Best Planned Events

Great events don’t just happen they take careful planning. Over the course of my career I have planned hundreds of events from grand openings, to book launches, to special events, to simple holiday parties. There is a formula for successful events and it all starts with organization.

Start with an objective or goal. Then ask yourself a series of questions. What do you want to accomplish? How many people will be coming? What venue is best? Do we need entertainment? What is your budget? Once you have established some benchmarks, check for dates. It is always good to be aware of other organizations schedules and holiday’s or religious dates. If your event is speaker driven the date will revolve around the speaker schedule. Secure that as soon as possible and work backwards from there.

Remember to brand your event. Think about a theme, work on a name this creates a good buzz. In Miami, when I was running a CEO women’s group, I partnered with a University to create a survey of Top Women Led Organizations. As part of the theme we released the results of the survey and called the event the Top Women-Led Business’s in South Florida. With branding today, it is important to have #topwomen and other readily available tools for attendees so you can get tweets and social sharing for your event immediately on all platforms.

Beyond the branding, logo and press releases announcing the event with location details, the real secret sauce is in the special touches. Thinking intuitively and creatively makes the difference between a good event and great event.

At one event I planned, the President of a Catholic School was speaking. She was a women of faith and a Sister of the cloth. I liked to hand pick walk up music for the speakers based on their personality or job. It took me a long time to come up with something clever for Sister, but I knew she had a great personality. As she approached the podium over the speaker came, You Gotta Have Faith, by George Michael. Sister Linda laughed out loud and said, “I wondered what you were going to select for me, I am just glad it wasn’t monks with chimes.”  Those little touches made an impression. When people left the event I could hear them laughing and saying “these lunches are always so much fun”.

Always remember to be grateful. Having thank you gifts or cards pre-wrapped at the podium or in the mail the day of the event is a classy way to remind people you appreciate them. The cards arrive within a day or two after the conclusion of your event and you are still top of mind.

Treat your speaker with the utmost respect. Speakers like some down time to compose their thoughts. Greet them upon arrival and whisk them away to a quiet room with a bite to eat and drink. If there are books to sell or sign, I would pre-sign book labels to accelerate the lines and have volunteers on hand to get things moving as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Planning great events is all in the little details. I must have done something right because I received this kind hand written note days after an event from one of my most favorite speakers. Obviously, she practices showing gratitude and knows the value of a tiny gesture too.



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South Florida Biz Journal Q&A: Jodi Cross on the best trip she’s ever taken

This week’s executive profile. 10.20.17

Jodi Cross

BirtBIZIMAGEhplace: Rochester, New York

Residence: Jupiter

Current position: Regional director, Palm Beach County, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association

Previous positions: Founder, Cross Network Marketing Inc.; corporate director of marketing, Sonesta Hotels, Resorts & Cruises; executive director, The Commonwealth Institute South Florida; director of marketing, Trump International Sonesta Beach Resort; director of marketing, Doral Golf Resort and Spa; VP, The Neighborhood Marketing Institute; director of marketing, PGA National Resort & Spa

Education: M.B.A, Nova Southeastern University; B.A. in hotel hospitality management, St. Thomas University

 The travel bug bit Jodi Cross at 10 years old. 

That’s when a family trip to Hawaii “turned her life upside down,” said Cross, regional director for the Palm Beach County chapter of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. At that young age, she realized there was a whole world out there to discover and many more places she wanted to see.

Today, Cross is an avid traveler, equestrian, golfer and hospitality marketing professional with over 20 years in the business working with brands whose properties span the globe. But the place she likes to work more than anywhere in the world is at home.

Cross talked to the Business Journal about her first job, a recent trip that stood out and technology she can’t live without.

Can you talk about one of the best trips you’ve ever taken? Two years ago, my husband and I went to Paris, where his father was shot down in World War II. While we were there, we found the person who headed up the historical registry of pilots shot down during the war. He happened to know the owners of the farm where he crashed. When we got there, we met this old woman who remembered the day it happened. Then her son comes out with this crate and asks us, “Would you like to take a piece of your father’s plane with you?” It was just amazing. Here is a piece WPBF ran about our trip when we returned. https://youtu.be/IIVGq9ZlQHo 

How did you get into horseback riding? When I grew up in Rochester, I started riding horses and it became a passion of mine. I’ve been riding ever since. We make it part of our trips, like when last year I went to North Carolina, I rode three or four times. We went down to Puerto Rico recently and had a riding experience there. I used to ride often at Wandering Trails in Palm Beach Gardens.

Where will your next trip be? I just booked a cruise and we’re going to Quebec, Montreal and Halifax in Canada.

What was your first job in hospitality? I started out as a sales manager with Interstate Hotels at the former Sheraton Brickell Point. My boss was an ex-nun and she used to work all night long. Meeting her probably would have sent someone running out of that career immediately, but she really taught me a lot about my craft and the relentless pursuit of excellence.

What’s the best piece of advice you received? When I was the executive director at The Commonwealth Institute of South Florida, the founder, Lois Silverman, had some interesting advice. She told me: Think about the answer you want before you ask the question. I took that to heart.

What makes a good leader? A lot of times, as a leader, you have to step back from working on your business. You have to go from working in your business, to working on your business. A lot of people are putting out fires every day and don’t take the time to think about strategy. I take some quiet time in the morning and think, “What are the two things that we’re going to accomplish today that move revenue forward?” You get into your busy day and lose sight of that strategy sometimes. My to-do list never ends.

If you could work anywhere in the world, where would it be? I really like to work from home. With today’s portable office situation, you can pretty much work anywhere. I love having that flexible work environment, where you can be anywhere and still be productive.

What are the positives of doing business in South Florida? The negatives? The diversity is a plus. It’s a real melting pot down here. You have so many people who have relocated down here from around the world, and they have a ton of talents. As for the negatives, I find that some people don’t have the same work ethic and values down here as they do in the Northeast and Midwest.

What’s an app you can’t live without? I just love Uber. I use it all the time.

Emon Reiser

Digital Producer

South Florida Business Journal

https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2017/10/17/executive-profile-jodi-cross.html


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Mad in America

Mad in America

CoffeeIf we are going to make America great again shouldn’t we figure out what is making us so angry? What is really behind all this anger in America?  When you ask people it varies a great deal by demographic, age and political party. For the last 8 years, Republicans were angry about Obama, now Democrats are angry with Trump. Politics aside, everyone seems angry about government overreach, greed, school shootings, terrorism in America and unfair practices which put hard working Americans at a disadvantage. The problem with all this anger is no one is willing to listen to one another without a shouting match.

When you unpack the emotional side of anger you realize it’s just a mask. Anger is a way of dealing with a situation without addressing the feelings behind the emotion. Anger covers up fear, jealousy, frustration and feelings of powerlessness from a given situation. Angry people tend to be poor communicators and worse listeners.

One of the key storylines of our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead. I know a lot of people who have worked hard their entire life, myself included. If I ask my husband what angers him, it is the notion that he has played by the rules, paying taxes and giving back while others don’t play by the same rules. Deep down we feel a sense of struggle for trying to live out our own personal version of the American dream. 

When you do a google search you can find angry people in all categories. There are the obvious results, “activists outraged,” or “angry conservatives”. But you may be surprised to find “angry vegans,” who are upset over the owners of a chain of plant-based restaurants who have taken to eating meat—on their own farm and their own time. There is a group blaming coffee called “caffeine rage,” where people are angry about coffee, both not having enough and having too much. And here is a strange one, “Angry Knitters” (something about the U.S. Olympic Committee not letting them use the term “knitters’ Olympics,” but people with large needles that can poke your eyes out should be paid attention to.) If we are looking for a culprit, maybe Starbucks is to blame for providing too much access to caffeine.

As we turn the page on a tumultuous year, let’s all try to unite for a common cause, America the great and powerful nation we call home. I have always found by showing people courtesy, respect and dignity you open the channels of communication. We need open channels if we are going to get things accomplished. There is a quote from Martin Luther King which summarizes our conundrum in a positive way. We are all individuals and we can live, work and play in harmony through respect. “If I wish to compose or write or pray or preach well, I must be angry,” Martin Luther King once said. “Then all the blood in my veins is stirred, and my understanding is sharpened.”

Let us be stirred in a positive way and our senses be sharpened for the common good of all.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and freelance writer and blogger. She may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .


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Goal Keeper Tim Howard was featured on the CBS Series Note to Self where he wrote about his personal journey and the things he learned along the way.  Tim mentioned the different roles self-belief and self-confidence played in his life. Many people use self-esteem and self-confidence interchangeably but they are quite different. Self-confidence can depend […]

What Matters Most is How you See Yourself

Goal Keeper Tim Howard was featured on the CBS Series Note to Self where he wrote about his personal journey and the things he learned along the way.  Tim mentioned the different roles self-belief and self-confidence played in his life. Many people use self-esteem and self-confidence interchangeably but they are quite different. Self-confidence can depend on performance, whereas self-belief comes from a nurturing place inside you which encourages and keeps you striving for greatness.

Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall and how much positive self-love you have. Your esteem develops from experiences and situations which have shaped how you view yourself in the world. Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities and can vary from situation to situation. I may have healthy self-esteem, but low confidence about situations involving my math skills (this is true).

When you hold yourself in high regard, your belief in yourself improves, which makes you more confident. When you are confident in areas of your life, you begin to increase your overall sense of worth. There were many lessons I learned in my twenties which have shaped me today and strengthened my self-belief. These lessons, although painful at times, proved critical for developing coping skills later in life.

Your self-esteem can wane when you start to compare yourself with others. You feel great until you sit next to a super model then a critical spirit takes hold and you spiral into self-doubt. Embracing your authentic self means you trust yourself. The difference between our belief and confidence hinges on how much faith we have in ourselves and our abilities.

It makes sense that if we have a realistic internal rating of ourselves and see ourselves as equally competent, intelligent and attractive as others, we will feel confident in what we can do as well. However, there are times when we lack confidence and our ego takes hold to cover up a short coming. We have all heard the saying, “Fake it until you make it”. I have had to deploy this tactic before.  In my experience, you should always circle back and shore up the short coming so it doesn’t come back to bite you later on.

Inside each one of us resides a little voice, a spark of belief, who knows what we are capable of and has faith in our abilities. We just need to ignite the spark and let it shine! I like what Tim said, “Never lose the underlying belief in yourself”. Anything is possible if we have faith and believe in ourselves!

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .

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Choose Happiness This Holiday Season

Happy Holiday


Choose Happiness This Holiday Season

This year has been a tumultuous year for our country. There have been upsets in elections, hurricanes and protests. As we head into the holiday season, I hope we can all turn a page on the things we don’t have in common and focus on being happy. So many people DREAD the holidays! There are many reasons such as; extra work, shopping, cooking, entertaining, family obligations and let’s not forget strife. Family strife comes in all shapes and sizes just like the ghosts of Christmas’s past and it can rob you of a happy and joyous holiday season.

This year let’s set aside the strife and focus on harmony, happiness and being kinder to one another. The holiday’s are about family, friendship and spending time together. If you’re travelling this year, bring your patience and try smiling at the people you meet. By keeping a positive attitude you can elevate stress and make someone else’s day.

Positivity outweighs negativity five to one, conversely negativity sucks the life out of relationships. Lucky for us we get to choose our attitude. Here are some other notable stress buster to keep you in your happy place;

  • Keep an exercise routine, don’t overeat, and plan ahead. I love to go for a nice walk on Christmas morning once the turkey’s in and cooking. Remember that just because there is a huge meal on the table there is no need to overindulge.
  • If shopping fills you with anxiety try drawing names or giving everyone gift cards. People really like to buy their own gifts anyway.
  • If baking or extra cooking puts you in a bad mood, try a cookie exchange or catering a meal. Last year, I made two-three dozen cookies and I ended up with 6-7 different types with an exchange group.

Let happiness rule your holiday season, trust me it will be contagious. May Peace and Harmony be with you this season and in the New Year!

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, writer and blogger. She can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

 

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Give Thanks & Honor to a Veteran This Month

Military Shields

November 11th is Veterans Day, a day when Americans celebrate the brave men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces. Yet, for many of us, the day passes with little thought or opportunity to honor our veterans.  For many veterans, the most powerful thanks you can give is to simply understand why they served and what this nation stands for because of their service.  

It’s easy to think we know what being in the military is like. My grandson just joined the Army and we couldn’t be prouder of him. My husband served in the Navy and my niece and nephew are both in the Army. We see movies about instilling discipline and teamwork, following orders and being tough. The news shows us all the scary stuff: land mines, gun battles and enemy combatants lurking around every corner. Our soldiers train for those situations. However, sometimes the toughest parts aren’t the life-threatening predicaments, they are the absent from life moments they miss the most. Birthday parties, graduations, baby’s births, illness and so much more. Serving in the military comes with its own set of challenges for both the veteran and their families. Sometimes, those that served us so honorably and made sacrifices, feel abandoned, misunderstood or ignored.

A recent study conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs looked into suicides of military veterans. In 2014, an average of 22 veterans die from suicide each day. Six out of 20 were users of Veterans Administration services. Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults while veterans constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. population. In addition, there are over 67,000 homeless veterans in the US today.

So what can you do to honor and thank a Veteran this year? Start by showing some appreciation. Fly your flag. Visit a VA Hospital or veteran’s cemetery and decorate a grave. There are many public events and parades for honoring our service men and women. Look for charities to donate to veteran’s causes.

You may have seen the recent #22pushups campaign on social media. This stems from the #22KILL movement started in 2013 after the VA released the staggering statistic that an average of 22 veterans are killed by suicide every day. 22KILL has committed to researching and understanding the genesis of this epidemic, and educating the general public on the issues of suicide and mental health issues that can lead to suicide. These issues can stem from Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, or the struggles and stresses of transitioning from military to civilian life.

If you can’t afford to make a donation at this time you can go to amillionthanks.org and send a letter of appreciation to a veteran. This non-profit doesn’t cost you anything but your time.

American’s Veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. I hope you’ll consider showing your appreciation to all of those who have served and are serving our country, no matter how you do it. I like to re-read In Flanders’ Fields which always provides a poignant reminder of our soldier’s brave sacrifices.

Happy Veterans Day!

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