Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 13 2016

The Most Memorable Quotes From Convening Leaders

By David McMillin, Editor

Whether you traveled to Vancouver for Convening Leaders 2016 or you tuned into the Convening Leaders Live for the live stream, your brain is most likely receiving an overload warning. You’re combing through notes from compelling sessions and expert speakers, and you’re thinking about how you can apply some of your new knowledge to your own organization. As you reflect on what you learned, the PCMA.org editorial team wants to add a few more lines to your notebook or your iPad. Here’s a look at the most memorable quotes from the past four days.

1) “Stories are the currency of conversation.”

— Jonah Berger, Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author

Every organization wants to inspire attendees to talk about their meeting, to spread the word and to become an advocate who champions the benefits of registering. However, that’s no easy task, and it’s not going to be accomplished with numbers of education sessions or the names on a speaker list. Instead, Berger told Convening Leaders attendees that they need to give the members of their audience a compelling story they want to pass on, and it’s not as simple as something that can be liked or shared.“We may have a gazillion followers on Facebook, but if no one shares our content, it doesn’t matter,” Berger said in his keynote address on Tuesday, January 12. “We need to ask ourselves how we can get each person that comes to our event to tell just one other person about it.”

MORE: How To Make Your Meetings Contagious

3) “When talented people don’t have time to think, business inevitably suffers.”

— Juliet Funt, founder of WhiteSpace at Work

In today’s always-on, reply-within-ten-seconds business environment, Funt said we’re all forgetting to make time for one essential activity: thinking.

“Innovation and creativity are withering under the false gods of business,” Funt said in her keynote address on Monday afternoon.

Rather than remain in a never-ending race to check items off a to-do list, Funt asked Convening Leaders attendees to make time for white space. The goal is simple: find time to press pause each day. Relax. Put your brainpower to use to tackle big-picture issues, and you’ll be amazed at the results.

MORE: Juliet Funt Goes Deep

3) “The power of simplicity brings great things.”

— Mel Robbins, CNN host and author

When Mel Robbins interviewed Arne Sorenson, the CEO of Marriott International, on Monday morning, some in the audience may have expected to hear of the complex nuances of running such a massive brand. While Marriott recently became the largest hotelier in the world with its acquisition of Starwood, Sorenson told Convening Leaders attendees that Marriott has made an effort to focus all of its energy on one objective: being the best hotel brand in the world. When Sorenson first took over the CFO role at the company, Marriott was involved in everything: theme parks, restaurants, cruise ships and more. Now, they are strictly a hotel company. Robbins highlighted the benefits of aiming to be incredible at one thing rather than being pretty good at everything.

MORE: Life Lessons From A CNN Commentator

4) When we change our habits, we can change our lives.

— Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author

Are you struggling to wake up with your alarm clock? Are you failing to listen to your colleagues? Are you on less-than-healthy eating and exercise schedule? Making adjustments to your routine can make all the difference. Rubin reminded Convening Leaders attendees that now is the perfect time to take a look at what you want to improve and make an action plan.

MORE: Habit Forming

5) Loyalty, schmoyalty. Attendees are not loyal to you, they’re not loyal to your city, and they’re not loyal to your association. Attendees are driving their own experiences.”

— Gregg Talley, FASAE, CMP, President and CEO of Talley Management Group


The numbers don’t lie: many of your attendees are booking outside the block. While your organization may remind them of the benefits of staying at the host hotel and the importance of supporting the organization, Talley told a packed room of planners and suppliers that traditional room blocks are no longer relevant.

MORE: Are Traditional Room Blocks Becoming Extinct?

6) If my life was a book and I was the author, what would I want it to say?

— Amy Purdy, Paralympic snowboarding medalist, model, actress and co-founder of Adaptive Action

At this point in my convention writing career, I’ve been to four PCMA Convening Leaders, four PCMA Education Conferences and a seemingly endless number of other conventions, annual meetings and events. So, I’ve heard my share of inspiring keynote speakers. Well, Amy Purdy now occupies a spot right at the top. After losing her legs at the age of 19 to a form of meningitis, Purdy entered the unknown. Would she ever snowboard again? Would she be able to enjoy her twenties? Would life ever be the same? Purdy’s positive outlook didn’t let her near-death experience derail her journey. She snowboarded seven months after receiving her prosthetic legs. She founded a company that helps disabled action sports athletes. She even appeared in a Madonna video. Watch her TED Talk to get a real sense of Purdy’s powerful story.

What were your favorite quotes from Convening Leaders? Share them below in the comments section.

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