At the beginning of January, Megan and Micha took an adventure to Canada to attend the PCMA Convening Leaders Conference in Vancouver. Over 4,000 planners attended the conference that was held at the Vancouver Convention Center, the world’s first LEED Platinum certified convention facility.
Being sure to see the city outside of the conference walls, Megan and Micha landed in Vancouver a day before the conference started to explore Vancouver and all it has to offer. The two drove down long and winding roads with some spectacular views, and after about two hours they finally made it to their first destination, Whistler, the largest skiable area in North America!
After Whistler, Megan and Micha took a stroll across the Capilano Suspension Bridge. At 450 feet long, the bridge stretches just as far as two Boeing 747 airplanes wingtip-to-wingtip. The bridge is 230 feet high and is supported by two thick steel cables, which together can hold more than 200,000 pounds. That means it can support over 1,300 people standing on it at the same time! Alternatively, you can parade 96 elephants over the bridge at once. It’s nice to know we have options.
Their final stop before the conference began was Granville Island, a popular shopping district in Vancouver. The two were able to explore the famous Public Market and revel in all the culture (and food) the market had to offer.
After the fun adventures came the exciting conference! The opening session of PCMA Convening Leaders was a lively one, filled with giant robots you could control and Micha tearing it up in the golf simulator, in heels no less!
Although giant robots are ridiculously cool, the attention-grabber of the week came when the lights turned down and the conference started: The General Session screen. I know, what’s so special about a screen? But at 32 feet in height and 145 feet in length, it lit up the room and became the only thing you wanted to use your own hand-held screen to take a picture of. Fun fact: If you were to take down and disassemble the truss pieces used for the screen, they would run over a mile long!
The conference opened with Arne Sorenson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc. He shared his ideas on emerging macro trends that could change the face of the meetings and events industry in the next five years, and of course the recent acquisition of Starwood!
The following day, Juliet Funt taught the conference attendees what it means to reclaim and use Whitespace (AKA free time). She believes that organizations today are in the Age of Overload. By doing more with less, there’s an increasing pressure of always being ON. Julie thinks that by consciously and strategically adding Whitespace to your work calendar, you can begin to create habits where deep thinking occurs, creativity soars, and focus returns. She gave insights on how to clear up some of the clutter in your calendar with email response time codes (for example: NYRT means Need Your Response Today while NYR-NBD means Need Your Response Next Business Day).
Jonah Berger, the author of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” was up next, speaking about characteristics that make products and ideas go viral by walking everyone through his 6 STEPPS including Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. Jonah also taught the conference-goers how to generate more word of mouth, harness the power of social influence, and get their messages, ideas, and events to catch on.
Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” introduced herself to the conference the next day. She spoke on how to obtain a clearer understanding of why it might be difficult to adopt a new habit, how to take the first step to changing habits, and how to implement strategies to increase the likelihood that you can succeed in breaking your habits. Gretchen also talked about how you can set yourself up for success based on your current habits.
Amy Purdy was an inspiration to all as she took the stage. At age 19 Amy was diagnosed with Meningococcal Meningitis and lost both of her legs below the knee to the infection. Just under three years after losing her legs, she entered the USASA National Snowboarding Championship where she went on to win medals in three events. Today she is one of the top ranked adaptive snowboarders in the world and was the 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist. Needless to say, she was a motivational speaker at PCMA, talking about how to acknowledge your own obstacles (big or small) as opportunities to grow. Amy also spoke on the topic of reexamining the widely-held idea that disabilities mean limitations, being living proof that they clearly don’t.
And who doesn’t love a reunion? Professor Joe Goldblatt, a lecturer Micha had while at university, attended the conference. Not only has he written most of the event planning textbooks that are used in classrooms (which Megan used to study while she was attending university), he brings nine students from Scotland to PCMA every year to give them the opportunity to see what the event planning business is like.
We can’t wait for Austin in 2017!