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Why You Should Sweat the Small Stuff

Posted in Spotlights on October 14, 2016

Van Halen, Ford, airbags, and Steve Jobs - what do all these have in common with your event? Read on!

Everyone says that you shouldn’t sweat the small things that happen to you. And in life, that’s generally true - we have enough big things happening! However, I’ve discovered more and more often that something, you do need to sweat the small stuff. This is especially certain when you’re planning an event.

In this case, I’m talking about why you always need to work your hardest to make sure your event is the best it can be. If you’re an event planner, events are your bread & butter and you can’t afford to cut corners even if it might be the cheaper option. A lot of times, people may find that the cheaper option ends up being more expensive in the long run!

For this post, I’m going to talk about why you should sweat the small stuff. Why? People can sense the difference and you could affect your reputation and business.

People Can Sense The Difference

Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink details how people can sense things via their adaptive unconscious. It sounds fancy, I know. This is a psychological term in which people can make snap judgments with little info that are actually accurate. In one example, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles received a rare Greek statue called a kouros. Although experts were skeptical of it being real, they conducted tests which showed that the statue was legitimate. After more research, the Getty discovered that the origin of the statue was false and that it was a forgery. The experts couldn’t explain why they thought the statue was fake. Instead, most of them stated that they “felt it looked off”. The human intuition sure is amazing!

Example two. Van Halen was famous for a stipulation in their contract calling for a bowl of M&Ms in their room with the brown ones removed. The logic behind this act was simple. The wild shows put on by Van Halen required pyrotechnics and many technical details to be correct for the safety of the band. If the venue couldn’t bother to follow through on something as small as the M&Ms, they likely wouldn’t put much attention to detail into some of the more important parts of the show.

What can you take away from this? Humans have the ability to sense if something is off, and this includes skimping on event details. You can use this to your advantage too, by using the best materials available to you within your budget. People will sense the difference in a positive way. Let's talk about why this is important.

You Could Affect Your Reputation

It seems like it happens every month. A large corporation gets a lawsuit because it failed to follow safety protocols. Or someone gets hurt because it was lax with regulations or it used substandard materials. Don’t let this happen to you. There is no downside to spending some extra time to make sure everything is in place. As Benjamin Franklin said, “a stitch in time saves nine”. Make sure that if you’re serving alcohol, you have the proper permits. If you’re using event tech, be sure to test it all out beforehand. Oh yeah - and don't forget the WiFi if you're checking people in with an event app.

When you work to ensure that every aspect of your event is solid beforehand, you create a fantastic reputation for yourself as someone with an attention to detail. One anecdote that stuck with me about reputation comes from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography. In this biography, Isaacson details how Steve Jobs’ adopted father, Paul Jobs, taught Steve a lot about carpentry. The point of interest is that Paul Jobs went the extra mile and would add in frames and other details to the back of desks although nobody might see it. It didn’t matter to Paul that nobody would see it because was the right thing to do and it enhanced the piece. This influenced Steve Jobs, who wanted the inside to look as good as the outside of Apple products. Older Mac products even had Jobs' signature on the inside. Now that's true love!

As for affecting your reputation, there's no worse story than the Ford Pinto. If you're not familiar with the Ford Pinto, what happened is that it had an issue with the safety of its fuel system that could cause fires and major leaks if it was rear-ended. The real issue wasn't this - it was that they were aware of this and the car still went into production. Several people died as a result of this, and Ford received many lawsuits as a result. Now, this might be a crazy example, but I hope this gets the point across!

It’s not hard to see how just taking a little extra care can influence the perception of your events, as well as your career. You only have something to gain by putting in effort to ensure that your event has all  its i's dotted and its t's crossed. Furthermore, you'll stand out amongst the rest of the competition.

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