Monthly Archives: July 2014

Joy best expressed in person

Pardon me while I take a few minutes of your time to share with you the obligatory post-conference glow post.

Before settling in to write this, I read through past post-conference posts. I 97% certain that they make up a collection of my favorite words. Some were reflections of life changing moments spent roaming the streets of Manhattan. Some were spent intently listening to every word shared with me while sitting in on panel sessions because the world outside was far to hot and muggy to even think about exploring. Some were spent trying to relive what I’m sure other 22 year olds were doing while I was studying music history and force feeding my brain French in college.

One conference saw me post a brave tweet, meet future mentors and be asked to write an article for an industry publication.

All were pretty fantastic.

This is where I pause. Actually, to be quite honest, this is where I find myself facing a huge speed bump and not knowing how to get over it.

I am so at a loss for words that truly have the meaning behind them that I intend. This past weekend saw my 5th VenueConnect conference with IAVM (my 7th conference/meeting with them if you include some sector specific and region meetings… then add Venue Management School on top of that). Not only was I fortunate enough to attend, but I had the honor of playing event manager for the host venue (Oregon Convention Center, in case you haven’t been paying attention). I was 2 parts excited and 14 parts nervous approaching the event. On one hand, I’m confident in my skills as a manager and didn’t expect any issues. On the other, I adore this organization and the people in it and the last thing I wanted to do was be at the helm if something fell through. If you’ve ever planned an event of any size, then you know that anything can fall through no matter how much planning, review, double checking and work went into it. Those of you who have ever worked in an environment like I do where there are what seems like 42 people planning these things, then you know it’s almost inevitable that something will fall through.

Guys… not a single thing fell through. Oh sure… things changed… surprises came up… but everyone adjusted. No complaints. No screaming matches in the back halls or behind office doors (if you knew me back in my Arkansas days then you knew I’d either witnessed these a few times or unfortunately, were dragged into them once in a while – screaming just meant we were passionate about what we were fighting for… right?).

No problems.

Not a single one.

I work with a team of people who made magic this past weekend.

While at dinner last night with an old friend from Arkansas, I was able to brag a bit about my new workplace and coworkers. I wanted to gush about them the entire time. I spent the entire weekend with colleagues from across the country but ended each evening spending time with my coworkers. We ended one night at Spirit of ’77 over beers and honest conversation, we spent one evening eating one of the best meals I’ve had since moving to Portland and ending up at the Moda Center where we had more beers and brutally honest conversation and then ended the conference letting loose and again, enjoying beers and laughter at P’5 while we listened to great music and enjoyed the summer breeze.

I’ve spent the last day reflecting on this.

Just over a year ago I was starting my new job in Portland. I was sure I wanted the job and wanted to move but it took a few months to really let go of any hesitation I had about making the right decision. My work environment was extremely different from my previous job. I went from working with mostly women (and not having the best relationship with some of the men I worked with – unfortunately those men sat in some key roles for my future at the venue) to sitting on an executive team where I was the only female and the youngest member of that small group of people.

Would they respect me? Would they be patient with me as I learned my new job? Would they include me? These questions ran through my head a lot and left me exhausted at the end of the day.

And this is where that speed bump comes into the picture. I don’t quite know how to express the joy that my job and coworkers bring me on a regular basis. I just don’t have the words. I thanked my boss today. Just walked into his office and thanked him. I thanked him for the opportunity to work at the convention center. I thanked him for being patient while I figured things out. I thanked him for dropping everything to listen when I needed to talk about a frustration or success.

And then I went back to my office and cried. I’m so happy. It sounds ridiculously sappy but it’s true.

I feel like one of the luckiest people out there. This past year has brought me so much joy. My new home… my new marriage… and the best job in the world.

Lucky, lucky me.

Disclaimer: there were some magical times spent at my previous job. They allowed me to grow, work the Superbowl, attend Venue Management School and I had some fantastic co-wokers there. However, if you’ve been following my blog through the years, you knew I also faced what felt like impossible tasks during my last couple of years there. Things change, that’s inevitable – my frustrations were simply a result of change that I wasn’t best suited for. Thankfully life allows you to adjust when you need to and Portland was just the adjustment i Needed.

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IAVM storms Portland

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, then you know IAVM (International Association of Venue Managers) is an organization very near and dear to my heart. I joined for the first time just 4 years ago.

It’s strange to type that. Not because that 4 years has flown by, but because it’s hard to believe it has only been 4 years.

4 years ago I was a timid wall flower attending their annual conference for the first time. Meeting people at conferences was not at the top of my list of comfort items. I think bungee jumping with an old rope made more sense to me at the time. Meeting people terrified me.

But go I did.

Try to meet people I did.

Absorb everything the conference had to offer I did.

I left with a wealth of knowledge but not a wealth of new contacts. Not a complete failure but not a total success.

Fast forward a few years and over the course of my time in the organization, I’ve grown braver, I’ve grown to hate being a wall flower and I’ve also grown up. I’ve been a panel participant at a couple of sessions (and will be doing so again this week). I’ve graduated from Venue Management School where I served with a group of amazing individuals as class rep. I’ve written an article for an industry publication. I’ve left one job and started another.

I’ve found my professional self.

Pretty soon contacts, old and new, will be flooding into Portland for this year’s annual conference and I cannot wait to sit and catch up over a beverage or two. It refills the tank and I can’t think of a better way to spend the last full week of July.

What have been your favorite professional affiliations? Are you a member of an industry association? Do you participate in a blogger group that provide education and social opportunities to meet up? Do you find that online forums are your best resource? I’d love to hear from you – what makes you tick?

Not in the job requirements

Since when did mind reading become a required skill of people management?

I mean, predicting what might come out of one of my team member’s mouth at completely the wrong time and the wrong place is something I excel at and I have amazing skill at shutting that down before it even happens.

But I’m going to let you in on a tiny, little secret.

I don’t read minds.

Go ahead, take a moment to let that soak in. Yes, it’s true, I’m no super woman. I’m no X-Man. I just haven’t developed those skills (do they teach you that when you’re getting an MBA?).

I’ve been the driver some some pretty significant changes in my department over the past couple of weeks. I’ve barely struck the match at this point, I’ve yet to toss it onto the lighter fluid soaked charcoal. The match alone has some people coming to me with the look in their eye that it’s far too hot on the patio for a cook out. We sit, we chat, I ask what’s bothering them, and they return the favor with a simple look.

You know the look… it’s the “You know what I’m thinking” look.

But I don’t. I don’t know what they’re thinking any more than I know what they wrote in their diary the night before. I just don’t know and it’s frustrating me. I am a lover of conversation but not a lover of playing 20 questions. Why won’t they just say it? Is it fear of irritating me because they disagree with my actions/plans? Is it a loss of words because they haven’t figured out what the root of the problem is? Is it a lack of words because they think they should react but aren’t sure how?

Where is the feedback I so desperately wish for?

I guess I’ll give them the gift of time on this one. I’m a manager who likes to solve things. I like to collaborate and figure things out. Waiting is hard and the gift of time might as well cost $1,000,000 because I feel like a monetary gift of $999,999.99 would be easier to wrap up than time.

In the end, I didn’t come to this decision about a new path for my department over night… or even in a week. I suppose I can’t expect everyone to be on board with the change that quickly either.

It is situations like this one that add a few inches to my management wings.

For all of you managers out there, what has been one of your most recent learning experiences?

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It’s a bonafide miracle, y’all

These legs are strong.

Mark this day down.

Today, July 21, 2014, I ran my first 5k. I started my plod and 40 minutes and 3.19 miles later, I stopped my plod. So, further than a 5k but not less.

Not one single, step less.

So, it’s done. I have my first official race on August 3 and after that I’ll work on speeding up my pace a bit. I’d love to see a faster pace by summer’s end but I’d also love to see myself being able to ink out a 10k. I think either or even both are doable but I’ll take it one run at a time at this point.

If you’re a new runner and 30 seconds down the trail at a fast pace does you in, I promise it DOES get easier. Each extra step is an accomplishment. Soon you’ll be up to 5 minutes… then 10… then 25… trust me, it is possible.

I’ve been challenged trying to work out how I’m going to keep this up in the winter. The trade off for the beautifully long summer days way up north here in Portland (yes, way up north, it’s much further north than anywhere else I’ve called home) are miserably short winter days. Am I going to be a lunch runner? Will I join a gym? Neither one of those sound like the ideal running opportunity but I’m thinking those are my only two options. Adult decisions are hard.

Guys.

Hard.

On another topic, completely unrelated to my most favorite running milestone, I want to get back into a blogging group. I absolutely adore having an outlet for my words. It serves as my history book and I hate when there is a lapse. There is a group called Portland Bloggers that looks very organized and they meet on a bi-monthly basis. I think it’s perfect for what I’m wanting. I need some ongoing inspiration and purpose for my blog. I also think it might be a good opportunity to meet some new people. Since moving to Portland over a year ago, I’ve met one person away from work.

One.

Sad much?

Oh yeah, and that one person moved here just after me from… you guessed it… Fayetteville, AR. I moved over 2,000 miles away and met up with someone from home base. Thankfully she was pretty awesome, so I get a pass on that one.

It’s time to shake that up a bit. Hopefully you’ll stick with me as I start writing more and hopefully make it to a 10k before the first frost hits.

Wish me luck (I’m sure I’ll need it).

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