Favorite Event Venues

Finding the perfect venue for an event that will not only meet the expectations of your attendees but also look the part can be difficult but with 80 annual summits, CDM Media has this perfected. While we use venues from San Francisco to Paris to Cape Town and everywhere in between, we definitely have our favorites!

With the help of our event management and delegation teams, we have narrowed down the list to our top 5 favorite venues!

1. Ritz-Carlton Montreal: Fun fact – the Ritz-Carlton Montreal was the first Ritz-Carlton built! Our team all agreed this was their favorite venue! Not only does it have a historic presence but is also top-notch with their customer service.

ritz inside montreal

2. The Landmark London: This luxury hotel is one of the most popular 5 star hotels in London and among our events team. The combination of British elegance and amazing facilities has us swoon!

landmark london

3. The Westin Paris – Vendome: What’s not to love about Paris? Especially if you’re staying at the Westin Paris. It’s centrally-located and is walking distance from shopping and sightseeing. This hotel mixes Parisian chic with modern design and technology.

westin vendome terrace

4. The Phoenician: This award-winning luxury resort has our hearts! Not only is the weather superb but the view is amazing! Guests can enjoy the exquisite gold course, also!

phoenician balcany

5. JW Marriott Chicago: Located in one of the world’s most powerful financial districts and in the heart of one of the largest cities in the U.S., the JW Marriott Chicago is a downtown favorite. This landmark Chicago luxury hotel displays the renowned architecture of world-famous Daniel Burnham.

jw marriott chicago

Find out where else our CDM Media team travels for our global portfolio of events here!

Top 5 Travel Accessories

If you’re hyper-organized and a frequent-flyer like the gals from our Client Services Event Management team, you know all the tricks of the trade for efficient and stress-free traveling! In case you’re not, we have broken it down to the top five most valuable travel accessories, according to Event Manager Kelsey Freese.

girl at airport

1. Portable phone charger: “We always carry fully-charged portable phone chargers with us to the airport. A dead phone is not an option! Plus, they barely take up any space in my purse or carry-on.”

2. Something cozy: “A scarf that doubles as a blanket is the perfect item to keep you comfortable and warm in the airport and during the plane ride.”

3. Vitamin C: “I always make sure to not only drink Emergen-C before traveling but I pack a few packets, too! It’s inevitable one of us usually gets sick after travelling but this helps keep us healthy and moving.”

4. In-flight entertainment: “Before I head to the airport, I double check that I have my headphones and my iPad. The other girls bring their books, too. We make sure we have something to keep us entertained.”

5. Refillable water bottle: “If you’re an avid traveler, you’re probably spending quite a bit of money on water bottles and snacks. I always have an empty refillable water bottle in tote. After security, I fill it up and avoid purchasing a bottled water. I bring my own snacks, too!”

 

Curious about where our team is globe trotting to around the world? Check out our global portfolio of summits here!

Social Selling- is it becoming a distraction and hindrance for you?

So I was looking for my source of inspiration/topic to write on and as I sat down to my desk at home late on Sunday night I saw the stack of To Do’s. Now any good sales person in my opinion needs to have great time management skills as well as self-discipline and motivation. You could expect that by this introduction that I am to go on talking about time management and how you can work smarter. Well I’m not. The good news, if you need to better your time management skills, is that there are many other business posts about that topic. However, going back to the stack of “To Do’s”, sat on top of the pile were some of the action points and follow ups from the recent management meeting, in particular some of the notes whereby we were discussing sales tools. Following the management meeting there has been a big push coming from all departments to help and improve existing sales efforts. Many of my own team have come to me talking about social selling and some introducing me to technology applications that help analyze the data helping sales efforts. So thank you team for the enthusiastic input. Additional thanks to Heather, Joran, Rachel and Matt who have contributed to many wins in the past but also changes and improvements brought about following the management meeting. These have contributed considerably as we drive some of the best engagement and demand generation results, all without needing to spend big on expensive technologies.

There is no doubt in my mind that there are some cool technologies spearheaded by the likes of LinkedIn that are becoming such a big part of the B2B sales/marketing world. The whole concept of social selling is an interesting one indeed. As we look to scale the CDM sales team even further, given our current leadership position within the industry and the growing demand for our services, it is very clear that the need to identify an easy, replicable and consistent sales process is more important than ever. In today’s business environment data and analytics play a big role, a fact underpinned by IBM CEO Ginny Rometty’s “bold prediction” last month that “In the future, every decision that mankind makes is going to be informed by a cognitive system like Watson” and “our lives will be better for it”. For those of you who didn’t know Watson is a very advanced analytics/supercomputer that IBM has made a BIG bet on, for those of you still don’t know, it beat a bunch of really smart people on Jeopardy.

Remembering her statement as I trawled through the many notes that I had, as well as others my direct team had written along with those of the many technology vendors that have been reaching out or I have reached out to for further information on solutions it made me start questioning what social selling is about. What is it? What isn’t it? Why do we need it? Thinking of Ginny’s phrasing in particular had me suddenly thinking differently. As a CEO of a multi billion-dollar global company such as IBM, you have a fair amount of public and private scrutiny. Her phrasing was done it in a way that doesn’t bring about the idea of robots revolting and enslaving mankind first of all which is nice, although I will probably still go and see the upcoming Terminator movie. Maybe if she had said Watson would make mankind’s decisions she would have one promoted the Terminator movie more so that the big advertising budgets are doing, she might also have many IBM stakeholders and public opinion against her. But for me she phrased it as such that related to after 3 further hours of reading through notes on that Sunday night. It made me realize that many of the sales tools and the hype around social selling probably weren’t going to make our CDM sales lives better. It had made me question all the hype on social selling and what it is and what it isn’t. Several vendors have said to me “social selling is the new definition of selling”. In my opinion it isn’t, and the definition of selling will remain ambiguous. However where social selling can help many organizations is with bettering the sales process which can be defined as a “systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, by which a salesman relates his or her offering of a product or service in return enabling the buyer to achieve their goal in an economic way.” Thanks Wikipedia.

So we will be adding sales tools and new technology into the day-to-day to help build upon an already strong sales process. I’ll be the first to say that a sales process is never perfected. It can’t be as we need to factor in the human element and not the data in that we deal with different buyers and those buyers are humans who are themselves unique and different. So whilst data and social selling will help some of the sales process, don’t get carried away thinking that by magic it will overnight replace in-person, phone and email outreach. If you are of this school of thought then you are most probably allowing it to become a time consuming distraction. Please think about the next time you “like” and “comment” on the mass of spam content on the ever-increasing social media channels that we interact across daily. Social selling helps you nurture a relationship across these channels if done in a non-creepy and non-spam like manner. It will never replace the in person meeting or sales conversation whereby you can engage immediately with someone, feeling out and communicating directly around their wants, needs, likes and dislikes. After all we are the market leaders for hosting face to face business meetings at our events as well as one of the fastest growing private companies in the US in 2014 and hopefully in 2015 pending the Inc.com announcement. We achieved this by developing and nurturing relationships with clients directly, engaging them on what they want and creating best of breed solutions to meet this. Not by “liking” or “commenting” on the 1+1=????

Good luck and happy hunting as we close out Q2 and 1H.

On Being Tenacious, Prepared, and Grateful

So, it’s long been an intention of mine to write more/share thoughts. I have no idea if this is vanity getting the better of me, or if it is me being the overly competitive type thinking that the vast amount of Linkedin stories add up to little more than common sense or same old, same old.

I have been putting off writing simply because I had no idea how to start. Whilst in junior school in England I remember many of my English writing teachers tell me that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Now here is the snag: I don’t consider myself to be an industry expert, I don’t consider myself to be a hugely successful entrepreneur, and I don’t think that I am so worldly that I can impart a “zen” like wisdom to all, so coming up with that story was proving tough.

I am sure most of you have heard or are following the earthquakes that devastated much of Nepal. I was with my team in NYC watching video footage from drones, personal cameras, and TV crews that were quick on the scene. The damage to the cities and many of the ancient monuments/temples and other buildings is hard to see. This will become harder as the news develops and more stories emerge about the rising death tolls and utter devastation that the earthquakes and aftershocks have had on one of the world’s less affluent but culturally rich countries. Amongst all of the stories I was particularly taken back by the unfortunate death of the 33-year-old Google X executive that died in the avalanche that destroyed much of Everest Base Camp. This, I suppose, spurred me into writing as he and I were of similar ages and both work in technology. My heart-felt hopes and prayers are with the Nepalese people, as well as all of the people and their friends and family who were caught in tragic circumstances following their dreams of climbing the 29,029 feet to the top of the world.

Image: Nepal earthquake

I was fortunate enough to travel to Nepal in my younger years, spending several weeks on a climb. In a complete plot twist and drawing on my own time in Nepal it was nothing short of amazing. At 18 years young, like most young men, I thought I knew everything and could conquer the world. Then I arrived in Kathmandu. From the minute I stepped out of the Tribuhavan International Airport and with the rest of the group hopped on the bus that would whisk us to the hotel for a much needed sleep after a 20hr trip from Heathrow, I was taken back by the sheer poverty and third-world conditions. I found myself feeling guilty about many things I have complained about (such as the hot water levels in the shower). As I soon found out, I began yearning such comforts of home, the hotel, and even Kathmandu city life. Whilst trekking and climbing, our rations, along with oxygen levels, depleted. We adapted to life eating SPAM fritters and hacking up a lung whilst throwing a snowball or two. Needless to say the couple of months that I was out there would test my personal and mental endurance and in many ways shape some of the values that I hold closest to me. I am very thankful to the Nepalese people and that experience.

How does this draw parallel with my current sales role? Allow me to explain:

Prepare to win…

Those of you whom know me and especially my team in NYC will know that I hate losing.  It is a deep-rooted loathing and something I cannot lose from days of playing competitive sports. I ask the question of all candidates that I interview “Do you like to win, or do you hate to lose?”. Cheesy, but as we know all too well in sales, where we are faced with many setbacks and objections, we need that competitive drive. The drive that, no matter what, we are going to win.

After a restful night’s sleep every night – trust me, walking 4-10miles and on average climbing the height of Ben Nevis (UK’s highest mountain) every day, it was restful – we would wake up to our Sherpa bringing us “milk tea” (interesting fact: Yak milk is pink!). After the morning routine of milk tea, bathing in a tiny water bowl (size of a dog bowl), chowing down on chef’s preparation (usually involving SPAM), we would pack up our bags and head out. Makalu is a 2-3 week trek from Tumlingtar Airport through some amazing lowlands and along the Arun River before you hit the Shipton Pass (whereby you know lowlands are no more and the trek becomes a climb to the base camp and beyond). I was always amazed that, despite leaving an hour after the rest us, the support team would overtake us half way through the morning to set up lunch and would repeat the same overtake again in the afternoon to set up camp. I was amazed at the support team of Sherpa and especially porters (generally a mix of older men and women whom carried on average 50-80lbs of equipment and supplies on crates attached to rope which was strung around there foreheads). In short, at 18 and being an avid swimmer, rower, and rugby player I thought I could beat them. I failed badly. I am sorry to say that there isn’t a comeback win for me here, it was just loss, after loss, after loss as they passed me by every morning and afternoon. That said I was very happy with this arrangement at times when temperatures were sub zero and the wind would kick up. Seeing those orange tents in the distance was a welcome sight indeed.

bc1

Preparing for the job at hand and never failing to stop learning are key in sales as they are in beating a spotty teenager up a mountain. Applying what learning I can from the experience, I know that I was beaten by an expert; someone who had over the past 30-40 years practiced and practiced and most importantly where far more prepared. Nothing beats consistent hard work and my elderly Nepalese friends handed me a beating to remember.

Tenacity can’t be trained…

On the sales team we work hard. I always remember resenting a certain sales manager/come CEO a little in the past for saying I needed to work harder. In retrospect he was probably right, there is always room to work harder and I know as I too dole out the same line of “you need to work harder”. I do so not to annoy, but to help with a persistent determination to win. This persistent determination or tenacity I believe is something that only the individual – that’s you – can have.

Climbing and trekking in the Himalayas comes with its challenges, as does sales. Preparing oneself will only get you so far; after that you just have to do it. No one will drag you up a mountain, and no one will get you that sale but you. The very best in climbing and in sales are persistently determined. I don’t know if he is the best climber, but perhaps one of the most known, Edmund Hilary who climbed Everest in 1953, being the first man to do so along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hillary had climbed 11 peaks in the Himalayas before attempting Everest, and he climbed another 10 peaks after. I can only talk about the tenacity needed in sales and it is immense.

Sir Hillary and Norgay smile after summitting the Mt. Everest

Perhaps the same phrase is said in climbing as it is in sales, in that you are only as good as your last deal or peak in the case of a climber. The best sales people are those that are always seeking out the next deal just as much as they are chasing down the direct dial, lead, or whatever the task at hand maybe. Like climbers, father time catches up with sales people. That’s not to say we burn out, just that we need to work at pace as you never know who else is trying to get into the sale. We need to conquer it first just like Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing did in 1953, a good 3 years before the next. Imagine what we can do inside 3 years with a client without any competition knocking on the doors.

Be grateful for what you have…

Since coming to NYC, I have been constantly amazed by this city same as I was in Kathmandu, though for very different reasons. NYC literally has everything you can ever think of, in Kathmandu its the opposite. Yet like any great city, the underlying culture helps shape the growth, architecture, and people. Not to say that New Yorkers aren’t appreciative of what they have, as I think any true New Yorker would defend the city till they are out of breath. But Kathmandu’s people are hardy (hearty?). Unfortunately they will need to be more so than ever. There is a deep religious and spiritual undertone within the city, something that I feel that Western cities and other modern cities have probably lost. The Nepali people are hard working and respectful of others. The Namaste greeting, which follows you around Nepal everywhere you go, literally means, “I bow to the divine in you”.

Whilst on my journey up Makalu I befriended one of the junior Sherpa. He’s someone I have kept in contact with in the years since and someone who I hope to visit soon. His annual salary of 32,000 Rupees (about $500) was back then a good salary compared to some. He wore an old Barcelona soccer jersey and pants and his boots were hand-me-downs from a group 3 years before and well worn. I can’t fathom how many miles and how many feet he had traversed up and down the Himalayan Mountains. Yet not once did he complain about his job, and was all the more happy to go out of his way to help me barter for a can of Pepsi or whatever else I was craving. I haven’t heard from him since the disaster and I hope he is OK, which I am sure he is. We nicknamed him “the Cat” for his ability to always land on his feet despite the tumbles and trips that happen at altitude.

sherpas

I don’t mean to overdo this lesson but sometimes in sales and with the company you are with, whether that is CDM Media or otherwise, it’s always good to take a step back and appreciate what you have got versus what you haven’t. That’s not to say that you don’t prepare and work tenaciously to get what you want, but be appreciative of what you have and the others around you.

So I hope this satisfies my English teachers and that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I will be back soon with my next post after some thinking about what to write and welcome your ideas and input. If you are interested in helping the plight of the Nepalese there are several great charities helping, but here is a less well-known one that helps the Sherpa and porters who contribute to the Tourism industry that is the largest part of the Nepal economy.  http://himalayantrust.co.uk/

Thanks to my friend, The Cat, and the Nepalese people. My thoughts and prayers are with you all during some tough times. I hope to be out there enjoying another Tongba soon enough.

#WednesdayWisdom

Welcome to “#WednesdayWisdom”the newest weekly feature on the CDM blog that highlights an inspirational quote from a famous C-Level executive, past or present. If you’re struggling to find your stride, or could use a boost to get over the hump, then take a nod from these business leaders to motivate yourself and see how far you can go.

Onward!

wed_wisdom_1

13 Quick Social Media Tips

This week, a few members of the CDM Media team had the opportunity to attend the session, “Everything You Need to Know about Social Media,” which was presented by author and marketing executive, Charles Orlando, and covered Facebook, Twitter and blogging. The event gave us some new ideas for our social media strategy and provided a good overview of some basic marketing rules. Here are our takeaways:

Twitter

  • Customize your Twitter background for better branding and to let your readers know where else they can find you or your company.
  • Use Twitter as a microblog to send out information and links to sites that are of interest to your audience, as opposed to letting them know what you’re doing.
  • Create a custom landing page on your Web site for people who click on the link in your Twitter profile. Let them know how following your Twitter account will benefit them and what other social media sites they can find you on.
  • Automate some tweets to save time, such as those about new blog posts, but spend time each day responding to direct messages, retweeting, having conversations with your followers, etc. However, do not auto follow or auto message new followers.

Blog

  • Know and understand your audience, and use this information to produce quality posts that they are interested in.
  • Engage your readers and ask them what they want to read more about.
  • If someone leaves a comment, respond to it.
  • Remember to use SEO words in your title and content.

General social media advice

  • Be honest, engaging, and transparent, as well as continually active.
  • Remember quality over quantity.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Be consistent in your branding, tone and voice.
  • Create a monthly editorial calendar, but make sure it’s flexible so that you can respond to recent events.

Did I miss anything? What social media advice do you follow?

Twitter List Collection—Targeted IT Topics

Twitter lists hit the social media site at the end of October and have quickly become very popular. If you aren’t familiar with the feature, here’s a quick definition provided by Mashable’s Josh Catone:

The just-launched Twitter Lists feature is a new way to organize the people you’re following on Twitter, or find new people. In actuality,  though, Twitter Lists are Twitter’s long awaited “groups” feature. They offer a way for you to bunch together other users on Twitter into groups so that you can get an overview of what they’re up to. (HOW TO: Use Twitter Lists)

I originally started this post by organizing more general CIO and technology lists, but there were far too many for it to be truly useful. I hope these more targeted lists will serve as a good resource. The lists are in no particular order and I did not try to pick the best-of-the-best. I’ll leave that for your judgment!

I am currently putting together a CIO Resource list. It is far from finished but feel free to check it out.

If you’d like your list to be included below, please leave a comment with a link to your list and the appropriate category.

Business Intelligence

Cloud Computing

Data Center

Enterprise Architecture

Information Security

IT Analysts

IT Failure

Network Performance

SaaS

Software Development

Telepresence

Virtualization

Do clicks on Twitter really matter?

Having recently jumped into Twitter, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how to effectively measure follower interaction.

I’ve been using Hootsuite to manage the company’s Twitter accounts, @CDMmedia and @ITOAmerica. It allows me to go back and forth between the accounts as well as schedule tweets. It also allows me to track the number of clicks on the links I’ve posted. I check the click stats throughout the day, often using the numbers to gauge the quality of my tweets.

This raises the question, are clicks on Twitter an accurate form of measuring success and engagement?

Clicks signify that people are reading your posts and find your content valuable enough to take the time to find out more. However, the number of clicks a particular tweet receives is based on several of factors, including whether or not your followers are logged-on to Twitter. In other words, even if your post doesn’t receive a lot of clicks, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad post. It could just be poorly timed. In this way, clicks seem like a faulty way to measure success.

With this in mind, I keep going back to Twitter’s original interface, which, to my knowledge, does not allow you to track clicks. Without a third-party application, I would have to measure interaction differently and would be more focused on retweets, direct messages, the number of followers and @replies.

In order to clearly answer this question, I need to define engagement within the realm of Twitter, which is a whole separate blog post. I suspect, however, that interaction should be measured in a variety of ways, including clicks and level of interaction with individuals.