Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ben Cameron's Keynote

For those of you church goers out there you know what I mean when I refer to the Zone. It's when you've settled into your pew and the service and as the officiant launches into a homily (in my case) either my eyelids close or I enter the Zone whereby I mentally check out for a few minutes. It's not that all speeches or stories are boring. It's that too often I've heard the same stuff regurgitated. By force of habit I drift to the Zone. Here and there though are incredible inspired charismatic people that not only speak intelligently with so much emotion one can't help but get pulled into the excitement, but they also have something important to say.

Such was the case a few weeks ago. I attended the PA Presenters Conference in Bethlehem. I've sat through tons of "all conference seminars" and "keynote speaker luncheons" and so many have been dry and/or lacking in any substantial information. Ben Cameron, Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, was our speaker and man, not only did this guy give a dynamite energetic presentation but he also did what he called all of us in the arts to do -- engage our audiences. I couldn't even be bothered with taking frantic notes. I hung on his every word (literally, I was draped over the back of my chair). I was that emotionally involved.

So many of his points still swim through my head but my favorite analogy was his quoting Wayne Gretzky: "I skate where the puck will be." Look ahead. Anticipate. Engage. I'll dissect the speech in bits over the coming weeks with new posts, but for now, do yourself a service and spend 15 minutes over a cup of 'jo and read his moving speech here. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Networking Tips (& Mistakes)

I saw these tips posted on Monster and I wanted to share them.

Let me say for the record that I have shamelessly fallen victim to at least 2 of these mistakes: forgetting business cards (he always gave me the Look)...and having the crazy email address (at least it was a conversation starter?!)...But over the years I've pulled myself together and I'm proud to say that now I know all of these and follow all of these tips and tricks religiously.

We live and learn.

The Art of the Thank You

I've come to the conclusion that after one is married the amount of money spent at Hallmark on cards increases 5 fold. It used to be I'd buy a pack of thank yous, a birthday or graduation card here and there and $20 later, be done with it. Now I have a whole other family to wish happy birthday, congratulate, celebrate, and thank, coupled with 20-something friends getting married and having babies. There's simply too many of these celebrations occurring simultaneously that I don't have the time to handcraft cards the way I want. So I contribute to Hallmark's profit with another $80. In the words of Kurt: So it goes.

Of course I'm always drawn to the cute cards that retail for $5.99. I wind up ranking the importance of people and occasions - is this worth $5.99? Honestly, besides mom and dad, the only time I don't cut a corner is with a thank you note. I mean this literally and figuratively. If I can do it, I'll buy the nice card. Sometimes time is scarce so a quick email does the job, but whatever the method of choice, spend the time crafting the note. I can't tell you how many thank yous I've received over the years that are lifeless and written simply because "I have to." Get over yourself. Someone did something nice, went out of his or her way to help you, mentor you, gave of his time, bought you something - whatever - the least you can do is acknowledge it. Trust me - People don't forget it...and they tell you so you never forget how important the thank you is to them. After an event I found a ridiculously cute and appropriate card to thank my boss for the new learning experience (seriously, I'm not a kiss ass...I just really enjoyed my role at this event) and I'll never forget the email: "I wish everyone had your manners." My wedding was a year ago and one of my relatives kept the thank you I sent her because "It was one of the nicest well written notes I ever received!" I mean, she kept it?!

So what do you do? Grab a card, make a card, buy a card.

Say thanks. Thank the person for the gift, gesture, time, etc. Don't just say thanks for "the gift." It's too vague and impersonal. Reiterate it. Monetary gift? Writing "Thanks for your generous gift/donation" is the quintessential line.

Talk it up. What's so great about the gift? What makes the gift/gesture/donation so special? Will it go toward anything particular? People like knowing these things. Write 2-3 short sentences describing why that iPod Nano is wonderful or what that donation will fund.

Wrap it up. "Again, many thanks for your - insert appropriate adjective here - gift. Think words like generous, thoughtful, kind, etc. Then sign.

By the way, old school style gets you the most points here -- handwriting the thank you. But email or a typed letter is still good.

Here are examples of a few I've written:

Dear Aunt Denise,
Thank you so much for your generous wedding gift. (The dear husband) and I are looking forward to putting this toward furnishing our new abode with hardwood floors and fabulous new furniture. It was wonderful that everyone could be with us on our wedding day; it truly meant so much to us to have our friends and family celebrating with us. Again many thanks for everything.
Love, Chrissie

Dear Presenter,
Thanks so much for the opportunity to work with you and your staff this past week on marketing projects. It was a valuable experience and I look forward to seeing how the season brochure turns out. It was a pleasure to work with you and your staff - everyone was so welcoming and helpful. You have a terrific team and I hope you'll consider me for future consulting projects.
Sincerely, Chrissie

So there you go. Maybe you've gleaned some ideas...or not. Regardless, I thank you for reading this post :)

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I was one way back in the day...6th grade. I could use an entire squad right now.

I am on the heels of a networking conference and overall I had a terrific time, met a lot of new artists and reconnected with many other industry professionals and even have some solid leads. Like trade shows and conferences of days gone by, I am caught up in the excitement of the moment: doing tons of stuff, spewing out my elevator pitch, dressing the part, attending opening and closing receptions...I could go on. If you've been to such events, you know how all consuming it is and how by Day 3 you crash and burn. Day 4 is when you stare at all the work before you and panic.

The panic creeps in ever so slowly and I don't even realize it until I find myself at Cold Stone Creamery on a rainy Sunday night "not dealing." Besides all my follow ups, I am also considering adding some web services to my marketing list. Lots of research, lots of thinking. But I was in a similar mental state some time ago and I return to some enlightening thoughts to pull me out of this temporary road block.

When I panic, stress, worry and essentially feel my self confidence wavering (and Cold Stone Creamery becomes a distraction), I recall a good friend's words: "These moments are part of any job...but compounded when you start a new business..." She continues by reminding me of all my positive traits and characteristics and the magic words that it'll all work out in time.

It's true. We all get overwhelmed. We all need that friend to remind us of who we are, why we make these seemingly crazy decisions to start businesses, to follow dreams, and to tell us it'll all be OK. Let's surround ourselves with cheerleaders. Let's remember those who have guided us in our studies of yesteryear and apply those same strategies.

My head swims with ideas while I drive home with my Cake Batter Lite ice cream. But I remind myself of why I am doing this...remind myself of my high school time management course and to chunk my tasks. I am feeling better (and back in control) already. I've had my down time to momentarily freak out, get my ice cream and not deal. Now it's back to work.