In her book Life is a Special Event, Carol shares with her readers her vast experience and skills in event management and explains how to apply those same tools and principles into planning their own live life events including their daily food and beverage, their personal design, entertainment, their life logistics, and production – every day, not just once a year.
This book takes the reader through various stages of research design, planning and coordination and evaluation of their LIFE. The goal is in designing their best self.
“It requires commitment, and the courage to explore yourself and your habits. It is all about celebrating the moments, both planned and unplanned, that life gives us every day. In the profession of special events, event planners get to dream big, imagining endless possibilities that create experiences of joy, happiness, fun, and adventure – Carol asks…why not do the same in your life?”
SW: You and I go way back; back to days when laminating event binders was the “thing” no one ubered and people didn’t text, let alone tweet. You have been on this amazing journey and I have watched it unfold. You just wrote a powerful book I think everyone needs to read but before we delve into it, I have one burning question? How have you stayed looking so young?
CM: Stacy, that’s so funny. I actually look back at pictures when I was so stressed out about events and I do think I look younger now. The secret is so simple. Find inner peace and figure out how to do what you love every day. The person I am today – is just not the same person I was then and it’s because I found the courage to go inside and really find out who I was and what I wanted from this special gift of life I have been given.
SW: Start us off by sharing your “start” story.
CM: My story is not unique. I was young; in a new career at Rogers which (was Cantel then); I was on a special events committee and going to school for event management.
I finished up a huge event for them and just knew this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be part of the powerful moments that events create and I wanted to do it every day. So, I walked in and told my boss that I wanted to start own business. I was 24 years old. He was gracious and gave me the “laid off package” and out the door, I went. BUT… I knew they had another massive program coming up so I turned around, marched back in and proposed to do their event as a contractor. They gave me the contract and we created Event Edge with its first client. To be honest, we had no idea what we were doing but we figured it out and we successfully ran the event in 10 provinces across Canada. We were so young and ballsy back then, we just thought anything was possible.
SW: Over the past 20 years, what has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
CM: The first ten years were amazing, then things started to change. Personally and professionally. There were some really tough points where I lost it all, but through, what I have come to learn is I was growing at every point in that journey and in ways that I would not realize for years. Those tough parts would shape a whole new life for me. Truly it’s been an evolution the past decade. It has all been about finding out what was missing in my life; why I wasn’t finding the success and happiness I was searching for.
SW: The book you’ve written, is it the product of this journey?
CM: Exactly. This book is for all those people in the industry and other careers that are creating amazing things for other people but sacrificing themselves in the process. Many who don’t even know it. We struggle from one gig to the next, we plan every detail of that event, we labor and stress over it but are we even doing a tenth of that for our own lives? The answer for me was no. Then one day I realized, I am just as important as the special event and I asked myself, “what can I do to take on the same roles I apply to my clients, for my own life”. That’s when my life started to change.
SW: That’s a very powerful message. But what does this actually look like?
CM: It starts by being willing to look inside and see where you are failing and where you are succeeding. Asking the tough questions about your life balance, instead of doing what most of us do which is doing it and hanging on by our fingernails. Kids, jobs, events, clients, staff, office, parents…. We say we’re handling it but were really not all handling it.
I don’t know where or why it wasn’t taught that the higher you rank yourself on that priority scale and the better you take care of yourself the higher you will produce in the world. We put ourselves last and we do more for our clients than we do for ourselves. I have walked the talk. I made a decision on that New York morning I was going to put me first, and see the impact it had on my life, my income, my production in the world.. and I did it for two years to prove its real…. I reduced my hours, I gave myself permission. “it’s ok for me to give myself a break” It’s ok to go for a walk… to have coffee in the middle of the day and actually listen to my friends, to share my issues and talk about me. This is my life and here is what I am dealing with today. It’s ok to stop hiding behind the blazer. And my life became everything I was doing to everyone else. My life literally became a special event.
So now, every quarter is a theme. I theme my life. For example, this past summer was “Connected and Natural” – I spent it outside, I aimed for the highest level of intimacy with people and nature, I traveled and spent a lot of time at this pretty little duck pond which became my sanctuary. This new quarter is “Celebration and Imminent Success”. I know this sounds hard to understand but this is working. And work is continuous and more abundant than ever before in my life. I have more money and time than I have ever had.
SW: This is the story of so many people we know.. how has the book been received?
CM: Amazing, it’s just the beginning of the journey. Last week, instead of laying down the red carpet, I was walking it as a celebrated author. I know this philosophy and approach to life works. I am walking down the life story to help others change their lives.
SW: This book is the only one of its kind, written for planners. In my role, I talk to industry people every day, and a common thread is a way they tend to wear their stress like a badge of honour. Ask almost anyone in events how they are doing, the immediate or first response is usually “we are swamped, we can barely keep up” or we just pulled a 36 hour day and we will be lucky to sleep at all the next week”. And for some reason this is supposed to be celebrated? That is backward, life is for living not working yourself into an early grave. I am just as guilty. Your book addresses the elephant in the room. So what does this mean for you? Where will these new paths take you?
CM: From this, has grown a path toward coaching for planners worldwide. It truly makes a difference to work with someone who you can trust, who understands. Making these changes are vital but people need guidance in lifestyle and direction. How do I… live more, travel more, spend more time with my family, friends and live the life I want.
SW: After so many years in the business, do you have any advice for young planners just starting out?
CM: Communication – be your word. Say what you are going to do and do it… Honour your relationships. Every one of them. And speak honestly. Don’t worry about what other people think of you, worry about being authentic and real, true to your own dreams. Others will respect that and if they don’t… walk away.
SW: One last question. If you gave your colleaugues the chance to be candid, what would they say about you?
CM: GENUINITY = THE NEXT WORD IS BIG HEART, CONTRIBUTION……….. JOY.
SW: Carol, I cannot thank you enough for taking time to talk with me about this amazing, powerful information. I am so excited to curl up and get cozy and dig into this book. I know so many planners and professionals in general are going to us it to find much needed direction to re create their lives and make them more healthy and happy.