Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #102) - Eve Richter Losses Nearly 150 Pounds

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

My friend Eve Richter has lost 148 pounds. That is cool. 

Eve's weight loss journey began as she was leaving her old job and was under a lot of stress.  She could not eat or sleep. At that time she weighed 368 pounds.

Once her appetite returned, she decided to consciously eat less food.  She basically ate about half of anything in front of her. This meant she lost more weight. 


A year later a women's boxing gym, Pink Gloves Boxing, re-opened.  Her friend Brenda Porta was leading the charge, and Eve, who had tried boxing before, was psyched they were starting up again. So she started with that, just 2 days a week. It was hard. Because of her size she had to modify a lot of things, but she enjoyed it more than any other activity she had done -which meant she would stick with it. It was such a supportive group of women, and she was happy to have them in her life.  There was no embarrassment with her body or limitations. She steadily lost more weight and got stronger.

By summer Eve joined a summer intensive boxing class, which was 4 days a week at an hour and a half instead of an hour. Next she got some TV coverage, and it was fun to show the fat girl getting in shape, keeping up with this challenging workout.

When the summer intensive ended, she knew twice a week was no longer enough of a work out. She joined Gold's Gym and started working with a trainer. At that point, nutrition became an issue. It turned out she wasn't eating enough to support her active lifestyle. The trainers helped her learn to eat right.  (It was pretty surreal to be told she needed to work out less, eat more, and eat more fat. Insane!)

These days she is trying lots of new things.  Her activities now include boxing, working with a trainer, strength training, sports cardio and core classes at the gym, and this week she just started running.  Soon she begins an aerial classes (trapeze and lyra), and is super excited about it!  Her future also included fun things like hang gliding and fun runs.

Eve has lost almost 150 pounds since January of 2013. She is now

more concerned with her health and fitness instead of what the scale says.  The proudest moment of the journey was being written up in Austin Fit Magazine   She said "Me! In Austin Fit Magazine! Wow! I love that people find my story inspirational, and use it to make positive changes in their own lives".

Most importantly, Eve wants people to know that it doesn't take crazy diets or fad activities or surgery to get in shape - even when you have hundreds of pounds to lose. She has not given up ANYTHING that she didn't want to give up (She did stop eating fast food many years ago, and mostly avoids highly processed foods and junk food). If she craves something, she eats it. She NEVER goes hungry. Conversely, if she is  not hungry, she does not have to eat (but does try and get in the right number of calories, protein and carbs daily). She does not do low-carb or cut out "fun" foods. She still drinks beer, eats chocolate, and anything else she wants.  It is about balancing her foods.

Eve says she will not continue to workout 10-12 hours a week forever. That is what she does now.  She foresees settling into a routine that will include other activities as well. But now she is having fun and enjoys it when friends come up and say "WOW - you look great!".  She says "It never gets old". 

Congrats to Eve Richter. She is an inspiration to everyone.  I am proud to have her as week #102 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #101) - Vision to Reality by Honoree Corder

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.


My friend Honorée Corder has released a new book.  She is the creator of the phenomenal STMA (Short Term Massive Action) Coaching Program, and in this book she shares the principles and tools she's studied, coached, and lived for more than 20 years.  

Vision to Reality™ will teach you how to increase your efficiency and effectiveness, overcome challenges, increase your productivity, live with passion and purpose, and turn your wildest visions into your true reality. 

Not merely a collection of good ideas, this book spells out the steps used by successful men and women to transform their daily actions into the life of their dreams. With daily practical application, Honorée’s formula for success will transform your business and life beyond your wildest dreams!

I have known Honorée for several years, and she is an inspiration to those she meets.  She works hard, is always seeking new business ideas, and goes out of her way to promote others.  This is the second time I have included her in the "Cool Things My Friends Do" posts.

Join me in saying "Cheers" to Honorée for her newest publication.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, April 07, 2014

5 Reasons To Hire A Master of Ceremonies



A friend, who is the CEO of a tech firm, asked me why his company should hire a professional Master of Ceremonies to host their "Users Conference" instead of having the VP of Marketing (who has a "great personality") serve in this role.  They have had varied levels of success by having their own people run the show, but he liked the idea that his employees did not cost him any additional fees.

Yes, he was thinking of hiring me to weave the "Conference Catalyst" program into the role as EmCee -- but my answer had nothing to do with if I was chosen for this conference.  Having an MC is a smart move.  The company is investing a lot of time and money in the conference, and the "face of the conference" is not a place to cut costs. I have found that events that have "just anyone" serve in this role often come up short on maximizing "conference attendee experience".


Five Reasons for A Professional EmCee

1.  Experience Matters.  Seasoned event professionals hire a Master of Ceremonies for the same reason that experienced keynote speakers are selected (I did not say "professional speaker", as there are many great speakers who do not charge a fee.  But speakers who have not delivered a minimum of 25 keynote level presentations -or more - could fail to achieve the desired result of content and charisma).

Being the MC involves a different set of skills from giving a speech, and thus having someone who has a great personality and some presentation experience does not guarantee they can oversee the energy, flow and transitions of your show.  A good MC will set the tone for the whole event.

2.  Conflicting Responsibilities.  The VP of Sales and Marketing (or other team member) has many responsibilities at the company's customer conference.  They need to always be "on" for clients, and have to be able to make time for any variety of conversations.  The MC role is both time consuming and emotionally intense.  Thinking that a senior level employee can juggle all that they need to do at a conference while also being the on-stage host means that their efforts will not be 100% effective.

3.  A Fresh Perspective.  Company or association events are often overrun with "insiders" about whom audience members already have pre-set opinions.  Reputations and past interactions (positive and negative) can cloud the way an audience views your Master of Ceremonies.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it takes a way the fresh edge that a professional MC can bring to the event.

4.  The Event is NOT a Commercial.  Smart organizations resist the temptation to make the focus of their event about the company that is planning the conference.  When your MC is from the executive team, or board of directors, you are indirectly placing the spotlight on the company.  When you have an outside MC it will move the attention to the audience experience.

5.  Keeping On Schedule.  The most important thing the MC can do is ensure the event runs on time and has the right energy and "vibe".  Too many speakers (especially those who are not professionals) have little regard to the importance of timing.  An experienced MC knows how to set expectations of the allotted schedule for all speakers, and can politely "give them the hook" should they go long.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com 


Friday, April 04, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #100) - Stormi Boyd Joins Red Velvet Events

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

It is always cool when two people I know and respect join forces and work together.  The combination of "amazing" plus "amazing" always equals more than the sum of the parts.

This week my friend Stromi Boyd joined the team at Red Velvet Events  (founded and run by another friend, Cindy Lo).  Stormi has a long resume as a meeting professional, and joins RVE as the director of professional services.  In this role Boyd will oversee a team of seasoned meeting planners and event producers. She will also be in charge of the management of Red Velvet Events' larger productions worldwide.

Stormi and I first met on a plane headed toward the PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) annual Convene Conference in San Diego in 2012 (where I was speaking). While we had known each other via social media (and had many mutual friends) we never met until we were traveling to an out of town event. Since that time I have come to know her as a great leader in our local meetings industry community.

The best is yet to come now that these powerhouses have come together!!!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Celebrating Five Years as a Solo-preneur - Thank You

April 1, 2014 marks five years that I have been in business for myself (full-time), and I am honored to work for wonderful clients as a speaker, trainer and consultant. 

Thank you for being part of this journey. If you are reading my blog you may have seen me speak, read one of my books, or you are a personal / professional friend. However our paths have crossed, I am aware that none of this could have happened without you.

The new year brings exciting changes. Several opportunities have appeared that will allow me to offer high quality training and consulting products for my clients that included programs on leadership, sales, negotiations and creating better teams. I am also continuing to expand "The Conference Catalyst" program (serving business and association events as a keynote speaker or EmCee).

I am excited for the future and appreciate YOU for being part of this adventure.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, March 31, 2014

Limit Your Local Cliques At National Meetings

The national conference of an industry association is a great place to gain knowledge, learn best practices, and network with peers from around the country (or around the world).  Most people proclaim their best ROI at live events is directly related to the people they meet.  While the keynote speakers and they educational sessions are fantastic, most people find the real power in live events comes from the other attendees.  

The serendipitous "Hallway Conversations" that occur when we converse with fascinating people (often who are from other parts of the globe) are hard to plan for in advance, but when they happen we realize they are the reason we came to the event.

Yet too many people undermine their own chances to connect by hanging around with co-workers and other friends from their home cities.  It is not uncommon at large association gatherings for local chapters to have their own private happy hours or all sit together at luncheons.  

Why would I want to fly to New York to spend two days connected at the hip with my friends from Austin (who I see every month at our chapter meetings)?  Especially if being with them is limiting my opportunities to discover the maximum value from being present at the conference?

Am I saying you should ignore your friends or be rude?  Of course not.  But think about what happens at a luncheon if you all sit together -- You meet nobody new.  But if ten of you sit at ten different tables, then combined you meet 90 other people.  What are the odds that one of those 90 will be AMAZING?  (My guess is most of them will be!!!).

If you are attending a large destination event with several others from your hometown, together you can make the conference more successful by working together and separately.  Have your private happy hour in your home city two weeks before traveling to the meeting.  At this happy hour have each person take a minute to share with the group what they hope to accomplish at the national conference.  Then get agreement for all to be on the lookout to help others maximize the event.  

Hanging around together will limit the value you can encounter. Working for each other while meeting new people at the event will give everyone a shot at more success.  If you must see each other, plan to get together at non-convention times.  A late night drink in the hotel bar or an early morning walk is a great way to spend time with your friends. 

If you are on the shy or introverted side, then it is okay have one "networking buddy" whom you attend sessions together. But do not be clingy.  It is okay to sit at the same table, but leave a few seats between you so both can engage in conversations with people from other cities.

The next time you attend a national event, break the trend of needing to always be with your hometown friends.  Challenge everyone in your chapter to get out and be ambassadors for your chapter, city or region.  You may be surprised how this will impact your experience.  When everyone is out talking up your area the other attendees will notice.  If you all sit together everyone will notice you as a clique.

The people you meet at conferences can open up a whole new world of contacts.  A top reason that people claim to attend association events is for the "networking opportunities", and then they stink at making any connections because they are engulfed by those they already know and see regularly at home.  Get over the need to fly over several states to visit with your neighbors.   

5 Tips for Chapter Delegates at Large National Association Events

1.  Do not stand or sit together at every breakout, meal, happy hour, etc...  Go forth and meet new people. 

2.  Have a local meeting of those who will be present at the national event a few weeks before the conference.  Share what each person in your delegation is hoping to accomplish (what they want to learn, who they want to meet, etc..), and then everyone become the extra eyes and ears.

3.  Introduce the cool people you meet on site to others from your hometown.  You never know when you might the the catalyst for a fantastic connection.

4.  If you think your group is getting cliquey, encourage people to branch out and / or invite outsiders to join you.

5.  Have a chapter meeting within a month after the event where those who attended share with the information with whole membership.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.  http://www.conferencecatalyst.com 
www.ConferenceCatalyst.com

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #99) - Michael O'Neal's Solopreneur Hour Podcast Tops 100,000 Downloads in a Month

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.


It was only four weeks ago that I highlighted Michael O'Neal and the Solopreneur Hour Podcast here on Cool Things My Friends Do.

While I have mentioned people more than once over the past two years (this is week #99), repeats do not usually happen so quickly.  However, this is cool...... Michael's podcast hit a major milestone this week (in the world of podcasts):  The Solopreneur Hour received over 100,000 downloads in the month of March (and the month is not over).


That is cool.

I do not know much about podcasting, but I do listen to several shows, including The Solopreneur Hour.  I know from many of the things I do in my own business that finding an audience is difficult.  I get excited if 1000 people read a blog post.  100,000 people doing anything is a huge accomplishment, and Michael only launched this podcast in August 2013.

If you work for yourself, want to work for yourself, or if you are interested in podcasting you should spend some time listening to this great show.  Once a listener you will be hooked.  You will discover that Michael has a lot of knowledge.  He and his weekly guests (that the calls "co-hosts") discuss a plethora of topics relevant for solopreneurs.  They are a bit hyper focused on podcasters.... as that is Michael's world.  (Much like I talk write about professional speakers often, as those are the people I hang out with!)

Congratulations to Michael O'Neal and The Solopreneur Hour on this milestone.  Now, he needs to get to a million downloads a month!!!   

****FYI, this is week #99 of "Cool Things My Friend Do".  It has been a very cool adventure highlighting others, and has changed me for the better.  What cool things do your friends do?  Tell the world.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (week #98) - Jax and K8 Take On The World

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

This week's Cool Things My Friends Do blog post highlights both my kids.  Each of them had a very cool experience on Friday that is worthy of the week #98 spot of "Cool Things":


Jax and the LBJ High School Tennis Team took 2nd Place in the Del Valle Tennis Tournament.  She and her mixed doubles partner played well and came in 3rd overall and got trophies.  She loves playing tennis and is very dedicated to being part of her school's team.  I am always impressed with her enthusiasm for the sport as I was never much of an athlete.


K8 had the chance to attend the LeAnne Rimes concert with a friend and even got to meet Ms. Rimes.  They were so excited I heard they did not go to sleep until nearly 2:00 AM as they recounted the great experience.  (I especially love the photo with the random lady trying to get a selfie with LeAnn while she poses with the kids).

I am pretty sure my children are having better childhood experiences than I had growing up (and my early days were really good).  I hope they realize the cool things they are doing and appreciate their journeys.  It is fun to watch them both go out and explore the world.

Have A Great Day

thom singer



Thursday, March 20, 2014

6 Tips For First Timers Receptions


"First Timer Receptions" at most conferences come up short of amazing.  The true purpose of hosting a special gathering of first year attendees is often forgotten behind the selection of finger-foods and the placement of the bar.  In the end these parties are usually not usually exciting for anyone.

Opportunities to impact the conference attendee experience are usually found in the simplest places.  Those of us in the meetings industry are often seeking ways to reinvent conferences with alternative meeting formats (which can be great), with the hope of delivering something unique and memorable.  Sometimes the shaking up of our existing formats can be done with ease and still create that "wow factor" we seek.

Several associations have recently asked me about how they can breathe new life into their "First Timer's Reception".  This has lead to some of the most fun conversations I have ever had in this business. It is fun to chat with organizers who are excited to try new things.

When people have a positive experience at an event they often look for reasons to come back year-over-year.  They also tell their friends and encourage them to attend.  Getting people excited in year one has a lasting impact.  You do not get a second chance to make a first impression.

It is more complicated than ever to spur human-to-human engagement at live events (they are often focused away from the event via mobile technology) and this leaves first timers out in the cold.  Those who have long-term contacts at an event tend to look up from their phones only long enough to socialize with those they already know.  Cliques are a problem in most organizations, and they are the elephant in the room.  But when all we can do is throw together newcomers without a plan we are creating new cliques for next year.

Brainstorming ideas with your team and vendors is paramount to finding the best options for your event.  Vendors, sponsors, and speakers see dozens of events a year (if not hundreds), and can help identify new concepts that can be used in your own agenda.

Each event is different, so there is no simple formula, but below are seven ideas that may spark some discussion for your next conference:

6 Ideas for the "First Timers Reception"


1.  It is not just for "First Timers".  There is no reason your reception has to only include the newcomers.  When it is positioned for the "First Timers Only" it can give off the vibe of being the "Kids Table" at a family Thanksgiving.  By stating that 1st year attendees need a special place to network, it can create false walls within your community.  Make the new attendees the stars of the show and invite and engage the more well known members of the conference society to participate.  This will undercut the vibe of a hierarchy.  If your VIP's behave in away that says "this is important", it will be amazing.  If they blow it off to go to the bar with their clique, everyone will know it.

2. Have a speaker. Do not just have anyone address this group.  Often a senior staff member or a board member does an "Info 101" session, and rarely are these talks interesting.  Instead, get a speaker for the event that can set the tone for the whole conference.  Yes, this may cost some money, but "First Timers" are your future, and worth the investment.   Another idea is to ask your morning keynote speaker to do an special talk at this event the night before their speech.  It should be different from their keynote (but most speakers have several talks).  When this is done right it will set up what is to come in the main event and build excitement.  Many people enjoy meeting the speakers, and having a smaller intimate party where that is possible will have positive impact.  Many speakers will happily add on another talk for little or no additional fee.  If your keynoter is not an option, get one of your breakout speakers to be the featured presenter.

3.  Host a "Human Library".  This idea is becoming a popular alternative style session at events.  The idea is that industry experts volunteer to be "checked out" for 15-30 minutes for short conversations. The attendees sign up for these live chats that can be one-to-one or small groups (do not let people sign up in advance, as on-site will encourage an on-time arrival and keep anyone from having priority). By putting this into the "First Timer's Reception" it creates a special perk for the newcomers, as they get to ask question of the most experienced and influential people in the organization or industry.  

4.  Provide high-quality and useful gift.  Shirts with the conference logo for the first timers sends a message that they are special.  People appreciate nice things, but hate the cheap stuff.  Be sure if you have a gift that it is not crap.  Get a nice Polo shirt or other item that people would want to wear or use after the event.  You can even have the people sign up in advance for their size and give them an "opt-out" option so you are not wasting an expensive gift on those who are not interested.

5.  Make it an experience.  There is no rule that says the "First Timers Reception" has to be in the hotel ballroom or other free conference space.  Take them off-site to a local venue that will add to their experience.  It does not even have to be a reception.  Indoor sky-diving or GoCart racing will be something everyone will always remember. Many organizers cringe at the thought of anything that is not done on the cheap, but if that is your motivation your results will be a direct reflection.

6.  Do not host a reception and then forget the First Timers exist.  To make the inaugural experience at your conference really special there is more to it than a party.  Highlight and honor these new attendees all throughout your event.  Make it clear to the whole group that those who are new are the future of the organization and the paramount to the success of the conference.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com