Special event training montra: "Figure It Out"

In the world of special events there isn’t a better way to explain the industry-wide standard training method other than…"FIGURE IT OUT.” I have yet to meet a special event professional who hasn't pioneered their own way. Yes, of course, there are college courses, there are text books as well as the proverbial Meetings and Events for Dummies.  There are even certification and accreditation programs that provide on-going training for a variety of topics that pertain to the production of aesthetically pleasing, well managed, highly official events. Even with all of this available training, the core learning practice is still …"figure it out.”

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I am somewhat jealous of the extensive training other professions receive in college.  Journalists write hundreds of sample stories that are critiqued by professors. Lawyers review policy and form over and over. They prepare for mock trials for weeks, heck maybe even months on end. Accountants rigorously solve problems over and over under the guidance of current accounting professionals, until the drill has been mastered. Yet after taking one, maybe two classes (if you’re lucky) on the topic of special events, when you ask someone how to set up a coat check, the response you receive is, “figure it out.”

Don’t misunderstand me, there are plenty of event leaders out there who will say they received guidance and coaching from many senior event professionals. But I’m sure many of these guided professionals will also tell you that “figure it out” was one of the guiding principles of their training.

There’s something to be said for this prevailing form of rigor. While frustrated that nobody is willing to lend you their step by step instructions, it allows you to think through a problem and create a solution. The event world moves so quickly that it gives you the opportunity to immediately see how well thought out your plan was and just how to adjust it the next time.

Pride becomes part of the equation as well. If you are truly able to “figure it out” and you do it correctly, you are more confident for the next challenge. It’s this sense of accomplishment that continues to build over time into confidence. And confidence gives you the ability to take bigger risks.  This usually results in a larger payout. Confidence is the end goal.

There might be an occasion when you “figured it out” incorrectly. That doesn’t matter. Nothing in the event world is brain surgery. You made a mistake, you corrected it (or someone corrected it for you), you learned from what you did and through all of it you can still say you “figured it out.”

So next time you are waiting for someone to show you how to do something, or you become hesitant because you don’t know exactly what to do because nobody has explained it to you, I encourage you to grab the bull by the horns, critically take a look at all of the materials you have available and “FIGURE IT OUT.” You will be much better for it and perhaps someone will even pat you on the back and say, “Welcome to the club.”

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    Neal Heitz

    If I could print uber truthful business cards, my title would be: “19 year old dream crusher” or “fantasy job reign-er-inner” but as it stands College Instructor of Special Events is the official printed title. This illustrious title was secured by a long career which has included: 1.) Organizing games of hide-n-seek that spanned two continents (well not really, but when you’re a kid two blocks can certainly seem like two very separate continents) 2.) Wrapping cornstalks for a Fall Pumpkin Festival without the help of step-by-step instructions posted on Pinterest. 3.) Frying chicken for every graduation, communion and confirmation party on the south side of Chicago. These formative lessons led me to a career as an Event Planner. With all of this necessary experience I transitioned myself into a College Instructor and found myself perched on a soap box hollering about the one thing I was destined to teach ... Event Planning.

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