I was in New Orleans in January attending The Special Event Conference & Trade show (TSE), one of the largest industry conferences for special event professionals. I was pleased to find Marley Majcher, The Party Goddess, was once again a speaker at the conference. I first came to know Marley a few years ago when I sat in her session at TSE in LA. She was teaching a dynamic class called “But are you making any money…” I was intrigued by her matter of fact approach, her sense of humor and her generosity to share the real trials and tribulations of owning an event business. The special events industry can be a very lonely place sometimes because people are too afraid that if they share too much information their “competition” might take their ideas, their clients or their energy. I’ve always been raised to believe that generosity is the key, so I operate from a position that there is enough business for everyone. I try to remember this in the slim months!  Imagine my immediate attraction to Marley when she was willing to share it all with a room full of event planners – eek! Dare I say her competition?

After seeing Marley in LA, I secretly became a fan and I would make sure I was present anytime she was speaking at a conference. Fast forward to January of this year — Marley is once again speaking and together with Cecilia Rose of Eventurous they were leading a session called  “Two Chicks Talk About Cash.”  I’m embarrassed to say I was late to the session – it was not because I wasn’t interested – it was instead about the fact that the New Orleans Convention Center has one food cart open during a conference for 4000+ people (shall I blog about how ridiculous that is?) The next closest option is a small Subway a few blocks away – 25 minutes I stood in line for a 6″ sub. If you wait that long, is it still fresh? When I arrived, the room was packed – seriously standing room only. There was one seat available in the very last row so I plunked down and tried to get caught up. Marley and Cecelia started talking about how event planners often leave money on the table and we miss opportunities. As I was feverishly taking notes, I suddenly realized that my hand was in the air. It seemed odd because I didn’t raise it up consciously — this is where I nod to my Grandma (God rest her soul) who I think from her vantage point in heaven realized that my note taking was going to force me to miss an opportunity. Up my hand went, thanks to her! Without much preparation for what I was really going to say, I suddenly realized that Marley said “girl in the back row with the red scarf” and it took me a second to realize it was me. 300 people are in the room and it’s suddenly my turn. I began to tell Marley that although I wholeheartedly agree with everything she was talking about and feverishly taking notes on her every word, the one thing I thought she had left off the list was the fact that event planners aren’t creating their own opportunities by self-producing their own events. We all wait for clients to hire us.  I began to tell her about the Sex and the City event I planned back in 2008 and how it was a huge success, put my company on the map and added a few nice zeros to my P/L for the month. She was incredibly generous and let me tell my story. Soon the 300 eyeballs that were focused on her were suddenly blinking in my direction. Marley told the audience “I know you have come here today to hear what we have to say, but if you aren’t taking notes on what she is saying about self-producing events, you are making a mistake.” Marley then invited me to “see her after class.” Had I been in fourth grade, hearing the teacher tell me to see her after class would have sent butterflies all through my stomach because it probably meant eraser duty after school. In this moment, the butterflies came because I was about to personally introduce myself to my secret mentor – she just didn’t realize she was mentoring me!! When she realized that I lived in San Diego, she offered for us to get together. (She is based in LA). Long story short, because I was bold (or my Grandma thought I was an idiot for missing the opportunity and so did it for me) and raised my hand and told my story, my mentor took notice. By raising my hand, I created another opportunity for myself!

Marley really believes in what I am doing by self-producing my own events. So much so, she offered to co-produce Sex and the City 2 in Los Angeles together, which meant I could branch out of San Diego and begin to franchise my concept. To have the opportunity to work with her, learn from her and to reap the benefit of being her friend, is a true gift and I know this is a professional milestone for me. This is one of the moments I will look back on and realize it was career changing. I always tell my students you have to be bold; only you can create your own opportunities. So the message here is next time, when you are afraid to raise your hand and speak up – remember to be bold and be not afraid. It very well could be that the right person is ready to listen and only great things can come from that!