What You Can Learn from the Chicago Bulls

By Tom Baer

In case you’re not a sports fan, I’ll fill you in on the sad story of this year’s Chicago Bulls.  After playing well for the entire regular season, led by last year’s MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls ended up with the best record in the league, earning them home court advantage throughout the playoffs.  As the number one seed, their first playoff opponent was the Philadelphia 76ers, who were seeded eighth  in the Eastern Conference, and most NBA experts picked the Bulls to sweep the seven game series.

But with a little over a minute left in the very first game, with the Bulls leading by 12 points, Rose jumped awkwardly into the air to make a pass, came down even more awkwardly, and was lost to the team for the rest of the playoffs (and well beyond, I might add) with a torn ligament in his knee.

Without their MVP, even though many experts felt the Bulls would still win the series, they went on to lose, four games to two.  OK, that’s sports – everyone, even die-hard Chicago fans are ready to move on.

But before you do you should think about what this might tell you about your business.  Whether you’re part of a corporation, an association, a DMO, an agency, or any business, you could lose your Derrick Rose at any moment.  To injury, an accident, an illness, or maybe your company’s MVP gets an offer he or she just can’t refuse.  Are you prepared to replace them, or will your organization’s performance drop significantly as the Bulls’ did?  And disaster can strike in many ways other than losing a key player.  Anything from a legal issue, to losing a key alliance partner or client, to a terrorist attack, to the weather can have a tremendous effect on your business.  Yet most companies don’t even think about these things.  They assume it will never happen to them, or if it does, they will deal with it then.

What should you do?  Simple, plan ahead.  Think about what things can go wrong in your business.  Really wrong.  Then determine what you would need to do if the worst happened.  Write a plan and keep it on file.  You may even need to go as far as purchasing some equipment or arranging contingencies with outside resources.

Most companies plan for future positives – what additional services they will provide, what employees they will add, how they can get more space and incorporate new technologies.  Only the smart ones put together disaster plans.  Maybe because they’re not fun to do.  But they are necessary.  Just ask the Bulls

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Mexico: Fact or Fiction?

by Katie Callahan-Giobbi

Woman hitting pinata in Mexico

Fun in Mexico

In preparation for my recent trip to Mexico, I asked several meeting planner friends of mine what their impression was of Mexico as a meetings destination. I was organizing my thoughts for a speech I was to give to the Mexican tourism and destination marketing community. Not surprising, I heard many positive comments about what a beautiful, hospitable country Mexico is. I heard all about the great food, rich history and outstanding hotels and meeting facilities. At the same time, I heard loud and clear that Mexico’s biggest problem is safety and security.

Is it safety and security? Or is it the perception of safety and security? During my trip I had the good fortune of sitting next to a very smart, accomplished and very successful Mexican hotelier. When we talked about this topic he told me in a very straight-forward way that there are cities in the US that have a higher crime rate per capita than all of Mexico.  Mexicans do not deny there is unrest in certain parts of their country. Even so, it is a mistake to assume the entire country is a battleground. In fact, the most troubled areas are hundreds and hundreds of miles away from almost all of the convention and meeting destinations in the country. It would be like assuming that if the crime rate suddenly went up in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles would be less safe as well.

While doing my homework for this trip, I also learned that 97% of Americans who visit Mexico rate their experience as “extremely satisfied or satisfied.” That’s impressive. I also learned that tourism overall accounts for 9% of Mexico’s GDP compared to 2.7% in the US economy. President Felipe Calderon has declared 2011 as “The Year of Tourism”…and rightfully so. If my economy was that dependent on tourism, I would declare EVERY year the year of tourism. Kudos to President Calderon.

Yes,  Mexico is battling a drug war, but perhaps even more threatening to the livelihood of their people and the meetings industry, they are fighting a bigger war against the public perception of safety and security. This is one battle that can be overcome with facts.

NEW THINK for Fall

by Karen Hamilton

Fall leavesNow that the Labor Day weekend has come and gone I’ve heard a number of friends and industry colleagues bemoan the seemingly shorter days that are ahead and the inevitable end to the carefree Summer routine. While there is undeniably a change in the air, there is something refreshing and invigorating about Fall. I recall that “Back to School” time seemed to signal a time for a fresh start – whether it was a new pair of gym shoes, a new teacher, meeting new friends, signing up for a new activity or trying out for a sport. It was also a natural time to set new goals, start that next chapter and decide “who you were going to be” and what you were going to do in the “year” ahead.

While I no longer have to worry about trying to remember a new locker combination, I still use this time of year to look ahead and refresh goals and reassess project status and progress. Client needs continue to evolve, the dynamic world around us impacts business decisions, and what better opportunity to take a step back and challenge yourself to embrace “NEW THINK” in this “new” year as you refine your goals. What do your stakeholders really need? What value are you providing and how do you deliver that value. Too often we focus on the conference or event and forget that there are 365 days in the year where stakeholders need, want and expect value. A NEW THINK approach will help you uncover these opportunities.

At MYB we believe “NEW THINK” creates bigger possibilities and we hope our mindset resonates with you as you approach upcoming projects.

So take out your No. 2 Ticonderoga and Composition Book, (or iPads or netbooks, as the case may be), and share with us how you’ll get to the head of the class this year.

PS – And don’t forget to take time to make one more trip to the ice cream truck!