Top 10 Takeaways from ENGAGE!19 Baha Mar - Part One

I've had the pleasure of attending 11 Engage! Luxury Wedding Business Summits. Each Engage! is unique and I walk away feeling energized by the community. I’ve found people typically attend Engage! for three primary reasons: the people, the information and the inspiration. It’s hard to find a more immersive three days in our industry for all three at the same time. 
 
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 two days after Engage reflecting on my biggest takeaways. It’s hard to pick only 10, but here it goes…

Find your people
Over 400 people attended Engage! last week. That’s a lot. Certainly too many to get to know in three days. If you took all the free time NOT in session with speakers (between the first talk and the end of the gala after party) you’d get just over four minutes per attendee if you wanted to meet them all.
 
Clearly, we’ve got to make choices on who we hang out with. Studies show we have about the average IQ and income of the people we keep closest. So, who are you hanging with? Who’s rubbing off on you?
 
Here’s my suggestion: 

  1. Write down your big goals for the next few years

  2. Identify what you need to get you there

  3. Go through the people in your life and pick out those who will help you reach your goals

  4. Choose to spend more time with those who’ll help

  5. If you’re short on who’s going to help, find others to be a part of your success

Forecasts can change in seconds
I was in the Bahamas for 10 days. Even though the conference was just three of those I scheduled the extra time for greater connectivity with certain people and plenty of mind-wandering moments.
 
During those 10 days the weather forecast changed no less than 1,457 times. Sun, rain, lightening and thunder, gentle breezes, no wind, high humidity, dry days. I honestly don’t know why they need weather reports unless it’s hurricane season.
 
It’s such a good reminder that we can’t focus too much on what others are telling us is coming our way. (I’ve been hearing about the impending recession for over four years!) No one but you can tell you what’s likely to happen with your business in the coming months.
 
Here’s the thing, though. The more you spend time worrying about the forecast the less time you have to do something about it. You don’t get to control external forces like the weather or recessions. But you do get to impact how well you do your work.
 
So, take the temperature on your biggest performance indicators. Website visits, referrals, inquiries, proposals sent, and bookings will tell you more about the forecast for your business than pretty much everything else. 
 
Pay attention to the indicators. Don’t go off your gut. It’s too important to leave to chance. When a hurricane is on its way don’t you want to know?

Make a plan for next steps
Every Engage! is different when it comes to meeting up with fellow attendees. Some host resorts are centralized or have one incredible place to meet up with people. Others have so many it’s hard to choose.
 
Baha Mar is over 1,000 acres with tons of pools – plus the beach – and three hotels. Finding people wasn’t as easy as saying you’d meet them at the pool or the lobby bar. No, you had to have a plan.
 
So what’s the plan for your business? 
 
Are you using hope as a strategy? (It’s not a good one, since you asked…) Do you have your goals written down? Are they SMART goals? I used to keep mine under lock and key…in my head.
 
But that’s not enough. No, you’ve got to write them down – and more than once. The best in the business tell us we should do it daily or weekly at the least. I keep mine by my workstation. I look at them no less than 100 times a day. 
 
Probably even more importantly, I set up my schedule each month to help me reach those goals. We’ve got to be intentional about what we’re spending our time on. Over half of your calendar should be devoted to your biggest priorities (hint: that aren’t client related).
 
Otherwise we’re just hoping success is going to come our way. Good luck with that.

Listen more than talk
Boy, this one’s hard for me to do. I’ve got so many ideas I want to share I usually feel my mouth can’t keep up. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you the same thing, because I’m always ready with something to say. 
 
If you’re like me, it’s hard to actively listen. We’re thinking of what to say next, trying to remember what time our dinner reservation is for, solving a problem that we can’t stop thinking about, or simply fighting the urge to check our IG feed.
 
We’ve all got to get better at listening. If we don’t, we’re never going to learn what we need for our businesses to be successful. For our clients to get the best from us. For our colleagues to get their needs met. No, if we don’t learn we won’t improve.  
 
Here’s one of my favorite stories about being more open to learning. 
 
A young monk goes to the master of the monastery. He tells him he’s learned what the others have taught him and now he wants to learn from him. The master says he’s not ready. Frustrated, the young monk goes back to his meditations. 
 
A few months later the monk asks again to become a student of the master, and again he’s turned away because he’s not ready.
 
A few months pass and the monk approaches the master and tells him he’s learned even more and is ready to become his student. The master tells the monk to sit down for his first lesson. He pulls out a pot of tea and places a cup in front of the monk. He begins to pour the tea…and keeps pouring…and pouring…and pouring. The tea overflows onto the table and master keeps pouring. The monk pleads with the master to stop pouring the tea into the cup and onto the table. 
 
Finally, the master stops pouring. He looks at the monk and says, “Your mind is like this cup. There’s no room for anything else.”

Lead with laughter
A priest, a rabbi, and an imam walk into a bar. Just kidding. No jokes here. What I do want to share is how important it is to have fun when you’re working in a group. 
 
Everyone wants to have a good time when they’re working. It’s the leader’s job to make that happen. In fact, the leader shouldn’t be doing much more than creating a great place to work (and making sure the team’s headed in the right direction).  
 
If you don’t have a formal team because you’re a solopreneur, you still have a team. It’s the people you do work with regularly for your events. You’ve got to do everything you can to make your contribution fun. 
 
Even if you’re not the leader on paper you can become one in reality by being the fun one. That’s the one everyone wants to follow. 
 
At Engage! Duncan Wardle brought us into his innovative world with activations. Why? He wanted us to get out of our serious headspace into one where we could create like we’re playing. His clue that we’re ready to start? Laughter.
 
So take some time to have fun with your team. If you’re not a naturally fun(ny) guy or gal, get better at it. Like all other things in life, if you’re not naturally good at doing something you’ve got to work on it.

Till next time, good luck with your inquiries!

-Sam

Sam Jacobson