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BizBash C.E.O. David Adler: Are You an Event Planner or a "Programmer of Human Interaction"?

To keep the industry moving forward, event and meeting professionals need to stay updated on the trends, science, and strategies about how people collaborate, gather, and turn interactions into effective outcomes.

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

David Adler (@DavidAdler) is the C.E.O. and founder of BizBash.

A few years ago I had the privilege of attending an event at the State Department that featured a conversation between Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton. Dr. Kissinger said to Secretary Clinton that “every day as Secretary of State you are ... just spending your intellectual capital; in order to replenish, you need to take the time to build your intellectual capital.” It was at that moment that I realized that I attend events not just to network and meet people, but also to invest in myself and build my own intellectual capital away from the constant pressures of being the C.E.O. of my company.

That realization has deepened my sense of the value of events and meetings. Since then, I have appreciated every opportunity I have had to listen and learn, building and nurturing my own intellectual capital.

The great news is that since I started BizBash 15 years ago, great meetings and events have become centerpieces of company strategy, culture, training, and now social media marketing. Advances in neuroscience, technology, meeting design, change management, and learning research have made this the golden age of human gatherings. The challenge is that while facilities are being built to create optimal environments, some professionals in our industry don’t understand the recent advances in how to run a meeting or event.

To address this gap, on Friday, June 27, Chris Kelly of Convene, collaboration guru Mary Boone, and I brought together a group of people to try to spark a movement to start spreading the word about promoting the concept of high-performance collaboration in the form of effective meeting and event design.

One of the slides that Mary presented pointed out that “you can learn to ride a bicycle as a kid or you can train to be in the Olympics.” Which is why when someone says they are in the event or meeting world, I suggest that they point to their intellectual capital by introducing themselves as a “programmer of human interaction.” That’s a better description of someone who is an event and meeting athlete, trained to understand all the latest trends, science, and strategies about how humans collaborate, gather, and turn interactions into effective outcomes.

This new title is appropriate. After all, meetings and events are the original social technology. While “sharing” is the buzz word in digital media, it’s also the secret for face-to-face interaction. Alex (Sandy) Pentland, who wrote Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread—The Lessons From a New Science, talks about using what we learn from face-to-face, including how groups are more productive when everyone gets to share their ideas on a more equitable basis because they feel more “in the of the loop.”

Of course, if you claim this more elevated status, you need to keep up on new developments. Our industry is moving ahead and I encourage everyone who is an event or meeting organizer (oops, I mean, Programmer of Human Interaction) to invest in themselves and build their own intellectual capital.

Here is a list of the meetings and events that are coming up to help build your intellectual capital including many of the events that we are producing at BizBash and the Event Leadership Institute.

July 10, 2014
Elevate D.C.
Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.

July 31, 2014
Elevate New York
Conrad New York, New York

August 10-13, 2014
Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) Executive Leadership Conference
Revel, Atlantic City, N.J.

Be sure to check out our offerings at the Event Leadership Institute on technical meeting and event production, wedding planning fundamentals, fund-raising event management, and venue sales. More information can be found here.

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