Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Rise of the Humans

There was an interesting story published yesterday on Mediabistro's 10,000 Words blog, describing an ongoing "social experiment" by the New York Times social media editors.  Until now, the @NYTimes Twitter account largely has been automated — simply auto-tweeting the headlines of and a link to whichever stories are published on the Times' website.

But for this week, social media editors Lexi Mainland and Liz Heron turned off the auto-tweeter, and instead have been "hand-writing" (as it were) all their own tweets.  So how has this experiment been going?  10,000 Words blog author Jessica Roy writes:
As it turns out, the differences between the automated feed and the handwritten one are pretty stark. For avid Twitter users, some of these changes may seem a little duh-worthy, but for a news organization with a notoriously ambivalent relationship with social media, these changes may represent an important attitudinal shift in regards to social networking.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do Incentive Meetings Really Motivate?

If you were looking for a go-to guy on motivation, you could hardly do better than Dan Pink, author of the bestselling Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

So we went to Pink, and asked him how effective incentive events are when it comes to boosting employee motivation. Here is his reply:
If the only reason, or the main reason, somebody is selling a product or service is to get a trip, then I think the incentive distorts motivation and might even hurt the company in the long run. (I also think it shows they’ve hired the wrong person.) 
What’s more, giving some people a trip can demoralize those who don’t get a trip — and make the recipients fearful of losing the trip the following year.

That said, trips per se are absolutely fine. If they’re part of teambuilding or strategizing, that’s terrific and valuable and worthwhile. That’s true, as well, if they’re offered in a noncontingent, unexpected way as an after-the-fact form of recognition.

In other words, the problem isn’t trips or meetings. They’re great. The problem is using them — or using anything — to control others’ behavior.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Paperlessness, via the Paper of Record

Big news in The New York Times: Meeting organizers are developing mobile apps for attendees to use on their iPads, smartphones, and other wireless devices. But wait, there's more:
Most bundle a scheduling tool, floor plan and maybe information about local restaurants or a social networking link on their apps. But a handful of organizers have begun to use apps to reduce or even replace the vast amounts of paper they once carried to events.
Where have I heard about this sort of thing before? Oh, right -- at PCMA 2011 Convening Leaders, as reported on this very blog. So not only has our approach to this topic been quite timely, it's also been strictly paperless.

Friday, May 13, 2011


The cover story in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek is a profile of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, who's widely credited with helping the youthful company grow up. And in her free time? She throws meetings at her home:
Every few weeks a few dozen Silicon Valley women—doctors, teachers, and techies—head to the seven-bedroom Atherton (Calif.) mansion Sandberg shares with her husband, Dave Goldberg, chief executive of Web startup SurveyMonkey, and their two kids. The group sits on foldout chairs in the living room and holds plates of catered food on their laps as they listen to a guest speaker. Over the years, Sandberg has lured such luminaries as Geena Davis, Billie Jean King, Rupert Murdoch, Meg Whitman, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Robert Rubin, the most recent guest, said that 15 years ago when he was Treasury Secretary, it was good for Sheryl Sandberg that she knew him. Now, he quipped, it was good for him that he knows her.
These "Women in Silicon Valley" events, as Sandberg calls them, have become a mainstay in the lives of the women in her personal and professional circle. "I think there are a lot of people who feel they are very good friends with Sheryl, and that's a testament to how much she invests in those relationships," says Marne Levine, a former colleague at Treasury who joined Facebook last year in Washington as its vice-president of global public policy.
Last year a guest speaker at one of Sandberg's home soirees was Cambodian human trafficking activist Somaly Mam. After she discussed her work and shared her personal history of being sold into slavery at a young age, Sandberg stood up and announced her intention to hold a fundraiser for the Somaly Mam Foundation and asked how many of her friends would join her. Everyone volunteered. The fundraiser, held at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, Calif., in November, raised more than a million dollars for the foundation, a third of the organization's annual contributions.
So in order to effect real change in the world, this business executive -- who is already extremely influential -- turns to meetings. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Got Geek?

Technology is supposed to make our lives and jobs easier -- but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Even if you could keep up with all of the latest releases and innovations, it's tough to sort out what is shiny and new and truly useful from what is merely shiny and new.

Liz King, of Liz King Events in New York City, and her partners are here to help, with the June 9 launch of PlannerTech. Their big idea is to bring meeting planners and technology providers together in a relaxed atmosphere, where planners can experiment and learn alongside their peers. They promise to limit the tech-jargon and keep practical solutions front and center.

I recently talked with Liz about what planners -- both in and out of New York --  can expect from the new event.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Welcome to this week's edition of Extra, Extra!.

Plans for the Phuket (Thailand) International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC) are being reviewed as a result of concerns over whether the center could survive a hit from a tsunami — like the one that struck the country, to devastating effect, on Dec. 26, 2004.  According to the Phuket Gazette (now there's a snappily named newspaper), the project already is under a great deal of time pressure, which will be exacerbated by the review process.  Originally scheduled to open in May 2014, the Thai government gave funding to the ICEC on the condition that the center open even earlier, in Nov. 2013.  However, "The design and construction of the center’s main building and adjoining facilities should be ‘tsunami safe’ because tsunamis can strike at any time," said a local public-works government official.

Friday, May 6, 2011

If They Build It, They Will Come

image courtesy Walker Art Center
The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is among the nation's most celebrated contemporary art museums, with one of the largest urban sculpture parks in the U.S., filled with works by leading American and international artists.

How could it possibly get any better?

Last summer, a team of more than 30 architects,  designers, and artists crowdsourced the design of the four-acre "Open Field,"  a grassy community commons where the public is invited to create and schedule their own events.

Residents can teach a class, create experimental art, play music, or simply spread out some blankets and host a book club meeting. There's free wireless, and food and beer are available for purchase.

The Center enabled the community to self-organize and schedule events using a combination of Google apps and Wordpress software. The Center also creates its own programming -- the crowdsourced events ensure that the public gets exactly what it wants, too.

Last year was Open Field's first events season, but not the last. It returns in June.

Thanks to Utne Reader for the tip-off.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Welcome to this week's edition of Extra, Extra!, wherein we round up the most interesting meetings-industry news from around the world.

It used to be said that, "As General Motors goes, so goes the nation."  Is the same true for Orlando and the meetings industry?  According to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, the city filled eight out of every 10 hotel rooms in March, logging 80.6 percent occupancy.  The last time that happened?  March 2008.  Big trade shows and conventions held at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) helped: In March, the OCCC hosted the comic-book/sci-fi convention MegaCon, which drew 40,000 fans; CTIA Wireless, with 39,000 attendees; and the Heli-Expo International, which choppered in 15,000 people.