Keeping track of special event memories is "Good Stuff"

The special events world moves fast.  New trends, new ideas, new faces, new venues, new sponsors, new colors, new decor, new food, new technology and somehow when you look back it’s hard to differentiate year after year, event after event.  Of course you remember the big stuff, the important moments, the inspiring times when you were witness to something extraordinary.  But after a while sometimes these moments blend together.

One of my co-workers reminded me about something funny that happened and I asked her how she remembers all of the funny, interesting, sad, beautiful and epic event moments so well.  She agreed that remembering details can be tough and that’s why she created “the good stuff folder.”  She keeps a folder of articles, stories, printed e-mails, pictures and memos of events she has worked on to ensure she will remember the “good” moments.


Here’s a look at a few items in my good stuff folder:

Rookie Moment

My new boss tells me to fax an order to the sign company late on a Friday afternoon.  I become frazzled, first because my new boss told me to do something and second because it’s Friday evening and I know there’s a cold beer waiting for me somewhere.  I hastily look for the sign company’s fax number and send the three page document.  I didn’t bother waiting for the confirmation and bolted out the door.  I return to work on Monday morning and the owner of the sign company calls promptly at 8:30am to tell me our office fax machine has a “redial function from hell”! He’s furious with me because instead of faxing the document to his office on Friday, I faxed it to his cell phone number and the redial function of the fax machine called him ALL weekend over and over and over.

Did I misunderstand you?

I was asked to attend a large meeting where there would be a lot people from many different organizations to work on buttoning up the details for a large scale event.  As the meeting progressed the coordinator of the event was doling out tasks left and right.  Everyone started to feel overwhelmed, the event was drawing near and she wanted things done ASAP.  From across the huge table this eccentric, frantic and overwhelmed event leader hastily says (in front of everyone), “Neal, Neal I need your attention... can you please remind me if you had a chance to contact The Chicago Food Suppository?” Clearly she meant to ask me if I contacted the Chicago Food Depository but somehow it came out the wrong way…literally!


The very week of the iconic Chicago Blues Festival we received a call from a woman nicknamed “Cookie” and she was devastated.  Her mother had passed away that morning.  While it’s certainly sad when anyone loses a loved one this was a particularly sad loss because Cookie’s mother was legendary blues icon Koko Taylor.  We had been working with Cookie and Koko for many years.  We all had a special connection with both of them.  Immediately the coordinator of the Chicago Blues Festival put together an impromptu tribute in Koko’s honor.  We draped her festival booth in black linen because we knew her daughter and family members would not be there to staff it.  We had a larger than life memorial card printed so the public could sign it and we immediately had a large photo of Koko Taylor printed and bought flowers and plants to put around it.  It was a sad day for Chicago, a truly sad day for the Blues Festival and one of my saddest days working at an event.

Epic proportions of wrong

Nobody heard of the band Passion Pit, well at least I never heard of a band called Passion Pit.  When the talent manager told me she booked this band to headline a major concert night at the festival I was livid.  “Why would we book some band nobody has heard of?” I continued, “Why would we waste the money to pay a band that isn’t going to draw more than 300 people?” The drama continued as this “no-named” band was going to be our headliner.  The talent manager and the radio partner had a good feeling about Passion Pit.  “Just wait,” they kept saying.  I had no interest in waiting. I was convinced this was going to be terrible.  As winter of 2009 ended and spring of 2010 bloomed, I started to hear more and more about Passion Pit…by July 4, 2010, THOUSANDS and I mean THOUSANDS of Passion Pit fans filled the concert venue on a bright, warm summer day.  It was perfect.  As I stood on the sidelines watching all of these people have an awesome time, I realized I had a lot to learn from people who know far more than I do.  Sometimes patience and humility are considered best practices.

“Social” screw up

My good friend and colleague was working diligently and frantically to promote a new neighborhood farmers market one weekend.  She accidentally posted on Facebook “STOP THE NEW FARMERS MARKET” omitting the word “AT” in the sentence became pretty detrimental to the message’s intended purpose.  Needless to say, the responses were even funnier.

My “good stuff” folder contains print outs, pictures, e-mails, and articles of events I've worked on or interesting things that have happened to me in the events industry.  Keeping track of all the “good stuff” moments helps remind me of why I really love the special events industry.

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