Event Family

As January is coming to an end, the cool weather will also soon be wrapping up, leading us into Spring and the beginning of our travel season. The events that take us away from home for weeks on end, are some of our most challenging but equally rewarding days.

Large-scale catering is largely a game of logistics. Multi-day events set-up in obscure locations with little resources, are where our company thrives. The thrill
of piecing the puzzle together (largely while the finished picture changes half a dozen times) is not only something we are good at, it is where we find the most satisfaction. The level of intimate relationships that must be built with other vendors and clients in order to produce a quality event, leave us with new additions to our families. We watch each other’s children grow up, attend weddings and celebrate life with one another. It’s truly a gift.

I never quite know how to describe what our company does. Sure, we cater and plan events – but there’s so much more to it. Every detail from the time a guest opens their invitation, to leaving the event, must be carefully planned and executed. We anticipate emotions and build a plan to surpass all of our expectations, especially the client.

I love the freedom and constraints an event gives us, equally. It’s an odd juxtaposition of rules, but I think it’s what makes our jobs more exciting!

The Ocean

Since I was a little girl the ocean has always been a source of comfort to me. The continuous movement in and out, occasionally spraying over a rock creating an extra beat in the melody – swish, swish, swish, swosh. The sheer power the water has, always taking my breath away when I’m back in its presence, is both frightening and calming. The salty air and the sun beating on my cheek – no matter the temperature outside – as the wind whips at my clothing, I feel home.

In the coming months ahead we have a few events taking place with the ocean as the backdrop. I couldn’t be happier. As our team finishes planning all the details, my mind keeps wondering to the waves. I feel it is important to think of all 5 senses when planning an event: sight, sound, touch, smell and of course taste! It is also important to stop and visualize every last detail.  When you close your eyes what are you experiencing? How are you turning that vision into an incredible end product?  Having the ocean as part of that picture makes for an incredible event. The bright blue water, sparkling like glitter under the sun and the sound of the crashing water onto the shore. The hot, gritty sand between your toes and the smell of the salt in the air. Those are the types of senses many try to recreate at an event.

But, working near the ocean often means the beach is your work floor.  I’ll never forget my first event in the sand.  The force of which my feet felt glued to those teeny-tiny specs of sand was unreal.  Everything took nearly twice as long to move, build, do. You definitely have to pad your timelines and think outside the box on some things, but I promise you – it’s worth it!

 

Book Club: Present Over Perfect

I just finished Shauna Niequist’s “Present Over Perfect” which felt so symbolic to start the new year off with. It has nothing to do with Catering or events or even business, but has a theme that I think most of us can relate to these days. The first few chapters in I wasn’t sure if this book was truly written for me. While the overall theme applies, her own need for professional perfection and collected outward appearances didn’t resonate. I’m not type A – there’s no real desire for me to appear super woman-esque. However, as I delved in more and really absorbed the depth of her words, I realized the book was me. I’m glad I decided to purchase this copy because the margins are full of underlined sentences, exclamation marks and asterisks now.

“So many of us have forsaken those natural rhythms and stayed at full speed, through the night, through the storms.”

This was the first underline and asterisk mark I made. In talking about the natural opportunities the land and sky give – like rainfall, nightfall and sunrise, she puts into perspective how too often we blind-fold ourselves and barrel past these natural invitations to slow down. Just one more to-do item on the list, one more email to send, one more volunteer position to sign up for, one more commitment, and all the while the sun is setting and rising again before we even take note.

I think we all have to be careful and attuned to the natural breaks we need to give our mind, bodies and souls. It’s hard as entrepreneurs to stop though. I get that. I’m married to the energizer bunny himself. But, as I’m getting older I’m realizing quality of quantity applies to so many things. The number of clients we take on – finding the quality ones that you cherish and enjoy working with. The ones that fill you up instead of depleting you. The number of commitments we have. The number of shoes we own! Seriously.

I’ll never forget the first client I had to say, “no thank you” to. It was hard. Our family had just left town and we were on the road towards Breckinridge for an event we were catering. We had stopped in Pueblo, CO and found the cutest Children’s Museum filled with hands-on exhibits and the coolest art installation made entirely of yarn. As the kids were deep in play I slipped back to check my email. Our office manager had sent me a message regarding an urgent matter – a bride’s mother who was very upset I’d be out of town for several weeks. Her daughter’s wedding was in 4 months. I stepped outside and called her, with no real plan in my head, but a looming feeling in my gut.

She answered the phone and I immediately apologized for my absence. I assured her even though her daughter’s wedding wasn’t the only event we had, we had the resources to fully devote the time needed. I remember how I immediately felt like I was failing her, by being with my family, out of the office. It didn’t occur to me that I was allowed to take a natural pause – to let my mind rest. For five years we had been pushing ourselves, our entire family often the collateral damage, to be the best in our field and grow our company.

She then began asking about the pricing we had quoted based on the menu selection. Followed by asking to borrow props and decor from our warehouse. Just an extra table here or mirror there. Maybe if we had a few extra flowers we could add them in. I’ll never forget the burst of strength that seemed to form out of nowhere, perhaps those nerves mutated into power somewhere deep in my gut. As she kept asking for more and wanted to pay less, I felt empowered. I looked at my children’s tiny faces through the window I said the first “no thank you.”

I once again apologized, because that’s what you do in customer service, and then explained we wouldn’t be able to meet her needs. I wished her the best of luck planning the details of her daughter’s day. I kept it short and sweet and could tell I caught her off guard. I think I caught myself off guard.

This was nearly eight years ago and it was the first wake up call (of many more to come) that it’s ok to say no. And being present is far more valuable than being busy.

The Mountains Called

Every year the mountains call our name (or rather, the producer of The MusicFest trip calls the office – but you get the idea).  A week in the snow, catering for our Texas Country Music family, isn’t exactly a bad gig!

As I write this, our event production team is packing their bags and tidying up the house one last time (seriously guys, please don’t forget to clean!) before making their way to the open road or sky. Since 2004, Global has started each and every year at the base of Mt. Warner – and we couldn’t be more honored.

The new year brings about a lot of change for many people – new routines, more exercising, less wasted time, better eating habits or more spiritual time.  It is the fresh start that we often need to pull ourselves out of a rut and start again. I have some friends who don’t “do resolutions” and I get it, I truly do.  They feel it’s a cop-out of sorts and as if change can start anytime, which is true, but I say use whatever motivation you need and if that is the dawn of a new year ahead, great! I feel the needed change for the company every year and Steamboat has been that fresh start – the reset we all seem to need after a very busy fall season. Our team comes together in one house, working together, spending down time together and breaking bread, meal after meal, for a week.  For over 15 years we’ve been serving most of the same Texas Country Musicians and their crews and the familiar faces, friendships and gratitude we receive in return remind us each each why we do what we do. We put the hours in, the hard-work, the commitment to our clients because of THEM.

 

I love that as our team journeys back to Texas today, they have grown closer and more excited about the year to come. Off-site, large-scaled catering is not the line of business for those who need extreme routine or quiet downtime during their work day – it is fast paced, unpredictable, long hours. It is making the perfect plan only to abandon the timeline and start from scratch, during the event. It’s high energy and high expectations and customer service first – always. But, it is our passion.  Our team is committed to their work, to providing the best of themselves each and every day for each and every event.  They lean on one another and catch their teammates before they fall. It truly is remarkable how fortunate we have been over the years to work with so many passionate, skilled and dedicated people.

Now hurry home guys – we have a lot of events to plan!

Happy New Year: 2018

I could easily write a novel about my shortcomings this past year, both personally as a wife/mother and professionally as an owner/operator.

I don’t often use the word regret, I try to save it exclusively for turning down an invitation to something. I do however allow my mind to wonder and sometimes say things like, “do you ever wonder what life would be like if X…” to Matt. He quickly squashes my thought bubble with something like, “No. No I don’t. This is my life and I love it. There’s no sense wondering about would could have been. It’s not, and this is it, and it’s perfect.”  Ok, maybe he doesn’t say it’s perfect, but he does live in the moment and truly embodies the sentiment of “no regrets.” It’s one of the things I really admire about him. Not much gets him down or derails him from a goal – he’s always forging ahead and not looking back.

This time last year we almost let go of Global Event Group. Around the time we discovered we were pregnant with twins (numbers 3 & 4), Matt began a new venture and that snowballed into even another venture. I was basically immobile prior to (and after, tending to 2 tiny newborns) the birth of the girls and he was knee deep in building and running additional companies.

Neither of us truly had our head in the game at Global anymore and what was once a passion seemed to become just another ball we were juggling. Something had to give and in the heat of the moment it seemed like Global was the answer (although if you caught me on the wrong day I may have suggested one of the kids needed to pack a bag and hit the road!).

Simply selling the company didn’t feel right. We had literally built something from the ground up with our two oldest kids in tow – their milestones commingling with the company’s milestones. We needed to find the right person. We met with several local (and some not local) parties and while each of their stories were different – they all had the same hesitancy. How were they going to carry on what Matt had built. There is an art to entertaining and it’s not all teachable. The sheer volume of our event load worried them, but one out-of-town group was excited by the opportunity to expand their portfolio and so we began discussing how a transition would look.

The holiday season came and went quickly last year – with four kids and a full house of relatives the days seemed to fly by. However, we talked often about the excitement and fear of letting go of the only real work we had known as a married couple. We should have crunched numbers likely, but ultimately the decision was personal and so we let our heart lead us.

January 2017 – the picture came back into focus and it was clear no one in our family (big kids included) was ready to close the chapter. So while we had turned down many new clients and old business in 2016 in preparation to downsize and somehow transition, we spent this year growing it all back (oh the irony!) Not once did Matt mutter the words many may have… “what if we never would have put on the brakes? What if we would have stayed on track with Global?” But, as I think about just that I know that: our passion and drive to be the best in our field along with our continued efforts to be innovative and customer service oriented, may have fizzled out.  The break allowed us to refocus and desire greatness from ourselves and our team again.

So with the fresh new year ahead we are excited to step on the gas and challenge ourselves to be our own biggest competitor this coming year. We are energized to bring more of our dreams into fruition and to fill another year with no regrets. Cheers to 2018!