There is no direct path to becoming an event planner. We come to the job through many different avenues. While some of us may have earned business degrees or management experience, it’s often not a requirement for being a successful event professional. Creativity, attention to detail, communication skills, and negotiation skills are just as important. Still, if you don’t have a business background, you may feel like you need a tutorial on management techniques, leadership skills or consumer behavior. Or maybe you are like me. I just love to learn new things, study new ideas, and discover new points of view. If I’ve described you at all, here are three business books that I think any good event planner should read. I guarantee you will come away with insight and knowledge that will be useful for your career.
The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath
I loved this book. It brought home to me just how important experiences are to humans. We feed off of moments, both positive and negative. As event planners, it’s very important for us to understand how humans process moments.
Chip and Dan Heath are bestselling authors who also wrote Switch and Made to Stick. The Power of Moments explores why certain moments can surprise, elevate, or change us. Most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can create more moments that matter at our events and in life. This book shows readers how brief experiences can change lives and achieve goals. Even if many of the most important moments in our lives are the result of accidents or luck, as event planners why can’t we create them? The Power of Moments shows us how to be the creators of these impactful experiences.
One of the best examples in the book of elevating a moment is from the Magic Castle Hotel in Los Angeles. This hotel has a cherry-red phone mounted to a wall in the hotel near the pool. Guests can pick it up and someone answers, “Hello, Popsicle Hotline.” Guests place an order, and minutes later, a staffer wearing white gloves delivers a cherry, orange, or grape Popsicle poolside on a silver tray. For free. You can’t beat that kind of unique experience.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
I think Simon Sinek is a genius. His book Start with Why is not just a book, it has inspired a movement. The TED Talk based on this book is the third most popular TED video of all time.
The book starts with a few simple questions:
- Why are some organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others?
- Why do some organizations enjoy greater loyalty from customers and employees alike?
- Among successful organizations, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?
Sinek’s premise is that all successful organizations started with WHY. They understand that customers won’t truly buy into a product, service, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it and that it is the responsibility of the organization to communicate that WHY in a clear and approachable manner. This is often in direct opposition to what other organizations do. Many organizations communicate the WHAT of their mission, not the WHY. In other words, they promote the features of their products and services but not why those features would benefit potential customers. This book shows how this practice doesn’t resonate with human nature. It’s a simple, yet powerful insight.
Sinek provides a framework for you to start a movement and inspire customers. It all starts with WHY.
Setting the Table by Danny Meyer
If you want to be inspired to be the best you can be, read Setting the Table. This bestselling business book was written by award-winning restauranteur Danny Meyer. His restaurants include the famous Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern in New York City and the amazing Shake Shack burger chain.
This book is for anyone who wants to achieve excellence and offer outstanding customer service. The author shares the lessons he learned as he built his business and the guiding philosophy he calls Enlightened Hospitality. He believes that success starts with caring for the people around you. He said in a 2018 interview “We start with caring for each other, then caring for our guests, then caring for the community in which we’re doing business, then caring for our suppliers and investors.“ He continued “…this was not a linear list where the investor is at the very bottom of the totem pole, but rather a virtuous cycle where, if you broke it anywhere, you broke the whole thing.” Embracing this philosophy can help you become more effective and productive while deepening your understanding and appreciation of a job well done. It will also assist you in motivating your employees and build a strong culture for your organization.
Setting the Table is a treasure trove of extraordinary and actionable learnings that you can take to work and implement immediately.
It was hard to choose only three books to write about. There are so many smart and useful books available to leaders who are looking for inspiration or knowledge. Here are a few more of my favorites. Some are leadership books but many are books about marketing, communications, or consumer behavior. All are relevant to event planning and marketing. Happy Reading!
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
- Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
- Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Why We Buy by Paco Underhill
- Dare to Lead by Brené Brown