Our job as event planners is not to book hotels, pick out menus and manage logistics. What we really do is inspire people to grow, connect and learn. We just happen to work with hotels, caterers, speakers and suppliers to create the conditions that bring people together for a common cause.


Passion: This is always at the top of the list. Any successful venture starts with finding something you love to do and getting joy from doing it.
Self-motivation: Instead of telling people what to do, we align on the vision and then expect everyone to bring their own initiative every day.
Results: Going through the motions and checking off boxes doesn’t get the job done. We make amazing things happen only by being committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve a shared goal.
Client-centric: We put the interests of our fellow employees, readers, attendees and supporters first. By considering everyone’s interests, we find the best solutions.
Take ownership: Everyone is expected to take action when things need to be done rather than waiting to be told what to do.

That is why, in order to be successful, we not only need to bring experience, knowledge and skills to the table—we also have to show up every day with our passion turned on high. That requires digging deep to find our true motivation and encouraging others to do the same.

Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek is an author of four books, most notably the best-selling Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

Last month, we surveyed our readers to find the top speakers—those who are generating real excitement from stages across the country—and shared our findings with you in our July issue. One of your favorite speakers was Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last. I watched his wildly popular TED Talk (32,644,015 views to date) and it resonated with me in a profound way.

Like him, I envision a world where people wake up inspired to go to work and come home fulfilled because of the work they do. His message is that people don’t buy things, work for you or get up in the morning because of “what” you are selling, how much you are paying or what needs to be done. They are motivated by the “why” that comes from your gut, or as Sinek describes it, the primitive neocortex that controls trust and feeling. The rational limbic brain, which controls language and decision-making, can convince people to do things, but does not engender the loyalty that rallying around a shared mission can achieve.

I feel the same way when I am putting on a Smart Meeting event. These gatherings are a direct result of my intense desire to see everyone thrive in this fast-paced, ever-changing industry. You all work very hard and inspire me to produce events that reflect our shared commitment to adding new, interesting things to the world that bring us together and make us more successful. My events are a space where you can grow, learn and be delighted.

Whether you are a manager, an independent planner, an AV guru or a student, it is important to understand the underlying reasons why you do what you do. The more you can use that core belief system to guide your actions, the more successful you will be and the more you will inspire others to help you achieve your goals. That is why it is important to ask yourself and your team some basic questions. For every answer, ask again the reason for that answer, until you get to the real underlying why (some say five whys, but you will feel it when you reach that point).

At Smart Meetings, we have spent a lot of time aligning on our core values. It turns out a number of these already reflect Sinek’s emphasis on going to the source. In the spirit of sharing what matters, I thought I would give you a peek.

What is your why?