Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's time to GETAWAY!

Whether you live in a warm climate like myself, or in the frozen tundra that has been the east coast, most likely you are feeling the winter blues and are over it.  What better way to get rid of it than to plan a getaway!

I’ve noticed that my blogs are usually coming to me when I’m sitting on a plane somewhere. And as I sat on my flight to Ketchikan, Alaska, I began to really think how thankful I am for the travel opportunities that I’ve had, and how much value I truly see in taking trips.

The number one excuse that people use for not going on a trip is usually money. I can understand that because I’m not some rich businessman rolling in the dough either.  But, I make sure that I do put aside part of my paycheck for fun & traveling.  And if you’re not seeing that little bit of extra money to travel with, consider thinking about cutting some other amenity out to save for a trip.  Take the cash that you are spending on your daily venti-chai lattes (I’m a culprit), and put that money aside into a travel account.

Now is the time to do this.  You don’t know what could happen tomorrow, or the next day, or in a year from now.  Like my uncle always said, “there’s no K-mart in heaven.” I blame and thank my parents for instilling this idea and the itch to travel in my blood with all of the traveling we did as a family growing up. But I’m so thankful for it.  So quit making excuses, and just do it already!

Whether it takes you a few weeks, months, or a year to save up for a trip, it will be worth it.  Half the experience is building the excitement with the planning and looking forward to the trip.

With that—I give you my top 5 reasons why I escape LA, and why you should too!

REASON #1: It’s personal time away. Traveling alone is probably one of the best experiences anyone can do. You do what you want. When you want. Where you want. And you learn about yourself along the way. My most valuable personal thinking time comes up in the air in an aisle seat with a diet coke and a tiny bag of pretzels next to me, and some play-list on my IPOD.  And of course for those of you with significant others—trips can reignite the sparks and fun in your relationship! (Plus you learn a lot about someone when you travel with them)

REASON #2: Exploring new cultures. With every new city that I travel to, my eyes continue to be amazed at how we all live so differently in this huge country and around the world.  I love talking with people in cities, whether it is at a bar, or at the hotel front desk.  Once again—these conversations can teach you about so much and open your mind to things you may not have thought about before.

REASON #3: It gets you away from the worries at home. I’m an anxious person. Sitting at home in the same place and driving on the same roads, gets very stagnate to me. Life can get very flat line when this pattern occurs. When you’re out of town, you quickly forget about the worries you have at home and it switches life up a bit!

REASON #4: Food! This is probably one of my favorite things about traveling.  I love trying the food that the city is known for.  I’ve had some of the best meals on the road in other places!  These dining experiences enhance your food palette and can be inspiring in more ways that one. It gets the creative juices flowing.

REASON #5: R & R.  It’s hard for me to sit still at home.  Therefore, getting away from that makes me actually take time to rest and relax. 

Some of you may be thinking that these reasons aren’t new ideas—and I know that. But I hope that it will at least get you thinking about making that next trip happen. And don’t think it needs to be a very expensive far away place; a new trend is the idea of a hometown stay-cation.  Find those weekend deals at one of the new hotels in town and go there for a night! I promise you—you won’t regret it. You’ll just think…”I need to do this more often.”

And now for my cheesy ending quote that I absolutely loved reading today in an issue of O Magazine just before writing this entry, (I’m not ashamed to admit that one!) 

“The thrill, for sure, is to keep envisioning what can be and then

have the guts to go for it and make it real. Imagine that!” – Oprah

Imagine that next trip and get planning!




Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hello 2011 - Hello Honeysuckle?

Planning a bash, dinner party, or fundraising event this year? Pantone has released their official color for 2011 - Honeysuckle.

My first reaction is, where did they get this name from? When I think honeysuckle, I think more orange-yellow tones...this one is clearly in the red/pink family. For those that don't know what Pantone is, they are the company that sets the standards in colors for printing, fashion, paints, and such. They have been around for over 45 years providing designers in all areas with the leading trends on color.

Personally, I'm still tied to the previous 'color of the year' which was turquoise with pops of orange here and there. We are still seeing this in trends in this spring's interior designs, so maybe I'm not the only one who is still tied to it?

There is something that is seems very blossoming to Honeysuckle which is why I think its a great accent color. It can be incorporated into your centerpieces, or maybe as your napkins. But I wouldn't go blasting a room with this. It is a VERY vibrant and strong color. So, if you are going to use it in the masses, you will be making a strong impact. This could definitely make a statement on your invitations. Or maybe for your bridesmaid dresses. I think it would be paired well with something in the orange family if you are doing a summer event, or even with silver if you are going for a more girly-chic motif.

I'm not sold yet, but maybe it is because I'm still tied to the blue tones of 2010. ;)

Check it out:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sandra Lee would be proud...

tablescape: a table design for a dinner party that is coordinated in color from the napkins to the centerpiece, and sometimes tied to a theme of the party/event to make a first impression as guests arrive.

If any of you are regular Food Network watchers, and you've seen the good ole' Sandra Lee on Semi-Homemade, you'll understand the title of this blog. If not, I encourage you to at least check out one episode to know what I'm talking about.

Not only is Sandra Lee a chef, but also a designer of 'tablescapes.' These tablescape just so happen to always match the dress she is wearing, to the drapes on the window, to the 'yummy cocktails' she is preparing at the end of the show. If you don't believe me, check it out. All of those items including the drapes, change with each new tablescape she makes on every episode.I love putting together tables. It's probably one of the things I enjoy most about doing events, and I don't get to do it quite often in the Conference World. So of course when I'm at home, and mom is telling me we are hosting Christmas, my first question is--what will the tables look like?

Most families usually resort to the buffet line with things still on the stove, or maybe even placed on one of those cheap plastic Christmas platters you get at the dollar tree, or even worse just on a paper plate. Those are just not my style--and paper/plastic plates & silverware are just a pet-peeve of mine. Most people own a nice set of dishes and silverware--so what are you saving them for? To collect dust in the hutch in your dining room?

I put together some tables this year that I think anyone could do, even if you have no experience in design. They don't have to be extravagant, and don't even have to all be the same. I like switching them up from table to table because its more interesting for your guests. All of them should coordinate with the room you are hosting the party in. The key thing to remember is to use what you already have and build upon them from there. That old ivory candle you have sitting around can be reused with some fresh cut branches from your pine tree out back, and a few leftover ornaments which can all turn quickly into a great centerpiece for the holidays. Incorporating something LIVE like fresh branches or flowers is important as it brings the table to life. And please, don't just by the prepared centerpiece in the plastic pot with the foil around them. Invest in a decent vase and make it fresh and your own.

Here are a few pictures from my tables and a buffet of appetizers I set-up. They are inexpensive and simple, yet elegant. So next time you are hosting a dinner party, I hope you'll take it one step further and enhance your buffet lines and tables...maybe people will really eat that cheese platter after all. Just please don't change your drapes and outfit to match. ;)

Table Concept:

Appetizer Buffet:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

2010: A Year of Growth

It's been quite a long time since I've posted some updates of events that I've been doing.  We've had quite a busy year at BDI (and very thankful for it).  I feel as though I've really grown into my position this year as Conference Director.  I've also had a chance to get a little creative and utilize my design eye to create some great concepts for my clients.  It's been a year of growth for my personally & professionally, as well as the company.  Overall, it's been a fabulous year, and now we are already gearing up for what is to come in 2011. 

I also have to give a shout-out to a vendor that I've built a great relationship this past year-- Rollins AV, based out of Denver, CO.  They guys there are great.  They are very professional, and have a very similar work ethic and standards to myself which is why I think we make a great team.  I'm hoping I can partner with them on more events to come! It's always nice to find those suppliers who are on the same page as you. 

Check out two events I got to do some design work on! 

Leadership Conference: Denver, CO

Annual Summer Conference: Chicago, IL

I also had the opportunity to work at one of our fundraising events on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange this past October.  This was quite the experience...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Life ain’t a fairytale. It’s a documentary.

I sit here writing once again from thousands of feet above the ground in the midst of the 2009 holiday season.  It’s the end of a decade, and I’m trying to figure out how many times I’ve actually been LAX-BUF bound, and can’t help but reflect on what this last year has been and what 2010 is going to bring

As I look back on 2009, I look at it as yet another year of growing up, and taking on those ‘next phases in life.’  But at the same time, I’m also remembering those moments where I just want to be a normal 23 year old. For one—this year will be the first year where I’ll be receiving only one W2—and I couldn’t be happier about that.  With everything that happened to the economy this year, I’m not only thankful to have a job and thankful to be receiving a W2, but thankful to be working with the people that I do each day, and loving what I’m doing. 

This was my sixth year within the event business.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this since I was 17, and professionally now for almost 5 years.  I feel as though I learned a lot this year in my work—especially perfecting the process of planning a successful week-long conference, and then a couple months later doing it all over again, with new people, in a new hotel, in a new city.  It’s exciting, its organizational (some might say anal), but its something I know I love to do, and I know I’m good at. 

As I entered my second year at BDI Events, I’m still happy, and excited about where I am currently at.  Being onsite at an event is what keeps that energy alive and growing. Once I land in a city, get my feet on the ground and start bringing another event to life—I’m simply refreshed and rejuvenated with endless amounts of energy that I wish I had everyday.  Not to mention, the relationships that I have developed with each of my bosses in the last year has been incredible.  They have  become part of my West Coast family. 

This year was also a year for planes, miles, points, hotels, and cities. January was Boston, February was Anaheim, somewhere in March & April I took a trip to Buffalo, May was Washington D.C. & NYC, June was Wine Country & Denver, July was San Diego & Buffalo, August was Monterrey & Chicago, September was Chicago again, October & November I banned myself from going anywhere, and December was NYC and now Buffalo to end the year.  Each one of those experiences was just another experience in which I was continuing to move into the ‘next phase in life,’ some with family, some with work, and some with friends.  I’ve also become an expert in the world of travel points, thanks to my boss Bob.  If you’re curious, my preferred partners are now United & Delta, as well as Marriott & Starwood. J

And I couldn’t go through 2009 without mentioning the fact that I made an ‘investment’ in Sherman Oaks, CA in Condo #209. J Who buys a condo at 23? I do. It is one of the most ongoing learning experiences that I’ve ever had in life.  From the process of looking for a place, to placing offers on some, to filling out the endless amounts of paperwork for the one I purchased, it has all been a learning experience. It all was new to me—a new challenge.  And since moving in this past July, I’ve had to do the many ‘grown up’ things such as picking out carpet and paying a mortgage.  And now 6 months later, I feel I have grown up so much, by just having to do all of these things on my own.

So now what? What’s missing? What’s to look forward to in 2010? There’s something inside of me that is telling me that it is going to be another good year—another big year.  We have a fantastic lineup of events in Denver, Chicago, NYC, Monterrey, Detroit, & LA, so I know I will at least be jet setting at least once a month for the next 9 months.  But I’m excited and anxious to see how this year turns out as a whole.  I know that things are just going to continue to change, and I’m going to continue to grow up whether I want to or not, and continue moving forward in whatever I do next.  And being the planner that I am, I will try and prepare myself for some of those, but deep down, I do know that you can’t plan for everything. 

Whatever I do, I hope that I can continue to do it with the incredible friends and family that I have around me. Some of my favorite moments in 2009 are from sitting around with one friend, or a group of friends at a dinner table, enjoying each other’s company over a good meal, and a tasty beer or a good glass of wine. Though most are getting hitched, or settling into serious relationships, I’m thankful that they are still willing and enjoy listening to my rants and raves about who I met, what I’m working on, how sometimes I’m ‘perfectly lonely,’ and what I’m dreaming up for the future.

As I’m sitting here typing this, I am of course listening to the new John Mayer CD, “Battle Studies,” aka, Joe Martin’s life.  I’m going to sound very ‘2010’ when I say this, but it’s reminding me of a recent ‘tweet’ John Mayer posted—that stuck with me.  It’s from one of his songs…

 Life ain’t a fairy tale. It’s a documentary.

And if any of you know me—that’s quite different than what I normally would think or say. But I think the other JM (John Mayer that is) has got something here…so stay tuned as 2010 unfolds…

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reflections from 35,000 feet above and heading westbound…

I’m sitting here, tucked in comfortable window seat, with an open middle seat next to me (a little odd for me as I usually enjoy the aisle) reflecting on not only the past day, but the past few months.

Yesterday morning I flew to Chicago from LA, and today I’m returning back to the sweltering heat of the southland.  At the current moment I would define my current feelings as ‘on-fire’ about what I do for a living and whom I do it with.  I got to come to Chicago to do a site visit for a conference that our company will be producing in 2010 at the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile.  And in just a few weekends we will be producing the National Prostate Cancer Conference—a conference for the patients.  

I’m beginning to really get use to corporate travel (and might even be becoming a hotel wh*re along the way) but I’m ok with that.  As I’m sitting here (with my seatbelt fastened of course), I’m feeling truly blessed for the opportunities I have been given in the past year with BDI Events.  I’ve been to Denver, San Diego, Monterrey/Pacific Grove, Washington DC, and now Chicago in less than a year.  I will not lie that when I first started as a Conference Director, I thought—am I going to get bored with this? To my surprise, I’ve really grown to love it, and have found areas that get me excited and really meant for me; one of those being the whole logistical angle of how conferences are setup.

For those of you that think what we do is ‘cake’’—it most certainly is not and causes headaches for most people, which is why they hire us.  The gift of a good event producer is that they don’t get stressed and overwhelmed.  Diagrams, meeting spaces, budgets, audio visual components, successful marketing, keynote speakers, musicians, travel, registrations, for 600 to 1000 people all take EXTREME organization and anal retentiveness.  This is what I love, and this is what I’ve always said I do best. 

The client that we met with is a New Thought spiritual organization.  They are wonderful people to work with, and I’m very excited about the team that is on board for their 2010 conference in downtown Chicago.  I’m excited to begin working on their budget to assist them in figuring out ways to make money, create an intense marketing plan to meet the registration goals, and to create an experience for their attendees in which they will walk away satisfied for coming to their annual summer conference. 

So as I continue to sit here—I’m feeling energized about what I’m doing and where I’m currently at.  I love that I can say that I love what I do AND where I do it.  Some people can only say the earlier rather than the later.  I’ve said this on multiple occasions and will say it again that I really do have the best 3 bosses around.   I think this is only just the beginning with myself and BDI and I cannot wait to see what is in store for me next, and where the company grows in the upcoming years.  We may be small—but we know what were doing…and we’re on our way…

A strong practice of New Thought followers is to set ‘intentions.’  I’ve always been one for ‘putting it out there,’ and as I reflect on what I’ve done, it seems to be working.  I like to call these ‘goals’ rather than intentions though.  Recently I set the goal to bring in or assist in bringing in three new clients for our company in the next year.  Tomorrow we have a meeting that I setup with someone about a festival for us to work on—and I think we’re going to sign on with them.  One down…two to go. 

Happy. Energized, Excited. Blessed. This is where I’m at in my career at age 22.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2-Week Conference Run. Locations: SoCal & NorCal

I just finished up a two week run of 2 different conferences--both for religious science organizations (2 of our clients).  

The first conference was in San Diego, CA at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina.  Though my client wasn't as happy with the attendance as they wanted to be, the conference as a whole was a true success.  This was the first time they were holding their annual conference off the world famous 'asilomar grounds'.  Last year they began to outgrow the Asilomar Conference Center, so they decided to take it on the road to create the New Thought. New World. Annual Summer Conference--with the first year being in San Diego.  Throughout the entire planning process there were a lot of hesitant participants, and some that resisted completely, but I do know that those who attended could feel the power of the conference and what an impact this conference could have in each city it arrives in.  

My goal for this blank white tent (and the rest of the conference)--was to create a warm, exciting,  and comfortable place where people could truly connect spirituality, with just enough newness to make them notice the professionalism that our team brought to the table.  
I thought the tent came out great! And I can't wait to take this conference to Chicago in 2010! 

The second conference was in Pacific Grove, California at the Asilomar Conference Center.  This conference has been coming here for over 50 years which makes it easy and difficult at the same time.  The reason it is somewhat easy is that it has a tendency to 'run' itself for the most part.  However on the other end, participants expect certain things to happen or be allowed that happen 'every year.'  

It has a jammed packed schedule filled with daily general sessions in the morning and evening, as well as workshops & meetings throughout the day in between.  Besides the conference center not being like the 'high-end hotel staff' we are use to working with, the challenge with this conference was truly making sure each meeting/workshop/session was set correctly with what the facilitator requested.  

I think there were a lot of questions from many people wondering if the conference was going to feel the same now that we were doing the end, I think that the BDI team proved itself once again to this community.  My goal throughout this event was to maintain those traditional aspects that people expect each year, but also put my own organizational, clean, and professional touch to it.  

A few highlights from the week--1.) The nightly fires in the fireplace of our director's was a great thing to come home to each night! 2.) Getting out surfing during the free day on Wed with our Sound Engineer Dan..we were able to rent a board and wetsuit at a stereotypical surf shop, complete with a 'bro' that cashed us out. Needless to say, the waves were awesome and I was actually able to get up and ride the waves in this time followed by a delicious lunch at a BBQ Smoke Chicken shack. 3.) Being in the middle of no where. 4.) The weather all week, and the incredible sunsets.  5.) Being able to get a pitcher of Diet Coke at lunch if we wanted to. 

This was pretty neat...I could get use to this...

It was a great couple of weeks on the road.  I really enjoyed working with both groups because in the end it felt really good to know how much each of these events meant to different people in growing spiritually both individually and collectively.