We have had the amazing task of planning a conference in Puerto Rico this July. Our client decided last minute that he wanted to plan his annual conference in Puerto Rico. As a professional planner, we are all for what our clients wants. We agreed that PR would be great! So we launch the event, sell tickets, and have not idea where we are going to have the event (kind of a planners nightmare...lol).
A month later, we fly out to PR, with our client, and go on a number of site visits; looking for our main event and the venue that had the right flavor for our group. After a few days, while adding a little pleasure with business, we finally found a great venue! It was perfect! Villas for our VIPs, spacious sleeping rooms, a great meeting space with pre-function area, and a poppin' lobby with Latin dancing from the locals. So, we moved on it! We booked the venue, signed our contract, and were ready for a great 2018 event. THEN...Hurricane Maria hit...
So, our amazing hotel said they were fine...not affected...fast forward 3 months...we received a call that our hotel couldn't open until November 2018 (4 months out from our event). In a panic, with a desire to still have our event in PR, we flew back out to San Juan to find a venue, that could hold our event.
Below is a glimpse of our adventure, that includes a walk around Old San Juan. We plan to publish more after we touch down in San Juan on Tuesday and arrive at our NEW hotel, the La Concha Hotel, a Renaissance Resort, in Condado. We can't wait to showcase some local eateries, local clubs/bars, and show our piece of the Puerto Rican culture. #teamnuvision #deucedeuce #nuvisionnation #staymagnificent
The venue has multiple spaces to accommodate different party sizes. The inside space has two dining rooms. The main dining room, shown above, with the large glass window and archways, can accommodate up to 112 guests. If your guest count is larger than that, your remaining guests will be siting down the hall in the overflow room, pictured above with the gold trim & gold chairs. You may be wondering how you can do toasts and first dance, if the room is split...well, you don't. After dinner, your party will proceed downstairs to the grand room for toasts, first dance, and cake cutting. Or you can take the party outdoors on the glamorous courtyard and party under the stars.
If you're like my client and you do not like the idea of breaking up the party, you can have your entire reception in the beautifully designed tent area, off of the courtyard. There is a minimum guest count of 200, and an additional rental charge on the tent, but hey, at least everyone will be together.
There are two ceremony sites in the front of the mansion, which looks simply breathtaking upon arrival. Minimal decor is needed, as the grounds are already beautiful. For an additional fee, the pool area can be used for cocktail hour, late night snack, or even a dessert display.
The catering is provided in-house. The small bites I tried were good. They can even provide the cake in-house and the sample I had of that was ahhh-mazing! The bar is only wine, beer, and champagne, all as a hosted bar. If you desire to have hard alcohol, you can bring your own for a fee; a must bring liability insurance, rent your own glassware, and provide all mixers. This can be a bit of a task and can get a little expensive, depending on your guest count.
Overall, this place is beautiful and very unique. It is quite an experience to be able to stay the night in the mansion (the room decor was really neat). Downside - they do five weddings a weekend (yes, two weddings in one day). To me, that seems like your wedding isn't exactly special but more of a turn key operation. This could be good, knowing they have a thorough and experienced staff. Or it could feel like you're just a number. Additional downside is the location. It seemed great when we looked it up, but upon making the drive from the Bay Area, there was more time spend in the country side than we would have liked. That could be a deterrent to your guests and/or dangerous at the end of it all (small winding roads to/from the property). On the positive side, the prices are very reasonable for what you get; food selection, look of the venue, complimentary parking, amazing photo opportunities. They offer a preferred vendor list, but allow vendors outside of the list. Only exclusion, DJ services. This must come from their list or you'll pay a fee to go off the list.
To recap, visually stunning mansion, with space for small to large weddings, just outside of Sacramento area. If you're looking for a unique, secluded experience with history and Italian charm, this is the spot for you. We recommend a planner for this one :)
As I sat in my office yesterday, tackling task after task, I contemplated if I was really making progress toward my goals or was I just doing busy work to move the needle a bit for the day. It got me thinking about how we track making progress toward something. How do you know when you're making progress? What are the mile marks along the way of life? Is it mastering the mundane disciplines that are necessary to daily progression? Having a daily pattern of accomplishment? Or is it something else...? Starting a new hobby, setting a new goal with a plan to accomplish it, taking a break from the mundane...becoming new, doing something new?
While writing on this topic, I became stuck at the answer. My thoughts were all over the place about how I look at progress versus how I think I should look at progress; taking into consideration a perspective from my mother's point of view on my progress (a different perspective than my own but one that comes from love and pride for her daughter). What I consider progress for myself may not resonate the same to someone else and vice versa.
So I am here to ask, what's your way of tracking your progress? Interact with me on this, in the name of research :) Is progress seeing your tasks/daily disciplines accomplished or is it something solid, like reaching a financial goal? In the search for the best work/life/health balance, how does progression fit into that? Do we constantly seek to progress higher in only one area or do we maintain a balance of progression though all avenues of life?
Have you ever felt like you were progressing in your health or your career, but regressing in your personal life? How can you maintain a positive outlook on progress in one area, if there is a regress in another? My advice to myself (and to anyone open to it) - celebrate the wins, big and small. Don't guilt yourself for losing balance. Make an effort to do something, even small, to progress your core values on a daily basis. The compound effect of those efforts will result in progress over time. Stay committed...
We are four days into the New Year. If you're like me, you set goals for the new year; to make it different, to start fresh with where you fell off last year...all goals being the change you've been waiting for. Then you wake up to day four, and realize you may have over anticipated your capacity for completion. That's not a good way to feel at the start of a new year-new you.
So where do we go wrong in the plan? Is it waiting to long to set the plan? Like maybe December 31st or January 1st, is to late to write out the goals; you brain needs more time to digest and reset itself to you new plans. Or maybe it's that we are being overly ambitious with the goals? I don't know about you, but I had a feeling of anxiety in ringing in the new year without the plan on paper or any sliver in the direction. Now on day four, there are already areas scribbled out the calendar, and daily goals moved to the next day...not part of the plan.
Frustrated by the anxiety that is getting worse, I decided to look to technology for a fix. We all can admit that our lives are on our phones; truthfully, can my millennial generation even function without their phone? The good news is, I found an app that can help keep the disciplines of the daily goals and keep accountability, even when my brain wants to tackle everything at once. With this app, I can track/check off the important daily tasks that will keep me moving in the direction of the goals I set. No more procrastination or moving things to the next day on the calendar or scratching it out completely; my app will show me that I am daily achieving rather than feeling like there are daily failures.
As an entrepreneur, running two business from my home office, doing off site consulting, being a wife, mother, girlfriend, and coach, it can sometimes be overwhelming to remember to treat myself with the same importance I place on everything else. Whatever core values you have in life or about life, make sure you make the time necessary to invest in your core values. Not doing so can lead to burnout, neglect, anxiety, and bitterness. And you can perform at your ultimate level with any of those negative feelings.
To everyone out there that can relate; let's reset. It's only day four of the new year, but let's treat today like it's day one. Write it down, tackle the goal, and don't let yourself make an excuse for not taking care of yourself first. In the end, you're all you go. Cheers to the New Year!
Be the example you want to see. Whatever industry you are in, you can create change. If you feel there are not enough women - be the woman. If you feel there are not enough people of color - be the person to represent for others. If you feel there are not enough millennials - be the millennial others can look up to. And if you feel there is no leader - be the leader. Lead from the front so those following will know what they are supposed to do. The difference between success and failure is equivalent to the difference between hot water and boiling water; it is only 1 degree of difference.
In order to be the best at your craft, you have to be willing to work and put in the 10,000 hours necessary for mastery. It may seem like it’s mundane and that it is taking too long to see progress...until you look up a few years from where you started and realize that everything is different. Reflect on your past...to appreciate your present...to elevate your future. Have faith and patience in the process.
In less than 24 hours, I will be at IMEX America! I have waited a year to attend this magical event. As an entrepreneur, as opposed to an employee, it isn’t always financially beneficial to attend conferences. Airfare, hotel room, food, registration, etc. can add up, without a direct return on the investment. I feel incredibly blessed this year to be attending as a Hosted Buyer! Thanks to my partners at W.O.W. USA, for the opportunity to attend with the team. From what I can tell, this event represents the epitome of how I imagined my life to be. Having opportunities to learn from industry leaders, network with other professionals, and ending the days with social celebratory events. I love meeting people, learning, and connecting. Your network is your net-worth; the bigger the net, the larger the value.
So, tomorrow I will walk into the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, open and ready to absorb expert education from Meeting Professionals International, “Smart Monday” session. My fingers will be weak from typing rapidly to my Ipad, capturing the nuggets of information that will be shared. The anticipation of growing is beyond exciting! Can’t wait to arrive and share my IMEX America adventure.
Stay tuned for IMEX Day 1...
This week, I experienced a level of nervousness I hadn’t felt since walking down the aisle over 5 years ago...As the members and guests of Meeting Professionals International Northern California Chapter, Professional Education Program, the first event of the new fiscal year, took their seats at lunch, the announcements began. We heard fiscal budgets, projected goals, achievements, and more, from the chapter president. The Meeting Professional of the 4th Quarter was announced. Applause and flashes all around. Then, an unexpected announcement. The Meeting Professional of the Year from 2013-2014 was going to be announced. This award was typically given at the Annual Awards Gala (which took place in June).
As the nominees were being named (13 to be exact), it occurred to me that I had filled out an application for this award, as my name was being said as a nominee. My table mates looked surprised as they read my name tag, realizing that was my name that was announced. My stomach got tight, my hands became clammy, and I looked to my lap to avoid a cheesy excited smile, in anticipation of the announcement of the honoree. As I thought of the names that had previously been announced, I thought, what a dynamic group of individuals! This was going to be tough. And then I heard something like, " It is my pleasure to introduced the Meeting Professional of the Year for MPINCC 2013-2014, Christa Mekki of Magnetic Magnificent Events!". As I jumped out of my seat, I saw to my right, my highly respected mentor doing the same! I received "Congrats", applause, and high-fives as I navigated through lunch rounds, to make my way to the stage. My face couldn't have gotten any tighter as I genuinely grinned from ear to ear. I walked up the stage stairs to the president and stated to her and the crowd, "You guys rock! Thank you!". Her humble reply, "No, you rock!" as she handed me a gorgeous crystal 8" solid star trophy. We politically posed for the camera. I was sure it would be the cheesiest, most genuine, and least modelesques photo ever. As I started to walk back to my seat, my mentor stepped out and we shared an embrace that brought tears of joy to the surface. She whispered that she was proud of me; I whispered I was thankful for her.
See, she doesn't really realize what an impact her association and simple attention has mean to me in the growth of my business. I first met her via email as I was recruiting professionals for an MPINCC Students Affairs Committee event. She had a quote (or a tagline) in her email that I vaguely remember; something about education. As a formal student (mid Hospitality degree studies) and a student of personal development, I was intrigued by her end line. I was excited to meet her in person.
When she walked in the room of the Student Affairs event, she wore a structured suit, perfect hair, and flawless makeup. She had a Louis Vuitton signature wrap that she stated was "Spotlight Purple" (corresponding to the name of her event consulting/DMC business). As the event wrapped up, she, my professor, and I, stepped down the stairs at the beautiful Bently Reserve in San Francisco. I glanced down and noticed red bottoms glistening with her every step. I couldn't help but ask, "Are those Christian Louboutins?" to which she replied, "Why yes, darling, they are." That moment lit the match that destroyed the ships of doubt. I knew, in that moment, I had found the industry I was meant to be in. I'm not completely vain; it wasn't just the shoes. But I was taught, when you find someone that has what you want, do what they did to get there. I had never met anyone with Christian Louboutins; let alone anyone that could be mentored from.
From that moment on, it was as if she knew my goal was to be the next generation of her; to make her proud as I referred to myself as her protege. I observed later that she has an unmatched ability to make everyone around her feel better about themselves. She remembers and shares facts and successes about others, to others, connecting people through her electricity. She has connected me and pulled me into an elite circle, simply by association. I have only needed to ask her advice a few times, as I greatly respect her time, but what I have learned, has excelled my business. There is a different confidence in embarking on an unknown path, when you have access to someone who has already walked the path.
After receiving the MPOY award, and taking my seat again, I shakily snapped a picture of the award. First for my mother and husband, and then to share on my social media outlets (when something makes it to a FB feed, it must be real news :) I couldn't believe that this young professional, one year post college grad, two years in official business, was given an honor like this, voted on by her more seasoned peers. I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude; thankful for the opportunity to experience and to prosper at doing something I love. I can usually be heard, when in the midst of planning an event, that it is my joy and I truly mean that. I encourage everyone reading to find something that you can say the same about...where does you joy reside?
"The true measure of leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less"- John C. Maxwell
If a person does not have the ability to influence and inspire others to action, they will never be able to lead. Influence is defined as: the capacity or power of person to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviors, opinions of others. It is the ability to move a person to act or to think, in a way that would not have transpired without the influence of another. However, influence alone is not enough. Others must also be inspired by the influencer, or their actions will stay the same. Inspiration is defined as: to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence. These attributes, influence and inspiration, work together for the benefit of a leader. If a leader has influence but lacks inspiration, then how far can he/she move other people to action? Inspiration must accompany influence. Leadership is not positional. For example, a manager may be able to influence an employee to do something based on position, but that alone will not keep the employee inspired to continue. They may incorporate new action or thought temporarily based on the influence of the upper management position, but leadership is more than a title. It requires consistency in action, behavior, and attitude.
People expect leaders to be upbeat, positive, and motivating. Followers want to be inspired by the leader. Leaders must create and communicate a vision that and inspires others to take action toward the common organizational goal or the individuals goal. A leader must have the highest energy and enthusiasm level to infect others and motivate them toward action.
Leaders have to show their constituents that they are passionate and committed to pursuing the dream (Kouzes & Posner). People will follow that which breathes into them a purpose and gives them meaning in life. People want to be inspired. Most people want more out of life, want to reach goals and live their dreams, but they lack vision and have more doubt, than faith. A leader creates that bigger vision for their constituents; offering them hope and belief. When people have doubt, negativity, uncertainty, and feel discouraged about the future, a leaders role is to influence a change and inspire new thinking. Leaders must not only speak the right words to inspire, they need to lead with new actions and vision. Leaders must fuel others with positive emotions, influence change, and inspire peak performance.
The same is true for events. Events create positive emotions, can influence change, and can inspire people to reach optimal levels. Companies create events to motivate employees, speakers host seminars to educate and inspire, and cities manage festivals to create communities. There is power in numbers. Give an event the power it deserves; treat it like a leader.
As graduation is approaching, for many young professionals, it is time to start preparing for life after graduation.
Here are 5 tips from my experience in the industry, as well as in entrepreneurship, to prepare you for the life, career, and success you are hoping for after graduation.
1. Network now! Find what aspect of an industry you are draw the most to and join the organizations that support that. There are organizations for hotel management, event planning, travel, tourism, and many other industries. Most organizations have a local Northern California chapter, which host ongoing educational events and networking opportunities. This is a great way to be learn about the industry, stay up to date, and to potentially meet your future employer.
2. Dress for Success! When attending industry events, going on interview, or attending classes on campus, be sure to dress professionally. This is not to say that you have to wear a suit to class but how you show up, is how you appear to your professor. Professors know people in the industry and can be liaisons to opportunities. When they are asked what students they could recommend, you want to be the first person they think of, by the impression you make.
3. Learn outside of the classroom! Engulf yourself in your future industry. Find out about, and sign up for publications regarding your chosen profession (or a few professions if you haven't decided yet). What us typically taught through textbook is a broad overview of an industry, but ongoing,current publications give you an inside glimpse into more specifics. This can help provide you direction toward your future career.
4. Utilize social media! Using LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, you can connect with professionals in the industry. Create your profile to show yourself as you would want your employer to see you. On Twitter, find mentors already doing what you want to do. Follow them, retweet them, favorite tweets they post, etc. You can do the same with places you would like to work, like top hotels or companies. As you show involvement and activity in the things these people and companies post, they will begin to notice you. Don’t miss the opportunity to get noticed!
5. Volunteer and impress! Take any opportunity to volunteer in the industry. Large companies are always seeking volunteers. These are the type of resume builders that employers will look at. The more involved you can be, the more experience you gain, the more you can talk about it when you interview for a job. As you are volunteering, show up and show out! Impress whoever you are working with; they will remember you.
As a event & meeting professional, I am often asked to lend an ear to event ideas. I listen, nod in agreement, and subsequently ask myself if I can identity what I believe are the 5 most important elements in the creation of a great event. If I cannot easily identify them through the idea process, I make it a point to ask the potential client, or enthusiastic idea creator, to answer the questions.
For anyone preparing to plan a meeting, launch a business, or simply host a party, I have listed the 5 key questions to answer before the fun begins!
1. What is the purpose of the event?
Whether you wish to celebrate a momentous occasion, launch your business, or host a speaking engagement, you want to start with understanding the purpose. The purpose helps to determine the theme and the marketing strategy surrounding the event.
2. What is the theme?
The theme determines the energy of the event. Is it serious, educational, social, or interactive?
3. Who is the target audience?
Knowing the target audience is important for planning and marketing purposes. An event with a target audience of high school students is much different than a target audience of professional women or men.
4. What is the budget?
Before ticket sales and sponsorship options, how much money needs to be invested or is available to be invested into the event. Understand that no matter what is said, there is always a budget. Even clients that say "no budget", have a spending limit. Be honest with yourself (and your planner) about your comfortable spending limit is.
5. What is the intented outcome?
What is the goal leaving out of the event? What should the guests receive from attending your event? At social functions, the intended outcome is typically great memories and personal connectivity. Speaking engagements are typically intended to sell merchandise, such as books, audios, future event registrations, etc. Educational events are intended to add value to attendees. By identifying the intended outcome, the 'take away' from the event, it is easier to determine the value, the dedication level, and the future growth opportunities.
Before I accept a new client or start planning for an existing one, I determine the answer to these 5 questions. It helps me to keep the client focused on the goals at hand and to know the time that will be necessary to invest into event plan in order to achieve the goals. Overall, if there is an event idea burning inside of you and you can truthfully answer the 5 questions, hire a professional planner. This is just the beginning...