Success in Meetings Industry Comes from Creativity

December 10, 2011

In his best-selling 1959 book, “The Magic of Thinking Big”, author David J. Schwartz, Ph.D., pointed out that there is a common fallacy about the meaning of “creative thinking”. 

For some reason, people believe that the areas of science, engineering, art and writing have exclusive ownership of creativity. He assures his readers that while discovering a cure for disease, writing a novel, or developing technology are certainly admirable accomplishments, they are NOT the only areas where a creative mind can help someone excel in their career. 

The need for creativity has never been so necessary for success in the meetings industry as it is today!

“Creative thinking is simply finding new and improved way to do anything”. Too often business professionals, including those who plan events, are caught up in the status quo. Some look to popular and standard trends and assume that there is only one way to achieve success. They get in line, making sure that there is not risk to their reputation. 

But the “same-old, same-old” never becomes an industry happening in the world of events.

Success involves knowing that there are multiple paths to creating a unique experience. You have to be comfortable with your own ideas and innate abilities, while being willing to take a chance. If you are frozen in the mindset of “everyone does it this way”, then you must thaw out your mind. Nothing grows in ice. If you are rigid in your thinking, then you will never differentiate.

Become self aware of how you view new ideas. If your initial response is to say “won’t work” or “dumb idea”, then you have to retool how you approach creativity. The first to try new things are often scoffed at by their peers.  The person who gains the most attention is the one who blazes the trail, not the copy-cat. We all know that Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, but few know who was second (Clarence Chamberlain made the flight two weeks later).

Here are three steps to jump start your creativity:

Dedicate time: Great ideas and new ways of approaching your events are out there waiting to be discovered. Do not assume that they will simply appear to you. You must make it a priority or you will never have the time to explore all the possibilities. 

Ask a lot of questions, and listen to the answers: Rather than assuming you will instinctively know what is working for other conferences, ask people what they are witnessing. While not every response will be something that will work for you, if you are open to fresh perspectives you will be amazed at the interesting inspirations that will be revealed to you.

Look outside your own industry: You do not want to copy competitive events, but ideas from wildly different lines of business might hold the key to your own unique execution. Observe a variety of companies and associations that are succeeding in their efforts to expand their agendas and attendance and find ways to incorporate their best practices. Success leaves clues, so mirror the actions of those who are finding success.

Take action: When you realize that you have a unique idea that can help cultivate your efforts, make it happen.  Having an idea will not produce results without action. 

Realize that your success is whatever you choose to create.  If you think that you will win by simply showing up every day and doing good work, you will find yourself discouraged quite often. It takes creativity and action to forge new paths. If you want your events (and your career) to be more than just “average” you need to un-freeze your brain and embrace creativity.

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