Finding the Entrepreneurial Spirit in the Meeting Industry
By Heather Hansen
A SPECIAL SECTION BROUGHT TO YOU BY MEETING PROFESSIONALS INTERNATIONAL
I spend a fair amount of time working with entrepreneurs, and I could come up with a host of ways to describe them. These come to mind quickly: passionate, messy, talented, crazy, changers of the world. If you’re an entrepreneur, I’m guessing you aren’t offended by this at all. You know this to be true. There is an honor and a pride in embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.
But you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to cultivate this spirit. Although innate in many, it is a skill and a way of viewing and acting in the world that can be learned. It is especially helpful in the meeting industry, with its ever-changing trends and constant reinvention.
One of my favorite definitions came from a Forbes article by Jacquelyn Smith where she wrote, “Entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset. It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.” This is what we strive for in MPI!
Using this definition, you can see how beneficial this viewpoint can be if you:
- Are a planner looking to stand out with innovative events that wow
- Are looking to design state-of-the-art meeting space or technology
- Want to take your talent, experience and original concepts out into the world to serve a niche within the event industry
An entrepreneur finds the gap and fills it.
“Professionally, I seem to have always worked with organizations entering a transition phase—being the calm in the storm, assuming additional responsibilities as needed, fixing organizational challenges or managing the change process,” says Sue Alexander, founder of Spire Consulting, who decided to take this skillset and niche it to meeting planning. “I have taken the opportunity to be a consultant working as a change agent or fixer—the 911 of meeting planning.”
There are many minor nuances and gaps in the meeting industry that provide opportunities for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Less obvious, but just as powerful, is the opportunity to develop the entrepreneurial spirit within a corporate environment. Research the top companies and you will find the thread of this spirit strongly woven into their culture.
Big, cutting-edge companies such as Apple, Virgin Group and Amazon are joined by newer pioneers such as Marvel Studios, Peloton and Waze. You can see the benefits of innovation and continuous improvement in these large organizations, but smaller companies benefit as well.
“At DeSilva Meeting Consultants, a DMC Network Company, we select team members who have their own personal talents and strengths to bring to the table. As a small company, our president, Josh DeSilva, values everyone’s opinions and includes everyone on the team when a major business decision needs to be made,” says Lauren Manuel, DeSilva account executive and president-elect of the MPI Aloha Chapter. “He counts on every one of us to shine in our own way, keeping the values of our company in mind. The trust he has for our team allows us to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Because of that, I feel we are more creative and productive, resulting in a higher level of efficiency and quality in our work.”
The term “Let the spirit move you…” strikes a cord. The entrepreneurial spirit is a moving energy. It isn’t stagnant. It’s driving. Always changing, growing. Like each of us here at MPI.
If you are looking to generate an entrepreneurial spirit within you or at your company, there are specific tips that can help.
5 Tips to Cultivate an Entrepreneurial Spirit
- Quieting the chaos. Sometimes the noise all around us can mask an inner fire. Getting away and quieting the incessant barrage of technology, requests and demands is exactly what you need to listen and encourage the inner entrepreneur.
- Constant development. Reading, researching or experiencing things outside your arena and expertise can stimulate creativity. Take a class that you’ve always been interested in and I guarantee it will trigger an inspired idea.
- Physical movement. Often I hear that the first thing that goes in the busy schedule of a meeting professional is exercise. Little do we understand, the time moving your body in a way that you enjoy (this part is important—if you hate running, choose something else!) generates more energy, ideas and dreams than you could even incorporate. Warning: Plan to use your phone or a journal to record your thoughts right afterward because they can be fleeting.
- Nurture with nature. Listening to waves, taking a walk or communing with nature in general has a powerful capacity to stimulate ideas. Notice the colors, shapes, sounds and scents outside and incorporate them into your themes—I’d love to hear how this worked for you.
- Right connections. Surround yourself with people who know more than you, who are forward focused, optimistic and empowering. Nothing can pull more out of you than the right, positive connection.
As you can see, fostering the entrepreneurial spirit is beneficial within all areas of the meeting industry. You’ll spark your own imagination. You’ll disrupt the industry with new ideas, technologies and creative solutions. You’ll pave the way to the next generation of meetings. We need your spirit!
Heather is an award-winning keynote speaker, author and connection expert helping associations and companies create better leaders and more cohesive teams. She’s also the immediate past president of the MPI WestField Chapter and a recommended MPI facilitator. Learn more at http://www.HeatherHansenONeill.com.
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