Day one of the 2011 Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Education Forum started at lunchtime, and by the end of the afternoon attendees had already experienced a riotous emcee, Wendy Liebman, who claimed an airline even lost her carry-on luggage; a keynote session from Cheryl Cran, who helped the audience discover what cats and refrigerators have in common; an al fresco lunch featuring in-season produce, the hallmark of Banquet Chef Scott Mickelson; and the secret behind the design of The Grand Del Mar’s amazing guest rooms, revealed in hilarious fashion by resort President Tom Voss. (His seven-woman guest-room advisory board gets the credit for many key features.)
Attendance at this year’s Education Forum, taking place June 15–17 at The Grand Del Mar in San Diego, tops 180 planners and hospitality partners.
In a first for, Cheryl Cran’s opening keynote was live-streamed to virtual attendees who weren’t able to attend the Forum in person. Lydia Goessel, manager of education and learning services for FICP, worked with Bartha Audio Visual, provider of AV and production for the entire meeting, to do the live-streaming. Goessel, who watched the presentation on site on her own laptop while interacting with the viewing audience, said this foray into the realm of hybrid meetings went very smoothly, and the association could consider expanding the number of live-streamed sessions at future meetings.
Speaking on transformational leadership, Cran discussed generational differences in the workplace, as well as ways to think creatively. That’s where the cat and refrigerator came in. Attendees were asked to come up with a list of 10 things the two have in common. Responses ranged from “they both purr” to “they both hang out in the kitchen.” Cran said there were at least 50 possible responses and no wrong answers: The exercise showed the creativity that can result from “putting odd things together.” This skill is something that Gen-Ys (those now 20 to 30 years old) are taught in school, Cran said. They’re encouraged to think beyond the usual, beyond the structure, which is something that Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers (or “Zoomers,” which Cran said are boomers “who refuse to age”) are not accustomed to but should try.
Boomers were raised in a rules-based environment; Gen-Ys were not. Boomers and Gen-Xers communicate by e-mail; Gen-Ys do not. Rather than trying to force conformity on Gen-Ys, Cran advised yielding a little to their way of working. “You’re not giving up power; you’re creating space for a relationship to grow,” she said.
She also encouraged flexibility and adaptability, reminding attendees of the saying: “The things we resist are the things that persist.” Ask yourself where you resist, she said, and you will find the places where opportunity for innovation lies.
Cran is the author of The Control Freak Revolution and 101 Ways to Make Generations X, Y, and Zoomers Happy at Work. Her keynote was sponsored by Diane Goodman of Goodman Speakers Bureau.
Elegance and Ease
Any report about the 2011 FICP Education Forum must include the important role the setting played in its success. Host hotel The Grand Del Mar is stunning in every area, from guest rooms, to meeting facilities, to service—not to mention the gorgeous bathrooms.
Opened in 2007, the AAA-Five Diamond resort offers 249 guest rooms and a variety of beautiful meeting space, from the 10,000-square-foot Elizabeth Ballroom to breakout rooms, outdoor lawns and pavilions, to wine rooms and terraces. A standout space is the 3,072-square-foot Capella, a chapel, perfect when used in combination with the 725-square-foot Capella Courtyard. After enjoying an outdoor reception, guests can watch the chapel doors open to reveal an elegant dinner venue.
Built at a cost of $270 million, the resort was inspired by the design style of 1920s architectural visionary Addison Mizner, and aims to capture the elegance and comfort of an Old World Mediterranean estate. The Grand Del Mar also offers San Diego’s only Tom Fazio–designed championship golf course and the award-winning restaurant Addison, featuring Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef William Bradley.
Find much more at the resort's Web site.