How About that Leadership?

Hello and Happy New Year everyone!

I know is February and very close to Valentine’s Day and I  know that I haven’t written articles lately, but today I feel inspire. Inspire because I want to stress the importance of team building and respect. Yea, I also thought that it’s a very obvious matter but believe or not in many places such as orgs, work and even at home, many people forget the importance of team building and respect.

Why is it important? Because if you don’t feel like you are being guided through a process that’s new to you, you might feel discouraged and yes, you will keep working on it, but it does get difficult when the person who is supposed to guide you is not supportive and you feel like she/he just wants you to fail.

So, I’ve read quotes saying that it’s better to be a leader than a boss. Those words are very true when it comes to having to work (in any place) with a group of people. How is the organization or company supposed to grow if there is a huge employee turnover ratio who are not even lasting a year on the job? Other than being disadvantageous for the new person, it is also hard financially on the organization or job.

So, just a tip to those so call leaders out there, you can be tough and hard as much as you want, and I’m not saying you have to be easy when it comes to business, but you need to learn how to appreciate your staff and teach them to be as successful as you, so that your organization’s or business’s culture is known for their leadership and employee advancement within the company, which will also reflect on the numbers.

And just because I love quotes, I’ve written below some of my favorite ones that I found today.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” – Jim Rohn

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”- Henry Ford

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton
Any comments are welcome!

With love,
Natalie

EXPECTATIONS

Hi all,

The topic for today is “how to manage your client’s expectations” which has been a topic lately especially now with this coming Inauguration Day. In the world of event planning, and in any kind of business for that matter, you encounter many types of people with different wants, needs and expectations. Because you want to do business and also provide everything that is possible to your client, you may promise things that you may not be able to deliver. This is when you need to Manage Your Client from the very beginning.

How can you manage your client? Well, it’s actually pretty straight forward and that is why we might not always think about it (I’ve done it!). You need to tell your client what you can offer, how to deliver it, the time frame to finish your job, and just be sort of honest. In event planning, and this happens not just to event planners, clients reach out to you with a vision of their event , but they are not sure how to develope it and they want you to help them figure it out with your expertise. Or some clients come to you with a vision knowing exactly what they want (think decor, music, venue, overall experience, etc).  Either way, as a knowledgeable person in the industry, you can certainly help the client make their vision a reality, BUT there are a few things to take into consideration after talking to your client about their wants, needs and expectations of the event:

  • Obviously, the biggest thing would be BUDGET
  • How capable are you to deliver what the client is asking?
  • Are the client’s expectations realistic?
  • Is the time frame to plan the event realistic?
  • Do you have the right tools to plan and carry out the event?
  • Do you know people in the industry that could give you some tips about something you don’t know much about?

These are some things you need to think about as you talk to your client while discussing and going over the ideas and plans for the event. The client will definitely appreciate your input so that he/she is prepare as to what to expect and as to what can be done. Trust me, building a trustful and professional relationship with clients should be one of your top priorities.

Trust and professionalism = repeat business

I hope you find this helpful!

With love,

Natalie

Food for thought

Hi all,

I’ve been horrible at writing these past few months, and I know I should be writing about Halloween decor ideas (oooppss) but with changing jobs, trying to enjoy our bipolar autumn, and trying to organize my trip to Chile for this Christmas,  and also celebrating the birth of my nephew (!!!), I’ve had not thought about a good topic to write about until a couple of weeks ago…

As you most likely have read, heard, or talked about in the past few months, the main topic now is how our world is deteriorating due to our lack of interest, knowledge, resources, and/or technology available to us. I had written an article a few months ago about how you can do little things to have a meeting that is a little more sustainable and there you will find that there are ways that everyone can do to accomplish an event with a little less footprint.

In the event industry, there are lots of ways to be more green when having any type of event such as meetings, lunches, weddings, birthdays, conferences, etc. One option and a starting point, would be to find vendors that support and are advocates of this movement. Not many people know or do their research about this topic and they go on about their lives not thinking about the little things they can change in their daily lives that leave a smaller footprint on Earth.

I, for example, was not knowledgeable about this topic until about two years ago, and since then, I started recycling, trying (and very, very hard) to bring my own bags to groceries stores, consume less things that are not needed in my diet (sadly being very unsuccessful some days), etc. and it might  not sound like anything, which you might be right if you are thinking that, but I am in a way helping and I think that counts a lot more than knowing about the damage and not doing anything about it. The changes are not easy, but now that I know about the problem, it makes me feel more conscious about something I would do in my daily life and I try to change it.

It’s the same in the events industry. When planning a small meeting, it would be good to use bamboo or compostable plates and eating utensils, or even having your own plates that can be easily thrown in the dishwasher to be available for the attendees. For larger events, look into recycling and food donation programs that vendors already have and are eager for you to ask about it!

The less we consume, the less will be purchased, the less will be produced, the less harm we cause.

I hope you liked this article and I would love any feedback!

Happy Halloween!

With love,
Natalie

The Truth About Networking

Hi all,

Last night I attended yet another networking event that probably gave me the opportunity to get myself known to a few more people in the event planning industry (within this association). This particular networking event was hosted by one of the associations I am member of and it took place at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City, VA.

The event was on the rooftop and the view was amazing! (totally worth having an event there) and the music and food was spectacular. The music was very soothing and the food tasty as ever!

I think this has been my fifth networking event that I’ve gone to since I started to enter the industry and let me tell you that it is exhausting. I know some people who go to a lot more, but a girl has enough time, energy, and money to attend these things.

As exhausting as it is, I am slowly accepting the fact that it is a good thing. I’ve met many vendors, planners, and other special event industry professionals that I probably would have never hear of if  hadn’t gone. So, remember the time when you were in college and your professor talked about or the many articles you read about the “best way to get an interview”? Well, I hope you took them seriously because I feel like you are put to the test on these types of occasions.  At every networking event I’ve gone to people ask me: So, why are you in this industry? What do you want to do? Do you want to work on the vendor side? Non-profit or corporate? Social events?  What are your strengths that can help us in our committee, and I stand there looking at them and thinking..this sucks! It’s like being back in college and talking to the interviewer at a job you would really (or not really) want to have. And I also learned that the more prepared you are, the easiest it will be.

Last night, for example, was not one of my best times. I was sort of really tired because I felt like I’ve had a long week already between my job and other things, and also the event was so small, I promise I felt like I was in a knit tight family event. So, I had to try really hard to break out of my shell and approach the very few people there and start a conversation.

A funny thing also is that at most of these events, the attendees are all already working in this industry, meaning they are not looking for a job, and so they are there to get business, not to talk to a student that wants to learn more about opportunities. Usually, the members at these organizations are sent by their companies to network and get business, so they are not really concern about filling up an opened position in the company unless they are in that department and really need someone to fill it up.

Like I said, last night was not my best, and I am positive that I was making some of them yawn with my unprepared and so not captivating speech about my new career and aspirations. I even made myself yawn! Honestly, I get tired at the same questions but at the end of the day, they don’t know anything about me, so I have to repeat it over and over again just how they repeat they speech about what their company provides over and over again.

So, I really hope you understood the reason for this post, but in case you didn’t, my final words are: fake that you are feeling miserable when networking, and having a prepared and captivating response to the most common questions is going to be a life saver because they will be more interested in what you will have to say and you will feel more confident for the next event!

With love,
Natalie

Award Dinner Tips

Hi everyone!

Last night, I attended my first  event with MPI Potomac Chapter, and it was one of the greatest and touching events that I’ve attended in a while. They were recognizing and giving awards to the most outstanding members including planners, suppliers, etc and introducing the new board for the coming year.

The first half of the event was the awards session. This session was very organized and thought through. They used the idea of “story telling” to communicate and present all of the speeches they had prepared. Honestly, I thought it was brilliant and touching. Everyone loves thinking back to everything they’ve accomplished as a team throughout the year, and having the opportunity to thank everyone who has helped them grow as a person and professionally.

The second part of the event was the reception, and it was gorgeous. The Carnegie Library is amazing! I had attended events there before, but I had not been to one in over 2 years, and it was a pleasant surprise to see it again and remember how beautiful it is. The food was spectacular, and I liked the idea of having a reception instead of a sit-down dinner because it gives the chance for everyone to mingle and walk around instead of being stuck in a chair and having to talk to the same group the entire night.

In my personal opinion, I thought it was great. I had the opportunity to meet great people and learn more about the association.

What you should take from this article is that a very thought through event where the planner thinks about the needs and wants of the clients and reviews the events from previous years to identify areas of improvement is very important. Since all of the people who planned this event are professional meeting planners, I am sure they reviewed last year’s event to see what they could do better this year. Last night’s event was touching as well as fun. It definitely created a memory and a positive feeling for the attendees, including me.

I hope you liked my post and find it helpful. Until next time!

With love,
Natalie

Green Is The New Black

Hi everyone!

Today, I want to talk about sustainability. I know the thought of it probably sounds boring or too hard to deal with for some of you, but it’s something that it affects everyone and everything in our planet.

On a more personal level, I’ve always felt that I wanted and needed to contribute something to the Earth. This could have meant that I would take care of sick animals, not littering, being kind to people and animals, etc. but I never felt like I was making much of a difference even though when we do this, we actually do make a difference little by little, and it is a good way to contribute back.

I’ve said this in my first post and I am going to repeat it, I am new to the event planning industry and I am always looking for ways to learn and improve. The other day, I had a “light bulb” moment and I realized that the way I could help with sustainability in a larger scale was to inspire and teach clients about it, so that they can realize that hosting a sustainable event doesn’t have to be a headache or more expensive. Also, if they decide to take that path and they’ve hired a planner, they won’t have to worry about the details that entails to having a sustainable event, just as having a non-sustainable event.

There are many ways to make an event “greener” depending on the event you are having. Even decreasing the footprint we are leaving behind by a little bit, it’s much better than not caring at all and leaving a much bigger footprint of just waste. One idea that I really like is creating a new life by planting a tree in the remembrance of someone. I think this can be a very touching and special thing to do. There are two things you would be doing by choosing this option:

  1. The process of planting a tree or any other plant for the memory of someone makes you more connected with Earth and with the person you are remembering.
  2. You are giving life back to Earth

You can also opt for throwing some petals of flowers down a river. These two things, when I think about them, makes me feel more connected with nature and it just gives me of feeling of tranquility.

Now in the case of a wedding or baby shower for the party favors, you can also use a plant with the roots that would come in a water vase ready to be planted. This idea is great for the center piece and the party favors at the same time. I actually saw this in a wedding recently and it looked gorgeous! Guests love taking the flowers with them after weddings and so the guests at this wedding thought that it was the cutest way to take back with them a little piece of the new couple and the new life they are building together.

So, when we think of sustainability,I don’t want anybody thinking that there are limited options for having a sustainable event. The ideas are limitless and you can really get creative with it. Even if it’s one thing that you are doing to contribute back or help, it’s much better than nothing.

Another issue that I want to touch base with also is the use of animals for some events. For example, using doves for weddings. Any animal used for events are not really enjoying the process. They obviously have to be kept in cages or boxes, and it is very stressful for them. There are many negatives consequences when using animals, insects, etc. and doing just a little research beforehand would be help a lot!  So, next time we plan something, we need to remember to do it in a way that we are not hurting so much by avoiding little things like that.

I really hope everyone  enjoyed and considers some of the things that I’ve talked about in this post and sorry that it is so long!

With love,
Natalie

Sweet Ladies Bakery

Look at these gorgeous wedding cakes! I actually tried some samples during the Capital Bridal Affair and Fashion Show last February at the Mayflower. The show was amazing btw. The cakes I sampled were amazing! If this picture isn’t enough, visit their website 🙂

http://www.sweetladiesbakery.com

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Preparation is the Key!

Hi all,

Today, I want to talk about managing your time and also delegating work to other people in your team.

I did not mention this before, but I am doing an internship with a company where the space is rented for all sorts of events. My job there is to make sure that all of the vendors coming in and out adhere to the rules of the company, and I also help coordinate throughout the event.

Last weekend, I worked with them for a wedding. As you all know, weddings are a very special event in someone’s life, so everything needs to be as perfect as possible. What I witness through out the process of setting up for the ceremony and during the event in general made me think that some vendors really need to organize themselves better and learn to delegate work to their team. This is also a learning experience for me and you.

In this case, the vendor that was falling behind schedule was the caterer. The catering manager for this particular event seemed to look a little anxious and nervous because she was way behind schedule and the ceremony was about to start–most of the guests were already there, including the bride and groom. I noticed that her team of waiters looked a little bit too relaxed. So, what does this tell you? The catering manager was trying to get done as much as she could while her team were taking their time to set up the tables and chairs, which let me tell you, they did not set up the chairs for the ceremony. I will explain this better: we are talking about 100 and some guests, a reception area with about 10 tables and a couple of high tops, and the balcony area where the ceremony was going to take place. Also, take into consideration that they didn’t even have to put the plates, silverware, and napkins on the tables–only two glasses and a small vase with a flower. It looked lovely! I don’t want to make it sound like it was not. At the end it was a lovely wedding, but as detailed oriented that I am, I would have changed a few things.

Although, the catering manager pulled it off, my advice is that as a vendor or planner, you should always try your best to be prepared as much as possible (one of the sauces the bride had requested specifically was not there) and also, you should not try to do so much yourself because you will burn yourself out and things are not going to get done. This is when delegating work to others becomes handy. That is why you have a team. We, as a leader, should learn to delegate work. I have problems with this myself, honestly–I always try to do too many things myself because I want them in a certain way, but if you teach your team to work with you, everything should flow better.

Fortunately, the bride and groom didn’t seem to notice much about what was going on, except the fact that the sauce was missing, which is one of the reasons of getting a planner–as a planner you should not forget things like that! The client and guests should never know what is going wrong behind the scenes. And I just want to point out that the bride and groom did not get a planner–they communicated with each vendor separately.

So, what can you take from this long post?? Always be prepared for the expected and unexpected, learn to delegate work to your team, and be as positive as possible! 🙂

Things will always come up and something is always bound to go wrong, but one should always be prepared to either avoid these things or to be ready to fix it when it happens.

I hope you find my article helpful and until next time!

With love,
Natalie

Networking Event @ Virtue Feed & Grain

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I attended a networking event in Old Town Alexandria in a restaurant called “Virtue Feed & Grain”. This event was hosted by the Association of Wedding Professionals. Anyways, let me tell you that it was spectacular. I love going to these sort of events to meet new people in the industry and learn about their experiences. This was my first event with them and I would totally go again in the future. It is also a good opportunity to learn of new venues in the area.

Well, this post is about the venue. A couple of months ago, someone told me about the restaurant “Virtue Feed & Grain” when I was planning a cocktail party for a fraternity. I never got the opportunity to go take a look since it was not in the area the students wanted to have their formal. So, this was my first time there.

The restaurant is actually really nice and cozy! They have two floors and the second floor is very spacious to host any type of event. The style has a look of a “modern American tavern” as they describe it on their website, with wooden tables, amazing lighting, lounging areas, and the staff was outstanding! A little bit of history just because it is always interesting! The building was actually a feed house in the 1800s and they renovated the structure with recycled materials from other structures not being used anymore. They tried to keep a lot of the original structure when renovating it. I always think it is amazing when restaurants try to incorporate originals parts of a building and add a modern twist. It really gives places a personality. You can actually find the entire story on their website. It is very interesting! I also want to point out that everyone was very nice, and the manager came to introduce herself and asked if everything was fine. Also, the food was amazing! Everything tasted very fresh and it was made well.

The restaurant is located in Old Town, Alexandria. For those of you who have never been there, Old Town is an amazing and cute little town. There are tons of shops, cafes, and restaurants to choose from. It is ideal to enjoy the nice weather and walk around. I actually love going there when the weather is nice.

Anyways, so below is the link to the restaurant if you want to check it out!

http://virtuefeedgrain.com/

 

 

House-Warming Parties

This post is dedicated to house-warming parties. Honestly, I think these parties are fantastic. These are social gatherings to celebrate the beginning of a new start, at a new place; to show off your space and the decor in it; and to spend time with the important people in your life who are worthy of inviting. Yes, I said worthy.  For this party to be a good and enjoyable one,  you have to plan it well, which means you will be spending a good amount of time planning it, depending on how many guests you invite, so you have to make sure you invite your closest family and friends to make it memorable.

Now let’s look at the food and drinks part: I think these are one of the most important things about a good party. The drinks keep the guests happy and the food keeps them busy, but let’s not forget about the guest list!

Well, let me start with my experience planning my own first house-warming party. My husband and I moved into our new place a few months ago, and I was super excited about planning our first party. We moved in September and I needed some time to decorate the apartment, so I thought that we could have a Halloween themed party. Well, let me tell you that a lot of planning went into it with buying the furniture first and then planning the party itself. I research good finger food recipes and I got Halloween decor such as spider webs and spiders, little pumpkins to put on the center table, etc. I think keeping the decor light is a good idea since you are trying to show off your place. I also got a costume, but I do have to confess that I did not put too much thought into it–I just knew that I wanted to be a witch. I also told the guests that a costume was required to be able to come.  Anyways, so everything seemed like it was ready, the apartment was decorated and most of the food was ready and my husband had gotten a few drink options. NOW, this is what I did not take into consideration: the GUEST LIST. Guess what? When you invite less than 15 people to a house party, you have got to make sure that they will click or somehow that they are from the same group of friends. This was my mistake. I invited some friends from work, some of my husband’s and my common friends, and I invited a friend whom nobody knew. Do not ever do that! Let’s just say that they did not click and some people did not show up. The party that was supposed to be fun, full of jokes, and pictures of our Halloween costumes was not what I had planned.

Now you know! As planner, you have to think about everything, even the music that is going to be playing, the guest list, the food, the decor, the space for the amount of people that are attending, EVERYTHING.

Now, I also want to point out guest etiquette. As a planner, you go through all the work to try to make a fabulous party. You try to think about everything, calculate the people attending, etc. to figure out the budget and what you need, and guess what…the guests who said that would come, do not. Well, that is a bummer! Now, all the work and the money spent, is lost. As a guest, please try your best to come if you said you would. That’s all!

I hope you enjoyed this post and until next time!

With love,
Natalie