As a business owner, investing in education and unique experiences within the industry is necesary. Robert Kiyosaki once wrote:
“The most successful people in life are the ones who ask questions. They’re always learning, they’re always growing, they’re always pushing.”
You need to seek out and research different conferences, summits, retreats, workshops and unique networking events to not only inspire you but shift your way of thinking. Engage Summits is a conference hosted three times a year for luxury wedding professionals and it is filled with unique, interesting, exciting people just like you.
I started going to Engage! in 2011 and attended several more engages over the years. I was reflecting recently on all the gifts that Rebecca and Kathryn from engage have given me, and I wanted to share them with you in the hopes of showing you how a conference in this industry can change your life.
1. Business ownership is a marathon, not a sprint
There are a lot of brilliant little nuggets layered within each speakers presentation that strike you as you need to hear them. While you’re taking notes and jotting down ideas that resonate, there will be a moment where you look up from your beautifully branded journal and pause to reflect on something that a speaker just said. I always go back to a moment when Cindy Novotny spoke at Engage! Monte Lucia that had a profound effect on me. It was a simple antidote, really, but it made me take pause and write this down:
“If you’re not always seeking new business, your well will run dry.”
It’s so simple, right? But at that moment in my business I needed to hear that. I needed to be reminded that I should never get too comfortable. I should always be grateful for the business I have and strive, every day, to push for more. In hindsight, it also taught me that business ownership is a marathon and not a sprint; I always need to keep moving forward toward that invisible finish line.
2. It is better to give than receive
Networking is all something we do, and I think most people approach networking from the wrong angle. We step into a networking situation wanting to meet someone who could do something great for our business; that magazine editor that could publish our work, that event planner who could refer us clients, or someone we’ve admired who could teach us. But, Engage! showed me that approach isn’t what networking’s about. The very first Engage! I attended at The Grand Del Mar taught me that networking isn’t about what someone can do for me, it’s about what I can do for someone else. I have approached every networking event with that mentality since, and by helping others, I’ve received immeasurable gifts both professionally and personally.
3. Community is much bigger than you think
A few years ago, one of my closest friends passed away. He was an exceptionally talented wedding photographer who went missing and left behind a beautiful wife and three children. During the chaos of organizing search parties to look for him, my fellow engage attendees from all over the country sent water and food to our volunteers. They traveled hours from other states in those early days to help us search for our friend in rough and dangerous terrain. While we were on the ground working with government agencies and the people who could physically help search for him, my fellow engage attendees aided us in spreading the word on social media to push local authorities to give us more assistance. As we were trying get the publics’ attention, they reached out to news organizations and got the story on Good Morning America. They prayed. They cried with us, and after we found him, they deposited thousands of dollars into a GoFundMe account that had been set up to help financially aid his pregnant wife and two children. They even designed and paid for his funeral memorial card.
My friend Eric never attended an Engage! conference.
But that didn’t matter.
Engage is more than just a community of professionals helping to build each other up and raise the standard– it’s about so much more.
4. My creativity is only limited by my willingness to create
Attending an Engage! conference is a beautiful assault on all of your senses. Part of me attends just for the inspiration alone– the importance of which cannot be measured– as we all live in our “bubble.” Sometimes it is hard to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and dream bigger for our clients, especially when we are producing our work day in and day out. Over and over, we are hired to do projects similar to the last one we just completed, and that can be very stifling to our individual creativity.
Engage! is larger than life, and at every turn, there is something new to discover. Whether it is the beautiful flower arrangement during a dine around, a dessert served at the gala or stilt walkers pouring champagne from the ceiling, engage delights and surprises everyone — even the most seasoned wedding professional. It has taught me that my creativity is only limited by my willingness to create— and has inspired so many ideas that I have weaved into my clients’ events. It has taught me what is possible at an event, and encouraged me to keep pushing boundaries beyond my comfort zone. Which leads me to…..
5. The ability to experience
Living in that bubble that we just talked about prohibits us from experiencing what our clients (should) experience at their own event. Attending a conference like Engage! gives you the ability to experience a one-of-a-kind, 5-star party where every detail has been meticulously designed just for you. If you are a designer or planner, you come away having experienced the very same product you are selling to your clients. What an amazing gift, right? In-between the minutia of working in our business, we don’t get to fully appreciate the final product like a client does. Having the opportunity to experience that is magical, and has transformed the experience I provide my clients.
If you’re attending Engage! stop and look around. Take it all in. And remind yourself that yes, you can do that too.
6. Dennis Kwan’s Snapchat
Truly a gift!
7. To stop coveting what others have
…. because everyone at engage is just like you. All 300+ people sitting in that room are either where you are now in your business, have been there in the past or will be in the exact same spot in the future. As an industry, we are all just here trying to make shit happen for ourselves, pay our bills, do what we love and be good people. It is so easy to compare yourself to others and be jealous of another person’s perceived success. Engage teaches all of us to step away from that and instead, be genuinely happy for your colleagues and focus on your own milestones.
It has had that impact on me and it will have that impact on you.
And that, my friends, is so very freeing.
When I opened by business in 2007 I would have never thought that my closest confidants in life would be people in the wedding industry. I stepped into business with firm handshakes and a separation of who I was as a person and who I was as Candice Coppola, owner of Jubilee Events. But this industry, and engage, gave me some of my closest and most cherished friendships. I vacation with my engage people, celebrate their birthdays and life milestones, laugh, cry, and confide in them. Some of my fondest memories in life have been made on the gala dance floor and in a beach lounge chair in Grand Cayman.
The only gift greater than a friend is being one.
9. Accessibility to brilliant and beautiful people
As we start our businesses, we all have people who we admire. We follow what they do, look up to them, and strive in our own way to be as uniquely successful as they are. Engage! gave me the gift of meeting people who I deeply admire (like Jes Gordon, JoAnn Gregoli, Vanessa Kreckel, Todd Fiscus, Susan Moynihan and of course Rebecca Grinnals & Kathryn Arce). What other conference can gather a room full of genuine, talented industry mentors and give you the gift of being able to make meaningful connections with them?
But Engage! is more than just names you might recognize– it also gives you accessibility to a wide variety of genius from all walks of life. It breaks down the barriers of distance that separate us all to reveal a community of people who care about the work they do and want to help you achieve your best.
10. My life
I certainly saved the very best for last. You know those amazing stories about how people meet and fall in love? Well I’m lucky enough to have my own, and it was #becauseofengage.
I didn’t meet my husband at Engage! but I met him because of it. In 2011, I went to Engage! Grand Cayman and met Malissa Blackman from this little island called Barbados. She invited me to travel there in January of 2012, where I visited the island for the first time of what would be many. Over my several visits (for both business and fun), I met so many beautiful and wonderful people who became friends. Eventually, one day in August of 2013 I would meet the greatest love of my life. It is so funny how life works, isn’t it? If I had never attended that Engage! conference I would have likely never stepped off a plane into the warmth and sunshine of an island I now call home. It is never lost on me each day when I wake up next to this beautiful man that one moment in time brought me to this point in my life– and for that– there are no words to express my gratitude.
If you have never attended Engage! I encourage you to research the conference and determine if it is the right investment for you based on where you are in your business. If you have attended Engage! before, I would LOVE to hear a gift that Engage! gave you. Leave your gifts in the comments below and I’ll feature some in this blog post.