Top 10 Takeaways from Engage!19 Nizuc - Part One

I've had the pleasure of attending 12 Engage! Luxury Wedding Business Summits. It’s hard to find a more immersive three days in our industry for inspiration, education and networking – and Kathryn, Rebecca and Team imagined an incredible atmosphere in Cancun last week.
Like most of you, I do my best thinking out of the office. Engage! is the perfect setting to discover and create new ways to help my clients’ businesses. 
As a business consultant/coach/mentor for wedding pros my inspiration comes less from the décor (though the creativity was stunning!) than it does from the insights I gain from the speakers and attendees – and quiet time by myself. 
I spent a few days after Engage reflecting on my biggest takeaways. It’s hard to pick only 10, but here it goes…

1. Don't stop at inspiration
Stop chasing someone else's dream
Find your people
Cut out the people who drain you
Learn what people want before offering information

Don't stop at inspiration

It’s not enough to have an “a-ha moment.” You have to actually do something about it. Otherwise you have an idea that just sits there and does nothing for you. What’s the use in that?

When you attend a gathering like Engage! your brain is making connections every minute of the week. You’re meeting people, learning, seeing new things. You’re cataloguing new moments and remembering others. It’s wild how fast you’re putting things together…
But pretty much no one’s writing things down, imprinting it in the brain or recording it for future reference. Where’s the “pin to board” for every day life? How do we “save to collection” outside of Instagram when we’re inspired by what we see IRL?
So, you have that great insight but it never sees the light of day because it flits away in the moment.
If you attended Engage! stop reading. Seriously. Instead, write down everything you learned. Re-read your notes and grow the idea, or create next-steps to implement. Open up your attendee book and circle people you connected with and jot in a few ways to progress the relationship. 
And so on.
You’ll accomplish two things:

  1. The ideas will fill out in your mind as you’re writing them down.

  2. New connections might be made with what you thought and what you’re thinking now.

And for the love of all that’s important in your business: TAKE NOTES YOU SHOW OFF. No one remembers 1/10th of what you can write down. You paid good money for the information! Keep it safe for when you’re ready to act on it.

Stop chasing someone else's dream
We learn from those around us – whether we want to or not. Want to know how someone parents? Look at how they were raised. Want to know how they teach? I bet it’s similar to their favorite teacher from school. Want to know how they lead their team? Ask them about their favorite coach from high school.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing to learn from those who showed us. It’s a survival skill we’ve adopted over tens of thousands of years. Find someone in our tribe or neighboring tribe and do what they’ve done to survive and thrive. 
We have to have models from somewhere, and Engage is a pretty good place to start paying attention to what’s working.
But just because someone had success in the past doing what they wanted doesn’t mean it’s going to lead you to where you want to go in the future. 
As a business coach I talk with wedding pros every day who are chasing someone else’s dream. It sucks to see, because even if you see the dream turn into reality it’ll never make you happy. 
You may learn to make more money, but what you really want is more free time.
You may get more free time, but what you really want is to be inspired by the work you do every day.
You may get inspired by your daily work, but what you really want is recognition from the community for your achievements.

You may get the accolades, but what you really want is to know you helped a client reach their own dreams.
You may help your clients design their biggest day, but what you really want is to teach others on your team to do this kind of work for your business.
So, before you embark on a journey to reach your next goal make sure it’s one you still want. Not yesterday’s dream. And make sure it’s one YOU wanted in the first place. Not someone else’s dream. 
Because it’s too hard to get to the top only to look back and realize you just climbed the wrong damn mountain.

Find Your People
I read recently that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. The average IQ and the average net worth. 
Is that a good thing or a bad thing for you?
Seriously. Stop. Think about it. Write down who you hang out with the most. I’ll wait…
What does your list say about you? Does it say you’ve settled? Does it say you’re reaching too far? Does it say you’re where you were last year and you’ve made little progress? 
More than IQ and money, do your people represent and embody your values? It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget about what’s most important to living a life you can be proud of:
In the past year I’ve interviewed some of the best wedding planners in the country to learn more about how they hire vendors for their event team. What’s important? What stands out – good and bad? 
The common thread through all the interviews is forming a team that represents your brand and the client’s needs. Sure, budget is important. But after that it’s all about the style you share and the way you work.
I’ve got clients who want to work with the best in the business. I ask them early on who do you want to do more work with and they pretty much recite the party planners on the who’s who lists. 
So, I urge them to dig deeper. What do we find? They have no clue why they want to work with them, just that they think if they do then they’ll have “made it.” 
My advice – and nothing against my planner clients (and anyone else) on those lists – is to find your tribe. Start with who does work like yours. Who has ideal buyers that look like yours? Who’s charging the same or 10-20% more than you? Who has the same business goals as you? Who shares a similar communication style as you? 
And for those who want to level up, who’s going to raise your IQ? Who’s a step ahead of where you want to be? 
Most importantly, who’s going to show you how to get there?

Cut out the people who drain you
If you’re focused on finding your people, it’s just as important to ditch those sucking time, money and energy from you. Preston Bailey talked about it in his presentation on ways to survive in the wedding industry and this one really resonated with me. 
Sometimes the people who drain you are the vampires he talked about. The clients who ask for too much of your time or too big of a discount. Or the ones who borrow from the best of what you offer but don’t come close to repaying it with what they return to you. 
The scariest ones, though, are the ones who do leech from you much more silently. These are the ones who bring the drama. The ones who call you to complain about their team, or their clients, or their colleagues. These types are much more skilled at sucking your time and energy from you. 
There’s no better time than today to inventory your connections and assess who’s making you better and who’s bringing you down. Don’t think about it as who’s good and who’s bad. That’s not nearly as important as who’s making you better and who’s not. 
As you do it, make sure to give an honest assessment, not sugar-coating it to avoid the hard stuff you know you’ve got to deal with in the future. 
Act like your business depends on it. Because you know what? It does.

Learn what people want before offering information
I learned a very valuable lesson when I was a server at a swanky restaurant in my early 20s. A group of business people came in for a celebratory dinner on the company card. The 10-top didn’t even look at their menus: “Give us the best of what you offer. We’re up for whatever!” Goldmine, I thought. 
The chef and I created an incredible tasting menu filled with the best of what we did. I brought out the starter of Omi beef carpaccio, which is the absolute best meat you can buy anywhere in the world – and our preparation was perfect.
I drop the three platters on the table and explain what I’ve brought out to them with extra-flowery language.
The team leader for the group looks at me and says, “Sounds great, but we’re all vegetarians.”
Humph. Well, I really screwed up that one.
You see, service – and sales – is not about what you want. It’s about what your customers/clients want. Your job is to ask questions of them before you deliver anything to them.
My clients learn this from me in practice when we start working together. Typically, I’ll spend the first session or two just going through the conversations collecting information and learning about what’s going on. 
How can I offer sage advice on what to do if I don’t know what they really want or what the constraints are to the problems we’re trying to solve?
And how can you do the same with your own clients? Are you asking enough questions to really learn about their needs? Not the needs they tell you right away, but the deeper concerns and desires they have that don’t come out right away. What are you doing to get those to surface? 
I’ll talk more about asking the right questions to get the best answers (and four other lessons learned at Engage!19 Nizuc) next week. My little Christmas Eve gift to you on the next Tuesday morning newsletter.


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