Archive for November, 2008

A Marine’s journey

I know this is not about tradeshows or exhibits or business, but it is such an incredible story that happened close to home that I wanted to share it.

A little background:  My husband’s father passed away a year ago on July 4th. Independence Day.  He was a decorated Marine who served during World War II, so if he had to go, that was pretty perfect timing, considering. 

Here’s the story:  My husband’s Mom is 84, still lives by herself and works every day.  She came home last Monday to find the arcadia door smashed in and the house ransacked by thieves.  We are pretty sure she surprised them when she opened the garage and they escaped out the back door.  She called my husband who went to her house to comfort her and review the damage.  Drawers were emptied, closets opened, jewelry and money gone.  The house was a mess with glass everywhere. The police were on their way.  After a thorough inventory they had another surprise.  Dad was gone.  The burglers actually stole the beautiful cremation urn that rested on the table in the living room.  Its finely crafted shape and blue velvet drawstring bag must have made it look very valuable.  Unfortunatly the thief did not realize the true value was in it’s beloved contents. Can you believe that??  On Tuesday, which just happened to be Veterans day, I am at work telling this story to a business associate who owns a Public Relations firm.  She was taken with the incredible details and the irony of the date.  She immediately had an idea for getting the urn back.  She called her assistant who made a few phone calls and in 20 minutes I had five TV stations on the phone begging to speak to the victim, come to the house to view the scene, get a picture of the deceased or the urn, etc.  You know, a real media frenzy.  No way would my husband or his Mom agree, plus she was really scared at this point and did not want anyone to know how, why or where this happened. I certainly understood and wanted to protect her.  I also knew that some media attention might help locate the urn.  We decided that I would tell the story.  In the next hour two TV camera men and a reporter came to my business office.  I wanted to stay anonymous so they filmed me in shadow and only used my first name.  I repeated the story and described the urn with the funeral home’s address on the bottom, hoping for a good samaritan or a thief with a conscience.  Luck was with us.  Shortly after, the funeral home called and someone actually found Dad.  How fitting that although he went away on the 4th of July, he returned on Veterans Day.  Those Marines are amazing!!


Student entrepreneurs get exhibit marketing tips

Last week I went to Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona to speak to the students of Mike Lisi’s business class.   Every year his students start a business, select a product or service to sell, develop a business plan, create a marketing strategy then sell their wares at a business tradeshow at the school.  Mike has asked me to come in for the last few years to teach his class what I know about marketing and how to sell successfully from a tabletop exhibit space.  It’s so interesting to see the product ideas they come up with and their concepts for company names and logos.   Their ideas included donuts, original artwork, water, knit caps, decals and jewelry.  My favorite part is seeing their enthusiasm for simple suggestions for improvement like adding a descriptive tag line on their business cards so customers know what they sell or collecting leads from prospects so they can solicit additional sales after the event.  They have no clue about merchandising and are thrilled to learn that they can display their goods in baskets and cover cardboard boxes with a sheet from home in order to elevate their items and bring them closer to eye level.  Working with students who have little exposure to business and marketing practices and watching them discover the simple basics that turn a product into a profit is really fun.  I wish them luck and look forward to my next opportunity to influence and educate some of the entrepreneurs of the next generation.

Meeting Professionals International learns about tradeshows

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the first ever AZMPI Educational Conference organized by the Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. Chapter President Deborah Gardner and Conference Chair Mike Stawiarski put on a super event.  I taught a workshop about how meeting planners and service suppliers can maximize their relationships at tradeshows.  It was a gorgeous day at the Mesa Convention center where I met some interesting and talented people and took notes from some great speakers.  I learned how to maximize my Linked In account with that social networking guru Chip Lambert from  It is amazing how many people around the world are tapping into this form of communication. Linked In is geared to businesses so if you are a business owner I urge you to jump on this bandwagon or you will be missing out on a powerful marketing tool.  We also heard from the Chairman of the Board, Larry Luteran, who also happens to be a Senior Vice President of Hilton Hotels.  The economy might be down, but Hilton isn’t worried.  they are building an obscene number of new hotels around the world, as we speak.  One of the highlights of my day was hearing the side-splitting rantings of the one and only Professional Summerizer in existence. Dale Irvin is a humorist who has a quick wit and keen perspective about the things around him.  He did a terrific job as the MC for the day. If you want a laugh go to  If I wasn’t giving a workshop I would have attended some of the other sessions myself.  I heard that Arlene Rosenberg, Ed Scannell and Lisa Barham did a fabulous job.  I was just honored to be there among such a powerful group of people.  I admire the efforts of the meeting professionals and the suppliers that plan, produce and support the millions of events, conferences, tradeshows and meetings that happen around the world.  It is through their behind the scenes efforts that we experience the fantastic education, entertainment, food and fun we enjoy countless times a year at these functions.  I had never been to the outdoor amphitheater at the Mesa Convention Center and really loved our lunch on the lawn.  It was a beautiful day and we followed up the Conference with a cool coctail party on the patio at the Marriott next door.  Just thought you might like to know.  Also, if you are looking for a really fun career, check out the options in the hospitality and meetings industry and join MPI to get connected.