Thursday, June 5, 2008

Engage 08! Memories that will last a lifetime...

When I first decided to start my business I knew I had a passion for what I do. I knew I had what it takes to be successful and I knew there would be bumps in the road just like anything else in life. What I didn't know when I first started it were the opportunities that would present themselves when I least expected them.

Two weeks ago I was reading a blog and came across Engage08!. It was actually the logo that I saw that caught my eye, rather clever with it's catchiness, because ultimately that is what made me read on and feel the fluttering butterflies arise in my stomach. As I was reading who would be speaking at Engage I was excited and then I came to the name that would ultimately do it for me: Preston Bailey. I was supposed to meet Preston in February 2007 at a conference here in Massachusetts, but a family situation that arose that same day prevented it from happening and it's sat with me since. When I saw he was on the list of speakers for this I knew I had to go, this was opportunity #2 to meet him, what are the odds of getting #3?! So after a week of contemplating it I decided to do it. I made arrangements for my children, I booked a flight, a hotel and registered for the symposium.

The minute I met the first of my new friends, Stacey Kane & Dianna Fletcher, at breakfast, I knew I hadn't made a mistake. What I experienced that day was probably one of the most memorable days of my life so far (other than the birth of my children of course). It was a day filled with networking and amazing speakers, and when I say amazing, I mean some of the best in this industry. To say I’m inspired is an understatement. This post is long but to skimp on the details would be a crime in itself.

Opening up the day was Rebecca Grinnals & Kathryn Arce of Engaging Concepts, the two phenomenal women who made this all possible. I will also say that it didn't take me long to realize why so many people there spoke so highly of them, they're nothing short of marvelous.

Simon T. Bailey, who is brilliantly inspirational, was our first speaker and his words honestly made my eyes fill up. His sense of humor was refreshing and his message enlightening. He helped me see the bigger picture of being a mom and a business owner, and assured me that "Brilliant Balance is Possible", Yes Simon, I (now) believe it is.

At lunch I had the pleasure of sitting with Kathryn Arce of Engaging Concepts, Terri Zollinger of Terri Z Photo and Harmony Walton, the editorial director of Get Married & founder of The Bridal Bar. We all exchanged our "stories" of how we got where we are, and I think we all agreed that Kathryn's was the best. I was so happy to have a chance to talk to Harmony at lunch since I had to leave right at 5:00 to catch my flight home and would miss hearing her speak.

After lunch I introduced myself to Susan Moynihan, Editor in Chief of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, who also let her humor shine through while she spoke to us. I think I may have stuttered or slurred a bit when I first started talking to her, I can only hope she doesn't think I was drunk. Maybe if I had a drink it would have helped to calm me a bit! The energy of the day was so high I was definitely not my usual self in terms of being able to speak! And really for someone like myself who is still fairly new in this business to be around such wonderful people, the sheer magnitude of it all, I'm just happy I stayed on my feet!

The next 2 guests were also beyond fascinating. Marcy Blum who is not only talented but also absolutely hilarious, shared her insight and experience in this industry. Sitting beside her was the AMAZING Preston Bailey, who is an unbelievable inspiration to me.
To hear from them both about their experiences throughout the years in this industry was beyond inspiring. I mean these are people who have worked with celebrities like Oprah and Donald Trump so you know their work is fabulous.

After they spoke, everyone lined up to have Preston sign his book that was given to each of us in our marvelous gift bags from Tulla Belles. While waiting in line I felt like a little kid, I hugged my book so tight to try and stop my hands from shaking. I introduced myself to Preston and told him the story about how I was supposed to meet him last year and he gave me the best hug. I unfortunately missed having a chance to talk to Marcy as after I had my book signed, I was unable to find her (and had a plane to catch), but I was grateful still to of at least had the opportunity to see her and hear her share her wisdom.

Before leaving, I was able to hear Christine Boulton, of Think Like a Bride, speak (briefly) about blogging before I had to leave. But I actually had the pleasure of talking to her on the ride to the airport (we both had early flights!) and her insight and honesty was much appreciated! Sadly, I missed hearing Liene Stevens of Blue Orchid Designs who I really wanted to hear as I love reading her blog. I did however make it a point to say hello and introduce myself to her, I would've kicked myself if I didn't at least do that!

Wow, that's long! As you can tell I had a lot to share about this! It was such a wonderful experience and I am so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone and went. Not only did I meet new friends, I can now say that I have gained valuable knowledge from the best of the best. It was well worth the money, the time away from my boys, and the less than enjoyable traveling. Rebecca & Kathryn, keep me on the list for next year because I wouldn't miss it for the world!


dianna at fletcher-media said...

You are BRILLIANT!! (Simon T. Bailey has me bedazzled.. love him!)

Engage!08 was a huge success.. I left as elated as you.

keep in touch.