Event Planner Extraordinaire

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written. A LOT has happened since last we met....

The big conference came and went. It was VERY successful if you look at it from an outsider. The networking social on Friday night was great-the hotel had good food, a free chair massage for everyone, and people had a great time. I got my drinks comped all night and they also gave me a free room - so it was good for me! Saturday, things went smoothly, there were no upsets, nothing was forgotten, no one had any complaints-total success. We had about 92% attendance (from who was registered) and only one vendor didn't make it (but we knew about it the week before-family illness). The ENTIRE day I received compliments about how great it was. It was our first annual meeting of this type and I think people were a bit unsure as to how it would come out, but --it turned out GREAT. Many people told me that I should consider a wedding or event planner as a career.. I felt good about it, knowing that 85% of pulling that conference together was on my shoulders.

On the inside tip, I felt like I was not connected to my co-workers who I'd been working closely with for the last 6 months on making this a success. Friday night setup was a disaster, I was frantically rushing about and they avoided me, because they "could see I was frustrated." And then when my frustration turned into anger, they didn't feel like they could talk to me at all-which is true. I didn't think they were there for me when I needed them, even though I said the words "I need help" and really, the sweat on my brow and the rushing about from one room to the next should have been a clue as well. I just felt abandoned in my time of need and as such, became very irritated. The job got done, things were successful, but I feel like I lost two friends. Was it worth it? No comment.

It certainly made me question my ability to lead a group of people, though I have been leading groups of people for the last 8 yrs in my volunteer work and never had anything come close to this incident. I spent the last week questioning my ability to be a project manager and reliving things that I could have done differently to make it run smoother.

It's a hard spot - they were my friends, and I just assumed they would be there. When they weren't, my human emotions took over and we weren't able to come together for the good of the project. Everything got done - I think it took longer than necessary and I think there was more stress than was needed - but everything got done. I am not here to make friends, right? I'm here to do my job.
That's my new attitude. I hate it....but I guess it's necessary.

AND THEN - I had this big volunteer project this weekend. I was deemed to be the one that Hands on felt would make the best project manager for this job, an honor of course, but I was quite nervous about it, especially after the problems with my conference-mates the week before. I think I was overly on edge about what I said to people and how I said it...which I guess is good, but it's frustrating as I'm pretty confident in my ability to lead a project. The volunteer project went well, though some issues arose that were out of my hands.

We were expecting 106 people from Comcast. We got 66. That's a big shortage of hands. And not only that...but I would guess we had about 10 kids under the age of 9. Ten kids under the age of nine means we had a daycare section at the project. Unfortunately, the "daycare" was the landscaping group. They could do the least amount of damage in spreading bark, however, it slows down the project infinitely. At some point, I let some of the kids come inside and paint a wall. One youngster, we'll call him Jimmy, was VERY ambitious. Everytime I turned around, he was off on his own agenda. Jimmy was like a gremlin that someone has consistently fed after midnight.

I said a lot of this:
Jimmy, wait for your mom.
Jimmy, where's your mom?
Jimmy, you can't paint yet.
Jimmy, you can't paint there.
Jimmy, you only need one brush at a time.
Jimmy, only paint in the middle of the wall.
Jimmy, don't go anywhere.
Jimmy, where's your mom?
Jimmy, wait for your mom.

Jimmy painted the floor, the walls we weren't painting, the outside of the paint can, other kids, and maybe a little bit of the wall we were painting. It wouldn't have been so tragic if his mom was more concerned, however, she just continued to paint her section and watched as we cleaned up his mess. I had to ask her to take little Jimmy home, that he had really done all he could do to help. Help set us back in time/manpower, that is.

We didn't finish all the projects I wanted to, but we did really well considering we were 38 people down and had the help of a 6 yr old named Jimmy.
And it helped me believe in my ability to manage a large group of people again, which was wonderful. I have already let Hands On know that I want to host a couple more projects at the school to get things finished for them - without children or gremlins.



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