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?
This is it! I have found my passion in the best industry! I am supposed to be here! When I decided to become an event planner, I thought it was just a decision I was making consciously. However, as I tapped into my subconscious, I realized I have been preparing for this my entire life. As I traced the memories back to my childhood, I remembered that my mother used to host amazing parties, focusing on every detail effortlessly. I would help her purchase decorations and put everything in its proper place. In middle school,I joined student government simply to add more social events for students. In high school,I hosted a festival and coordinated a fashion show. In college,I co-hosted poetry sessions, lectures, festivals, and parties. Understanding how the universe works, it is of no surprise that I am doing exactly what I was destin to do. It's only the beginning...