position possible, don't wait to network until it's too late.

When you're in search of your next job or promotion, that isn't the only time to network. Make sure you're keeping tabs on the people you have met at previous networking events and keep your name out there! Schedule some touch-base conversations with your top networking partners and make sure you're giving suggestions to people on articles or workshops you may see that you know would be of interest to them. Think ahead!

Finally, don't just network with people who are exactly like you. While it can be a comfort to know what the conversations will be like and interests are generally the same, it also insulates us from people and areas of interest that could broaden your horizons and help you make better decisions. Who doesn't want to increase their skill sets?!

5. Follow Up

It can feel awkward to reach out those first few times after a networking event to the people that you did end up exchanging contact information with. But when you start attending the RIGHT events, it's going to be a welcome relief, because these are your people! Contact the individuals who you were most connected to. Find out who may benefit from what you do, and vice versa! Ask to get together and share some ideas. Brainstorm! And offer to pay.

Along that same vein, make sure you follow through quickly and efficiently with any referrals you were given. Your actions are going to reflect big-time on someone who may have given you a referral and will totally be the difference in you gaining or losing some new business! DON'T fall into the trap of being too busy to follow up! And if you happened to connect with dozens of people, at least make an effort to pick out the top 5 that you want to make sure you continue to build a relationship with. Letting it fall to the wayside will ruin the whole point of networking, ladies!

That's all there is to it! Try these tips moving forward at your next networking event and hopefully you're going to feel much more at ease and able to strike up a conversation. We all want to attend events, conferences, and meetings where we know we'll be able to get something out of it and make a few new connections that we didn't have before. Work on mending your ways before one more single potential connection is lost. You can totally do this! You're going to ROCK that room!

How to Dress for Warm Weather Business Events

Last week we talked about how to dress for events when you're heading out of the office for a 2-3 Day Business trip in the frozen tundra. On the flip side, what should you do if you're heading to a warm climate destination? You do NOT want to be the woman who has sweat running down her back during a conference because you planned poorly. Or having underarm stains on your shirt? OMG… don't even… You want your career to heat up… not your armpits!

So what are some tricks of the trade to stay cool when picking out what you are going to wear during warm-weather destinations? You definitely want to make sure you are dressing appropriately!

1. It's All About the Fabric

The days of polyester are over, my friend! When you're looking at spending some time in the heat, it is definitely not fabric you want to take with you. Think linens and cottons and other natural fabrics that can breath. These types of fabrics are much more summer/warm-weather friendly, so don't even think about those wool pants that you love. 

When you're thinking about what to pack once you have the fabrics nailed down, think shift dresses or loose, tunic-like dresses. They will be more comfortable in heat than a more fitted look and are generally more warm-weather friendly. And remember… pencil skirts are always your friend!

2. Pick Your Colors Wisely

We all should know that dark colors absorb sunlight more than bright or white clothes, that reflect heat. Well… if you don't know that, you do now! So take the dark-colored clothes out of your carry-on for this trip and find light and airy colors that will not only keep you cooler, but won't get you all sweaty to begin with! Think khaki or light colored pants instead of those killer black ones you have!

3. Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen!

If you're lucky enough to be heading to somewhere warm and sunny for a business event you have coming up (yay, you!), don't forget to pack that sunscreen! While you might be in conference rooms during the day for whatever event you may be hosting or attending, you never know where the rest of your time may lead. If you have a chance to catch some rays by the pool at the resort you might be staying at, you don't want to turn up as a lobster that night at your fancy cocktail party! 

You also want to make sure that if you're planning an outing for all of your attendees that you take the heat and temps into consideration. Do you think everyone is really going to want to be sweating it out all day in direct sunlight if you're planning an outdoor activity? If you have planned something that is going to be outside like a mixer by the pool, or if you're attending an event that is going to be outside like a business picnic, make sure you stay safe and pack some sunscreen. Who knows… it might also help you make new friends when they ask to borrow the smart sunscreen that you brought on the trip!

4. Layers Are Your Friend

First of all, make sure that the outfits you are wearing are loose under the arms and across the back. You want to make sure you are allowing airflow through your outfit and it also helps to avoid those embarrassing sweat spots!

And ladies… take it easy on the cleavage or showing too much leg. Wearing strapless cotton jersey maxi dresses are not what a business event calls for, so while you might be able to get away with wearing a strapless dress during your event, make sure you have a jacket or layered light sweater that you can wear over it. Don't show too much skin at your next business event, no matter how hot it is!

5. Stock Your Purse With the Necessities

Think about making sure you're carrying a brush, deodorant, and some perfume or scented lotion in your purse when you're away from your hotel room for the day. You'll be able to quickly ditch into a restroom and freshen up a bit if you're feeling a little… heated, and it will help you to make sure that you're presentable and cooled off for the rest of the day.

6. Invest In Some Comfy Shoes

Sling backs, anyone? These are some great warm-weather shoes because you can get half of a sandal feel, which everyone will appreciate when the temps start to rise. Kitten heels are great in warm weather, as well, since they are short, one-inch heals that are perfect for when you will be doing a lot of walking. Which tends to happen when you're away at a 2-3 day business event!

Open-toe pumps are always a safe bet, too, and is a great way to show off the pedi you got before you headed to your warm-weather destination! But don't overlook the color element! In high temps, a light or nude color will work great, in addition to something with a little bit of color pop. It's always fun to pair some color with more traditional clothing colors!

7. Undergarments

Don't nail the outfit, but make a mistake with your undergarments! Many women make bra mistakes, such as wearing a regular bra with a shirt that will show the straps. Your bra should NEVER be visible in the workplace, even if you're out of the office. Invest in a convertible bra that can be worn with different necklines and you won't have a thing to worry about!

So there you have it! You are going to be so prepared when you need to travel to a warm-weather destination for business that it won't be a problem at all! You just never can tell where you may need to travel for business, so it's always better to be safe than sorry. That being said… if YOU are the one getting the event all put together, you'll be able to make the choice yourself… warm or cold? Have fun!

Cold Weather Style for a 2-3 Day Event

Winter has made it’s nasty debut in many parts of the country already! Like it or not, the cold will be staying in different parts of the United States for the foreseeable future. So… if you have a conference, workshop, or meeting planned in a cold-weather climate, what do you plan on wearing? Are you prepared to pack for temperatures when they dip below freezing?

Let’s face it. If it was up to most of us, we’d show up in a cozy hoodie, with some nice stretchy yoga pants. But alas, even in cold weather, first impressions still matter! Especially at an event where you’re meeting new people face-to-face who are industry professionals for the first time! You want to grab some attention and by dressing sharp, no matter the weather, you want to come across as someone who can evaluate the room quickly and confidently, and provide value to the next couple of days!

So what are you going to do, ladies?!

1. The Hotel/Resort Setting

Generally, you are going to find these types of environments climate controlled. At least you hope so! For the most part, long sleeves and a jacket will usually get you through the day. You might want to make sure the jacket is lighter, though, as indoor temps tend to get raised a little too high in some conference areas and before you know it, you’ll be getting your sweat on! 

Are you going to be moving between different buildings at a larger resort and will be spending a decent amount of time outside shuttling between venues? If you’re holding your next event in Vegas in January, it will be a lot different outside than it will be in NYC, so make sure you take those outdoor temperatures into account!

2. Flight Style

Need to bulk up on the items in your carry-on because you’re taking sweaters and heavier clothing to accommodate for the chilly temps? Think about saving some space in your carry-on by wearing an outfit that would otherwise take a lot of space up in your carry-on. It will also serve as a double-whammy, when you’re looking super fly when you step off of the plane! You never know who might be there to meet you at the airport or who you’ll see as you’re checking into your hotel!

3. Ladies… Wear Sleeves!

Nice clothes do have sleeves and when it’s cold out, you should wear them! Especially at a business event! Skip the sleeveless look with camis and pick something that will be more weather appropriate. Wearing a smart short-sleeved shirt with an elegant cardigan over it is timeless and classic. And if for some reason the conference room gets warm, it’s easy to take that cardie off without worrying about showing too much skin. It’s a win-win!

4. Don’t Forget the Footwear!

Do you really want to bring those super-cute strappy heels you have when you’re going to be slushing around the snow on the sidewalk when you’re heading out for a dinner event? Ummm… probably not. You want to look smart, and let’s face it. If you’re the woman who is walking 20 feet behind everyone because you’re trying to avoid a snow drift, you’re going to get left in the dust.

So find some functional small heels that may work better for a business event in cold weather. Better yet, some flats! Even more stellar? Some flat fashion boots! Just think! With some footwear that will be friendly with the cold temps, you won’t have to worry about suffering that slipped disc after landing on the ground from the ice you slipped on, and your toes won’t have to worry about being exposed to frostbite. Genius!

5. Bring a Proper Coat

You’re a lady, for goodness sake! A classic trench never goes out of style and the parka that you have in your closet is just not going to cut it. Or opt for a neutral-colored wool coat that is 3/4 length or longer to easily layer over a blazer or longer cardigan. You know best if you’re going to need a coat on a regular basis. If you’re going to be sticking to the hotel/resort where your event is at 100% of the time, you might be able to get away with not needing to bring one. It would definitely save on space when traveling! But there is generally events that will take place that will lead you out of the temperature-controlled interior confines. So make sure you have something that will keep you warm, while looking great!

And don’t forget to pack some hats, scarves and gloves. But keep the excessive detail or embellishments at home to wear on the weekends. Keep these items professional and monochrome to go with your coat.

6. Black Trousers

Ummm… a total hot ticket fashion item! These will be a lot more manageable in cold weather than any kind of dress or skirt, yet can still be totally professional and relevant! And you can pretty much wear them with anything! A nice black or charcoal pair of trousers are going to be able to be styled multiple ways, which means you’ll have less to pack for your 2 or 3 day event. And the big upside? It will keep you nice and warm!

7. Pop with Color

When all else fails, remember to dress in layers and pay attention to fabric and color choices. Red is FANTASTIC during the Christmas and winter season and looks absolutely amazing when paired with some black trousers and a great trench coat! Or, accent with red. Wear a red scarf, or some red jewelry. Make a little part of the dull winter season pop with some fantastic color!

You’re going to do great in the cold weather and your style is going to soar! But.. just like you, I’ll continue to wonder for the next few months…”Is it summer yet?!"

How in the Heck Do You Remember All Those Names?!

So you walk into the workshop you are hosting and meet two of the people who will be attending your event. You're thrilled! People actually showed up! They WANT to learn from you! OK… take the excitement down a notch and make sure you know what you're doing. Uh oh… a couple more people came up to introduce themselves. What was that one on the left's name again? Shoot… What was the woman's name that you met when you walked in with that adorable cashmere scarf? Ugh! 

Don't beat yourself up. It's totally understandable that the first thing we forget is someone's name. I mean… there is a lot to take in when you first meet someone new, especially when you're trying to make a good impression. Your mind is in ten different places. Did you get the continental breakfast set out on time? Did you leave your curling iron on up in your room? Is that person wearing those new shoes you just saw at the mall last week?!?! Distractions are all around us!

If this sounds like you, than you sound just like me! I get so frustrated when I meet someone and 2 seconds later, I couldn't tell you there name if my life depended on it. I know how overwhelming it can be to meet 10, 15, 25 new people when you walk into the room of your next event. You want everyone to feel welcomed and included and you want to make sure you remember the name of every single person the next day when they show up for Day 2. You want to have a strong connection with each of your attendees, so what is the best way to do it? Try these quick tips to up the memory game and impress your attendees with how quickly you start calling them by name! And better yet? You'll stop feeling as embarrassed as I usually do when someone's name slips my mind for the third time in ten minutes! And worse case scenario… you'll stop making the people you're working with feel like you're completely apathetic to who they are as humans by no longer forgetting names!

1. Meet and Repeat

Yup, you got it. Repeat their name right back to them as soon as they introduce themselves to you. Plug it into the small talk that you're having with them and make a point to do it! Even better? As you're saying good-bye, repeat the name again. Now don't get all creepy and turn everything into a sales pitch, but look them in the face and let them know you are sincerely excited they are attending the event. What a better way to commit things to memory!

2. Make Connections

It may sound silly, but if you learn a new name from someone who is attending one of your events, it tends to help right away if you associate that person with someone else you know by the same name. Don't know anyone by that name? Think of a celebrity you may have heard about with the same name and associate this new person's name with them. It's been proven to help remember names right off of the bat, because you have personal experiences or feelings about the person that you are associating their name with. 

Stuck with how to associate that person's name with anyone you may know or have heard of? Than work on associating it with something else to remember! For example, did you just meet Jamie? Is she from New Jersey? There you go… Jamie from Jersey will help to keep the names in place later in the day. Does the woman named Marge who just introduced herself to you work in Marketing? Ding, ding, ding! Marge from Marketing will help you keep her name associated to who she is!

3. Grab a Business Card

Ask for a business card when someone introduces themselves at the next event you host. It will help you to keep track of what they do and what business they work for or own. If you have a second, jot down some quick notes on the back of the card that will help you to remember their name. Maybe add some physical attributes that will help you keep the name associated with the face, as well.

And once you get back to your business, put those cards into your contacts with a few pieces of info that will help you to remember them. Perhaps if they have kids? Hobbies? Anything that might help you remember that name, add it in!

If all else fails? Just ask for their name again. Own up to your forgetfulness and most people will be happy to remind you. Most people are very forgiving and have a difficult time recalling names, themselves, so it won't be the worst thing in the world to ask for a reminder!

I hope these work great for you! It's always quite the feat to know the names of people who show up at your events, but I know you can do it! Remembering names can be so important. I know you want your attendees to feel good and pay greater attention because they feel that you've invested the time and energy into knowing things about them that you just learned. Wow the socks off of everyone at your next event! You'll even impress yourself!

How to Pack for a 3-Day Event in a Carry-On

Come on girls… I know I'm not the only guilty party! I LOVE traveling, yes, even when it's for business. I also LOVE packing! And packing, and packing and packing some more. Before you know it, I could easily fill 2 carry-on items, and 2 suitcases that I'd have to check without even thinking about it. But when I'm only going to a business conference for a couple days and don't NEED all of my stuff, I know that I can get away with just taking my carry-on. I mean… I know I WANT to wear those 3 paris of shoes all in the same day, but let's face it: it's just a lot of work to carry all of that luggage all by my little lonesome when I'm headed out for a business trip. Add in accessories, make-up, hair products and pajamas and before you know it, you could be traveling somewhere for a month instead of just a few days!

Generally, when traveling for business, you need to think about what you will be attending. Are you only doing business meetings during the day and you're on your own at night? Do you have a conference to go to with cocktail hours afterwards? Are there group activities that are going to require more comfortable attire that will be outside of the resort you might be staying at?

That being said, here is how to pack for a 3-day event in a carry-on and keep everything professional. Mark my words… it CAN be done!

First thing is first… make sure you have the most proactive carry-on possible! Search for a "travel pro" carry-on, that preferably is a roller bag. Why make it anymore difficult on yourself in the airport that you have to? Make sure that thing has many compartments outside that can be stuffed and stashed. You'll need them! 

PJ's -

Pick your most lightweight PJ's you have and pack them up! You can wear the same ones for 2 or 3 nights, so suck it up and only take one pair!

Jewelry and Accessories -

These are our best weapons, right ladies? They give us confidence, make us feel like a piece of home is with us no matter where we go and jazz up any outfit we might bring along with us. And can change an outfit with a simple change of a necklace! And best of all… they don't take up a lot of room at all! Scarves and jewelry can really help you to mix and match different pieces of clothing that will keep your outfits fun and fresh the entire time you're away. To save a little bit more room, wear that favorite scarf on the plane and don't worry about packing it away! Show it off! Just use some common sense and don't pack your most expensive pieces. The last thing you want to happen is to lose a piece of jewelry that is near and dear to your heart when you're far away from home!

Shoes -

So like I said before… No need to go crazy and bring every pair you own. I know, I know… stop swearing at me under your breath... Bring a sensible pair of black shoes that will go with anything. Remember… you may be moving and up and busy for upwards to 10-12 hours when you're away at a conference, so whatever you do, make sure they are comfortable! If you have another pair of shoes that you're dying to bring, I'd recommend wearing whatever the bulkiest pair will be when you travel. Than you don't have to worry about stuffing them in your carry-on! If you know you're going to be doing some active things throughout your stay, make sure you bring a pair of tennis shoes, as well. Get a glance at the itinerary before packing and you'll know what you'll be in for!

Pants -

I recommend bringing two pairs of neutral pants, or one pair of pants and one skirt. You may also need a pair of jeans if you'll be doing active things after hours or will have downtime at night and wish to be more comfortable. When you're sitting in meetings you won't be getting your pants very dirty, so you'll be safe to wear something twice, if needed. Denim can take up a lot of room in your carry-on, so if necessary, feel free to wear these while you travel, too!

Blouses -

Bring along a couple of camisoles or sleeveless blouses! These are extremely lightweight and will take up next to no room in your luggage and can really brighten an outfit so easily! They can be mixed and matched and worn with a button-up, sweater, blazer, or business suit, so they are very versatile!

Sweater -

If you're destination is cold, you'll want to pick a lightweight sweater that can be used as a layering piece over those blouses you bring! You may even want to think about bringing a cardigan if the event is going to be low-key and you have a night out in a cold weather climate!

Dress Up? -

Only you will know if formal attire will be required for the conference. These days, many of these types of events will be business casual, but if you know that things will be more formal, you'll want to bring one suit with. You should pack one that is versatile enough to wear with the blouses you pack, and can even be matched with a skirt, as well. If a suit isn't a requirement, think about just packing a blazer to give yourself a more professional appearance. Blazers can be great dressed up or dressed down with a camisole and jeans. Also, if one of the evenings is more formal, you may need to think about packing that little black dress of yours!

Purse / Tote -

Like my shoes, I love my purses! If I could, I'd bring one that would match every outfit I might wear! But, alas… when trying to travel with a carry-on, this is not the wisest choice. Bring along your smartest purse/tote/clutch that is neutral and will get you through your entire event. You'll want it to work with everything you wear and will probably be with you as you travel, instead of in your carry-on. So pick well!

Toiletries -

Here is where you can really shave off some much-needed space in your carry-on. For make-up, bring along the basics (think blush, lipstick, eye shadow, mascara) and leave everything else at home. Also, think about utilizing as much of the hotel toiletries as you can! Since airlines have heavy restrictions on anything liquid that comes on a plane, you'll have to make sure that you pack travel-sized liquid items, like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, etc. But guess what? Many hotels offer these items free of charge for their guests! I know I can deal with their brand for 2 or 3 days and I'm sure you can, too. It sure beats trying to get all of my items into the travel-sized containers! You may want to even call your location and see if they'll have a hair dryer, as well. Think of all of the space you'll save! Now you're talking about only bringing the necessary items you need, and maybe a hair straightener/curling iron. 

Miscellaneous Items - 

Don't forget about all of the electronic items you may need to take with. Make sure you're accounting for all of the chargers you may need for your phone, laptop, tablet, Kindle, etc. Because these are things that I absolutely need to function at conferences and help me take notes and remember key items, I make sure I know exactly where these are going to be packed! 

Extra Tips -

Think about using the "rolling technique" when packing your clothes in your carry-on. Fold the item in half and than roll tightly. It helps save so much space and also will help to reduce wrinkles! Bonus!

Having trouble narrowing down your outfit choices? Try pulling out all of the items you WANT to take and start paring items down once you can figure out what will work well together and weed things out. You'll be able to put together a more cohesive business travel wardrobe and you'll see exactly what will be versatile to wear with other things. It makes things so much less complicated!

There you go! With these ideas on how to pack for a 3-day event in just a carry-on, you'll be sure to bring everything you need while not going overboard. It can be hard the first time or two, but soon enough, you'll be a natural and you'll wonder what you used to need all of that extra stuff for at all! Good luck!

Interactive Workshops… No More Boring Powerpoint!

When it comes to planning workshops, it’s time to get creative! If you’re sitting at the front of the room lecturing the whole time and pouring over endless powerpoint slides, it’s probably not much of a workshop. So what do you need to do to get people involved? Your goal should be to facilitate activities within the workshop to get participants to work together to explore ideas and solutions. You are going to stimulate creativity because your attendees will be working collaboratively together. Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun, not only for the people who are going to be at your workshop, but for you, as well? 

Interactive workshops can require a bit more time and resources to plan and execute because you are going to need to get activities and techniques prepared well in advance to successfully pull this off. You don’t want to be running like a chicken with your head cut off and flying by the seat of your pants. It’s going to look unprofessional, you will appear unprepared, and word will get out that you may not offer the best workshops in the industry. Don’t let this be you! So what are the key points in providing an interactive workshop?

Ask and you shall receive…

1. Determine the Optimal Group Size

OK, so for real… how many times have you expected to go to some kind of a workshop, just to end up in the same room with a boatload of people that you will NEVER be able to work with in group settings and be successful at. Workshops, for the most part, should focus on smaller groups where there will be a better chance for everyone to work interactively with each other. THE MORE PEOPLE YOU HAVE INVOLVED, THE LESS OF A WORKSHOP IT WILL BE! 

Another reason why you should focus on smaller groups is because, as the instructor, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. How are you going to be able to give everyone your best and help the group if it’s too large for you to handle? Ideally, you’ll have a group that will get to be interactive with each other while you are helping other people. Being able to easily move between groups will give you the opportunity to impart wisdom and key notes of ideas while the workshop, as a whole, is being creative within their own groups. Working in groups of 2-4 people in a challenging exercise will help everyone work well together. Larger than that, it makes the groups spend more time on coordinating who can do what and sifting through everyone’s ideas, rather than working on the task at hand. 

2. It’s Agenda Time!

Generally, workshops are going to be a full day or two of activities for participants. Consider looking into things that involve individual, paired, and collective tasks so everyone feels comfortable with what they will be doing. Think about jumping into a hands-on activity as soon as possible. Get things moving and shake people up! Don’t sap the creative energy in the room by presenting information for the first hour. 

Don’t forget how demanding this may be for some of your participants, too. Plan breaks, provide refreshments and help them maintain their energy levels. Think about scheduling those high priority activities earlier in the session so you get the best from all of your participants right away! 

Make sure you create a list of main points to discuss and work through, and you can break them down into more reasonable goals as you figure out your agenda. Also, don’t forget those visual aids! Figure out how much time you are going to allow for each group discussion or activity so you stay within the time frame you’re working with. You’ll also want to make sure you keep the size of your group in mind and you’ll have the resources available to provide items for everyone.  Don’t forget… the more detailed you plan things up front, the more you are going to ensure that your workshop will stay on schedule and be successful!

3. Get Those Activities Lined Up!

Think about this… what is the end-goal of your workshop? Use engaging activities in order to motivate your participants. It will encourage creative thought. Make sure you announce the interactive nature of the workshop in your marketing materials so participants aren’t caught off-guard for how the workshop is going to be handled. The goal isn’t to surprise anyone, it’s to let them know early on that their experiences and expertise matter and that you plan to engage them in discussion and activities to help not only themselves, but others who will be attending! Many can be nervous and uncomfortable when it comes to having to do group activities with people they aren’t familiar with, so make sure you give everyone the notice they need to prepare themselves!

The center of attention should be on participants doing different work and activities, not on you rambling on and bragging about the expertise that you can impart to everyone! Remember that! Think about it this way… if you were going to attend a cooking workshop, wouldn’t you expect to cook? Or a writing workshop… wouldn’t you expect to write different things? A good workshop is designed to give participants the opportunity for guided instruction and activities in doing the things that the workshop is centered around. 

When you figure out exactly what types of exercises would work best for your workshop, make sure to test them out! It will take some time to develop an idea into an exercise that will be interesting for all involved, yet flexible enough for the variety of individuals who will be attending your event. If this will be your first interactive event, you may want to consider doing a dry-run for free with the kind of people the workshop would be for. You’ll benefit in the long-run by learning what you need to adjust, which will make a huge difference when it’s actually “go time”!

Think of constructing your workshop around 3 items… 1) The Walk-Through, where you will show everyone how to do something or discuss what the activity is going to entail. 2) The Actual Activity, where everyone is trying to do the item they have been tasked with (while you wander around and help people out one-on-one…. in other words, stay out of the way!). 3) A Debrief, where you can lead a discussion on what worked, where people got stuck, what was informative and what people learned. Have participants show their work instead of your own, in order to lead the workshop in different insights and observations. This will always help others learn a little better!

We’ve all been to different workshops and when we leave for the day, the room looks like a tornado hit it. Papers will be everywhere, whiteboards and flip charts will be filled to the max. Sketches and diagrams will be all over the place. And the post-it notes… oh goodness, the post-it notes! The wall might be covered with everyone’s output! Chairs are rearranged and the space is going to need some clean-up! Participants should leave feeling like they’ve done WORK! They should feel like they are leaving with a sense of new ways to accomplish things they never thought of and you may even think about sending them home with things to do, as well!

4. Assign Homework and Follow-Up with Participants of the Event

Like any good teacher, you have to let your participants continue to learn even if your event is only for one day! Therefore, make sure you have a follow-up exercise or project available for them to work on after your workshop is completed. Also think about including a small list of best resources they can go to for additional help. Think about great websites that you can point them to, handouts covering “Top 10 lists” to help them out, or anything else you feel could be useful in their future endeavors. 

Also consider creating a questionnaire all participants can take at the end of the event and give them plenty of opportunities to share their opinions on how well everything went. I know, I know… it can be scary to put yourself out on display like that for everyone to critique, how else are you going to learn and improve for the next time?

Finally, make sure you have a plan to communicate with participants after the event. Follow-up with individuals to see where they stand a few weeks after the workshop. Was it useful? Are they putting their projects into action? Continuing to network with participants is a great way to find additional opportunities for outreach, collaboration and future interactive workshops they can be a part of!

There won’t be anymore boring Powerpoints at your next workshop, right?! Participants are going to have the chance to apply new information to their everyday lives and jobs and can analyze problems and difficulties they may currently be having with others, in order to figure out solutions that will move them forward. By allowing everyone to share their experiences and ideas, you will be creating an educational, collaborative environment that will facilitate the learning that participants came to do. And that’s the whole goal!

Networking For The Introvert

OK, so I've dealt with my fair share of introverts before. And guess what? I love working with them! Why? Because they get focused on these creative goals that they have and knock it out of the park every time they open their mouths. They are thoughtful, deliberate and if left on their own and not forced to constantly communicate, will absolutely knock your socks off with the ideas and creativity that they come up with! Introverts aren't anti-social, they just don't feel comfortable having to participate in every event, conversation, or group. Many would rather have their teeth pulled than join in on events that are happening around them!

Attending an event, conference or workshop can be absolutely TERRIFYING for them to even think about. They don't want to "share" and they are more interested in getting down to business and learning what they came to learn. Who has time for any fluff? Not them!

So when it comes time to hosting your next event, don't forget about those individuals who may be a bit more introverted! They may not think that participating in everything you have painstakingly created will be a hoot the way you had initially planned! As a matter of fact, they may think it downright stinks when they are asked to participate in icebreakers or one-offs that aren't necessarily related to the content at hand. So what do you do to break them out of their shell? How do you get them comfortable with networking? 

1. Recognize that an Introvert's Reluctance is Natural

The sooner you realize that not everyone may have quite the enthusiasm for everything you planned like you do, the better off you'll be! And for those introverts out there, give yourself permission to participate to see what it's like! If you're not enjoying yourself or are uncomfortable, give yourself permission to leave. Breaking out of that reluctant attitude can take some coaxing but if you tell yourself you only have to attend one break-out session or participate in one activity, it will make everything seem less daunting and that it's OK to not join in on everything!

Send out your itinerary for the event prior to it beginning. This will help everyone, particularly introverts, prepare for what is coming. And introverts… when you get that itinerary, spend some time with it! If necessary, script some things out for how you would answer different things that you know are going to come out. The more prepared an introvert is allowed to be, the better!

2. Offer Different Experiences for Different Personalities

Remember that you will have a variety of personalities attend the different events, conferences and meetings that you plan, so offer different things for different people. While that doesn't necessarily mean you have to prepare two completely agendas, let people choose if they would rather use their free time participating in a networking event with a group of attendees, or if they would prefer to do an activity with a smaller group of individuals. Offer events that give people a chance to see the location you are at, a fitness class, a spa treatment, or something that will appeal to those who aren't ready to spend all day with a large group, and than spend all night with them, as well. Introverts need a break from people! 

3. Offer Networking Opportunities for Attendees Online Prior to Your Event

Are you planning a conference or event where many people won't know each other? Think about setting up a private Facebook Group for all of the attendees to get to know each other before the event. Connecting with people online before they actually meet can be really helpful for introverts! Encourage attendees to connect on LinkedIn so they are familiar with each other before they arrive. It really helps to feel less alone when attendees are moderately familiar with who they will be spending their time with at your event! And the bonus will be that introverts will be able to continue to network after the event is over, because they will now be able to continue discussions with people they have met!

This also helps people feel more prepared for what they are walking into. Nobody wants to look silly and by having everyone "meet" beforehand, you are going to lower the stress for everyone, especially those introverts, right off the bat! You may also want to have people make a "to-do" list for the 2-3 things they are most hoping to accomplish or get out of the event you are holding. When introverts can put things down on paper instead of being called upon unknowingly in a group environment, they are going to be so much more likely to participate once they know what is coming!

4. Offer a "Goals and Ideas" Section for Participants     

This may seem completely anti-introvert, but work with me here… introverts want nothing to do with celebrating their achievements or discussing the ideas they may have or goals they want to accomplish. They WANT to stay in the shadows and get in and out as quickly as possible. However… it's not a bad thing for you introverts to let people know the things that you've accomplished, the ideas you have, the goals you are working towards. Who knows who in that room may be able to help you with those things! Talking about these things with everyone can help make the connections needed to move forward in careers and life. You don't have to everyone talk at length about the things they are working on, but by allowing everyone a chance to share these items will be a great way for everyone to gain new, strong connections!

5. Create a Comfortable Environment

Are you having a smaller conference or intensive with a small group of people? Think about figuring out different ways throughout your time together to create comfortable scenarios. Find locations that will put people immediately at ease and will help people talk to strangers a little easier. The environment everyone is in will have a huge effect on the success of the event. It can improve everyone's mood, participation, and their willingness to interact with people around them. It will lower everyone's stress, which won't make the idea of talking to other people around them seem downright miserable! 

If you are having a larger event, resist the need to keep going for long stretches of time, in order to fit in all of your material. Allow for frequent breaks. Introverts recharge when they are able to take a much-needed break. Just the short amount of time it may take to return to their room for a bit, take a quick walk, or find a quiet spot on the grounds to decompress, they will come back stronger and ready to take on the world!

Don't forget… introverts draw energy from being alone, while extroverts draw it from being around others. You are more than likely going to have both types of people at any event, intensive, or conference you plan, so make sure you aren't using sweeping generalizations when getting things ready! Introverts are going to take companies to places that you never even imagined, so let's not make them feel like they are having their teeth pulled when they are put into situations they are uncomfortable in. Let's give them the opportunities and structure to succeed when networking is inevitable! 

Peaceful and Secluded Sedona, Arizona

If getting your next meeting out of the hustle and bustle of city life and finding a place where all of your attendees can unwind is on your priority list, than don’t miss out on Sedona, Arizona! This is a true paradise in the middle of the Arizona desert. With beautiful landscapes, breathtaking views, and peace and quiet surrounding you, it’s the perfect location for your next women’s retreat, private event, or small business meeting. Who wouldn’t love to wake up to this for a few days? With beautiful resorts and spas, the gorgeous canyons and red rock formations and wonderful hiking and wellness opportunities, your next event will be a hit. And when the sun dips down below the horizon, everyone will be treated to the best show in Sedona: the night sky! 

So where are the best places for you to look into for your next event? You won’t go wrong with any of these top-notch options below:

AMARA RESORT & SPA

Amara will meet any of your event needs and will offer all of your guests an inspiring sanctuary, full of passion and productivity for the entire stay of your group. Want to enjoy the beauty of the area while holding a meeting? Not a problem! Amara offers indoor and outdoor flexible meeting spaces, so your attendees will be able to view the unparalleled backdrop of the Sedona Red Rocks while staying on-point for the event. You’re going to create a memorable experience for your next corporate gathering and with the stylish ambience, natural setting, and amazing spa, your guests will travel back home relaxed, recharged and refocused! Not to mention the ability for you to schedule entertainment options that they are going to never forget, including Jeep tours, horseback riding, winery tours, yoga classes, mountain biking, and of course hiking! There is no better place to create a sense of camaraderie!

SEDONA ROUGE HOTEL & SPA

No matter what the purpose of your next event, your attendees will feel the benefits of a Sedona escape that will leave them enriched and inspired. And it will all be thanks to you! Body, soul, mind, heart and spirit will be cared for here and with the comfort, relaxation and pampering treatments that will be available to them at The Spa, they’re never going to want to leave! Sedona Ridge offers multiple area for meetings and events, ranging from your standard conference room that will hold up to 120 people, to a rooftop terrace where you will be able to gaze directly down onto the breathtaking landscape of Sedona. With a wonderful concierge service on-site, you’re going to be able to whisk your guests away for a day of fun in the area and it will all be handled for you. Daily yoga is also offered and what better way to start everyone’s day off on the right foot than with a morning yoga session? This place is going to treat you and your event with the undivided attention you deserve!

POCO DIABLO RESORT

Inspire your group at your next event by holding it at one of the Top 50 Meeting Destinations in the U.S. How could you go wrong? With skilled event planners on site, you are going to be able to focus on what matters most - your attendees, while Poco Diablo takes care of everything else. They offer versatile meeting spaces that will work for any event you plan to hold, from small business gatherings to large corporate conventions. Admire gorgeous views of Sedona’s Red Rocks from many of the rooms and allow your guests to be pampered by the services and amenities the resort offers. An on-site 9-hole golf course will attract some of your guests, while scheduling a spa service might be inline with others. No matter what, everyone is going to find something they love about this place!

L’AUBERGE DE SEDONA RESORT & SPA

What could be more tranquil than holding your next small event or corporate retreat at this creekside inn? Boasting rustic elegance throughout all of the cottages, lodge, spa and restaurant, your team is going to get the full attention of dedicated conference team experts. Not only will you be creating a meaningful and educational event for your attendees, but they are going to get the rest and inspiration that they are craving! The red rocks of Sedona and tree-lined creek found at L’Auberge will provide the serene backdrop for any event you have in mind. And because of this intimate setting, your group will likely be the only group on property, meaning you are going to have undivided attention from staff. How wonderful! With a spa onsite to take advantage of, along with wonderful hiking opportunities, your guests are going to be delighted to be a part of this gorgeous oasis, if only for a day or two! 

ENCHANTMENT RESORT

This destination combines luxury with rugged grandeur inspired by Native American culture, which sets a spirited tone for meetings and conferences. Flexible meeting space indoors and outdoors means you won’t be limited to one specific area on the property. Enchantment Resort is considered to be the perfect destination to brainstorm, team-build, hold educational sessions, and provides a can’t-miss attraction for any business traveler. Guests will also have the privilege of getting spa treatments at Mii amo, the on-site spa which was recently named one of the world’s top destination spas by Travel + Leisure! Guests will be able to use all of the Mii amo facilities, including the steam and sauna, a whirlpool, fitness room, indoor pool, lounge areas with fireplaces, and outdoor lap pool and spa, as well as the ability to participate in all fitness classes, art lessons, cooking demonstrations and other activities. What great opportunities for team-building! 

If you have an upcoming meeting that you know you are going to be planning for, consider holding it in Sedona, Arizona. The natural beauty alone will be pleasing to any guest, but the ability to hold high-end quality meetings, events, or retreats will more than help you make up your mind! Have a meeting coming up? Contact me and let’s chat!

Top 5 Certified Green Hotels For Sustainable Meetings

Sustainable meetings are becoming more and more of a priority to many businesses across the country. In today’s day and age of aiming to be as green as possible in everything businesses do, it makes sense that holding meetings that are green, as well, is trending. If sustainable meetings are something that you want to make sure you embody when planning your next intensive, conference, workshop or event, consider one of these certified green hotels as your next destination. 

1. The Allison Inn & Spa - Newborn, Oregon

If you’re looking to hold an event in the wine area  of Oregon’s landscape, look no further than The Allison Inn & Spa! They are at the top of the list for Eco-Friendly Luxury and were awarded the prestigious LEED Gold Certification less than a year after opening in the fall of 2009. Key green features include solar hot water, photo voltaic cells (which generate 7% of electricity), no use of plastic bottles, along with a sedum ‘green eco-roofing’ on the west wing. 

And it doesn’t stop there! They emphasis sustainability and conservation in everything they do and always share with their guests, staff and the community what their vision, approach and rationale is on sustainability. They are teaching everyone who walks through their doors or lives in the area! They work with other organizations to share their information and techniques, as well. How inspiring!

Local businesses are utilized whenever possible and the produce and prepare fresh vegetables from their own 1.5 acre Chef’s Garden & Greenhouse. 

Know that your next event will be in in the hands of dedicated environmental stewards if you’re looking to hold a sustainable meeting! And you will never find the standards of comfort or the guest experience being compromised. It’s the best of both worlds in this eco-friendly luxury destination!

2. Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort - Lake Placid, NY

Lake Placid is such a gorgeous location for your next event and if you’re looking to make your event sustainable, Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort is a winner! They are Lake Placid’s only Platinum rated, environmentally friendly hotel and are the only area hotel to offer green meetings. Why not hold your event not only at a beautiful and tranquil location, but also one that will be sustainable?

One of the most unique items of sustainability at this resort comes from the beach down on Lake Placid! It is made of crushed limestone, with a natural white color, the sand, which counteracts the effect of acid rain, which is a major issue in the region. The beach helps to lessen the effects the rain has on the environment and also helps to keep the lake water clear. Now that’s impressive!

With energy efficiencies in place around the entire resort, along with not using water bottles and implementing a paperless system for reservations, Golden Arrow has become one of the most sustainable resorts in North America. If meals are required, they offer organic, locally produced cuisine. By purchasing as many supplies as possible from local vendors, it helps to reduce emissions from transportation and supports the local economy. 

From guest rooms, to the food in the restaurant, to the roof over your head, Golden Arrow has found creative ways to blend high class hotel amenities with sustainable practices. That’s why Golden Arrow was the first hotel - and only one of seven - to receive a Platinum Eco-Rating from Audubon International. With their commitment to educating and engaging visitors about sustainability, they are sure to remain at the cutting edge of GREEN hospitality!

Speaking of the roof over your head, the hotel’s roof is a 3,400 square foot “Green Roof” that is composed of a variety of plant life. This helps meet many of the resort’s sustainable goals by providing insulation, which reduces the hotel’s heating and cooling needs, provides a habitat for area birds and insects, and some of the plants are herbs that are used for the restaurant. How wonderful!

3. Bardessono Yountville - Napa Valley, CA

You’ll be hard pressed to find guests and attendees who won’t jump at the opportunity to attend your event in Napa Valley! But when choosing where to hold your meeting, consider Bardessono Yountville! It is 1 of only 3 hotels in the U.S. to achieve LEED Platinum certification and they work hard to act on the environmental values that they hold dear! 

They are a 100% non-smoking property, which also includes a ban on electronic cigarettes, as well. They stand by their word and put the needs of the environment ahead of everything! 

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean they skimp on luxury. They have 62 luxurious guest rooms, each designed for private in-room spa services. Their restaurant is based on local, farm-fresh ingredients and there is a rooftop pool for lounging and dining! They also have carbon fiber bicycles on-site for guests to use!

They prove that a hotel can provide a luxurious guest experience and be green at the same time. Their environmental initiatives have been implemented in a manner that is practical, economic, and aesthetic. Taking care of the environment is engrained at their core and they are committed to spreading the word about the importance of taking action!

Bardessono has implemented an underground geothermal system, which heats and cools the guest rooms, spa, and the hot water supply. This means that almost no offsite energy is used! They also have 940 solar panels hidden on the rooftops that provide significant amounts of the hotel’s electrical demand. And by utilizing occupancy sensors in guest rooms, they automatically decrease energy consumption when guests aren’t in their rooms. 

What a wonderful model of green initiatives for sustainable events!

4. The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa - Savannah, GA

The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa will have the senses awaken for all of your guests! They will be able to replenish at the spa, recharge with a round on the attached PGA golf course, or relax at the tranquil riverside oasis. And by providing complete business services, unsurpassed catering and convention options and a multitude of recreational activities, Savannah may be the next place you hold your sustainable meeting! 

When it comes to being Green, The Westin Savannah is at the top of the list by proving to be one of the greenest hotels in the U.S. They have been awarded the Green Seal Silver level certification, which is one of the most robust environmental standards in the hospitality industry. In order to receive this certification, a hotel must meet and adhere to stringent guidelines set out, which includes requirements in waste management, energy efficiency, water conservation, wastewater management and green procurement. They believe it’s a way of life!

The resort has a steering committee which serves as the council for sustainable decisions. They are fluent in the initiatives that have been places and work to ensure that the policy is maintained and future goals are met. 

From making sure recycling bins are available throughout the resort to refurbishing items as often as possible to eliminate buying new, The Westin Savannah is committed to being green. Sustainable meetings include the use of white boards, bulk condiments and energy-efficient digital signage, use of eMenus, eProposals and digital contracts. They have also implemented low-flow showers and faucets in the resort to reduce the water needed. And by purchasing local seafood and organic vegetables and using herbs grown at their on-site herb garden, they ensure that the food you eat will be as green and sustainable as possible, too! 

5. Montage Deer Valley - Park City, UT

If you’re looking for an authentic, yet refined mountain retreat to hold your next event at, along with being a certified green resort, you’ve found a winner at Montage Hotel & Resorts in Park City, Utah! Not only do they offer unrivaled ski-in / ski-out access to one of America’s best ski resorts, but they also boast the largest spa in Utah, five inspired dining options, its own bowling alley, along with amazing year-round activities such as hiking, biking, golf, and fishing. Your guests are going to be treated to the ultimate luxuries, should you hold your next event here!

They also are passionate about sustainability at every level of the resort. Montage Deer Valley was the first LEED Certified resort in the state of Utah and is committed to caring for and enhancing the astonishing environment around them. 

Montage took their commitment to being green one step further by establishing an executive-level position within their business to create, integrate and manage all aspects of responsible sustainability actions in the company. They are 100% committed to holding the highest USGBC and LEED ratings as possible, in order to benchmark their success. 

By following policies including environmentally preferred purchasing programs, waste management programs, water-quality management practices, energy management and green housekeeping initiatives, Montage Deer Valley is a perfect spot for a sustainable meeting.

Planning sustainable meetings can be made easier by looking into one of the above five locations for your next conference, workshop, or event and why wouldn’t you want to? Show your guests and attendees how much you care by setting them up for success with the environment. And you never know who you will inspire to make different choices in their everyday lives after spending a couple days at a location like one of the above! 

5 Things To Do To Create A Successful 2-Day Intensive

So you are getting ready to create a short, but focused 2-Day Intensive and want to make sure it goes well? Where do you start? How do you ensure success?Not only do you want it to be successful for YOU, but you want to make sure your clients and attendees get everything out of it that they were hoping. Who wants to let people down? You want to change peoples’ lives! So, what is the right formula for success? These things will help you determine what you need to do before, and after, your intensive to make sure everything goes as planned!

1. Figure Out Your Goals for the Intensive

What is your wish list? Where do you want to hold it? What is your budget?

In order to figure out how you’re going to set up your intensive to make sure it’s as successful as possible, make sure you have clear goals laid out for what you want everyone to accomplish. Are you going to hold the 2-Day intensive and send everyone on their way? Are you going to offer support for a specific amount of time after the session for people to talk to you and make sure they are on track to achieve success? 

A big goal to determine is the budget. You need to know how much you are going to be charging and how much you are willing to spend on a venue for your intensive. Don't go looking for things outside of your price range, or you will end up spending more money than you bring in just to hold your 2-day intensive. Are you going to offer meals during the event or is everyone on their own? Are you providing transportation?

During the intensive, are you going to offer speakers to help drive different points home? Is it going to include a lot items that attendees will need to do a little pre-work for? Make sure you create a specific agenda before the event and send it out for people to become familiar with as soon as possible. Let them know beforehand when they are going to get breaks, how long their days are going to be and what they can specifically expect so they are prepared to get down to business when your intensive starts! Let them know what is going to be offered during the day, as well. Will there be drinks readily available and appetizers throughout the day? Are you bringing in lunch so they don't have to concern themselves with it? Make sure the agenda is specific enough so they know what they have to plan for on their own!

Also determine how big you want your intensives to be. With something as intimate and content-rich as intensives, it's always wise to limit your attendance. You want to make sure everyone is gaining the most out of the experience and the whole point of offering an intensive is to make sure that everyone is access to YOU and you are available for interaction throughout the event. Don't overwhelm yourself or limit others' experiences by having too many people register for it! 

It's never a bad idea to add a cushion to your intensive when figuring out your budget goals. Build in an extra 15-20% in your budget to cover the expenses you may not have thought about. You don't want to be caught off-guard and it's a great way to make sure you don't get in over you're head. That's what goals are all about! Sweat the small stuff ahead of time so you don't have to worry about it once your intensive starts and are fully concentrating on the business at hand!

2. Marketing It

Make sure you are doing everything possible to market the intensive as carefully as possible! Create a specific logo that will go with this intensive, particularly if you plan on offering this intensive multiple times in the future. Use a color scheme for the event and display it on your website with online registration. Make sure to make it as easy as possible for people to register and pay for the intensive online, in order to cause less confusion and have a streamlined process. Spread the word through your newsletters, on social media, target different groups that may be interested online, such as in LinkedIn or Facebook. And rally the troops! Have former attendees who would be willing to share it on their social media pages? Collaborators who will step up and share it for you? Think of anyone and everyone who could help you get the word out, and have them spread the information! 

Also, everyone loves thinking they are getting a deal. Consider offering discounts for signing up by a specific date, or if more than one person from an organization is going to attend. Spark that interest! Offering a money-back guarantee is another way to garner interest, as well. You may not want to do this the first couple times you offer your intensive, but over time, this may be something you are comfortable with offering to garner additional interest. That being said, it's always wise to have disclaimers attached to a money-back guarantee to make sure you aren't being taken advantage of. 

3. Creating Interactive Content

Since a majority of 2-day intensives will focus on a smaller group and on a specific issue or content, make sure you're making the time that you are spending in the intensive as pain-free and educational as possible. This may mean you want to find ways to connect with everyone in a better way than standing up front and giving your presentation. Make things interactive!

Have the group test out some of the new techniques and material that you are going through during the day. Give them the opportunity to let you know specifically why they are there and what they are hoping to gain from the intensive. Everyone may have a slightly different perspective and when they hear each others' stories, things may resonate with another person and they may be able to form a connection outside of just being there for your 2-day intensive! How great would that be?!

Make sure you let everyone know that now is the time for mistakes! Now is the time to take risks in a nonjudgmental and less formal environment. How would they handle different things in their real lives in order to use the information they're learning to the best of their ability?

Bringing something different will help to keep things interactive, as well. Have them do presentations on different things relating to the event and put them in situations they would find in their real lives. Or bring in s speaker that may not necessarily be directly related to the field of the intensive. It may seem illogical at first, but getting a fresh perspective form a fresh face might bring the interaction that you are craving in your 2-day intensive!

One thing to make sure you do while providing interaction for your attendees is to make sure you get out of the way! Be the one asking the questions and let things flow organically, while still staying on track with an overall agenda. Another great way to follow this is when questions get asked, see if anyone else has any thoughts before inserting yourself into the answer. You'd be surprised and happy how often people talk themselves into different outcomes once they are talking about it out loud!

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4. Downtime

Make sure you're giving your attendees some space when the busy day is over. By holding your intensive somewhere where they will have a space of their own (hotel, resort, bed & breakfast, etc.), you're making sure they have a little time to unwind in private after an intense day of learning. You want to make sure everyone stays refreshed!

Also, make sure there are events and opportunities that your attendees can take to get a flair of the local life, particularly if you're holding an intensive where many people are coming in from out of town. At the very least, make sure you have something to handout that includes suggestions on different types of activities they can participate in, along with restaurants that they can try out.

If possible, go the extra step and plan the fun yourself! Since their days can be intense with all of the information they are taking in, plan a "stress-free" afternoon or night for everyone to get better acquainted and relax. Depending on where you are staying, it can range from offering wine tour events, to outdoor activities, to time where they can pamper themselves at a spa. Your attendees will remember it!

5. Constantly Refine and Improve

This is particularly important if the intensive course you are offering is going to be one that you continue to offer in the future. Many successful intensive conferences are ones that have spread through word-of-mouth and before you know it, your audience may grow larger than you ever imagined! This means you may be offering your 2-day intensive on a quarterly or bi-annual basis. 

Because of this, make sure you watch and improve on things that are and aren't working in your intensive. If something is particularly standing out as a sore spot, think about either replacing it or talking to past attendees on ways they feel it could have been more smooth. To this end, it's a great idea to have all attendees fill out a sheet at the end of the intensive to provide you with feedback on how the event went. By having them fill out something after class or electronically from home, it will allow you to filter, refine and test everything so you can offer the most up-to-date tools and techniques within your intensive! Make sure your attendees get the maximum benefits that they can through signing up for your intensive. 

Overall, planning a 2-day intensive can be stressful and can be a lot of work. But by following these guidelines on how to best plan an intensive that will be successful, you'll be ahead of the curve and will see positive results!

5 Things You Need to Know BEFORE You Sign That Contract

Many times in our society, everyone is more than willing to sue another person or business for things that may not have went as they had planned. Has this happened to you or are you worried it may in the future? Before planning that next big event, make sure you fully understand everything that is laid out in that contract so you are educated and aware of what may lie ahead! 

1. Know Who You're Contracting With

When planning events, there are things that may be subcontracted out to other people at a resort or conference center and you may not even know. So what happens if something goes wrong? Make sure you are well aware of who all of the parties involved are, and everyone’s responsibilities once the contract is signed. 

Also, make sure you are contracting with the correct names. For example, if you’re contracting with a vendor to help with your next event or are getting ready to sign with a resort that is going to be all-inclusive and take care of everything for you, make sure you do not list yourself by name individually as the party to the contract, but instead use the name of your business or who you are contracting the event on behalf of. If you use your individual name, you could be held liable to a vendor or business for any occurrences that did not go as agreed upon under that contract. 

Another smart move when knowing who you are contracting with is to make sure they are licensed to do business in the state you are looking to hold your next event. If there is an issue later on that needs to be resolved, there could be legal issues that you wouldn’t be able to act upon because they weren’t properly registered in the first place. 

Don’t find yourself in the middle of a legal battle and make sure you are 100% sure you know who your contract is dealing with!

2. Details, Details, Details

Always make sure that the contract clearly states what the agreement is going to be. What is each party going to do and when will they do it? When is payment expected to be made; before or after the event? When are services considered rendered and the event provisions are no longer provided by a vendor? Make sure there is a well-drafted contract to provide clear details, instructions, and expectations on both sides. There should be no wiggle room for outside interpretation and nothing should be ambiguous! This means even going so far as to put specific dates, times, and locations into the contract. 

Also consider any pricing issues that you’ll need to figure out. Who is getting paid and when are they getting paid? Make sure it is clear when money is due and how it is expected to be paid. Make it as easy as possible for everyone to fully understand what is expected!

If ever in doubt, have your lawyer review a contract before you sign it. You always want to make sure things are as they appear and you won’t be taken advantage of!

3. Define What Happens If There Is A Default

Always make sure that anything you sign clearly outlines what will happen when one party of the contract doesn’t hold their end of the deal. More times than not, people always intend to provide the goods and services that they agree upon when the contract is first signed, but sometimes things get in the way of having that actually happen. When this occurs during a major conference or event that you’ve set up, it can have disastrous consequences. So what will happen?

Make sure the contract specifically states how an unfulfilled term in the contract will be remedied and how the dispute would be resolved. If something appears like it will be difficult to determine how to resolve, you may want to look into having a contract that specifies an amount, agreed upon by both parties in advance, that will be paid if something were to default.

On the other hand, including something such as an “out clause" may help you avoid dealing with default if there has been continued poor performance or lack of proper handling of items happening on a regular basis before your event. It’s best to nip something in the bud early on in the relationship rather than find out while the event is in full swing!

4. Include Clauses To Help Agree On Items

Including some contractual clauses before the contract is signed will help you deal with some key issues up front. Who will be responsible for attorney fees if something were to happen? Should you include a Binding Clause that prevents any oral agreements outside of the contract to hold up in court, unless it is in writing and signed by both parties?

5. Feel Free To Negotiate

You may not even think about negotiating the terms in a contract you may be presented with, but there is always some negotiating power when you are looking to book your next event or conference. The venue wants your group to be there as much as you’d like to have your group there. So if there are things in the contract that you don’t like, just ask for it to be changed. You may be surprised how often the other party will agree to a change, or at the very least, meet you in the middle. 

You never know unless you try!

Overall, contracts can be exhausting and stressful. You never know what you may wind up with and sometimes it can be more than you bargained for! Protect yourself and use these five tips to help you know exactly what to do before you sign on the dotted line!