Event Planning Taught by Einstein, Honest Abe and Oscar Wilde
By: Cassandra Ruff
Ok. So maybe Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Oscar Wilde didn’t teach how to plan events, per se. I did, however, learn a lot from them and what they’ve said, which in turn has helped me immensely in my craft. I’ve picked three below (and trust me, there’s more) that I constantly derive strength from, whether it’s on the job or just in my own personal life.
“Plans are nothing. Planning is everything” - Albert Einstein
A slew of professional experiences have helped me hone some skills, like time management, decision-making, managing teams, examining budgets, multi-tasking and negotiating. I have been able to exercise those areas of my brain that might otherwise be drowned out by perpetual moments of creative day-dreaming. As I take inventory of the tools I have gathered I have come to realize just how aptly named an Event Planner is. The discipline of planning is paramount to our success. Planning timelines and budgets, the pursuit of creative challenges, menus and logistics - when there’s a plan in place these challenges are able to be accomplished with efficiency from a cost and resource perspective, and with a collaboration that is far less chaotic then it can otherwise become.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” - Abe Lincoln
The event world is not a typical 9-5 and as a full-time event planner you discover a constantly changing variation of being “on duty”. The ebb and flow of the demands of the event calendar means that time is never routine. You can encounter a week with 40 hours of desk time or a week with 4. This forces you to create “plans of great intention” as you stay hard pressed with discerning the essential from the wishful. It is critical to keep the primary event objectives in sight to ensure that we’re spending our pre-production time wisely and focusing our attention on the factors that are going to yield the greatest impact and make our event a success.
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes” - Oscar Wilde
Being onsite in a varying landscape of venues while facing absurd time challenges is a quick training ground to grow in. Some lessons can be unforgiving and that lends to making them painfully memorable. You don’t often hear stories of people getting burned by the same flame twice: Similarly, I have a story about a rolled vinyl stage banner getting packed at the bottom of the truck, but I don’t have two of those stories. There is a great deal of event knowledge that cannot be taught in a powerpoint, even by the most tenured presenter. You have to live through some experiences to understand their meaning and know how to avoid or ravenously pursue them on the next go around.