Written by Stacy Wyatt. Edited by April Barlow
I didn't grow up with dreams of being an event planner, but somewhere along the way, I must have found my passion because twenty years later, I'm still here and still excited by the possibilities.
When I started in this business, the internet was just breaking ground, and there were few resources available to young planners. Imagine planning a wedding today without Google, Instagram, or Pinterest? Canada 411, word of mouth and the phone book were my version of Google, and social media didn't exist, so marketing yourself was a whole other dimension. Looking back, I don' know how I did it without my iPhone and Alexa.
From the start, I had some amazing projects come my way. Planning high profile events
gives you access to pretty incredible experiences. I have worked with celebrities like Hall & Oates, Michael Bublé, Tony Robbins, KD Lang and Chantal Kreviazuk and have planned events in crazy venues from Japan to New York, from the base of Diamond Head to the top of Whistler Mountain.
I've always been excited by possibility; by the idea of doing something no one else has done before and pushing the limits of creativity, technology, and innovation. I like being the first. Whether it is hanging a performer from the side of a building or turning a plated dinner for 1000 into musical theatre, I always wanted to be unique. The challenge in the beginning, was that when I was looking for new ideas, new vendors, new venues, I could never find what I was looking for quickly and easily. There was just a huge lack of event resources in Canada and no organized way to find anything. So, I figured if I was struggling, then my colleagues probably were too, and that's when I launched Canadian Special Events; Canada's first and only comprehensive event industry resource.
At first, I had a lot of critics, and I often wanted to quit, but someone once told me to "run my own race and don't look back," and that's exactly what I did. Today, Canadian Special Events is the industry leader, publishing an award-winning magazine and providing world-class education, recognition, ideas, and resources to event professionals across the country. The Canadian Event Awards have become the hallmark of achievement, and the highest honour Canadian event professionals can earn.
Have there been challenges? Absolutely. Every success story has its share of failures along the way; it’s nature's way of keeping us humble. We've lost clients, had our creatives stolen, been locked out of venues due to strikes and had performers not show up. Events are live, and stuff happens that is out of your control, and you need to roll with it. The difference between a good planner and a great planner is "reaction under pressure."
I believe you have to keep growing and evolving in order to stay excited. A few years ago, I started planning events for one of Canada's top universities, and I fell in love with the people, the brand, and the impact the team was making. So, with a lot of strategic planning and some great partnerships, I was able to pass on the day-to-day management of CSE and follow my passion. Today, I am still at the university, now as the Director of Events & Special Projects and it's been a life-changing experience.
I am still madly in love with CSE, and I remain the creative lead on the magazine. I advise on major creative decisions, and I am the Chair of the Event Awards Committee. I speak at events across Canada and stay plugged into the industry. It means lots of sleepless nights running on pure adrenaline and passion but it’s what I love to do. I love being creative, taking a seed and turning it into a live experience. I love being a part of the most important moments of people's lives.
I used to worry so much about what others thought, about success, and how I was going to stay relevant. After twenty years, I have realized that it's not about being the best; it's about making an impact and, in the end, it's only the memories that matter.
I once heard Oprah say, "Don't worry about being successful but work toward being significant, and the success will naturally follow." I think I am living proof of that.
Stacy Wyatt: As a young event planner looking for local education and mentorship, Stacy found a lack of professional development opportunities for serious event professionals in Canada. There were a couple of associations with monthly meetings, but nothing she could dive into to hone her skills. So, with an entrepreneurial spirit, no idea where to start, and a giant leap of faith, Stacy created Canadian Special Events. Today, she is the driving force behind CSE's award-winning event magazines, educational events, and award programs, and she has built the company to be the leading resources for Canadian event professionals. Stacy will tell you it's been the ride of her life. "Business is tough; you just need to be tougher." www.canadianspecialevents.com