Continuing a theme--balance--that he introduced at the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in Philadelphia last summer, MPI Chairman Ed Simeone, CMP, brought his wife, Joy, and children, Amanda and Christopher, on stage with him to open MPI's Professional Education Conference in January at Opryland in Nashville. Each said a few words about balance (and paper routes and homework), and got great cheers from the audience of 2,182 planners and suppliers.

Asked whether that had been a risky choice, Simeone said, "The risk started a year and a half ago, when I chose to focus on balance. No one had integrated a personal theme into a professional organization. People questioned it."

Bill Taylor, the co-founder of Fast Company magazine who delivered a key-note at the PEC, seemed delighted by it. "Companies ask me to talk about the Internet, 20-somethings, the stock market," Taylor said. "Almost never do I get asked to discuss what I think is the most important topic today: How can you work with all-out intensity and still lead a life that feels sustainable, humane, and retains a sense of fun?"

The key, he said, is design. Three organizational design principles: First, your job is not to out-work the competition, it's to out-think them. Second, make time a metric of success: Maximize your return on minutes. Third, hire great people and let them do their work.

A couple of individual design principles: Regularly put yourself in new situations so that you keep learning. Plan time to simply stop and think.

News from the PEC * New Expo--This PEC was the first with a trade show. "The World Education Conference gets sold out immediately. This is another opportunity for suppliers," Simeone said. "There was some concern because this meeting is focused on education. But that should not preclude exhibits."

* MPI Partners with Mexico--The government of Mexico is sponsoring the first year of an MPI distance-learning program, which will create educational modules accessible by members worldwide. Javier Vega, head of Mexico's Council of Tourism Promotion, noted that Mexico was the world's seventh-most-visited country in 1999. Another goal of the partnership is a handbook on planning meetings in Mexico.

* Corporate Survey--Some 2,200 corporate meeting managers are being surveyed early this year in an effort to establish a benchmark for meeting management practices. The project is being sponsored by American Express Corporate Services, New York. Results will be announced at MPI's World Education Congress, July 9 to 11, in Los Angeles. --Alison Hall