Engage!10 Conference

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was fortunate enough to attend the Engage!10 luxury wedding business summit at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman last week. Created and produced by Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce of Engaging Concepts, the event was a chance to connect with many amazing friends, both old and new, in the wedding industry.

I posted a recap with some beautiful images of the conference and the Cayman Islands over on Elizabeth Anne Designs, but here on Edit and Post I wanted to delve into just a few of the recurring themes from the conference and my insights and takeaways based on the panel discussions and conversations with other attendees.

Set goals, but know that you must adapt to survive

On the very first day in the very first panel discussion, Harmony Walton posed a question to a small group of us: “Where do you want to be in 10 years?”  I sat there, relatively clueless, awaiting my turn to answer and wondering what the hell I’d say.

Because the truth is, I HAVE NO IDEA.

And you know what? I am OK with that.

During the past ten years my life has changed in ways that were both completely expected and incredibly surprising.  I love the thrill of the unexpected.  I thrive on change, constant revision, and self-examination.  I came away from Engage! with several budding ideas of ways to change my business, and if I had a “goal” that I was single-mindedly set towards, I may not have been open-minded to these new strategies.

Know that the wedding industry is changing faster than we can even realize.  Are you ready to change with it?

You are selling your talent and your vision – not yourself

So many of the conversations that I participated in throughout the conference centered around growing your business when you provide a personal service. One conversation went like this:

Her: “I went back to work 5 days after having my baby because my clients needed me.”

Me: “Don’t you have a team working with you on the client’s wedding?”

Her: “Yes, but they only wanted me.”

Me: “Then you’re doing something wrong.”

So I tend to make blunt statements and brash generalizations, but here is my point (which I clarified to her during this conversation).  There is only so much of you to go around.  If you are giving a little piece of yourself to each and every client, soon you won’t have anything left.  This is when burnout occurs.  This is why businesses become stagnant.

I’m guilty of this – we are all guilty in one way or another – but it’s so important to keep perspective in an entrepreneurial business. In order to grow, you must find, train, and give creative control to your team.  You must trust them.  If you don’t trust them, how will your client trust them?  And if your client doesn’t trust them, how will you be able to let go and focus on growing your business?

Are you giving a little piece of yourself to each of your clients?  How many pieces do you have left?

What makes my business different?

One of my personal action plans from the conference is to put a great deal of thought into diversifying my business from the rest of my industry.  Perhaps because it was so applicable to me, this subtle thought stood out to me as a conference “theme”, if there is such a thing at Engage!.

What am I doing to differentiate my business?
In the first moment of interacting with my business, do you see what I want you to see?
How do I stand out from the crowd?

If you are in the wedding industry and are considering attending an Engage! event, I would definitely recommend it. Engage! is not a “how to” or “what to” conference. Rather, it is a thought-provoking environment that allows you to connect with like-minded industry professionals and gives the opportunity for reflection on your business.

More recap posts on Engage!10: Jasmine Star, Liene Stevens, Harmony Walton, Sean Low

22 responses to Engage!10 Conference
  1. Ami, although I didn’t attend Engage! I think the take-a-ways that you brought back could be utilized not only with wedding professionals but also with ALL professionals as well as life and that is AWESOME. I love the perspective you put on this and also the questions you asked. they made me think which is a good thing (or a bad thing depending on who you ask about me bwahahahaah)

    P.S. I ADORE this blog. that is all.

  2. Thank you so much for the recap Ami. These are such wonderful talking points. I, too, am guilty of having no idea what to answer to “where will you be in 10 years.”

    I look forward to more recaps from Engage!10! (If you are willing to share more!)

  3. RT @amiatEAD: On Edit and Post: Engage!10 Conference http://bit.ly/cGEnrd

  4. Thanks for sharing Ami! RT @amiatEAD: On Edit and Post: Engage!10 Conference http://bit.ly/cGEnrd

  5. bridalbar writes... {June 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm}

    Love it Amy! And btw I think I forgot to tell you at Engage how much I learn from your new blog!! Bravo! Great to see you and can’t wait til the day you quit that high powered other thing you do and we get you at every wedding industry event in the biz. Our industry needs you! xo

  6. bridalbar writes... {June 14, 2010 at 1:51 pm}

    opps – and yes, i meant ami :)

  7. Brit writes... {June 14, 2010 at 2:16 pm}

    Thank you so so much for sharing this. Unfortunately, Engage! and the Encore fall during times I am unable to travel, so it is nice to hear how everyone else really learned from this event. I love your answer for the first question. I think it’s important to have a vision, but do you need to know what you are going to do in 10 years? Because chances are it may change – not that it’s a bad thing, but weddings are an organic industry. And, we have to be prepared for that.
    .-= Brit´s last blog post: it doesn’t have to be formal: 1 =-.

  8. Sounds like a valuable event- so glad you shared these thought provoking questions with us. Definitely something we need to be asking ourselves on a regular basis!

  9. RT @amiatEAD: Some thoughts and personal takeaways from #engage10 http://bit.ly/cGEnrd

  10. After Yes writes... {June 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm}

    These are great talking points – thanks for sharing! Sounds like an event worth looking into.

  11. Loved these #engage10 insights & takeaways from one of my fav b2b industry blogs :: Edit & Post-thank you @amiaEAD !! http://bit.ly/cGEnrd

  12. wonderful post ami. it was so great to meet you finally – your blog is fab. xo vanessa

  13. RT @amiatEAD: Some thoughts and personal takeaways from #engage10 http://bit.ly/cGEnrd

  14. Great to see another recap and to see so many different points of view on Engage10.

    As a one man consultancy, I’d like to take another angle on your second core point. I see nothing wrong with only offering yourself and nobody else, but if you are going to do that, make it a conscious choice and build your business around that fundamental.

    In my case I know I can provide sufficient value to my clients that I can make a good living without subjecting myself to burn out, and leave enough time to stay refresh and seek inspiration and new ideas. Engage10, in fact, was exactly that for me. I was not seeking any business from that event, simply to refresh and be inspired.

    As you can see from my blog on the event, the quality of participants and speakers to engage with (forgive the pun, but it is accurate) meant that Engage10 met my goals, and more.
    .-= Tom McCallum´s last blog post: Ideas from a Luxury Wedding Summit =-.

    • Ami writes... {June 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm}

      Your point is so valid Tom! There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a one-person show. My point was more that you are still selling your vision and your ideas, and not yourself – because hey, there is only so much of you to go around! Small entrepreneurial business owners often are unable to separate themselves from their businesses and it leads to burnout and lack of growth.

      Kudos to you for being able to sustain the separation between business and personal and thank you so much for stopping by Edit and Post!

  15. I just found your blog and I love it. What a valuable resource, thanks!

  16. I think your comment about not spreading yourself too thin is so valuable. I started my business just recently and already have colleagues whom I trust immensely. As soon as I portray that to my clients, they are just as happy to have a conversation with my associate as they are with me…and that allows me to focus more on building my business as a whole instead of getting bogged down by the details.

  17. Intriguing thoughts from #Engage!10. Good for new and existing businesses. Read on… http://ht.ly/1YRvQ

  18. RT @Cayman_Islands: Intriguing thoughts from #Engage!10. Good for new and existing businesses. Read on… http://ht.ly/1YRvQ

  19. I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems? A handful of my blog audience have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera. Do you have any ideas to help fix this problem?

    • Ami writes... {June 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm}

      hi robby! thanks for the kind words! oh yes, browsers are the worst – you have to test and edit in each browser and it really is a pain. :(

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