A CEO Who Gets It!!!

Gail Davis, 19 August 2009

GJ HartI had the pleasure of visiting the Texas Roadhouse corporate headquarters and spending two hours with CEO G. J. Hart. In some ways, I felt like I had gone back home. In my former life, I worked closely with Les Alberthal, CEO of EDS, planning corporate recognition events. He always challenged me to give our attendees and their guests a once in a lifetime experience. He was very committed to that principle. I have often wondered if there was another C-level corporate executive who shared his passion for the importance of recognizing his people through memorable experiences at events.

Well, I may have met his match. G. J. Hart is not yet 52 and he lights up when he talks about giving back to a community, his company culture and the internal foundation. He made a bold move to state unabashedly his opinion about why spending money on events is important. Oh, and he did that on national TV just after the AIG debacle. He took a risk but spoke his truth…..meetings are important. And guess what? He became a rock star. People could not argue the facts. He runs a profitable company, is extremely social-conscious and he knows how to motivate his people.

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Celebrating 10 Years of Inspiration

Gail Davis, 20 April 2009

Gail DavisMay 1989. It was a pivotal month in my life. I took the leap and started Gail Davis & Associates.

There were so many other things swirling in my life: I had two young boys and everything that comes with that ... I'd had a 20-year career at, what was at the time, one of the biggest corporations in the world ... and I had this inescapable feeling in the pit of my stomach that if I didn't step out on my own I'd miss out on living my passion. It was truly a "trust your gut" moment.

And so, rather than rehashing all the memories from the past ten years (we have a timeline on the home page that gives you a taste of those big moments), I want to share my gratitude.

I am thankful for Nando. When you took a phone call from an event planner back in 1988 and agreed to tell your story at her event, did you ever imagine we'd be where we are today? Your story continues to be my inspiration.

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Domestic Violence

Gail Davis, 06 April 2009

Leslie Morgan SteinerYou would have to be living under a rock to not know about the recent Chris Brown and Rihanna incident. Larry King, Oprah and everything in between is covering this topic.

Domestic violence is a sad and complicated issue. It’s an issue that never goes away, that people need to keep hearing about.

That’s why we’re proud to represent Leslie Morgan Steiner. Leslie is the author of “Crazy Love” – a new book released on March 28.

Leslie is someone I have truly enjoyed getting to know. From the first moment you meet her, you’re drawn to her warm and open personality. She is attractive and confident. It does not take long to realize how smart she is. Her degrees from Harvard and Wharton come as no surprise.

I first got to know Leslie when her husband was a client. I remember thinking it was so neat that he was so very proud of her. He told me about her shortly after she published her first book, “Mommy Wars.”

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Milestones and Celebrations

Gail Davis, 25 March 2009

Gail Davis with son KyleMy oldest son turned 21 today, and I can say with a smile on my face that it’s a great feeling watching my son become an adult.

I am proud of the work I put into parenting and I am equally relieved that he has become an independent adult. I like what I see and consider it a sort of accomplishment.

Gail Davis & Associates will be 10 years old in May. In retrospect, starting a company, or even leading one, is a lot like parenting. I’ve let it grow, figured out when it’s better to let go than hold tight, and at the same time, I have never stopped being committed to the areas I believe require my constant involvement.

The greatest testament to my company’s maturity was my ability to take AND ENJOY a two-week vacation earlier this year. It was able to run without me. I could see the commitment of my team to handle the details and customer service with a high degree of professionalism. Their ability to see the big picture and the overall goal of the client's event is what keeps loyal relationships alive in this business.

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Meeting...No meeting? Speaker...No speaker? What's a planner to do?

Gail Davis, 10 March 2009

Gail Davis and Nando ParradoI 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.”

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It Was No Coincidence

Gail Davis, 19 January 2009

Kristine WandzilakI 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.

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