Monday, July 30, 2012

Cathryn Sloane And Silly Things I Wont Admit To Saying

After watching the controversy last week on the Cathryn Sloane post on NextGen Journal I keep thinking one thought:
"Thank God when I was 25-years-old my every immature or arrogant thing I said or did was not recorded on the internet"
If you are not familiar with the issue to which I refer, the 25-year-old writer penned a post about "Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25".

Since November 2011 she has written several articles for the online information portal.  None of her posts has had more than five comments until this one topped 600 comments due to the up-roar she caused.  (Note, her post with the 5 comments was the journalistic ground-breaking piece on "Why Hooking Up In College Will Not Disappear").

Five comments to over 600 in one post is a big jump for any blogger.  But from what I have seen the writer has been blind-sided by how her words impacted people.  She locked her Twitter account and has not commented on fire-storm (if she has, I did not see it).

I am sure that Ms. Sloane will not stumble upon my blog post.  But others might read this, and I have three pieces of advice:

1.  Come out and address the issue.  We all make mistakes.  Own it.  OR... if you do not think you made a mistake... defend yourself.  Hiding never solves problems.

2.  Learn from it, and teach others.  No matter which way you view this situation, we all learn throughout life, and this one might be a pivot moment for your future.

3.  When you turn 45 do not ever, ever, ever say nasty things about the generations that follow you.... Especially if they seem to believe they know everything, are living in a new crazy would and claim you do not understand.  Smile and say... "been there".

I go back to thinking how lucky I was to not have the internet around when I was 25-years-old.   I said silly things, arrogant stuff, and youthful burps that I will choose to not admit to at this point.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

"Follow Through DNA" is RARE

If we all think we are better than average in our "Follow Through" skills, something has to be wrong with the math.

Few people really have "Follow Through DNA".... but everyone thinks the problem is the other people.

There is a lot of time and money invested in networking... but little done after that short conversation and the business card exchange.

(Hint:  Sending a LinkedIn request is not really meaningful if that is all you do)

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Better Decisions (New Training Class)

Thanks to my Human Resources friends from several companies for helping me brainstorm a new training class offering.

"Better Decisions (with People)" is a half-day or full-day class designed to encourage teams to better understand the power of business relationships, cultivate internal networking connections and make team oriented decisions.

The class utilizes DiSC Workplace Assessments, communication skills, leadership techniques, and facilitated group discussions.

Participants will learn to:

*Better communicate with co-workers

*Understand of different working styles

*Create a team oriented culture

*Network inside the company

*Identify and highlight the strengths of coworkers

For more information on offering this class to your team, contact me at thom (at) or (512) 970-0398

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let The Games Begin - 2012 Olympics Bring The World Community Together!

After watching the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London, I am excited about the games.  There is something special about the Olympics.  I was a teenager in 1984 when the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, and we all very excited to be part of the pageantry.  I attended several events that year and still hold the memories among the most special experiences of my life (My dad had the experience twice as he also attended the 1932 games in LA).

I did not love the London opening show.... but my opinion is just that -- an opinion.   Art is subjective.  It was clearly well thought out, and flawlessly executed.  Choreographer Danny Boyle is to be complemented for his production.

Maybe I allowed the Chinese Olympiad of four years ago to set the bar too high for what I want from a worldwide televised spectacle.  That one was a visual WOW to watch on TV.  Last night was not the same vibe.

If all you did was follow the opening ceremonies on Twitter you would have had the impression that the show was great or awful.  The comments were fun to watch as differing opinions floated past quickly.

I was a little critical in some tweets.... which caused one Brit to reply that it was not expected for American's to understand the imagery (ouch).  Another person told me I was being cynical.  Maybe I was, but I think I understood the whole thing!  And I loved the Queen for filming the James Bond skydiving entry... as that made me laugh out loud.  Her Majesty is clearly a good sport.  Oh... and who doesn't love Mr. Bean?

But it does not matter what I thought.  The show rocked (and I imagine being present in the stadium must have been amazing!!).  I like how they incorporated many wonderful British celebrities, sports heroes, and history.  As Americans we are tightly joined to Great Britain.

I woke this morning feeling good.  Who doesn't feel good when they think of the Olympics?

In the end, the Queen opened the games of the 30th Olympiad and the world is joined for two weeks in the spirit of sport.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cool Things My Friends Do - Living More Like A Professional Than An Amateur

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their work and personal lives.  

I cannot name the friend who I am profiling this week.  What he is doing is very personal.  It is cool (thus it makes the "Cool Things My Friends Do" post), but not a public effort.  He is taking on some personal change, and change can be scary.  What he is attempting is not the stuff that others on the outside will understand.  He will have people who will try to stop him from his efforts.  His boss will lose a good employee, too, as with change will come a new career (but another boss will find a better employee).

I am talking about re-invention.

This friend is a good person with a great heart.   He has been caught up in a life whirlwind that has not produced the results he desires.  A bumpy career, a divorce, and other "stuff" has left him wondering if there is more to this crazy human experience.  He tries hard, but has feels he is only treading water.

He recently read a book called "Turing Pro" by Steven Pressfield.  He was not far into the book when reading the words on the page were similar to looking in mirror.  Pressfield makes the case that there is a difference between living your life as an amateur or a professional.  The choices made by amateurs are very different than the actions taken by professionals.  My friend called me (I recommended the book) and was perplexed as he knew that once he completed the reading assignment nothing could be the same.  Or if it was the same he could not defer the results to anything beyond himself.

Daily there is a question ringing in his mind: "How would a professional act in this situation vs. what would an amateur do?"  He is taking the steps to be a pro (or at a minimum he sees the difference).  But this might mean leaving some habits, lovers, friends and vices on the side of the road.  I can hear the conviction in his voice... but there is still trepidation with each step.  He knows that to make this change means a different life on the other side.  He clearly likes parts of his existing world (cuz there is a lot of fun with amateur choices), but at the same time he has a new suit of ambition covering his soul.  

It is cool to see a person embrace changes that are for the better.  I believe in him, but know first hand that it is easy to be inspired by a book (or a seminar) and then fall back into comfortable patterns.  Maybe once he completes the journey I can write about him by name and link back to this post to say "we knew him when...."

I will keep you posted.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

The Opening Ceremonies Set The Tone.... For The Olympics AND Your Speech

The 2008 Olympics in Beijing are forever remembered because of how the opening ceremonies captivated the audience worldwide (sorry Michael Phelps).  The 2012 Olympics in London kick-off in a few hours, and the organizing committee has put in thousands of hours to create a spectacle that will fascinate the soul.

The opening sets the tone for the whole event.  This is not just true of the Olympics, but everything.  People form opinions quickly.  Researchers have shown that people make decisions about all sorts of things in seconds (or fractions of a second), and the cliche "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" could not be more true.  How we launch is paramount to the impression we leave behind.

This is true for speakers.  Too many business professionals begin their talks without any preparation.  They thank the person who gave the introduction, they tell the audience they are honored, and then ramble around about what they will talk about.  Too few speakers have learned about the importance of the opening ceremonies.  

The next time you give a speech, invest time in creating a compelling opening.  The effort you put in will create a stronger impression and allow you audience to feel more engaged.

Not sure if I am right?  Imagine if tonight's Olympic Opening Ceremonies was not rehearsed.  What if the athletes all just pushed and kicked into the stadium and the entertainers had all met for the first time in the parking lot?  What you would see would be a horrible mess.  But that is not what will happen in London.  The opening will have pizzazz and will be clearly choreographed.  

When the first few minutes of your presentation has not been planned out with clarity... what your audience gets can be a horrible mess.  Your opening ceremonies set the tone for your whole speech.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thursday, July 26, 2012

MPI's WEC 2012 - Maximize Your Networking

Many of my friends will be in St. Louis next week for the MPI World Education Conference 2012 (WEC).  This is a major event in the meetings industry that will be attended by organizers, vendors, speakers, hoteliers, and others who make meetings happen.

While I will not at this conference (I will be speaking at the MPI Chapter Business Summit in September) I am excited about the theme of the WEC.  "Creating the New Connectivity" is a powerful theme in our hyper-connected world.  Meetings are not just about a ballroom with some interesting keynotes and breakouts. There is so much more that happens anytime humans gather.  Since the beginning of time people have come together in community to share, learn, contemplate and connect.

If you are going to be at the WEC, here are my top 5 tips for maximizing your networking experience at the event:

1.  Say good-bye to your co-worker once you arrive.  A major mistake made at large conferences is that people cling to those they already know.  They sit with their friends at every meal, and attend all the sessions together.  Better to split up and then come together on occasion to share details of individual experiences.

This does not mean no contact with your buddies... but do not fall into the trap of being together all the time or you will miss the opportunity to meet new people.

2.  Put your SmartPhone and tablets away during meal, breaks and happy hours.  Most large conferences these days are overrun by the "Phone Zombies".  People spend every break trying to connect outside the event, that they fail to have any meaningful conversations with those present.  If you must check in with your office, walk outside.  To take your phone out in the networking areas sends a message to those close by that you find your electronics more fascinating than they are (and that is rude).

This does not mean you cannot have your phone out during the speakers presentations.  Take out your phone and tweet or post to Facebook any information you find interesting.  Those of us not at the conference will enjoy sharing in your learning experience.

ALSO... if the speaker is boring... go ahead and check email or surf the internet.  If the speaker is not engaging enough to keep your attention, they do not deserve your attention!

3.  Be the person to initiate conversations.  People attend these events to meet others, but most are waiting for someone to talk to them.  Many are a bit shy at big events (both introverts and extroverts can clam up in big crowds), and when you say "hello" you can melt their shyness away and kick-start their whole meeting experience.  Once you have a short conversation with someone you will be surprised how often you will cross paths with them again and again at the event.

4.  Bring lots of business cards.  Do not assume anyone will remember your name.  While there are lots of people who want to push us all to use technology in place of a business card, it is often the easiest for everyone to trade the traditional paper cards.  It does not require anyone to have the same apps, and since most people are visual, your will card has a unique look were the new links all look the same.

5.  Have fun.  When you are having fun people will be drawn to be around you.  This event will have a great mix of learning and social activities... so do not miss out on the festive side of WEC.  Too often people can get so caught up in the business and education that they forget to make the most from talking with other people.  Some of the best learning comes from the impromptu "hallway conversations" you have with other attendees and vendors... and sharing with people is always fun!!!

While there is a lot of "new" ways to connect.... the good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations that take place at meetings is still paramount to business success.  So get out there and talk to each other while in St. Louis.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It Is Not Just About Me (No really, it's not!!)

We live in crazy times and the level of competition is overwhelming.  Too many people are worried about getting their slice of the pie.  But is opportunity finite?  I hope not.  

When we spend time hoarding everything (physical stuff, relationships, opportunities, knowledge, etc...) for fear others are out take from us then we never get a chance to expand our own boundaries.  

We could all benefit from not viewing ourselves too seriously and trying to give to others. There are countless ways we can help those around us achieve their own goals, and when we do it we find more opportunity for ourselves (it is weird).

If you have not made an effort to refer someone a piece of business lately.... and then you wonder why so few refer leads to you.... there might be a connection.  Can you name the last time you referred real leads to someone (not those light positive comments, but real live business)?

Sure, we have our own needs and goals.  We work hard to achieve, and there is never enough time on the clock.  Taking time to help another can seem like it derails us from our own track.  If we are not getting stuff done to pay the bills then we fail, and if we fail we cannot help others.  But I do not think we have to wait to succeed to give.... we can do it along the way (so everyone wins together).

On top of being busy, we have egos.  I do.  You do, too.  Most of us think we are awfully special at our "stuff".  Each of us is probably right on some level.  Yet too often we get caught up in our own situations, and we fail to realize that we are all people seeking to find our own way in the world. With over 7 billion people on the earth that means there are over 7 billion personal points of view.... and we often think ours is the best one. Not.

Being human is a complex experience.  Emotions play tricks on us, and get us all worked up....  and when we get emotional, we often become secretly clairvoyant (or think of ourselves in that way).

Do you know what I am talking about?  We get angry or jealous (or insert any emotion) and we instantly know what others are thinking in their minds.  Of course we do not really know what they are thinking.... we are just imagining their motivation.  But damn... it sure seems real at the time, and this can keep us from going out of our way to help them find success (because clearly they are not thinking about anyone but themselves!!!).

It is easier to make quick judgments about others and fill in the blanks with imaginary critiques than to invest the time to understand the people around us.

On Friday's I write a blog series called "Cool Things My Friends Do" and I am often promoting my friends who are also speakers and authors.  Recently a fellow professional speaker asked me why I would put the spotlight on my "competition".  I had no answer other than "why wouldn't I want to praise others for their success?  If I want anyone out there to cheer about me... I need to lead by example".   

Take a minute to chill out and get in touch with how you can be more helpful to others.  Try it for a few weeks and just see how you feel when you give a little time or energy to seeing another person get closer to their goals. 

Your thoughts?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Monday, July 23, 2012

"We Have To Tolerate Him". Does Every Organization Have A Resident Jerk?

A colleague of mine was interviewed by a meeting planner at an association to be the keynote speaker at an event.  At the end of the phone call she told him that he would have to speak with the executive director, and one board member before a final decision was made.

That is common.

Then she said "the Board Member is a real jerk, but humor him".  She continued to say "nobody in the organization respects him, but we tread lightly and worry about making him mad by not including him in the speaker selection, as he will rant and rave... and might attack your presentation publicly... if he is not involved. If he hates you to the point of making a stink, we can't hire you... but if he likes (or is neutral) you he will take credit for finding you in the first place".


Apparently he liked my friend, as he got the job.  But upon hearing about this experience I wondered how many organizations have resident "jerks".  Why do boards and staff put up with them?   And do these people realize they are a joke to those around them?

Who wins when someone is a bully?  Nobody.

Apparently this guy was a piece of work in person.  He was critical.  He was nasty.  He complained about everyone and everything.  And yet the members of the association lined up around him as if he was royalty.  As the speaker, my friend did not have to deal with this man, but he was aware the negative vibe and the simultaneous ring kissing.

We have all encountered these type of people, but why do we tolerate them?  

Have a great day.

thom singer

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cool Things My Friends Do - Five Friends Earn Their CSP Designation From NSA

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their work and personal lives.    

As you know from a series of recent posts on this blog, I am proud to be an active member of the National Speakers Association (NSA). The organization recently announced that 25 professional speakers have earned the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation in 2012.

Established in 1980, the CSP is the speaking profession's international measure of speaking experience and skill. Fewer than 10 percent of the speakers who belong to the Global Speakers Federation (GSF) hold this professional designation.

The CSP designation is conferred by the National Speakers Association and the Global Speakers Federation only on accomplished professional speakers who have earned it by meeting strict criteria. CSPs must document a proven track record of continuing speaking experience and expertise as well as a commitment to ongoing education, outstanding client service and ethical behavior.

This year FIVE of my friends were awarded their CSP at the NSA Annual Convention earlier this week in Indianapolis:

Patrick Henry

Jessica Pettitt

Jon Petz

Judson Laipply

Christopher Bauer

It is a big accomplishment for all 25 recipients, but I was especially proud of the five people who are my friends. They have made my experience in this industry special and have shown me the way to build a real business in the speaking industry (FYI, I will not be eligible to ally for the CSP for two more years!)

Congratulations to all.  For a complete list of the 2012 CSP's and more information on the National Speakers Association please visit this link:

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thursday, July 19, 2012

WOW, I Enjoyed the 2012 National Speakers Association Convention in Indianapolis

I have returned home from an eight day trip to Las Vegas and Indianapolis (yes, since I live in Austin... this was not easy to navigate).

I was in Vegas to speak at a conference.  Then I flew to Indy for the 2012 National Speakers Association Convention.  I have been an active member of NSA for several years, and this was my fourth conference.  As always it was a chance to spend time with several colleagues and learn from those who are making an splash in the Speaking Industry.

(I find it interesting how many people do not attend their industry association meetings.  Not just speakers... but professionals in a variety of fields.  If you love what you do, you should find a way to support the industry and want to be around peers.  For me, NSA is directly responsible for my success in the business.  This success is not from direct referrals... although other speakers do refer leads back and forth.... but from the inspiration and exposure to new ideas and ways of looking at the profession of speaking!!!  It is a weird business, and nobody can see all angles from one vantage point)

I had a couple of roles this year at the convention.  I was a speaker for the Youth Leadership Program.  For decades NSA has hosted a program for the children and grandchildren of professional speakers.  Many of the nations leading presenters address the teens with a variety of topics.  It was a huge honor to be asked to speak (and be warned.... the youth are a tougher audience than their parents!).  My eldest daughter has attended the event for three years, and even she thought her old dad did a good job.

This year's NSA Conference had a "Learning Lounge" and I was the host of this experimental option.  The idea for this came from the 2012 PCMA Convening Leaders Conference (where I was involved with the Learning Lounge thanks to Dave Lutz and Jeff Hurt from Velvet Chainsaw).  It was an alternative learning area with lots of different things happening all the time.  There were "Ask the Experts" table, "Tech Talk" areas, and a variety of short and long format stage presentations.  Plus, lost of couches and tables so people could relax and talk with other speakers.

The conference was a combination of learning, friendship, and contemplation.  I am inspired about the future of the business, and walked away with many ideas that will have instant impact how I run my own business!

Plus, over the last four years I have developed friendships with a lot of people in the NSA family.  I was honored to be able to share best practices, test out ideas on how to market, and just have fun with these amazing people.

If you are a speaker (or if you are working toward a career as a speaker), you must plan on being in Philadelphia in July 2013.  The organization is continuing to change and grow to meet the needs of speakers in the new business environments.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Little Piece of Family History

I do not come from a family that spent much time on our own history.  Some people can trace themselves back to presidents, Pilgrims, kings, and criminals.  We were just good hard working folks.

My father's mother came from a family that owned a furniture factory in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  In its day the H Lauter Company was a booming employer in Indianapolis.  My grandfather had worked for the company as a salesman, and later married the bosses daughter. The company was lost during the Great Depression.

My grandparents had left Indy for California around 1910 and my father had not kept in touch with his cousins in the Midwest, and thus there was little ever told to me about this family business.

On a recent business trip to Indiana I had the chance to visit the factory building, which still stands today.  Today it has been renovated and turned into condos and lofts;  The H Lauter Lofts and the Harding Street Lofts.

It was very cool to see how the developers have saved much of the original character of the buildings while creating an inviting environment for the two residential buildings.

I enjoyed my visit.  While my grandparents passed away long before I was born... it was special to touch this piece of family history.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cool Things My Friends Do - Neen James: "Thought Leader" and Harley Davidson Rider!

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their work and personal lives.      

Neen James is more than a thought leader... she teaches "Thought Leaders".  One of Neen's obsessions is helping clever people become commercially smart - she does that through her work in Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders is a global community, founded by Matt Church (Matt and Neen are both Australian... and have great accents and even better business minds), focused on helping experts commercialize their expertise. Neen works 1 on 1 with entrepreneurs and content experts and is conducting a  two day workshop in October to help people leverage their expertise and practices working 50-200 days per year with 1-2 support staff and earning $500k - $1M per year.  

You can find out more and watch a short video at:

I met Neen three years ago at a National Speakers Association conference and she quickly became one of my favorite people in the speaking industry.  There are people out there who are givers, and Neen is always one who helps her clients and friends by facilitating connections and singing the praises of those in here world.  Too often people are only looking out for themselves... it is refreshing to know people who work to see others succeed.

But there is more to Neen than just speaking, training, and being a fabulous friend.  She also does really cool things (which is why she is highlighted in a "Cool Things My Friends Do" post).  She and her husband recently took and adventure riding riding a 2000 Harley Davidson Fatboy with 40 other bikes from Doylestown, Pennsylvania to Kitty Hawk, NC just for lunch!  Now that is cool. 

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Raise the Bar... Then Jump Over It

Who is challenging your company, association, or other entity to achieve more?  Those who question the standard practices are valuable to the future success (if they do not have an outside agenda).  When you have too many participants married to keeping things the same, doom is in your future.

If there is nobody in your industry that is pushing you be more creative then you are destine to be dull.  It happens to groups all the time when they rely on past success and do nothing to meet modern demands.

This is true for organizations... AND it is true for individuals.

I have people who challenge me.  Some do not even know they are mentors of the highest level, but I can never leave a conversation with those I admire when I do not question if my business can go up one notch.  

We should all get excited when the bar is raised.  Then push hard to jump over the new level.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Monday, July 09, 2012

Brainstorming Ideas for Events

Everyone involved in planning a conference, trade show, convention or other event must be dedicated to success.  The event industry is very competitive and attendees have many choices on where to invest their time and money.  People are no longer satisfied with cookie cutter conferences.... and are demanding to be educated and entertained by more than just a standard meeting agenda.

A box checker mentality will make you event dull, but sometimes organizers get busy and fall into this routine. What is a "box checker mentality"?  It is when you just run down a check list of the necessary parts of a conference; venue (check), sponsors (check), meals (check), nametags (check), speakers (check), open bar (check, check), etc....  What fills the slots is not important as long as the boxes are checked.

But cultivating something unique that will captivate the soul of others is difficult.  If you copy another conference it is not unique....  And if try something really new there is a risk that it might not work out the way you desired.

This is where your brainstorming really makes a difference.  The whole team responsible for your upcoming event needs to meet regularly and seek inspiration for implementing new activities.  While you may not want to copy an idea directly, look for things that others have tried and morph them into your own unique version.

The Austin TEDx event re-invented the lunch break.  They had five differerent restaurants cater lunch. Each had a "restaurant" and attendees were assigned dining areas.  The twist... each restaurant had to use the same ingredients that were all sourced locally.  While all the areas were in the same dining hall, each had a different decorative vibe.  It was one lunch, but seemed like something totally new.

PCMA's Convening Leaders Conference in January 2012 took the success of the TED Conferences short format talks and had three 18 minute keynotes from three very different speakers instead of one hour-long talk.  But they did not stop there, as the success of TED is more than just short speeches.  They added long-format breakouts by the same speakers later in the day.  The keynote session was like the appetizer to a full course meal.  Their twist made the experience more successful than if they had just done the three short talks.

The organizing committee for the National Speakers Association took the idea of a Learning Lounge (the idea was discovered at the same PCMA event mentioned above and the powerful work of the Velvet Chainsaw team), and morphed it into a "Conference Within A Conference" for their 2012 Annual Convention.  Since their conference is not as large as PCMA, they changed the layout and organization of the "Lounge" and made it a unique program offering.

The only way a new offering for your conference can be discovered is for your team to be seeking new ideas.  I have talked with several event organizers who want to try new things, but their association board or CEO are not willing.   Those not willing to explore options are holding you back.  Their lack of vision will cause you to forever be a cookie cutter conference.  Bummer.

What is happening to cookie cutter conferences?  Some are losing attendance numbers.  Others are dying.  Many are just limping along.  Many even continue to thrive.  Maybe your event will not be hurt by being boring and predictable.

But think... if you are guilty of always being the "same old / same old" do you advertise a repeat and vanilla sounding agenda?  Of course not.  Nobody would say "The Same Thing We Have Given You Year After Year Without Anything New"?  So if you will not brag about being dull... why would you not seek ways to create a fresh experience.

The Conference Attendee Experience (CAE) needs to be the focus.  If you are not adding something that creates a memorable experience you cannot expect anyone to care about your event.  Education alone is not enough.  A favorable venue will not do it for you.  A celebrity speaker is not a draw over the long run.

So what is that magic bullet that creates a great CAE?  Hard to say, but if you are not seeking ways to find it, you are destine to miss the mark.

Brainstorming ideas has to be a year round activity for the organizing committee.  Every meeting should put this at the top of the agenda.  If you make fresh ideas a low level priority you will have low level results.

Encourage your attendees to send you ideas, too.  Ask your speakers, event planners, venue sales reps, and other to share the coolest things they have seen others do at their events.  Make ideas a focus and you will find new prospective.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Finding Focus

Are you doing the things that lead you closer to your goals and desires?

Why? or Why Not?

It is easy to get distracted.  But it is possible to take control of your focus... or so I hear.  I am working hard on this right now.  I find that my business grows when I focus on certain activities, and thus I need to do them more often.

Sounds simple enough -just be focused.  Yet people all have their own "Stuff" going on behind the scenes.  Shiny objects and the desire of the easy can deter anyone from taking the actions they desire to take.

What do you do to find focus?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Who Remembers Southfork?

If you are old enough to remember the Reagan years, then you know the most famous white house of that era was NOT in Washington DC.

Nope, not by a long-shot.  

The most iconic mansion of the day was the Southfork Ranch.  Let's face it, we all know who shot JR and the Dallas ranch home of the Ewing family's escapades was as memorable as any character on the long running series. 

While I have lived in Texas for 21 years, I had never been to the home of Miss Ellie.  On a recent family trip to Dallas we drove over to tour the ranch.  It is now not only the set for the new TNT Dallas series, but is open to the public daily.

Part of me was horrified that we were going to the outdoor set of a 1980's TV show.... but another part of me loved driving down the famous driveway and sitting by the pool where they found the body of Kristin Shepard (she is who shot JR, and was later found dead in the Southfork pool).

While I did not watch Dallas for the whole 13 years it was on CBS (I was in college for much of that time, and my Friday nights were occupied with other activities), I did see enough of the early episodes to feel at home roaming the ranch.  We sat by the pool and remembered the days of big Texas hair.

As goofy as it sounds, it was fun to visit the ranch.  My kids, who were born nearly two decades after the show's heyday were bored to death.  By the standards of today's TV mansions Southfork is very small.  Had Hanna Montana lived there I am sure it would have had more appeal to the younger members of the family!

The new series (Dallas airs Wednesday nights on TNT) has resurrected interest in the ranch tours.  They also rent it out for private parties, weddings, proms, etc....

What famous TV place from your childhood would you like to visit?

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, July 06, 2012

Conference Attendee Experience

A participant at a conference where I spoke came to me at the end of the day and said "Your talk was the insurance policy for good-vibes at the trade show".  She went on to say how engaging the conversations were between all the attendees (with each other and the vendors) because of the "Conference Catalyst" message.

Her compliment made me smile... but it also made me think.  It was not my talk that she said was great (although I think she meant to say that!), but the impact in how people behaved once they left the general session.  Are speakers doing enough at events to ensure the attendee experience is over the top after the applause?

The audience is what matters.  The individual who invested hundreds or thousands of dollars to be present at the event is center of the universe.  Yet not all conferences, trade shows, seminars and conventions speakers keep their focus on the attendee.

The learning objectives stated in the program claim to focus on the audience.  No presentation touts the benefits to the speaker in selling his consulting package, books, or image.  It never states how great the speaker will feel when people laugh at his or her jokes and clap like crazy at the end.   But are the intentions really aligned with the real desires of the audience?

Presentations are often good enough to create a roar of applause, but fail to keep the engagement of the audience once they leave their chairs.  People leave the room and then go the coffee and donuts without any call to action or thought provoking nuggets to discuss.  They wander the halls with some minor chit-chat or go off to check emails.

The "Hallway Conversations" are where the real learning objectives are met, not in the session itself.  If people cluster together and go deeper in discussion after the speaker leaves the stage then there is success.  A great conference experience comes from the building of a "mini-society" between attendees... not from the pizzazz of the keynote speaker.   That feeling of a shared experience where the audience recap and restate the speakers words are few and far between, but when it happens everyone knows the vibe of the event is special.

When selecting speakers event organizers should inquire about how presentations impact the vibe of a conference.  Audiences are hungry for a better attendee experience.  The speakers have a much more powerful impact on this than a good chocolate mousse dessert (although I like a good mousse, too!).  Yet sometimes more time is often spent on selecting dessert than in vetting the speakers.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. 

Cool Things My Friends Do - NSA Convention and Team Patrick x2

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their work and personal lives.      

Next week is the 2012 National Speakers Association Convention.  I am an active member of the organization, and credit much of my career success to my participation in the association.   Thanks to NSA I have gained education, met cool people, found mentors, and been inspired to grow my business.

A key part to reaping the benefits of any trade group is attending the conferences.  Paying dues alone will produce little.  It is the relationships developed with peers that lead to results.  I have attended three national conventions and two winter conferences.  The value has been discovered by being engaged with other members and discovering how they have orchestrated their careers.

Two of my favorite people in the National Speakers Association have integral roles in making this year's summer event a HUGE success.  Both have volunteered countless hours in planning and organizing to ensure a great experience for all who will be present in Indianapolis.  The whole organization is fortunate to have their dedicated to making the 2012 conference possible.

Patrick Henry is the Conference Chairperson and Patrick Mauer is the Youth Leadership Program Chair.  *(The youth leadership program is an amazing conference for the children and grandchildren of NSA members.  My oldest has participated for a few years, and would not miss it!).

Both Patrick's have worked for several years in constructing the agendas.  I cannot imagine that all the hours they have dedicated to NSA in their preparation for the event.  It must be cool to see it all coming together.

I have come to enjoy the "Cool Things My Friends Do" blog posts on Fridays.  This week I also want to say "THANK YOU".... as their hard work is paramount to so many other professional speakers (and their kids!) who will be at the convention.  

If you are a speaker and have never attended a NSA Convention... it is not too late!   Come and participate in the cool things that the Patrick's put together!!!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Recognizing Inspiration

A photo on Pinterest of Rice Krispie Treats shaped like watermelon slices inspired me.

The kids were looking for something to do so I took the inspiration and we made our own version.  It was easy, fun, and who does not love eating Rice Krispie Treats?  A few cups of cereal, some marshmellows, chocolate chips (for the seeds) and  a couple of drops of food coloring and we were all set.

After our morning  fun-time of "crafts with food", I began thinking about inspiration.  How often do we see interesting things and move on without ever being moved to a new series of thoughts?  But when we pause and ponder we can create amazement in our hearts and soul.

It takes intention to be looking for inspiration, followed by action to make something happen.

The more I seek ideas from the outside, the more creative my mind becomes on the inside.  We need to push our brains to link new ideas and discover fresh ways to tackle old problems.  This does not mean copying someone else for the sake of taking a shortcut or stealing an idea.  I am talking about adding to ideas, changing the pieces, and doing it your own way.

Most greatness I have witnessed is inspired by something or someone.  Those I have encountered who believe they are smarter than everyone else have trouble with this concept (most of the time these people are not superior, they are overly self-obsessed).  They are sure every idea they have bubbled-up from deep inside their lone soul, and anyone who does anything similar clearly took their brilliance. 

We all have personal strengths that when inspired can materialize cool results.  Do not wait for ideas.... seek then out and morph what you see into your own customized masterpiece.  Recognize what is inspiring and then take action.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer