This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Cole Sales, marketing manager at eShipping, shares his unlikely recommendation for two books that events professionals should read.
What book or podcast do you recommend as essential for event professionals?
I’m a true believer that where you will be in the future is predicated on two things: the books you read, and the people you meet. A few years ago, I came across Jesse Cole and his baseball circus, the Savannah Bananas. They continue to challenge the status quo and approach everyday aspects of a game, event, or business with the customer (or fan) in mind. Jesse has written two books and I couldn’t put them down. Find Your Yellow Tux and Fans First are true inspirations for anyone in our industry — and in life.
What have you learned about yourself — and the industry — during the past few years of uncertainty?
No one could have predicted the impact that the global pandemic would have on our business, our industry, and ultimately our way of life. We have been pressured to ask the tough questions and make the difficult decisions in order to protect the brands and budgets we represent. Personally and professionally, we have learned how to pivot and adapt in a more efficient and effective manner than ever before. If I had to identify one trait or quality that I have learned about myself and our industry, it would be our uncanny ability to adapt along the way.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from someone in the industry?
When I was studying for my undergraduate degree at Northwest Missouri State, one of my professors shared this simple piece of advice: Specialize, then generalize. It’s as simple as that. Don’t try to master each and every aspect of marketing right out of the gate. I’ve found that as I learned one area of marketing, I could then apply those new skills and techniques into other areas. Don’t get me wrong, I touch several different pieces of the marketing mix every day. I simply don’t claim to be an expert in everything that I do — and neither should you.
What creative initiative, innovation, or meeting format came out of the pandemic do you believe should remain and why?
There’s no question that the pandemic shined a spotlight on our industry and pressured us to find alternative ways to connect and collaborate in alternative mediums more than ever before. There is nothing better than planning an event with thousands in attendance representing their respective industry, leading product, or service. However, the pandemic has really shown us that there is room and opportunity for virtual and hybrid elements throughout. It is tough to argue against the cost and convenience that virtual event elements bring to the table. When you begin to weigh the risk versus reward, there is proven room for more digital event experiences within our industry for years to come.
What do you like most about your job?
There is a lot to love about roles and responsibilities within the business events industry. One thing that I have noticed is how similar, yet how different each company or organization approaches events and how they utilize them to bring in business that ultimately impacts their bottom line. I have been fortunate and am thankful to have worked for organizations that see value in the business events industry. There is something to be said about how much of a positive (and profitable) impact events can bring to the table when planned and prepared for in a strategic and systematic manner.
Members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2023, supported by PCMA Foundation and Experience Columbus, were recognized at PCMA Convening Leaders 2023, Jan. 8-11 in Columbus, Ohio.