Archive for the ‘Professional’ Category
Six months ago I was asked to head up the committee that planned and hosted our firm’s 20 year anniversary celebration. I was really excited as I LOVE planning parties. I love it so much that I am planning at least four parties over the rest of the year.
We decided that we would have the party at a local brewery and that we would incorporate a sunflower theme from our save the date cards to invitations, to event space decor. We invited all of our clients, firm members and their spouses, and some of the associated professionals that we work with. All in all, the guest list was over 400.
We spent six months organizing and securing vendors from the event space, to the caterer, baker, and DJ. The brewery provided space for up to 225 people, a bar stocked with their beers and house wine, soft drinks and coffee, a limited number of sunflower centerpieces, and commemorative pint glasses with our logo for party favors for our guests. The caterer is a well known local catering shop run by a husband and wife team. We have used them for several office functions in the past. We chose to have a heavy appetizer buffet for our casual “open house” style reception. We asked for a mix of hot and cold choices with a mix of beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian options. We told the DJ that we wanted to be able to play music that would appeal to a wide variety of people, including a diverse age group. He told us not to worry as he had a music catalogue that contains 35,000 songs. The dessert would be cupcakes with simple designs….some had 20s and some were decorated with sunflowers to continue our theme.
215 people RSVP’d that they would be attending our party from 6-10 on Thursday evening. We asked our staff to be available at 4:00 so that we could have all hands on deck to get the event space ready for the party. The event space staff took care of setting up the bar and the caterer put out candles on each of the 8 top rounds and high top rounds and they set up the beautiful food buffet. The baker came and set up a simple but elegant cupcake display complete with white, chocolate, red velvet, and lemon cupcakes. We set up the registration table with preprinted name tags for the guests and trivia questions. We had slips of paper for each guest to answer four trivia questions to be put in a drawing for door prizes.
Our company office manager made a really neat slide summarizing the history of our firm, what we do, our clients, and a slide for each firm member showcasing their families and leisure activities. It played on two jumbo screens throughout the duration of the event.
Before we knew it, guests began to arrive. We had several local clients and associated professionals as well as clients that traveled in from Missouri, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Virgina.
We stopped the music at various times during the event to introduce our firm members and do the drawing for trivia question winners. We had four questions and therefore, four winners. Each winner received a sterling silver piggy bank.
Everyone was raving about the how great the party was and how delicious the food was. The DJ did a great job keeping the music selection varied and pleasing to all in the room.
Finally, by about 9:00, I was able to take a load off and enjoy some food and have a meaningful visit with a couple of clients. The party was a success, but the worst thing about it was that I spent about 15 seconds talking to each person, and there were even people that were there that I never saw or talked to. I guess that comes with hosting a party. But, I was disappointed, it felt like guests started to arrive, and FLASH, the party was over.
Anyway, I’m so glad that we pulled the party off without any major hiccups and that. I’m happy to add a party of 200+ to my list of events planned to date and I hope that I was able to show the company that I can handle a few extra responsibilities.
And that is how the birthday month ended.
To the next 20 years!
Friday, March 2nd, was a day that I had been looking forward to for weeks. My good friend and I were headed to a gala. Black tie, cocktails, dinner, and dancing, all to raise scholarships for Kansas City area high school students that are attending K-State. This event combined three of my favorite things, dressing up, all things K-State, and good friends.
About three weeks before the event, I found the PERFECT dress at a local mom and pop dress shop, Natalie M. on Metcalf in Overland Park. http://www.nataliem.com/ I was a little worried because the dress had three layers and one of the layers was a bit snug, but I knew that by the time the event rolled around it would be ok.
The next couple of weeks just flew by. I started the week of the event off by getting a purple gel manicure with Ana at Nail Avante in Town Center Plaza in Leawood. http://www.towncenterplaza.com/store/nail-avante/2137036261/2138806610 I was so excited that I hardly slept a wink in the days leading up to the event.
Wednesday, I had a bit of a scare when I realized that my recent hair cut left my hair shorter than I had planned and so I wasn’t sure that I could do my hair on my own. So, I sent an SOS text to my hair stylist, Amy Wise, who saved the day. I was able to get an appointment with her for Friday afternoon, the day of the event, and she would put my hair up as she had lots of experience doing updos for those with short hair. www.facebook.com/wisestylist
Tasha at EnVogue did my eyebrows www.tashancain.com and Shrya at the MAC cosmetics counter in the Macy’s at Town Center Plaza applied my makeup to compliment my perfect dress.
Because my dress had a corset top and needed to be tied, I got dressed at the dress shop and let the attendants help me into the dress. The dress fit like a glove!
My friend picked me up and we headed to the event. I was so excited that I was talking a mile a minute. We both looked great and I was excited about all of the people that we would see, friends, acquaintances, and new friends.
The event was a BLAST. 600 people attended and raised $404,000 in scholarships for Kansas CIty area kids.
I reconnected with a classmate that I hadn’t seen since college. Hopefully I see her and her husband again.
I had so much fun and I loved my dress so much that I didn’t want to take it off at the end of the night. The only bad thing about the night was how fast it went!
It is amazing how a little hair, make-up, and formal gown can make you forget about the 10 extra pounds, what I had for dinner the night before, and whether or not I’d logged enough miles on my runs last week. I felt good, and I was proud to connect with fellow K-Staters to come together for such a great cause.
I left the office at about 1:00 pm on Wednesday feeling a little nervous about being away for the rest of the week. It had been several months since I had more than one day out of the office. I headed for home to change clothes and pack a bag, as I would be staying at the hotel where our conference was taking place. Of course, I was running behind schedule and made it to the venue later than I had planned.
We were kicking the event off with a cocktail reception at the hotel followed by a BBQ dinner on the Plaza. Several speakers and event sponsors were flying in from all over the country for our event, so we wanted to be able to host them before the conference started on Thursday. The cocktail reception was great. The two hours just flew by. I enjoyed meeting and visiting with our out of town guests. The highlight of the reception was when I had the opportunity to thank our planning committee. I had arranged for a surprise meeting to take place in the hotel bar area. The bar manager and our new chapter administrator helped me pull it off. About half way through our cocktail hour, she helped me gather the five planning committee members and take them up to the bar area where the bartender was waiting with a bottle of champagne. I thanked everyone, presented them with gifts and we posed for a few photos. It was a lot of fun and the group was surprised.
After the cocktail hour was over, about twenty of the planning committee and out of town guests walked a few blocks in the beautiful sunny, Kansas City spring weather to a local BBQ restaurant where there was delicious food and wine waiting for us. Everyone had a blast eating BBQ and socializing. Getting to visit one on one with the speakers who are experts in their fields was definitely the highlight of the evening. We had a couple of people in from Boston and they were in awe of the burnt ends.
When dinner was over a few of us headed back to the hotel terrace for drinks and dessert in the awesome warm evening weather. There was live music and great conversation. I perfect way to kick off our event and end the afternoon/evening.
I never sleep in hotels, so I tossed and turned and worried about the next two days. I wanted everything to run smoothly and wanted everyone to have a good time at the conference and leave with a lot of great takeaways for their businesses. I wanted to be a good host to our out of town guests.
Morning came fast, and before I knew it, it was time to head up to the rooftop of the hotel for our event. A few unexpected things occurred (as planned) and I was flustered starting the event 20 minutes behind schedule. As the event chair, I acted as emcee. I had written myself note cards with an outline of what I wanted to say. I don’t like to read from cards, but I thought that the notes would help me remember to say what I wanted to say and thank who needed to be thanked.
The afternoon brough five excellent speakers on different areas of discipline in financial planning as well as current events pertinent to our industry and profession. We wrapped up twenty minutes ahead of schedule after starting twenty minutes late.
We again hosted the out of towners for a private dinner immediately following the conferene cocktail hour. It was Cinco De Mayo, so they served sangria and delicious fish tacos.
I didn’t get much sleep and before I knew it it was time to get up and begin the second day of the conference. We started with breakfast at 7:00 and ended with lunch at 1:00. The day was great and we ended only about 20 minutes behind schedule.
When the event concluded, I was bombarded with so many friends and colleageues praising the event, speakers, and our planning team. It was a great accomplishment and so much fun.
I’ve kept very busy the last six months learning a new position at work and studying for an exam that I am taking later this year in pursuit of a professional designation. I have cut out the bulk of my volunteer work temporarily, until I pass the exam.
One area where I have kept some responsibility is my involvement in the local chapter of a professional organization that I belong to. In September of 2009, our chapter President-Elect asked if I would chair our chapter’s biennial conference. Every other year, our chapter hosts a two half day conference for experienced professionals. We have speakers that come and present on all areas of discipline related to financial planning.
I agreed to chair our fifth event to be held on the Plaza in May 2011. I had 20 months to plan….I had attended the event in the past and served on the last event’s planning committee, so I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to accomplish:
- Start the planning process early
- Establish a good team of accountable and reliable experienced professionals to help with the planning process
- Make this our best conference yet
- Lay a good foundation for the next conference chair
We set the date for the conference and then a couple of months later, I had a meeting with our chapter administrator and current chapter president to sketch out a plan of action. Over the next several months, I developed a plan of work and started putting the team together.
I made a list of the people who I respect the most in this city and in the profession and started making phone calls. My goal was to form a steering committee that would meet for half-day retreat style meeting to brainstorm ideas and come up with the theme, format, and content for the conference. I was able to get commitments from 15 people with various business background and practice types, including to folks from my firm who I really look up to and four former chapter presidents. We met starting with breakfast and ending with lunch on a Friday in May 2010.
I have to admit that I was very nervous about leading a five hour meeting with folks that were two-three times my age with much more education and experience than me. I had a few sleepless nights preparing and leading up to the meeting. All that stressing….and the meeting was fantastic. We came up with a lot of great ideas and laid a very good framework for the planning committee.
The next step was to come up with a plan of work that included the following areas:
- speakers and content
Normally, our chapter administrator would take care of all of the logistics including registration, venue management, etc, so I decided that I would take on the budgeting process and securing sponsorships. I asked a good friend and former chapter president to take the lead on the speakers and content. I found two marketing co-chairs to spearhead our marketing efforts.
We had a GREAT team! This was our fifth event and we had never had a formal budgeting process, so I helped create the budget to submit to our treasurer and board of directors for approval. We had never had a marketing plan or devoted much money to marketing and promotion. I worked with the marketing co-chairs and we developed a plan and timeline. In the past, most of our speakers were local, or provided by companies that were trying to pedal products. The speaker chair put a team together to research nationally known experts on the topics that we wanted presented.
The planning process was long and hard and we had several challenges.
But…..it all came together for two great days on the Plaza….