Archive for March, 2008

Taking a (spring) break

 

I am leaving tomorrow to head down to Mexico on my annual mission trip with my church to build houses for impoverished families. Amor Ministries is the nonprofit organization that organizes these trips, and my church has been doing this for about 15 years I think. This is my 8th year; I started my freshman year of high school (the first time I was old enough to go) and have been going ever since.

This year, I’ve been asked to be a site leader, which entails the additional responsibility (beyond being an adult leader, as I have been for the previous 3 years) of leading a team of approximately 20-25 high school students and adults in constructing a home. Yikes! I was reluctant to accept but decided I was ready to step up and challenge myself. I know how to swing a hammer, but I’m no toolman, so I’m a bit nervous! How do I tell other people what to do when I’m still not sure myself much of the time? I trust the judgment of the trip leaders – I figure they wouldn’t ask me if they didn’t think I couldn’t do it. But it’s still intimidating – the other 3 sites leaders for our group of 60+ are all men twice my age with a lot of experience. Not only do I feel as though I’m still just a kid, I wasn’t born with that Y-chromosome that makes me know how to tinker with stuff like my dad can.

I’m excited for the opportunity to lead the group this way, and I have high aspirations for my team. I think we can build a really good, strong home for a deserving family and have a fun, safe experience doing it.

Please, please wish me luck!! I’ll be back in two weeks with the outcome!

Image courtesy of Amor Ministries on Flickr.com

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Jones Soda custom labels – I want!

I found this cool idea at Enjoy. I already loved Jones soda, but now I am going to have to find an excuse to order my own custom bottles. Would make great party favors or thank-you gifts to a client. Get more info at Jones’ Web site.

Images courtesy of enjoycando.blogspot.com

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Taking a crack at my first professional resume

Alright folks, I’ve finally done it. I’ve retooled, re-worked, fiddled with, edited, and redesigned my resume. In the past, it wasn’t as important how my resume looked or what all it included because I felt pretty proud of myself just for having one in the first place. After all, applying in high school for a part time job at the mall wasn’t quite as rigorous as trying to find my place in the professional world, so I didn’t stress over the details so much.

But the time has come for a fancy-schmancy, formal resume. I posted it on its own page – please take a look and give me your input. I hope it avoids any of the 7 deadly sins of resume design, which includes the sin of using pink strawberry-scented paper, a la Elle in Legally Blonde. If it stinks, let me know how it could be improved. If it’s brilliant, forward it along to someone who might be interested! Either way, feedback would be much appreciated!

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But it’s not my fault!

 

I want to be an event planner. I am not a masochist. But, sometimes I fear the two go hand in hand. The exciting thing, to me, about events is how everything comes together in time and space to create this incredible, real, touchpoint experience for everyone involved. There is interaction. There is community. There is life. Sometimes, there are pretty things to look at and yummy things to eat. Every sense can be engaged.

The terrifying thing about events is everything I just said. There is less control and no edits. There are the confines of time and distance. What’s done is done, and if it’s not done well, there is no backspace key or reset button. If something goes wrong, will it be my head on the chopping block?

This is one reason why I’ve been drawn to corporate and nonprofit events versus weddings. Don’t get me wrong, weddings are fun! I’d like to keep it that way. I’ll plan my own and help my friends. But event planning is a demanding profession, and the personal emotions (for better or worse) tied up in the Happiest Day of Your Life are just the icing on the towering cake of pressure put on event planners to ensure that everything runs smoothly, on-budget, and successfully. If I make a mistake in an event, I’d prefer not to think I’ve ruined somebody’s lifelong dream.

Event Planner Christy Bareijsza wrote in her blog, The Red Carpet Events, about the responsibilities of event planners in her recent post “Where Do You Draw The Line?” She says that “if it rains the day of your event…chances are, it’s your fault.”

Gulp.

Bareijsza explains that, as a strategic planner, you should always have multiple backup plans and be constantly prepared to roll up your sleeves and do the dirty work to keep your client satisfied.

I think what she’s saying is that rather than admitting defeat or pointing fingers, the best thing an event planner can do for a client is to be accountable, which means not just taking responsibility for mishaps but, more importantly, generating positive solutions. In my experience, hardly anything ever goes perfectly according to plan. I think clients understand that. But being a good planner doesn’t mean planning it all and then going on autopilot. Instead, it means developing flexible strategies, supervising their implementation, and improvising as necessary to ensure that end goals are met.

Personally, I’d like to think that I will never make a mistake and everything I touch will turn to solid gold for my clients. In reality, that’s impossible. Mishaps will occur and I will get blamed, whether or not it’s really my fault. This, I must accept. But the difference between pleasure and pain will be how successfully I can anticipate, prevent, mitigate, and repair the damage. Then I can proudly accept responsibility for the outcome, rain or shine.

Image courtesy of jupiterimages.com

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Feeling a little dormant

 

The stars are in alignment as the end of the school term, my annual mission trip to Mexico, the post-graduation job search, and go-time for my thesis all culminate this month to create a hectic whirlpool of stress, intellectual drain, and general busyness. So I apoligize in advance for a bit of a slowdown on the blogging. But never fear, my mind is still a-teaming with thought, and I hope to continue to make this an outlet for it.

Next week I leave for Mexico to build houses with my church’s mission team, stay tuned for updates on that as I have a very exciting role this year.

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The art of the effective business e-mail

Brian Zafron wrote last week about the importance of well-crafted e-mails on the Freelance Switch blog. This topic drew me in because I too tend to be a bit picky about e-mail grammar and content and shudder at the complacency some of my peers seem to exhibit in this age of new, instant communication technology. In a world where “Where you at?” is actually a tag line for Boost Mobile and”idk” “lol” and “brb” make sense, the art of eloquent, professional, and thoughtful communication seems to have been seriously downgraded as a must-have for the adult world.

And maybe I am on a bit of a rant. It’s true – I stodgily resist the new IM and text messaging jargon. When I send a text (which is rarely) I painfully type out each word, finding myself slightly irritated that I can’t figure out how to make an apostrophe when I want to say “you’re.” I still subscribe to the notion that spelling, grammar, and writing style say something about us as individuals and as professionals. Just as I’m nervous having my hair cut by a stylist with a less than salon quality ‘do, I wouldn’t trust my professional communications to someone whose e-mails read like a 2nd grader’s spelling test. They could end up costing me my dignity with a blunder like this one (featured on Bad Pitch Blog).

So, my advice to students and professionals alike is this: save the shorthand for your BFF and keep your professional communication just that – professional. That means writing an e-mail like you would a letter, beginning with “Dear so-and-so” (or some variation) and ending with your signature. Read Zafron’s post to get more great advice. One thing I had to add to his advice is to avoid humor. Personally, I LOVE humor; I doubt I’ve gone a day in my life without cracking a joke or doing something silly just to get a laugh. But the problem with e-mail is it’s harder to tell when someone is joking. Sarcasm is the trickiest to pull off, so I’d recommend nixing it altogether, at least until you’ve established a comfy rapport.

After I’ve let loose my frustrations with bad grammar and time-wasting ramblings in e-mails, I want to please beg your pardon for any grammar/spelling/outright stupidity I’ve accidentally let slip in this post. Though I don’t want to make excuses, it is 1 AM and the chances are high I’ve missed something. So here’s my last piece of advice. Above all, be merciful. One or two errors does not a moron make, so on behalf of my graduating class, in our vernacular: plz give us chance!  

 Image courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/16/Typist.JPG

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Event design tip: think outside the table

While in search of something to lighten up the academic-ness of my postings lately (“academic-ness” probably did it already though), I saw this fun idea for table settings from Hostess With The Mostess. The tables are made to look like beds by using pillows and sheets to decorate. Clever.

So I thought a little bit about how often I see pictures of events with the same cookie cutter round tables or looooong banquet tables. The centerpieces may vary, but they’re still the same table. Although with a large group it would probably be a challenge to veer from the ordinary, with a smaller group it would be fun to consider alternatives to the traditional table & chair arrangement. Practicality shouldn’t always bow to novelty, but in the right setting something completely different could make a big impact. I’m thinking bigger than pillow cases and sheets – although that’s a good start as it gives the illusion of being more than a plain table. What about bringing in natural elements like sturdy driftwood for guests to perch on? Or incorporating scrap building materials for tables? As a kid I always thought those giant spools that electrical wires and hoses come on would make a perfect table for my backyard fort. I’m just brainstorming here folks – no need to tell me the risk of splinters or the logistical barriers to bringing in the remains of a building demolition. If we ignored all the reasons not to do something, just for a minute, what creative ideas would our minds surprise us with?

I wonder…

Image courtesy of Hostess With The Mostess

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