The Per­fect Plan: When an Event is Big­ger than Big

The Suit - - Distinguished Business Award - By David Gor­don

Whether you are a new grad­u­ate, a ca­reer changer, or sim­ply look­ing for work, choos­ing and then pur­su­ing a new pro­fes­sion can be a daunt­ing task. Many peo­ple fran­ti­cally search for a so­lu­tion to stream­line success but they may not have to look as far as they think. Stud­ies show that when pro­fes­sional work is in sync with what a per­son en­joys, it cre­ates a vir­tu­ous cir­cle of pas­sion and en­ergy that is a pre­req­ui­site for pros­per­ity.

“The best way to de­ter­mine what to do (pro­fes­sion­ally) is to fig­ure out the things you spend time on that you don’t get paid for,” said Michelle Pat­ter­son, CEO of Event Com­plete. “Do what you love, be­cause you will fall in love ev­ery day.”

Event Com­plete, a full-ser­vice event man­age­ment com­pany, was cre­ated by Pat­ter­son af­ter years of work­ing as an or­ga­nizer for Taste of Ladera, the largest not-for-profit char­ity event in Or­ange County, Cal­i­for­nia. “I’ve al­ways had that mind­set of putting on events and pulling peo­ple to­gether,” Pat­ter­son told “The Suit.”

Pat­ter­son and her team of­fer a slew of ser­vices that help turn just about any event into a thriv­ing, rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing af­fair. The com­pany’s Event Con­cept Devel­op­ment Plan pro­vides the know-how for ev­ery­thing from site lo­gis­tics, me­dia re­la­tions and se­cu­rity to in­vi­ta­tions, stage and en­ter­tain­ment man­age­ment, and even al­co­hol and bev­er­age con­trol.

But Event Com­plete isn’t ex­pect­ing to host any birth­day par­ties in the near fu­ture. Pat­ter­son is also ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of The Cal­i­for­nia Women’s Con­fer­ence, the largest women’s sym­po­sium in North Amer­ica. The his­toric con­fer­ence boasts many A-list mem­bers and key­note speak­ers such as First Lady Michelle Obama, Deepak Cho­pra, Jane Fonda, Oprah Win­frey, former Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Tony Blair, the Dalai Lama, Bar­bara Wal­ters and count­less other celebri­ties. “What I found is that the in­di­vid­u­als who are really suc­cess­ful are the best to work with,” Pat­ter­son said with a laugh.

Event Com­plete, which is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing char­i­ties, has devel­oped both the so­cial en­ter­prise and the ex­per­tise needed to help gen­er­ate funds. Pat­ter­son notes that com­mu­ni­cat­ing with both short-term and long-term spon­sors plays a cru­cial role in ef­fi­cient fund-rais­ing. “It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand what the tar­get is you’re fo­cused on for your fund-rais­ing ef­forts and make sure that (it) is not only com­mu­ni­cated through the spon­sor­ship package, but that it gets out to the masses,” she said. So­cial me­dia, whose in­flu­ence on fund-rais­ing is un­par­al­leled, can be a use­ful tool in reach­ing out to the tar­get au­di­ence. “Women rep­re­sent 78% of con­sumers and 85% of de­ci­sion mak­ers,” Pat­ter­son fig­ured. “The com­pa­nies that rec­og­nize the im­pact that so­cial me­dia plays in the mar­ket­place and di­rectly re­lated to women are the com­pa­nies that are suc­ceed­ing and do­ing well.”

For many, the lo­gis­tics of events can be overly stress­ful, which is why event plan­ners have be­come so highly sought af­ter. But Pat­ter­son, who says she “works well un­der pres­sure,” also feels com­fort­able in high-oc­tane en­vi­ron­ments and af­firms the need to keep one’s cool. “It’s im­por­tant, as the leader, to be able to set that tone. It’s be­ing able to go ahead and stay close to what the over­all vi­sion and mis­sion is,” she said. Pat­ter­son also tells her vol­un­teers to keep things in per­spec­tive and not let the stress take hold of them. “I don’t ever want to see them run­ning across the ex­hibit hall,” she mused, then added se­ri­ously, “Peo­ple no­tice your en­ergy lev­els. If you’re stressed out and feel­ing over­whelmed, then your crowds and au­di­ences will feel that same way.”

Coming into 2013, Pat­ter­son plans on go­ing even fur­ther in her pro­fes­sion. She has numer­ous events planned na­tion­wide and in­ter­na­tion­ally, in­clud­ing blue­prints for pro­grams in Sin­ga­pore and for the United Na­tions. “You can never start soon enough,” she said.

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