The Engage Experience

After a wonderful season of beautiful weddings, I am now beginning to refocus my business by initiating the implementation of my goals and objectives for the 2015 wedding season. As an event designer, I am constantly in search of the harmony that marries my love for design with the realities of being a business owner. Although I have been designing weddings for almost twelve years now, it is only in recent years that I am beginning to fully grasp the importance of this balance towards the health of my business.

For those of you who follow my blog frequently, I speak about balance often because it is essential in understanding how your business is positioned in the hierarchy of your time. Understanding ‘balance’ has been the catalyst for change in my business, my business practices, client relations, and more personally –my growth and development as an individual. I began working on my business when I was 21 years old. As my business grew, so did my journey into adulthood. I learned from my business the necessary skills to be an effective entrepreneur and increasingly important -how to navigate through life situations and take ownership of your own journey. Two years ago, I made the decision to command my own journey and began a series of ‘evolutions’ in my business and personal life (

I am only a few days away from travelling to the beautiful Cayman Islands in the Caribbean for the Engage Luxury Wedding Business Summit ( produced by Engaging Concepts ( It will be my first trip to the Caribbean, so I look forward to the white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise ocean. This year, I will be a ‘triple-baller’ as they say at Engage –something that I am truly proud of as it is representative of my growth and maturity as an event professional and my degree of accountability to my business and myself. I have learned that Engage is an investment in myself, my business, and my ‘livelihood’ as an event entrepreneur.

The Engage experience required a tremendous amount of courage for the serial introvert that I am. Attending Engage put me completely out of my comfort zone. I did not know anyone at the time and I was very intimidated by the idea of being with those that do the same and do it extremely well. I knew that Engage was the experience that I required to move my business and personal development further, but like many, the fear of acceptance clouded my vision. It is often said, “your light shines brightest outside your comfort zone”. Attending Engage was just the experience I required to begin my personal transformation.

Engage has taught me to:

1) Be Real.  People want to meet the real you.  They want to know about your personal journey.  They want to get to know who you are and what makes you different.  Engage is a three day celebration of creative event professionals and our industry.  Trying to ‘fit-in’ at Engage is not the approach.  Instead, foster new friendships, learn from your mentors, and embrace the change of thought that Engage encourages (whilst remaining true to yourself and your values and beliefs).

2) Be Open.  There is no other forum like that of the Engage experience.  It is a platform for the exchange of ideas, perspectives, and thought processes.  Remain open and absorb the information.  Take the education you have acquired and apply it to your local region/market.  Often, when we are in search of revolution, it takes the strength of an entire industry to make the change.  Continue to share your perspectives, embrace collaboration, and be open to change.  I am always intrigued by the words of Sean Low.  He forces us to accept the changes that many of us resist or are not willing to accept about our businesses.

3) You are in charge of your own transformation.  Over time, I have learned that the degree of effort I exert, often results in an increasingly satisfying outcome towards what I desire.  Engage is no exception to this.  Knowing fully well that I can be uncomfortable in social situations, I must become my own cheerleader and push forward through my personal insecurities and ensure that I am truly experiencing all the opportunities that exist at Engage.  The opportunities to network, to learn, to explore, and to have fun.  If you have made a personal commitment to transformation, Engage is a wonderful starting point to encourage and motivate you to your greatest potential.

4) Be fearless.  Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to someone new -perhaps one of your mentors or someone who you look up to in the industry.  Many are open and willing to share and will embrace you with open arms.  At Engage, I met others who not only do the same, but also experience the same challenges and triumphs of being an event professional.  There is much comfort in knowing that you are not alone.  This is our collective common ground.  Being an event designer myself, I tend to gravitate towards other designers as we speak a similar ‘language’ and can relate to each other.  Think of Engage as three people and not 300, as a family reunion and not a conference, and as a journey not a destination.

Engage has increased my confidence, expanded my knowledge base, broadened my network, and has been the much needed ‘facilitator’ of change I required to revitalize my business.  Through Engage, I have met some wonderful people who I continue to stay in touch with and have afforded me some wonderful life experiences.  I look forward to #Engage14 and another unforgettable experience in paradise.

Have a wonderful week!

Paras |



“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration.  Other people and other people’s ideas can often be better than your own.  Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” –Amy Poehler

Collaboration is one of the most important fundamentals of business in today’s networked economy.  Embracing collaboration has allowed me to become an effective event professional, business owner, and nurtured my development as an individual.  Personally, the idea of collaboration has always been quite natural to me.  I grew up in a school system that fostered team work, group projects, and working towards a common goal.  I participated regularly in extra-curricular activities as it gave me a sense of belonging to something ‘greater’, but more importantly, it gave me the ‘team’ atmosphere that I thrived within.  I have a deeply rooted passion for the creative and collaborative process.  The idealists, thought leaders of our world, and the influencers of today’s society rely heavily on the collaborative process to fuel growth and innovation.  It happens to be an essential ingredient to the millennial generation.

As an event entrepreneur, my business relies solely on the collaboration of my key event suppliers and the collaborative process.  My event productions would not be realized without their unique talents, various skill sets, levels of experience, and degree of professionalism. Leading with ‘vision’ fosters a collaborative approach that considers all perspectives and possibilities that potentially may go unnoticed.  Collaboration in the events industry is essential.

In the early stages of my business, I did not fully understand the importance of collaboration.  I allowed my insecurities as a designer and business owner to dictate whom I interacted with and my ability to share and remain open.  As I matured into adulthood, so did my business.  Creating a network of professionals that supported me, believed in me, and encouraged my vision -transformed my business.  I built a community of professionals that I trust, respect, and confide in.  Collaboration went beyond business -the process created lasting friendships.

Attending industry events and participating in industry organizations strengthened (and broadened) my network.  The industry professionals I had the pleasure of meeting shared business and personal values that aligned with my own.  They became my sound board for the challenges I was facing as a business owner and gave me the sense of ‘community’ that I longed for.  My greatest friendships in the industry began by attending industry conferences.  Spending a few days with fellow event professionals allowed me to form close bonds with those that do the same.  I had the opportunity to meet my mentors and benefit from their vast experience.  Many of these conferences had a trade show component which allowed me to broaden my supplier base and core network.  I was able to align with businesses and supply chains that otherwise may have been out of reach. 

Collaboration is a key component to running an event business.  The top events in the world are collaborative productions.  Never has it been more important to embrace collaboration within your company culture than it is today.  Forming these partnerships will propel your event business to new heights and reveal your greatest potential. 

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