It’s a well-known fact around our office that Joe and Todd go “in search of headaches.” What I mean by that is they seek out the things and ideas that generate “headaches” for our clients. We call them headaches; you may know them as obstacles, challenges, stressors, or pain points. Regardless of what they’re called, events and client relationships can flounder or flourish depending on how they’re managed.
What’s the value in searching for things that clients find challenging? When their headaches are addressed, it paves the way for a successful event, an exceptional guest experience and an appreciative client. It demonstrates event management savvy and a high level of dedication to the client, their organization, its mission and goals.
The pandemic has taught everyone in the event industry a new definition of flexibility. Phrases like virtual event and hybrid are common now. New safety protocols have emerged. If you’re in charge of your company’s big event, one of your “headaches” may be how and where to begin event planning in this new landscape. Cue an event professional who can deliver the antidote.
Here’s another example. Weddings can be the best of times. They can be the worst of times. Most planners take care of the obvious things and that is good. (At RumbleDrum, we always wish to encourage and inspire our industry peers.) A great event producer goes the extra mile. Does the bride have plenty of time to make sure her hair and make-up are done to her liking? Is the best man the best man to hold the rings? Does the mother of the bride need a glass of water or wine?
I’m tempted to say that its attention to detail that makes the difference. But it’s so much more than that. A great event producer is totally dialed in to the guest experience. When challenges are tackled with grit and grace, mishaps are minimized. Sure, things are bound to happen, that’s life. But insight and anticipation, combined with knowledge and expertise go far in guaranteeing a smooth event from start to finish.
You, the (bride) (executive director) (marketing coordinator) may be none the wiser when glitches occur because your event manager has his finger on the pulse of your event and can administer aid for something gone awry, often before it ever becomes an issue. In the meantime, you are gloriously free to perform your role and enjoy your guests.
Generous hospitality, active listening, plus little surprises and unexpected elements woven throughout every client project are the work of experts. When you hear a client say, “Oh Wow! Thank you for doing that,” you know that you’ve taken care of something that was most likely giving him/her a headache.
It takes a truly insightful event producer to fully capture the human element inherent in all life and work celebrations and milestones. And in the end, isn’t that what guest experiences are all about?
RumbledDrum’s goal is to create a space to share what’s on our minds in regards to creativity, guest experiences, events and other design projects. Our space will showcase ideas from leaders in our industry, as well as designers we admire.
When Todd and I first became friends, his work as an architect intrigued me. I am one of those people that admires buildings and design; however, Todd’s eye for detail goes to a whole new level. I told someone that I used to think I was a detailed person, but I think I was wrong. Todd also has the unique ability to see the big picture first. His big picture thinking has brought great things to our company.
Finding creative designers inspires me. It is fun to me to try and imagine what someone was hoping for or thinking of when they created their latest work. I’ve spent my life wandering through museums, clothing stores and thumbing through magazines trying to get inside the mind of the artist. I suppose that is why the recent surge of personal blogs, videos and television shows where you can see designers working and hearing their thoughts are especially appealing to me.
One of my recent addictions is the AD tours of celebrity homes called Open Door. Architectural Digest goes on a home-owner guided tour and creates these short videos that eventually make their way to YouTube. One of my favorites is “Inside Shay Mitchell’s Mediterranean-Inspired Home | Open Door | Architectural Digest”
Ms. Mitchell’s interior designer friend, Chad Wood, tells about why they chose certain elements and unique finds to make this house a home. I would encourage you to watch it, but you may end up joining my addiction of watching the entire series
A few years ago, Todd and I were in Palm Beach, Florida looking at venues for a client. One of the site visits included staying at The Colony Hotel. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels over the years, but there was something about this small, older hotel that quickly caught my attention. The style is classic Palm Beach with vibrant pinks and greens. As our host was giving a tour, she identified the interior designer as Carleton Varney. I recognized the name as the successor of the Dorothy Draper Company. Outside of a few magazine articles, I didn’t know much about him. I started reading everything I could find. I would use words and phrases like “over the top” and “wow” and “bold and dramatic” to describe his work.
While visiting Palm Beach, Todd picked up the concept of “maximalist.” It’s the idea of design (especially interior design) being the opposite of “minimalist.” Maximalist design typically uses bright and bold colors. An aesthetic of excess is another way it’s been described. Maximalism is certainly not a new term or style. Maximalism can be found through the ages in music, literature and art. More is more another way I’ve heard people talk about the concept of maximalism.
When Todd heard this word “maximalism,” he immediately commented that our Christmas decorating style certainly fit this description. Since then, I have become a fan of maximalism, trying to learn as much as I can. I’ve come to love the style more than I realized was possible.
Dorothy Draper was a pioneer in the interior design world (usually identified as the first interior design company). Carleton Varney bought her company in 1964. He had designed the interiors of The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and so much more.
We designed our office Christmas tree in the spirit of maximalism. With orange, hot pink and red, we covered the tree with large ornaments, included pieces of luggage in the tree and lots of bright ribbon. Christmas is the perfect time to embrace maximalism and go with the phrase “more is more!”
When we get together with designers and other creatives, the word inspiration many times comes up. I think of inspiration as being something that inspires me to be creative or think of new ideas. Inspiration is not copying or recreating someone else’s work; however, it could be adapting their ideas for one’s own purpose. For me, inspiration is drawing from the ideas of others to generate my own original work.
Usually, when someone asks me where I get my inspiration, I say without a doubt “travel!” It seems like traveling just about anywhere can give me new ideas and get my creative juices flowing. My dad used to say that he went on vacation to dream and imagine, and it was often that we came home with a new business idea or an idea solidified. He named a business project “Climbin’ Hi Enterprises” after a week-long trip to Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains. He loved the imagery of “climbin’” the mountain to conquer a goal. I was in junior high and of course, I challenged his spelling of “high” — he insisted it was a play on words and it was the idea of the friendliness of climbing together. I never quite believed that it was intentional. We had some plastic round “tuits” and for a while I kept one on my desk reminding me of the fun he had creating that company on that creative vacation.
Next to traveling, I’ve always considered periodicals a source of inspiration. I grew up in a household that often had four or five newspapers coming into our home and up to a dozen magazines. At our office we have a daily local newspaper as well as the New York Times. There is something about a print paper with the full-page ads, the photos and the news that is so much better to me than scrolling through internet stories. And we take magazines: Vogue, Martha Stewart, ElleDecor and more. I am a ripper or a clipper — I love to pull images (especially) that inspire me or give me ideas. I can pull an image that I ripped from 20 years ago and typically still tell you what I liked about it and what inspired me.
Pinterest has become “idea central” for many. Yes, I have tons of stuff pinned, however, I want to think of it as inspiration and not a place to copy the work of others.
Many people find great success with ideas, notebooks or journals. Some can easily track inspiring things from the web. Others have sample boxes and files. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how you get inspired, it matters that you have a way to be inspired.
Back in the 90’s, I visited the office/store of an Interior Designer, I was inspired beyond my imagination with all of the possibilities that I saw there. I can remember so many details about that day.
I remember the big basket of mail near the front counter with magazines and samples and lots of catalogs. I remember the photographs on the wall caught my attention. So many things that I had never seen before were there for sale.
The thing that really stood out to me was the urgency that permeated the air. There was an atmosphere of movement and conversation. The phone was ringing. Activity was happening all around the office. That moment inspired me to be a part of something just as exhilarating.
25 years later, I still think about that day. And nearly every day, I want to inspire that atmosphere of getting it done in our own office space.
Some years back, I had a paradigm-shift in the world of fashion. I grew up buying and wearing the menswear ready-to-wear designers like Calvin Klein, Nautica, Ocean Pacific, Jantzen, Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and many more. Fashion to me was about “what I would wear” or other consumers like me would wear. I could walk through Dillard’s in 1988 and identify what would be great sellers and what would be left on the rack at the end of the season.
Fashion shows, while interesting, did not make sense to me. Much of the “craziness” on the runway was not anything I would see walking down my streets. When my mind began to shift, looking to fashion as the way to identify art, trends and more, it began to make a lot more sense to me. It was about the creativity and the forecasting more than the practical buyer.
After I went to Fashion Week in New York City, my eyes were opened to the drama and the excitement (along with the Soap Opera, Bold and Beautiful — but that’s all I plan to say about that)!
I think often of Miranda Priestly’s wonderful tirade in The Devil Wears Prada, “‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”
And suddenly it all makes sense and has purpose.