Over the years of speaking, teaching and training, leading and supporting I have been asked many times when my book was coming out. Laughingly responding “who has time to write a book”, it was always in the back of my mind that perhaps a book would be fun to write. Still – who has time to write a book?Hence the blog… thank you for taking the time to read “in one persons humble opinion”

They say some people are naturals – natural athlete, natural leader, natural artist, natural chef – born to be. I have the great privilege of loving the world of “making a difference by sharing knowledge and experiences.” A born to be trainer, teacher, producer, multi-tasker, so I have been told.

A combination of environment, education, experience, travel, and 40 years of working in the hospitality and event world have taught me an enormous amount. This life has enabled me to meet so very many wonderful people. Acquire many different skills. And still, each day I continue to learn – new methods, unique opportunities – as our everyday world changes by the minute, so do successful people.

What have I learned over the years? That I love to learn, that the more I think I know, the more I find I want to know, that sharing, teaching, mentoring always rewards me with new ideas, wonderful relationships, and  greater success. Rewards me with new challenges, opportunities and experiences. I truly hope that the people I have the great privilege of teaching, mentoring, and sharing with, gain as much as I do from the experience. Thank you to all who have shared with me.

Being raised on a couple thousand acres in central Ontario, with a father who defined entrepreneurial, we thought we had it all – fabulous gardens, free range cattle, poultry, lamb, the occasional black bear, horses to ride, and vegetables to grow. Hard work was the foundation we grew up with, being taught we could do anything we worked hard for was the mantra. The country home was open to all and sundry, as most farm homes are. Having a gifted mother with a beautiful voice and piano playing talents, occasional Saturday evenings were often filled with drop in musicians, dance, and stories. Growing up with this open door policy each day was an event.

Growing up with three aunts who were teachers also was an event – the nature vs. nurture event.

By the time I was born, “the aunts” had been teaching for years. They were taking their Bachelors of Education (in the 50’s all teachers were required to upgrade to a university bachelor of education). Naturally, I was the nearest test case for them, so after four summers of the aunts, I could read, write, do math and tested at a Grade four level. I was 5 years old. Did I say our country school was a one room school, with grades 1 to 8 in the same room? Miss (no Ms. in 1960) Viola Bulger, an exceptional teacher, really had no idea what to do with me. So, I taught Grades 1, 2 and 3. Yes, a 5 year old, preparing lessons, going to school early to write the lesson plan on the blackboard, sitting with each student (there were 10 total in the 3 grades) – one-on-one training, staying after school to correct and mark assignments. I thought it normal, so did everyone else. Fast forward to university, 1972, first year –becoming a residence don.. fast forward to – well today… Every task I have been assigned or chosen to do, has always had an opportunity for me to teach others.

Most of the above statements might grow up to be their own blog. Feel free to chime in anytime, question or comment.

For today, this is what I have been asked to share. In my humble opinion.

I have seen a need for hands on support and training in the field of events and event committees. Most charity and not for profit events are organized by volunteers – passionate, making a difference, volunteers. Or, staff from an organization tasked with organizing the events – the corporate golf tournament, corporate banquet, retreat or conference.

While anyone is capable of doing anything, an expert in the field is always a choice that makes the difference. For some reason, most people think “how hard can it be” when it comes to event planning. As with any other endeavour, time and effort, attention to detail will always give the best Return on Investment.

The challenge for most people, corporations, and committees is “How much will it cost?” The answer to this question is not really defined by dollars and cents, but rather by sense – how much will it cost if we don’t use an expert? That most inexperienced people in a field have no idea what they do not know, hence have no idea what questions even to ask.

Think back to where experts were used and why you did not do it yourself? Tax time and an accountant, a certified mechanic, dentist, doctor, florist, butcher, grocer, personal trainer – all of these skills can be learned – and, all of them can be a do it yourself action. With time, and experience, one person can do it all. The question to ask – do you have the time, and resources, to do it all? At what other cost? Let’s deal with this issue in the next blog.

There is always a need for volunteers at all level. The best use of volunteers is industry volunteers – people who are experts in their fields, who can advise, lead, direct, and offer intellectual resources. The committee member who is up to the minute with recommending best speakers, best practices, relevant activities and needs in and for the audience attending the event, meeting the corporate mandate. Do not expect these highly skilled volunteers to attend to the details – the actual behind the scenes administrative and organizational details that create a successful event, and burn out so many volunteers.

For now, I leave you with the following thought.

Think back to a casual back yard barbecue. We have all organized one, held one, and attended many. Are there a few that stand out in memory?

The ones that you were invited to that follows this pattern:

* casual invitation to a Saturday afternoon barbecue without a start and end time
* bring your own beverages
* bring your own food
* arrive at 3 pm, to find you are the first there, and the host didn’t expect anyone until 5 pm
* a few chairs spread around a back yard
* barbecue not clean and no propane
* as the event proceeds people search for cutlery, plates, glasses, ice, cooking utensils
* and the evening carries on
* the guests had a good time, good conversation – I mean, “how hard is it to have a bad time at a back yard barbecue”

* a personal invitation – via phone, in person, text, or whatever method works for the host
* a save the date invitation arrived via email, evite, or some other green method
* date and time clearly stated, including a map and directions
* Bring your own food and beverages
* With a list of choices of what to bring, and a theme to the event
* a reminder a few days prior to the event, again via a green method
* arriving right on time, to find a few others there and a wonderful set up in the back yard
* name tags for everyone (yes, not everyone you know will know everyone else)
* tables set up for beverages, with ice, tongs, napkins, glasses, and recycle bins discretely tucked under and behind
* mix and garnishes
* coolers and ice trays for food – keeping perishables chilled
* nets and food covers for non perishables
* barbecue cleaned and ready to go, with a back up tank of propane
* umbrellas tilted towards the sun, offering shade
* sun screen for all
* ice cold water pitchers – flavoured with lemon or cucumber or mint
* plates, cutlery, napkins, all set out, easy to reach and covered from the wind, sun and dirt
* lots of garbage cans easily accessible
* compost can for food scraps
* bins for used cutlery and plates – separated to make cleanup easier
* music playing in the background
* a chess board set up to one side and a few conversational magazines lying around to assist the shy
* and the evening carries on
* the guests had a good time, good conversation – I mean “how hard is it to have a bad time at a back yard barbecue?”

Both events are absolutely fine – both met the goal – to have a few friends over to a back yard barbecue.

Which event would you rather host? Which event would you attend again?