Gail Davis, 10 March 2009
I spent 20 years on the corporate side. I understand the drill. I know the questions and I’ve lived the stress.
Even in the best of times, it was not uncommon for me to be summoned to the top floor about one month out from our large corporate incentive event. Some executive looking to be the hero would ask to run the numbers to see the financial impact of cancelling our event.
The reality of most speaker and venue contracts is that you are committed within 60-90 days of the event. I would live through the drill and, in the end, we had the event.
But that was just the math.
What message does it send to your top performers (or your association members) if you cancel an annual event? You can’t put a number on it.
I agree that companies receiving a huge bailout from the government cannot afford the perception of spending money on an incentive trip. But for all others, the decision to not have a meeting is a grave option.
Now more than ever, employees need inspiration and incentive. They need to gather in a form of community, hear from their leadership and listen to knowledgeable information from an outside source.
Outside speakers bring perspective. They often share experience and research that is not available within the corporation. The right speaker can make an employee feel special and, more importantly, loyal to his company. Loyalty is not cheap, especially in an era of minimal pay increases and absent bonuses.
I started my business 10 years ago. Before that, I managed the sales incentive program for EDS. The chairman of our company understood the true importance of this event. He often said, “Without sales, we have no company.”
Gail Davis, 19 January 2009
I believe there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason.
I had a big birthday last year. I planned my own party and had friends flying in from all over the world to celebrate. Two days before the big event, I was asked to attend a presentation at my church. The timing was not good as I had my focus on other things. The person issuing the invite said, “Gail, you don’t want to miss this.”
In my experience, especially when I look at amazing discoveries like Nando Parrado and Cathleen Lewis and Rex Lewis-Clack, those are the calls that peak my interest.
The speakers that evening were Kristina Wandzilak and her mother, Constance Curry.
I went to hear them speak and I was completely blown away.
Kristina and Connie wrote The Lost Years - a book they coauthored in 2006.
The Lost Years is a heartfelt story about the struggles, dangers and disappointments of drug and alcohol abuse. It’s a beautiful reminder that you should never lose hope … that it’s never too late for a happy ending.
The story is powerful and engaging. Although the message is “tough stuff,” it provides so much hope. Unfortunately, I think it is one of those stories too many of us can relate to, which is exactly why their story needs to be told.
Gail Davis, 10 January 2009
It is overdone and cliché and yet I continue to be drawn to all the news articles giving tips on how to achieve better health in 2009.
I noticed that Oprah is doing five (yes, five) special programs this week focusing on how 2009 will be her year to finally achieve true health.
Of course, I grabbed the latest People magazine with one inspiring story after another on how regular folks lost half their weight.
It isn’t often you see a sensible real life example in front of your own eyes – which is exactly the reason we are featuring Todd Whitthorne on our home page this month.
Todd is President and CEO of Cooper Concepts, a division of the famed Cooper Aerobics Center. He also happens to be one of our most sought after speakers.
Every time we book Todd, we get rave reviews. He has several different presentation topics, but most of my clients love the presentation called “Fit to Lead.” In this presentation Todd explains how employees and employers can (and must) work together to impact not only the waistline, but the bottom-line as well. From reduced medical costs, increased productivity and lower absenteeism, this information can ultimately save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Gail Davis, 16 December 2008
Just yesterday, Nando Parrado addressed one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And he did it in Portuguese.
I’m constantly amazed at the talents of our speakers, but more than that, the opportunity they have (and we by way of working with them) to tell their stories and touch lives around the world.
When I look at it that way, 2008 was a banner year for touching lives. And I was privileged to be in the audience for many of those moments.
For example, a complex issue like immigration can be polarizing, but Sonia Nazario puts a human face on the topic. I was lucky to work with her earlier this year.
As a Pulitzer Prize winning author and former Los Angeles Times columnist, she knows about immigration. She made the trek from South America to the U.S. on top of a train in order to understand the odyssey of young children trying to get to their mothers. Her presentation is full of facts, awesome photography of griping images, and the complete backstory to go with it.
Of course, the client made a lot of great decisions that were perfect for her presentation. The venue was an old rail station and the typical floral arrangements were replaced with cars from an antique train set.
Gail Davis, 05 December 2008
I received word on Friday afternoon that Rex Lewis-Clack and his mother, Cathleen Lewis, would not be appearing on 60 Minutes. Rather, this week’s program would feature President-Elect Obama. Disappointing, but completely appropriate.
As a 60 Minutes junkie, I tuned in to watch. It was a great conversation between Steve Kroft and the Obamas. An excerpt below gives you the flavor:
STEVE KROFT: Have there been moments when you've said, ‘What did I get myself into?’
BARACK OBAMA: I will say that the challenges that we're confronting are enormous. And they're multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given a day where you think, "Where do I start in terms of moving-- moving things forward?" And I think that part of this next two months is to really get a clear set of priorities, understanding we're not going be able to do everything at once, making sure the team is in place, and moving forward in a very deliberate way and sending a clear signal to the American people that we're going to be thinking about them and what they're going through.
No matter what business you're in - running a country or running a corporation - everyone is setting priorities for 2009.
I give a presentation to industry groups and clients on the strategies and tactics for selecting a keynote speaker. One of the top priorities: trying to anticipate what will be the current event when your event occurs.
Gail Davis, 29 October 2008
I had the most incredible experience last week in Lake Tahoe. It was one of those moments a vision came to fruition.
But let me take a few steps back. The best way to appreciate the moment might be to share some background.
As the owner of this incredible company, I have booked speakers all over the world.
In April of 2004, I got a phone call from one of the most successful speakers in the business, Tom Sullivan. He began to tell me about Cathleen Lewis.
Cathleen sounded like an incredible woman in her own rite – a Stanford graduate, who moved to Paris where she lived and worked for many years, first in fashion as a model, and then in finance running a currency options trading desk.
But, none of what she had learned in those challenging, fast paced worlds could prepare her for the emotional and physical upheaval that followed her son, Rex's birth and the discovery that he was blind.
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