A few months ago I had the chance to live the overwhelming experience of becoming a mother.
And now I have to learn to become a parent… but not only a parent, a mother who works. I have passed the guilty phase, the questions and the fatigue because it was a choice for me and I was happy to be able to go back to my professional life. However – I know the happy members of the parents club will understand – it was not as easy as I was thinking. It’s kind of a cliché, but since I learned that we will add an adorable monster to our family, nothing has been the same.
I thought a lot, mostly during night (yes the concept of sleeping is totally different now), of how to manage it the best I can and something hit me: I can definitely use what I’ve learned and what I am good at when it comes to working in events to conciliate my new role and vice versa. I listed the skills I will have to use to happily manage this new life.
Before being a marketer in the event/software industry, I worked for a PCO and in both roles, being proficient in project management is key.
Planning, deadlines, deadlines … and more deadlines!
Just as you would for an event or the launch of a product, you can’t postpone the arrival of your baby. You think you need just one more month to handle the long list of things and the several projects to achieve by the D day … Not a chance. From the funny and tricky research of finding a name to the shopping, the administrative boring stuff or the essential doctors’ appointments, the list seems to never end. Thanks to the well-known retro planning concept, priority management and some extra hours I eventually managed to have all the essentials ready. And if the nice frame I was looking to create and hang in the baby room was not ready … well it did not affect the event.
When I began working with event planners, I realized the sense of panic that you get leading up to your event. One planner told me that even when everything seems to go wrong or is late, the day of the event finally arrives and everything works out ok: it’s kind of magic.
Planning an event means that you will manage a team of different coworkers, providers, speakers, etc. You need them to properly achieve the goal you or your client defined! When thinking about creating and managing the daily crew that will gravitate around the baby, you find the similarities between running an event and running a baby team! It is challenging to find the right people.
From the nanny or the day care ladies to the pediatrician, you need to be sure to work with trusted and skilled people! The baby’s well-being and safety is at stake… your mental health too. And not to mention your own team, the relatives! If not properly managed (if my mother reads this…), they will do more damage than good. Ask for help – really – in what they are good at and define a few rules. If grand aunt Zaza at 80 years is a great cook but tends to get tired quickly, maybe you can put her in charge of cooking delicious apple sauce instead of watching your dynamic 11 old month during your next business trip.
Whether you work or not, the team you will create around the baby is key. Using the experience you built during events seems relevant: selecting the right people, using the best skills of each and being a kind leader more than a tyrant! And lucky me, the baby’s dad is a great partner! The one you rely on and are as involved as you are – your right hand man!
As planner, you put a lot of care and effort into being sure you are providing the best experience possible for your attendees. I found myself comparing it to my research for the well-being of my baby. As you’re putting your feet in your attendees’ shoes to assure the success of your event, I work hard to make sure she’s having a good experience with food, agenda, learning, interactions (networking?),entertainment, etc.
And as a planner would, it means I have to think ahead to build the day-to-day tasks that stick to my baby’s needs and if possible, even go above any expectations.
Training myself to be solution oriented was the best solution I found to deliver results, both professionally and personally.
I’m sure that not a day passes without an issue arising or a last minute request in your event planner life. You use your creativity to find a solution to the problem, no matter if you have no budget left or if it’s last minute!
My friends warned me, as parent you need a big amount of this positive creativity to deal with daily crises. Training myself to be solution oriented was the best solution I found to deliver results, both professionally and personally. With a kid it seems even more important: no time for complaints, you need to act and act fast and often with what’s available. You will discover you full of resources!
Positive Attitude and Learning Curve
Last year at etouches, we decided to focus on planers skills being that you need to learn more and more in this industry. In fact, after some research and discussions we concluded that event organizers and planners need to manage a bunch of professional hats every day. And to add to this challenge, they have to integrate new technologies and specific knowledge each year. We were amazed by their positive attitude and their eagerness to learn despite a busy schedule. It was a no brainer to support them with content and a dedicated event software university.
Well I am learning too, the hard way, that you aren’t born a parent. Instinct and common sense are my allies, but when you’re totally in the dark or worried for your little you turn to reliable resources. I use books, blogs, or groups to train myself, but more than ever I know than experience is invaluable and I will learn along the way. So yes, when your mother-in-law thinks she knows better than you (again) how to feed the baby, it could be worth it to listen. You’ll make the final decision.
Being a mother is asking stay humble and positive.
Nowadays you can’t think about an event without having in mind reports, metrics, and ROI! Well, that’s where the comparison ends. You won’t track the benefits and expenses with your baby. And her smile when I wake her up the morning is more than rewarding, it’s the most precious things in my world. It’s worth every effort!
Written by: Ellen Seguin