Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Value of Education

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." - Yeats


 I write a lot of books. I teach seminars all over the world to industry peers as well as to college students. Whenever possible, I also mentor novices who want to enter the event industry and even some who just want advice on how to navigate this stressful world. Why do I do this is a question I'm always asked.

It's not because I have a lot of spare time on my hands. EE produces events globally, and I run a very complex business and travel for work. Sometimes I'm away on business more than I am at home.

So back to "why." I'm guided by the philosophy that when you give freely, you get so much more in return. That was reinforced by my role models. David Wright, President of Insight Publishing, asked me in preparation for one of my books, Bushido Business - The Fine Art of the Modern Professional, (co-authored with Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy and Stephen M.R. Covey) to share my role models with him. I have three. Joann Roth Oseary, President of Someone's in the Kitchen, because she taught me that while most people think about how to hold onto everything, her philosophy is how to share everything. And she does...and is one of the most caring, giving human beings I know, the first to always give to others. Another is John Daly, President of John Daly Inc. and The Key Class, who is my personal cheerleader and inspiration. He has taught me how to be a selfless friend because that is what he is himself. He values humanity above all else. The third is my son, Jon, who has taught me about commitment. He is a devoted son, husband, and father, unwavering in his standards and ethics.

 It is important to take what I've learned from these role models and everyone I've met along the path of my life and pass on what I've learned and share with others so that they won't make the same mistakes that I did. Perhaps they'll make other mistakes, but at least it won't be from not having a formalized industry, books, university education, or seasoned professionals who are willing to take them under their wings. More importantly (I hope), I want to pass on what I've learned about survival. All these in one form or another are what all my writings and teaching are about.

When I started my career in the event industry in the early 1970s, there were no mentors, no classes, no books, and no event history to follow. There was none of that. It was all trial and error. That's part of the reason I wrote Reflections of a Wallflower - Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. I wanted to share how the lessons I had learned in my personal life helped shape my business and vice versa!

Why Is Education in This or Any Industry Important?


 "Let us never be betrayed into saying we have finished our education; because that would mean we had stopped growing." -Julia H. Gulliver


I don't ever want to stop growing. And I want to impart the value of education to all those I meet, too. Through the evolution of technology, the art of events has continued to evolve, now at a lightening rate. Think about it. Where once clients wanted us to get them some entertainment and a few simple decorations, we morphed into producing elaborate themes, more elaborate marketing events and marketing strategies, then experiential events and now hybrid events and who can even imagine what's next?
Learning from those who have been there and done that is essential...not just for novices but for seasoned professionals and especially pioneers like me. I'm learning how to work with an entirely new generation of people with different ways of approaching their careers and business communication and who understand the new technologies and methods of communication better than I do. The learning never stops. So as they can learn from me, I can learn just as much of value from them.
To those in the events industry, I welcome you to learn from my adventures. But, what other subjects would I advise you to thoroughly immerse yourself in other than all the latest and greatest technology and methodology for events? I'll repeat some information I shared in Stepping Stones to Success - Experts Share Strategies for Mastering Business, Life & Relationships co-authored with Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield and Dr. Denis Waitley. First, take a class in psychology. Psychology teaches people about skillful communication, and this will lead you to a better understanding of clients, vendors and co-workers. This is where you can realize your goals through win-win situations. I think most people are reactors, and as a result they don't really get what they want.
If I could teach only one skill to anybody, it would be creative listening. Really listening to other people is the greatest tool on the way to success. Think of what can be accomplished if you really understand what someone else is saying, clarifying what they want, and then finding a way to deliver it. It's not curriculum skill; and it takes great practice, which can start right at home or in your office. In the words of Larry King, "I never learned anything while I was talking." 
I would also include creative writing, another communication skill that can be so expressive. Though long-winded proposals are a thing of the past, creatively expressing your concepts, even in short passages or bullet points, is an acquired skill that takes practice.
Other topics? Social media communication. (That's something I personally need to study.) International protocol, international communications, and how to deal with other cultures. As we expand our world and business, we have to realize it's not just our way we have to respect, but we have to be open to other ways of thinking. We have to understand and respect everyone, and I think that's an eye-opener.
Speaking of respect, I want to add something that came to mind from my latest book, Mastering the Art of Success, co-authored with Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield and Les Brown. Everyone should brush up on personal integrity and ethics. As I said in the book, they are 100 percent of our business. To me, the most important thing in life is honesty and integrity and a sense of great ethics that never vary, no matter what is asked of you. It can be tempting sometimes to just tell a little white lie here and there to make things "easier." I don't believe in that. So, for myself and everybody around me, including my team, I would never consider myself a business success if integrity, ethics and honesty faltered - ever.
I hope you are "listening" to what you are reading. Life-long learning is invaluable to both your personal and professional success. Never stop growing!
Until Next Time,
Another book by Andrea: Yes You Can! Reaching Your Potential While Achieving Greatness was co-authored with Dr. Warren Bennis and Jim Rohn.
Andrea's Seminars: Special Events A-Z; Creativity; The Profitability of Doing Business; Creative Writing; Risk Management; Speed Pitching; Stress Management; Anatomy of an Even; and Working Globally.