In March, I had the honor of being inducted into the Event Solutions Event Hall of Fame. I joined such talented event professionals as Andrea Michaels, Extraordinary Events, David Wolper, producer of the Olympics, Frank Supovitz, Fast Traffic Events & Entertainment (formerly of the NFL and NHL), John Daly, John Daly, Inc., Pauline Parry, Good Gracious! Events (who inducted me with a beautiful speech), Ray Thompson, Images by Lighting, Mona Meretsky, COMCOR, and Hillary Harris, Warner Bros. Special Events, among others.
In writing my speech, I realized that my story followed the story of this industry, simply because of where and when I entered it. It has been a journey of finding community, and finding a voice with which to tell the world about that community – the special events industry. Today, we use the term industry easily. But in 1982 I had no idea there was an industry. In fact, the industry might not have either! That didn’t come until after the people I met at my first job — Miramar Publishing — had worked hard to make it so.
I landed at Miramar on hiatus from college. These people — Carol McKibben, publisher, and Tim and Denise Novoselski, owners — had just started Special Events magazine. While there, I discovered a love of journalism, and of events. I asked them how I could become editor of the magazine. The next thing that happened was the best thing that ever happened to me professionally, and personally – they told me to go back and finish college and get a journalism degree. I did, and two years later, in 1984, I returned degree in hand. I became editor of the magazine. Below the headshots from my editorial pages through the years tell their own story.
When I started in 1984, it was a great year for the event industry. The Olympics were in Los Angeles and I was swimming in a sea of amazing talent and wonderful stories to tell. I met people who would shape the industry, and my thoughts and future. Conversely, the eighties and early nineties were the worst of times. We lost so many voices and talents to AIDS. Every day began with learning of another talented event professional who had become ill or left us. For all of us, we were looking for reasons and answers. Personally, it was a time when I found my spiritual voice thanks to Ray Thompson who introduced me to the Monday night session of Marianne Williamson who talked all about the power of miracle.
This changed my life, my world view and how I approached everything.
I realized, doing something day in and day out as I had at Special Events for 13 years, that there is always, always, a new way to say something. A new way to tell the story of a tent, a chair, an event, a person’s life. To take a risk and be bold with emotion when writing. To be fearless is a good lesson for anyone involved in a creative endeavor to embrace.
I will have that always and apply it to my own consulting business I began in 1999 (then called Mecca and now simply called LieseGardner.com). My passion then and now is finding a way to see what people do every day in their professions and lives, perhaps things they take for granted, and show the world how special it is and how special they are. Every one of us has a story to tell and I’m just happy to be here today, telling stories of talent, beauty and memorable moments in people’s lives as a member of their marketing team. And I am so grateful for being inducted into the Event Hall of Fame and standing beside such a legacy of talent.
It’s not the end of my story by any means, but it certainly makes for a great beginning to the second chapter of my career!