Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Being Left-Brained

Being meticulous and detail-oriented are critical assets for any event producer. I’m often teased because I am such a left-brain person, which means I thrive on logic and order. Some might say it is difficult to keep order in the constantly evolving details of an event. For me, it’s the only way. I was born this way!

My pursuits in both academics and the corporate world have allowed me to fine-tune these innate traits. In college I took great notes in class, highlighted reading passages and kept everything very organized. As I started a career in entertainment, I continued these habits and implemented new techniques, such as to-do lists, to keep track of my ever-growing responsibilities. Starting with tracking all prime-time scripts and rough cuts in the NBC Standards and Practices department, to managing the busy schedule of a development executive at WBTV, my organizational skills had no choice but to thrive.

Making the switch from entertainment to events only aided in the growth of these skills. My first job in events was managing all logistics for the Oscars’ Governors Ball. Among other responsibilities, making sure every vendor and crew member underwent a thorough background check was a responsibility with which I was tasked. That was a critically detail-oriented job with very little room for error, as I’m sure you can imagine. Even now, as an Account Manager/Producer at EE, the buck stops with me. I can’t afford (literally) to make mistakes or let anything fall through the cracks; otherwise, I will be letting my team and clients down. What do I use to prevent mistakes? The tools and techniques I’ve mentioned above, plus a few more: checklists, follow-up and organization within every element of my workload. You see, without these safeguards to keep the hundreds of details under control, you’re going to fall on your face in this business!

Techniques to Stay on Top of Details 

If you are looking for solid ways to get and stay organized, here are my suggestions. Please understand that these are techniques that I use and to which I am very dedicated!

- Throughout the day as I receive emails I immediately categorize them. If I am waiting for someone to respond to me, the email gets color-coded to that particular project. If I owe someone an action, not only does it get the appropriate color-code, but I flag it. Then, for those items that are handled, I file them away under the proper project folder or sub-folder. I have a ton of folders!

- I create a to-do list, which I am constantly revising and consolidating so that it is easy for me to have clear and concise activities throughout the day. As I take action, I make notes beside each activity. I mark "SE" next to those of which I have sent an email and "LW" for those of which I left a message for (or left word). Once handled, I check off the action and move on.

- I use calendar reminders to do just that... remind myself. Whether it's to follow up with someone I've "SE" or "LW" or to remind others to deal with a requirement, these calendar alerts are very helpful. For matters that aren't critical, or if I'm in the middle of something, I can always "snooze" an item to remind me at another time.

- I use both my notebook and my email inbox to make sure I've handled all of my responsibilities each day. Overdoing it, you think? Not at all. Using my lists keeps me stress-free because I know I have everything taken care of or on deck!

Tips for Developing a Detail-Oriented, Organized Work Ethic

Okay, some of us are just born this way. But, if you aren’t, here are some ideas for you.
-Be efficient. Really listen to people and what is is they need from you, whether it is a client or a vendor. This way you can minimize time and use of resources. If you don't really listen, you can end up going in circles with someone and that is just the opposite of efficient.

-Be very clear and concise when you need something. Don't leave things open to interpretation because it takes too much time to resolve unclear communication.

-Pick up the phone (if you want to save about 20 emails) and nail down everything at once rather than the incessant back and forth messages. You can always recap with an email afterwards.

-Start with a notebook and make "to-do" lists.

-Consolidate lists once a portion of items are done so you can stay organized.

-Don't let things slide; stay on top of them.

-Ask questions. We all know what assuming does, right? Don't worry that you might be bothering someone or causing others to think you don't know what you are doing. Especially if you are new to events, people in the business know you need to ask questions and don't know everything. Get clarity about what is needed.

-Use downtime to deal with non-critical issues. That reminder you've been snoozing for the last week (yes, that happens)... do it! Remember, bosses don't forget those things... so take care of them and keep things moving forward.

The Importance of a Positive Attitude

-Keep things in perspective. This can be a stressful job if you let it be. Don't let the job consume you. Remind yourself that what you do is important, but you aren't performing brain surgery.

-Be active and eat healthy. Doing both of these things helps to alleviate stress and clear your mind. What you put in and out of your body does affect you.

-Keep a good work-life balance. Enjoy your work and do other things you love outside of it. 

-Appreciate your colleagues, team members, clients and vendors. Recognize that people are different and embrace their differences. Focus on the positives.

-When you find yourself going down a negative path, STOP! A bad attitude affects your work just as much (if not more than) it affects others. After all, what could be better than meeting new people, planning spectacular activities, tasting great food and beverage and getting to travel?!

Having a positive attitude will set you apart. Negative people are off-putting; people like to be around happy, positive people. With a positive attitude, others will enjoy being with you, your management team will notice and you will get more opportunity and rewards as a result. It becomes a chain reaction. We are in the business of celebrating life and work, so we are lucky professionals. We are bringing great experiences to our clients and guests and a negative attitude has no place here. If you can’t seem to avoid that path, perhaps you should think about changing your career. The saying is true…”When you find something you love to do, you’ll never work another day.” Working in a field you love allows you to have fun, and fun is infectious. You will find more people wanting to work with you and more opportunities as a result.

I am fortunate to have found a company with colleagues I enjoy and a leadership team that gives me the freedom to do my job. These factors combined make it easy for me to be positive and effective!

Great Advice on Time Management from Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy and Andrea Michaels are the co-authors of Bushido Business – The Fine Art of Modern Professionalism.

Action Item

Use my tips and see if they make a positive difference for you!

Mandy Bianchi, Account Manager at Extraordinary Events, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Northern Arizona University. She joined the EE team with a variety of experience in both entertainment and event production, beginning her career as an NBC page working at the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Before EE, her experience ranged from the 2008 and 2011 Oscars Governors Ball to branding installations for Godiva and L’Oreal, and non-profit events such as the 2010 Virgin Unite - Rock the Kasbah. Aside from her efficiency, it is Mandy’s zest for life and dedication to her work that has solidified her reputation among colleagues and peers as a woman who gets the job done and enjoys doing so. She may be reached at mbianchi@

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