A Conversation With @MarcyBlum

Friday, February 14, 2014

Today's guest is Marcy Blum, an eventiste who has been creating events for clients for more than 30 years. This is an edited transcript of a recent conversation she and I had on finding inspiration and staying relevant with today's clients. 

Marcy: I want to talk more about where we find our creativity as professionals, but beyond what we've all said a thousand times -- go to a museum, listen to music and so on. I really think there is a piece missing, the piece of just being present and experiencing the moment.

I was in Paris for my birthday and I was very cognizant of that. I wanted to be in the moment. You really cannot be in the moment, cannot be promoting something, shooting it, recording it and be there. Once you're in the mode of instagramming, you're not in the moment.

One has to decide in relation to social media what you're going to experience in real life and what is going to be used for promotion or sharing. It's a different mode of thought and being.

Consequently, every vacation, every moment that is for yourself can't be shot or recorded because you're going to lose that.

The more I read about creativity and retaining any focus and expanding your brain, expanding intuition, it requires -- paretic for those of us who don't sleep very much -- a modicum of time where you're doing nothing but staring into space. Not meditation, but where it appears to anyone outside of you that you're sitting like a lump.

There needs to be time where you just do nothing. It's the only time, apparently, when new ideas can appear. A new way of going about something can appear at the times when you're not focusing on anything in particular.

You have a lot of millennial clients who adore you and you've proven false the myth that people won't hire wedding professionals past a certain age. What are your thoughts on staying relevant in an increasingly competitive field?
As far as relevancy in particular, I'm chronologically damaged. There's something wrong with what I think my age is and what it really is. I listen to a lot of hip hop. I'm in love with Drake. I want to marry him. And Neo -- I love that Neo. Staying relevant means reading and listening to things you might not find yourself if you didn't force yourself . . . listening to and reading things that may not be age appropriate.

If you don't know what's going on with millennials at a very basic level, how can you possibly work with them? So I will disgustingly pick up a copy of Glamour or one of those magazines that really have no relevance whatsoever.

I think it's also important to take your temperature every couple of years. Do you still want to do this? Are there still things in it for you that you find fulfilling? Other than the financial part of it. Despite the fact that we all think we're immortal . . . Do you stick with this just because it's what you got into and don't know how to get out of? Or do you constantly reassess, is this still what you want to do? For me the answer depends on the day you ask me.

When it comes to understanding today's clients, some of your papers and talks have been very helpful. I was with a 30 year old millennial yesterday who could have been my grandmother. It's important to assess what sort of a millennial a specific client is so you know how to relate to them. My image of myself, for better or for worse, is as someone's eccentric aunt who can relate because she's been there.

Basically, you do have common experiences with your clients and I also have younger people who work with me. So if I can't quite comprehend what someone is talking about, they can. I do see common threads with this generation, specifically with commonality in the way men and women are dealing with each other. It's very different from my generation. It's a different form of feminism completely.

Liene: As in more egalitarian?

Marcy: With rare exception, with my wealthy clients, the women don't work and there is no shame in that.

Liene: Even with millennial moms, there's no shame in staying home with the kids.

Marcy: Yes. Even with my mother's generation, that was just not the case.

Liene: Well, this generation saw the debris that came with moms who leaned in, trying to break the glass ceiling. Half of them are children of divorce and they don't necessarily want to sacrifice home life for a career. They were told they could do anything and many of them want to stay home and raise their kids. This was my main issue with Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. She didn't allow for a lot of choice.

Marcy: Yes, I'm seeing that. What did you think of the book?

Liene: It was too narrowly argued in my opinion. Good premise, and I'm glad for the conversation it started, but it was too narrowly argued.

Marcy: I need a month to just read and catch up but I know I'll just drink and eat. To go back to finding inspiration, I really do think though that doing what you've always done is not an option. It's not just a stupid inspiration thing, and now we all say the same thing over and over again. And it's not just taking a photo of something you see that's cool or of a piece of art. It's deconstructing those experiences that make them inspirational.

I don't want to misrepresent what we're all saying, but maybe it's a color or a frame of a painting or it's the title. It's not just "go look at a museum and recreate Monet's Water Lilies." Which is how it's translating to a lot of these kids. But that's really not it -- it's being open for all these things to filter through you, and it's more difficult every day. What can you do that is remotely interesting that hasn't been done to death?

Todd always says Pinterest is Satan and I think Google has dumbed us all down. My impetus is to get on Google and look up different baby shower games. That act has already stymied any personal creativity. But that's why everything is cannibalizing everything else, because we're all looking at the same stuff. It's an exercise in discipline not to go on Pinterest or Google. It's like dieting or anything else -- don't do that first.

I do think there's a way to practice being open to inspiration, and I'm interested in how you suggest going about it.
Refrain from shooting something or instagramming something before you inhale it. The only way to be open to it is to experience it before you try to record it and you might miss the chance to record it, but there are cross purposes.

It's the same thing when I hear you speak: often I'm intent on recording it for you, tweeting it for you, so I'm often not listening, and then afterward I'll sit and read it or make you tell me what you said and soak it all in.

This is something we all have to manage day to day, and sharpen our focus. We're not capable of multitasking, all the research proves it. I cannot pitch a new client and record what the person is saying. Ever. I cannot be taking notes, I have to have someone with me. I can't create, think, emote and record all at the same time. I think it's very similar. We really can't do two things at once. We can pretend we can, but we're really doing both things half-assed. With the exception of smoking and walking, for example.

Anyone who tells you they're on their phone at dinner and still with you, they're not. I don't feel guilting when you're on stage, because I'm cognizant of what I'm doing. I'm promoting you. I'm not trying to listen. This really needs to be pounded home -- people need to be aware of their choices and aware that they are even making that choice and sacrificing something else.

Marcy will be relaunching her blog, this Monday, February 17th. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Think Splendid will be offering insights and perspectives from Splendid Guests for the months of February and March while I am working in Africa

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