Special contribution by Dana Freker Doody, VP Corporate Communications, The Expo Group

My car was old. It needed work. Expensive work. I knew it. I’d known for months. But I loved my car. I didn’t want to make a change.

But now I’m driving a new car.

And I love it. It has all those little features I’d heard about on television commercials and never experienced for myself. Yes, it has Bluetooth, imagine! It has four doors, which better suits my growing middle-schooler and his friends, all suddenly surpassing the 5-foot mark.

It was a tough decision. The change was forced upon me, I felt, wailing why.

In any business, the same can occur. We can get caught flat-footed with competitors surpassing us. That’s why I recommend IAEE Expo! Expo! as a place to get educated. It’s a proactive step event and exhibition planners and suppliers can take to prepare themselves for what’s coming.

There are, I’ve read, three ways people react to the decision-making process surrounding change.

  1. Sit & Wait – If you pretend everything is fine, there’s no need to change, right? Sounds good. Let’s hold the status quo! But then one day you realize 2% decline versus annual attendee growth is sending your convention on a course to destruction. This is where I sat in my car, joyful in its convertible top, ignoring growing maintenance needs.
  1. Jerky Knees – Luckily I had time for research. It wasn’t as if my car had just halted on the freeway as road-ragers passed me at 70 mph. Decisions, though hard work, are often avoided, until they can’t be anymore. Exhibitor complaints, poor service, undelivered promises, it all can add up until one day the proverbial straw breaks the camel’s back and you have to react fast.
  1. Proactive Steps – Thinking strategically about the future, envisioning where to position your association or company, is a proactive step you can take to make change easier. It allows you to see the rewards that will come from the change. Pounding the car lot pavements and investigating ad nauseam online are not always exciting prospects for someone happy-go-luckily cruising in a working automobile, but they are necessary. Focus on desirable outcomes — like increased sponsorship dollars, stronger attendance, easier working relationships — to overcome the fear of change.

Change can be scary and taking those Proactive Steps rather than Sitting & Waiting or Having a Knee-Jerk Reaction is hard. Experts wax poetic about change being inevitable, being constant, but it’s true. As I tell that recent 5-footer of mine, the only thing you can control is your reaction to it.

So consider heading to Baltimore for Expo! Expo! I don’t think there will be any car salesmen there, but if you come find me, I’ll show you a picture of my new wheels.

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Posted by emcquade2015

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