Don’t Look back…..or to the side

all_i_can_do_by_cellofanflower

The past six months have been somewhat of a thrill ride for me – the “shut your eyes and jump” moment that is going it alone and the daily struggle of a different kind – to balance the where you are with the where you want to be.

One thing though has become clear – and maybe an important lesson for anyone, not just those who stand alone as planners.

Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing – and in a different way and as a famous man once said “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”

I know, it may be obvious to say but I hadn’t given it the right amount of thought until I really found it playing just a little too much on my mind.

No two people are the same – no two planners are the same. By that I mean that whilst we are all working in a creative environment, just how we work – how we deal with our clients and the relationships we build will all differ in any number of different ways. The fact is though, that for every second you give thought to what the other guy is doing, it is one less moment you are concentrating on what “you” could be doing.

I do my best to always give time to people that feel I am someone they want to talk to – you simply never know where it might lead now, or in the future. Twitter, Facebook – so dangerous for fooling you in to thinking that you are one step behind everyone else…..and yet – once you are at the top there is only one way to go and there is something for always having a goal in sight and striving to be the best you can be – rather than simply the best.

Impatient as I am, the last six months have brought me multiple opportunities, all of which I have done my best to seize with both hands. Concentrating on the here and now is good – but time has to be given to the what next – and it isn’t always easy to do that. Stick to the plan, don’t forget those that were there for you in the beginning, and always make time for people who are where you were.

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Ouch!!

It is sad, and yet somewhat indicative of the industry in which we work, that last week when I was knocked off my bike, and found myself face up with my glasses smashed and my eye bleeding profusely – that all I could think about was work, how inconvenient my not being there would be for the team, and just how busy a day I had ahead, now likely to miss.

Of course, life goes on. people pick up the slack and no one bats an eye – but I had real difficulty getting over that point. The accident happened two days before a big wedding that I had been working on for months (which thankfully was great and went off without a hitch) and at the time I genuinely had no idea how long it would be before I could go back to work and the list of events that I had to manage for the coming week (that didn’t stop me telling Sarah that if I could have gotten out of the hospital any sooner I would have gone in there and then – and had the doctor not said not to, I probably would have)

And so there I am, and after making an initial call or two to those most nearest and dearest, that I am on the phone, writing an email, and sending whatsapp messages to several colleagues from work, with the one thought in my head that I just want to cover my bases to ensure that people just don’t think I am slacking. Now you could, and may be well within your rights to highlight, that this could actually be the symptom ¬†of a whole different problem, and something that should really be touched on in more depth – a blog post for the future – “Perception and just how horrible a word it is”, but the reality can sometimes be to painfully close to expectation, and with that comes the need to just dust yourself off and get on with it.

I had no choice but to rely on others to help me out, as of course I have, we have – done as a team when any of us needs – but it is an odd feeling of almost embarrassment that can overcome you – having to be away from work like that……whether you are battered and bruised and nursing six stitches, or not….

Event Managers are not machines, and yet both others, and they themselves act in a way that would lead you to believe they are just that. machines though can get faulty, and if they are e not taken care of even more so – it just depends as it always does, on who is pressing your buttons.

Drawing a line – Clients expecting the world

So, how do you manage the expectation on your time, as one client and event, to which you have dedicated countless hours – suddenly turns around and accuses you of “not caring”?!

The facts are simple. In the events world we work with a lot of people, all of whom at one time or another will need their ego’s massaged. It doesn’t matter who they are, and certainly not who they work for, at one point in the lead up to, or on the night of, their event – you are going to need to pull back in some way, as you come up against their altar “Dr Hyde” ego – and you find yourself wanting to punch a hole in the wall where you imagine their face to be.

Sometimes I think that people I represent, do not understand that their event is not the only thing I have to work on within any given day, week, month or year.

In some obvious ways I see things from the client point of view. The best example of course is a wedding. In everyone’s ideal world, these things only come round once. They are thought of by the bride as her “Fairy Princess” moment, and by mother of the bride as their “surpassing the Jones” moment – and of course, both of these take a large amount of time to orchestrate. What has to be managed however, and this would not change if you are a stand alone event organiser or an event manager within a venue – is client expectation when it comes to how much time you dedicate to them and them alone.

As an event manager, you know that everything takes more time than you initially thought it might. Quotes take time, sourcing creative solutions takes time, meetings and tastings take time, countless site visits take time – and those are only a couple of the obvious ones. Most event manager would not get away with charging a per hour rate, because most clients could not afford it. A crazy skewed sense of time – as, having worked countless hours on something (and don’t even get me started on pre or post contract) you then get told that you are not doing enough.

How then can you manage, as I have had to recently, clients who want continued hours of your time, to go over the same details, prior to even having signed a contract – as they call your dedication and that of the venue you represent in to question because you are unable to dedicate yet another afternoon to them?

How often in my posts do I speak of balance. Most recently, I pushed back. I know that I have given a large amount of my time to this event, and to be fair, I have little to show for it. I don’t believe that in doing so I call my dedication in to question, and if anything, I am saying that in order to give you the time you need as a client, I have to manage my time as an event manager, and break things down in such a way that allows both you, and my other clients to benefit from the hours I can give.

You know as well as I do though, that more often than not, things are rosy only when someone needs something from you – and in the event that you are suddenly needing to chase for something you need, people tend to hold off returning a call or paying a deposit. The world of events is sometimes a little one sided, and it is part and parcel of the responsibility we face. I guess I am just saying that managed correctly, it is ok to stand your ground – just don’t expect to side step an angry email or two from Dr Hyde, or the need on occasion to move some things around in order to spend more time than you first thought you would have to revisiting the same timetable and seating plan over and over.

Next week I am going to write about a couple of additional points;

The balance of pre and post contract work, and how best to put that initial and final estimate of charges together. In the meantime, I would love to hear from, you and how you split your valuable time when the demands are so high