February 21, 2018

Event Planning in 5

In my experience in planning corporate and recreational events, I have learned that it all comes down to five key elements when planning.

  1. Venue
  2. Music/Keynote Speakers
  3. Audio Visual
  4. Catering
  5. Decorations

For each of five areas, ask yourself five essential questions:

  • Do you have a specific {insert topic here} in mind or are you open to options?
  • Is {insert topic here} available on the dates at which you are seeking or are you flexible?
  • Does {insert topic here}  fit everything you have planned to meet the requirements of the event?
  • Is {insert topic here} within our budget?
  • Will my event suffer if {insert topic here} is not possible?

Once you are able to answer the questions in these five elements, everything else typically drives itself.

Happy Planning!

3 Ways Laziness Improves Your Health

You read that correctly.  Laziness, when used appropriately, can help you lose weight and have more energy!  How?  You ask…

Cooking Lazily

  • It takes a lot of effort to cook heavy meals.  You can save on calories and time by simply throwing some veggies and chicken on a grill.  This requires fewer ingredients and much less clean-up.  Save even more time by throwing the grilled chicken on a salad with some strawberries.  Here, the only thing you are cooking is the chicken!  For this to be effective, though, watch the dressing!  Covering your salad with a thick, creamy dressing nullifies the healthiness of the “salad.”

Eating Lazily

  • Fill your plate and then go sit down.  Odds are, you won’t get up for a second helping.  Studies show that people eat more when the food is in front of them.  Keep the food over on the counter and take the plate to the table. This helps control your portions and you intake fewer calories.  For even more impact, use a salad plate!  This is all the food you really need to have on your dinner plate to fulfill the caloric need in a meal but we have been conditioned to eat more.  We eat what we see.  See less food at your meal, see more results in your health.

Sleeping Lazily

  • Those who get at least 8 hours of sleep a night have more energy and greater focus in their days.  Study after study shows that sleep is imperative to good health.  Now, we just need to implement this!  If you find that you have have a lot on your mind at 10:30 p.m., write these items down on a piece of paper so you can get started on them tomorrow with a clear head and strong focus and go to sleep.  Your mind will be at ease as you have taken the step to write the task down and you have an excuse to head to bed.

If you implement these three tips into your daily life, you will have more energy and fewer pounds to lose.  Eat happy, stay healthy!

These tips are pulled from Getting Things Done and Eat Move Sleep.

Excel Shortcuts

I admit it.  I get a little too giddy when I see something, ANYTHING, that I can make into a spreadsheet 🙂

  • Social Media/Email statistics updated – Spreadsheet!
  • Husband and I keeping stats during Insanity fit tests – Spreadsheet!
  • Getting ready for the Fantasy Baseball Draft – Spreadsheet!
  • Family Budget – Spreadsheet!
  • Deciding our children’s names – Spreadsheet!  And no, I am not kidding here 🙂

And, oh yes!  Charts and graphs are a must!

Excel, in particular, and I have a long-term relationship that began several years ago.  We have evolved our relationship through upgrades, new computers, and even viruses.  But through it all, we remain close because one thing is clear: Consistency is part of Excel.  Though you may need to look in a new tab every once in a while, almost all shortcuts remain and are incredibly helpful in your spreadsheet needs.  (For the purpose of this article, we are working with PCs – I know, I know…  One day I will go to an Apple, but for now, my Gateway is just fine!)

Literally hundreds of shortcuts exist for your use.  You can Ctrl+Alt your way to some fun if you simply know where to look. ASAP Utilities has put together a full list of Excel shortcuts.  Click here and enjoy 🙂

Life-Changing Books

I read at least a book a month.  It started as a resolution years ago and stuck  with me.  Every so often, I come along one that seriously impacts my life in a very positive way.  I encourage you to check them out as well and see what they can do for you.

Strengths Finder 2.0 – Tom Rath

  • This is both a book and an online assessment (I love!) that identifies your top five strengths and then defines them for you so that you have a better understanding as to how to use them.  It only provide you with your top five so that you can play up your strengths rather than focus on improving your, well, not strengths.  It also provides you with information that you can share with your friends/family/colleagues so that they to can benefit from your strengths.

The One Minute Manager – Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. & Spencer Johnson, M.D.

  • Incredibly easy to read, The One Minute Manager provides you with key tips as to how you can encourage others in a positive way to do their best.  One thing that I love about this book is that it is so practical for both home and work.  I have actually implemented these tips with my children.  The impact is amazing and immediate!  The book also includes a portion on how to do a one-minute discipline so that you are acknowledging when someone makes a mistake, but you identify it, express your feelings, and then move on.  It seems so simple because it is.

Eat Move Sleep – Tom Rath

  • I cannot express how much I love this book.  This as well includes an online assessment and is very easy to read.  (Notice a pattern?)  Here, Rath investigated (rigorously!) the best ways to lengthen your life.  These good habits can be placed into one of three categories: Eat, Move, and Sleep.  Literally, eating right, moving often, and sleeping soundly increases your energy, gives you a more positive outlook to your day, and provides you with more focus.  Rath includes several tips that you can download from your assessment and incorporate into your day-to-day life.  Another thing I love is that Rath is realistic.  He outright states that you will not do everything in the book, but if you are able to include a few new good habits into your day, you are taking positive steps to a healthier lifestyle.

The Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey

  • This book is full of practical ways to save and invest in your future.  Ramsey debunks the many myths of money (exposing the dangers of cash advance, rent-to-own, debt consolidation) and attacks the illusions and downright deceptions of the American dream, which encourages nothing but overspending and massive amounts of debt. “Don’t even consider keeping up with the Joneses,” Ramsey declares in his typically candid style. “They’re broke!”

The Miserly Mom – Jonni McCoy

  • I fell in love with The Miserly Mom years ago when adding our first little Trudden to our family.  A theme in the books I love, McCoy offers straight-forward, practical ways that you can save money today rather than in five years.  Along with this, she teaches you ways of managing your funds in a fun, inviting way that makes saving fun!

Fonts, fonts, and (you guessed it) MORE fonts!!!


Here is a list of some fun sites where you can get lost for hours find amazing free fonts for your use. Have fun!!!

I may have gotten lost in these sites just by pulling the URLs – I think I have a little bit of an obsession.  It’s OK though as I am aware of this addiction 🙂

Now, go!  I have enabled your addiction as well.  Enjoy!

OK – so now that you have downloaded 893 fonts, let’s review the proper ways to use them in marketing 🙂  Click here!

Fonts that pack a punch

Fonts have amazing super powers. They can take something from Eh? to Oh Yea! in the matter of seconds. Used correctly, you can do a lot with the simple use of fonts alone. There are some key things to keep in mind when using fonts in your marketing, so be careful. Once you unlock this door, you need to be responsible or you could overwhelm your audience.

Here are some key tips when using fonts in marketing that I have found to be very useful:

    1. Know your audience.

      • If your target is college professors, more often than not, comic sans is not appropriate.  Use fonts that  feel professional.  The same is true when targeting marketing professionals.  You can be more whimsical here and have fun, but make certain that it makes sense and maintains a professional appearance.  You have just a couple of seconds to engage your audience with a visual… make it worthwhile!  Take the opportunity to ensure that they are reading what YOU select for them to read.
    2. Don’t overdo it.

      • Just because you have 459 fonts in your library does not mean that you have to use them all in one graphic.  Personally, I like to use no more than three fonts in any marketing piece.  {One serif, one sans serif, and one accent font.} It offers a sense of consistency while emphasizing the few pieces of information that I select for the readers.no-no
    3. Make it readable.

      • There are some very fun fonts out there – believe me, I know!  That said, some are just not legible.  Period.  I’m not suggesting NEVER using these fonts, but these should be reserved for emphasizing key words and phrases rather than scaring your audience away by over-use.
    4. Have fun with it.

        This is your art.  You do need to be happy with the product you design!  There is always a happy medium between you and your audience.  Take your time and enjoy the creative process.


Want more?  Click here for a list of my favorite free font sites where you can download literally thousands!  Make sure you have a good hour before walking down this path as it is quite scenic 🙂


3 easy (and natural!) ways to boost energy

I wanted to share with you some quick tips on how to naturally boost energy to help get you through the day.

1. Eat right (and often!)

A high-protein diet of small meals about six times a day will keep you going strong all day long.  A handful of almonds will take you far! Click here for menu ideas.

As hard as it can be some days, do NOT skip breakfast!  This can be easily done.  Click here for some fun (and quick!) ideas!

2. Laugh, silly!  

It is proven that if you have a little bit of joy to brighten your day, everything (including your energy!) is boosted.  You are more confident, more effective in your job, and simply more happy 🙂

“A good laugh raises your blood pressure and boosts heart rate, too, which can pump you up when you’re feeling sluggish,” says Robert R. Provine, PhD, author of Laughter.

3. Move it

According to a study in Personality and Social Psychology, a 10-minute walk will rev you up for up to two hours!

Of course, if these aren’t working for you, we can always find a way to Spark you up!

Another option is to get you started on a 24-Day Challenge.  This is a way to provide your body with “smooth energy” all day long with the added benefit of losing weight and inches!

Tips & Tricks

Often times, oversights occur because people simply don’t know what they don’t know.  Life is much easier when you have a guide.  For that reason, I am a big fan of documenting HOW things are done.

This section of the website is designed to simply offer quick and easy tips & tricks to make your life easier — they have definitely helped me over the years!

Excel tricks to make your life easier

I am a HUGE fan of Excel.  Spreadsheets are a wonderful thing that allow you to bring information to life in various forms – charts, graphs, mail merges… If you are fighting the use of spreadsheet software, I’m here to tell you that it really is not as scary as you may think.  Sure, going in, it doesn’t look pretty – that just means that you haven’t put Excel to work FOR you.

There are several tricks that help make using Excel easy.  The problem is, most people don’t know what they don’t know.

I have compiled some key tips that, once learned, will help make any spreadsheet task much easier. Here are just a few tips to get us started.

Separating names

Many times, people insert full names of individuals into the spreadsheet.  This is problematic when using in mail merges as no one really wants to say “Good afternoon, John Doe” – you want to say, “Good afternoon, John.”  Follow  these quick steps to personalize your communications further by creating the ability to drop the last name (and other information later).

How to separate the name column into First Name and Last Name, or taking a column stating Name: John Doe and making it two columns, one saying John and another saying Doe.

  1. Insert column after Name column (preferably two columns to be safe)
  2. Highlight column needing to be separated
  3. Go to Data, Text to Column

a.    Delimited, Next
b.    Select both Tab and Comma, Next
c.    Select either General or Text, Finish

And, there you go!

To change ALL CAP names to Title Case

When working with a form that other people have access to (such as your customer), you may come across the people who like to talk in ALL CAPS.  This can be aggravating as (again) when working with mail merges, you end up screaming at your customer in your greeting.  Follow the steps below to provide consistency throughout your writing, without the messy ALL CAPS.

  1. Insert a column in which to fill the corrected text.
  2. In the new, empty column, enter the formula =proper(a2) and click ENTER.
    NOTE: does not have to be a2, but rather whichever cell is appropriate.
  3. Click the cell you just created (in this case, b2) and drag the bottom-right part of the cell down the column to copy the formula.

All your “CLIENTS” should now be your more adaptable “clients.”

De-Duplicate (De-Dupe)

I haven’t heard of a database yet that people don’t fight with.  One common annoyance is duplicates.  There is an answer to this problem (if you have the ability to export into Excel).

  1. Click on the Email column as this will be the most specific (or whichever is most appropriate for your needs).
  2. Go to Data, Filter, Advanced Filter
  3. Check “Unique Records Only”
  4. Click OK
    NOTE: This HIDES the row, it does not delete it. 

No more duplicates!

I hope you find these tips useful in your upcoming projects.

12 Keys to a Successful Conference Event

Planning and conducting a successful corporate conference is an enormous and important task. Here are twelve quick tips to help make your big event an even bigger success.

1. Use BIG, CLEAR names on nametags.

This sounds pretty simple, but it is a common mistake.

Use a bold, sans-serif typeface with the largest possible letter size. If possible, place the first name prominently with the last name in a smaller size below.  Nametags should be easy to read from at least 12 feet  away. The whole purpose of a nametag is to make it easy for people to network.

2. Keep participants hot by keeping the room cool.

Keep your conference room temperature set toward cool. Studies show people are most alert at 62–64° Fahrenheit .  Work with the venue to ensure a 68° setting as I have found this works across a broad spectrum.  Advise your guests in advance to dress in layers if they tend to be cold.  This can be done in a pre-event email reminder and the confirmation.

3. Distribute a participants’ networking sheet.

Gather names and complete contact information of all conference delegates. Assemble them in a user-friendly networking sheet for during and after your conference.  Often times, this will be the only time they are together in person.  Contact sheets provide an on-going relationship for people across the world and can easily be added to a program.

4. Use a variety of activities.

Jazz up your conference with some variety.  Employ a wide range of conference activities: speeches; conference games; interactive workshops; panel discussions; Q & A sessions with presenters, “speed dating” with the vendors; themed meals; lounge areas, etc.  Odds are, there will be something valuable within for everyone!

5. Pick your theme and promote it like crazy.

Give your conference a distinctive theme and title. If your event has footing as “Annual Conference,” then add a sub-title to the event to distinguish this year’s event from the ones before.

When appropriate, couple your theme with an attractive logo to illustrates the key idea or message. Repeat the theme throughout your conference.  Provide your speakers and vendors with the theme and encourage them to use it as well.

Repeat the theme and/or logo on all your conference gifts:  notebooks, nametags, banners, shirts, etc.

6. Set the look of conference presentations.

Once you decide on a theme and logo or illustration for your event, use it!

When possible, provide presenters and exhibitors with camera-ready images in hard copy, on CD, or by direct download from your website. Send these out early so there is plenty of time for everyone to customize their material, making your conference look good.

7. Begin before the conference.

Get your audience participating in the conference even before they arrive on-site. Send out advance mailings with selected readings, ‘think-about’ assignments, information-gathering responsibilities, a detailed program agenda, etc.

8. Continue the conference after it’s over.

Extend and prolong conference value by sending out selected materials after the conference is over. Send a follow-up article, newsletter, results of a survey, etc. Put your own cover letter on top of the package with thanks and congratulations to the delegates, and an invitation to your next conference event.

Put a page on your website with photographs from the conference, key ideas and articles presented at the event, survey results, etc. Promote the post-conference website/social media site during the conference itself and encourage others to visit during the event.

9. Triple check all audio-visual equipment.

If the first thing your audience hears is ‘Can you hear me in the back?’, you have failed on this key point.

If the speaker says, ‘Can we have the lights down please?’ and the lights don’t come down right away, you have failed on this key point.

To make your conference a success, triple check all microphones, projectors, screens, computers, music sources, lights, air-conditioning controls, etc.  And just in case, have back-ups ready to go if needed.

10. If you start with tea and coffee, schedule a ‘bio-break’ early.

Offering coffee and tea during conference registration is a very nice touch, especially if you include pastries and fresh fruit. But if your conference begins at 8:30 am, don’t wait until 10:30 am to schedule the first break!

11. Begin with a bang.

Start your conference with a powerful video, captivating slides, stirring presentation, strong first speech, dramatic performance, multi-media extravaganza – or just about anything else that gets the audience interested and involved. When you start strong, your conference is off to a good start. When you start with a boring lecture from the CEO about last quarter’s financial results, you will be trying to recover all day.

12. End with a memorable finale.

Make your final impression a lasting one. Close your conference with an amazing speaker, tear-jerking song, major award presentation, multi-media event or anything else that gets the audience motivated and reminds them why they came in the first place.

Ending on a high note promotes your next event!

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