The events industry talks a lot about legacies in terms of the lasting imprint that meetings and conferences leave behind in host destinations. In addition to highlighting those impacts that continue to make a difference for communities around the world, PCMA is proud to celebrate the individuals whose leadership will continue to resonate for future generations. More than 100 meeting professionals and suppliers have joined the PCMA Education Foundation’s Legacy Society, a group with CMPs, CAEs, MBAs, and other distinguished acronyms attached to their names who have planned contributions to the industry’s future in their wills or estate plans.
Those Legacy Society members include the game-changers and ground-breakers who develop new ideas and launch new businesses. Today, Lauren Kramer, CAE, founder and principal of Meeting Priorities LLC, shares her perspectives on taking a leap of faith to strike out on her own, respecting the DIY spirit of an emerging generation of event professionals, and learning how to order wine.
What advice would you give the 25-year-old version of you?
Listen. Observe. Be kind. These are traits that serve everyone well in any situation. One phrase I’ve adopted is “Not my story to tell,” which speaks to keeping confidences. And of course, I would tell myself to learn how to order wine for every occasion. Wine lists have their way of making it to the organizer’s place, and you have to order with confidence!
What has been the biggest surprise twist in your career? Are there any unexpected turns that you wouldn’t have predicted when you started in the industry?
Starting my own business in 2006 was a leap of either stupidity or faith, but it was a dream and I’m glad to still be standing. Earning my CAE was always a goal, but it wasn’t until two of my mentors encouraged me that I considered pursuing a Masters degree. I’m glad that I did.
I’m not certain anyone expected the speed of technological advancements, which have enhanced our industry. But in many ways, they have diminished relationship building, a pillar on which our industry has thrived.
Who has had the biggest impact on you in the events industry?
There are many on whose shoulders I stand. It’s a pyramid! Jo Ann Hoffman took a leap of faith and gave me my first opportunity in this industry at AABB back in the day. The industry icons with Freeman trained and mentored me and continue to do so. I had two amazing bosses who I stay in touch with, and of course, the colleagues who have become lifelong friends [have had a huge impact on my career]. We continue to learn from each other and celebrate our enduring friendships.
When you look back on your involvement with PCMA, what stands out as your favorite memory or favorite event?
Serving as program chair of the then-[called] Annual Meeting in Miami in 2000 was a highlight. The city and hotels were delighted to host PCMA. Some family members were able to join me there, and seeing our event through their eyes was a reminder to me of how fortunate we are. As my mom would have said, we are “richly blessed.”
The events industry is evolving quickly. What’s the biggest — and most valuable — change you’ve experienced in your career?
Technology and the speed/efficiency of the many tools available to us as business event professionals is certainly a valuable change (and a challenge at times … come on Wi-fi! Speed it up).
The next generation is entrepreneurial and seems willing to take a chance or risk more than the more cautious boomer generation. The future is bright!
For more on that bright future, check out Kramer’s perspective in “20 Thought Leaders Told Us What They Think About How the Industry Is Getting Better.”