Experiences are everything. It’s one thing to read something in a book… and an all together different thing to hear someone give a lecture or a talk on that same topic you could have read about. Let’s take leadership for example. My brother had recommended Daniel Pink’s book Drive and so I have had it on my list of books to read for some time now. However the idea of forcing myself to find time to “read” this book was something that seemed to haunt me. I put it off for months. Those months turned into years and finally I decided to do something about it.

I watched his Ted Talk.

I know it’s not the same… but I was well aware that I would likely remember more of the content this way. Even if it was a fraction of the material, it was presented in a way that was much more retainable. I really loved the content… in fact so much I went on to watch countless other videos and eventually bought the book.  Though I haven’t read it, I still feel I benefited better by watching him speak.

Watching something is sticky, however experiencing something first hand is contagious. It impedes our every being and allows us to absorb in such an incredible way. It’s been a large part of how I learn and a key factor in why our company cares less about being a part of “events” and more about creating an experience for someone.

Last weekend I chose to take a vacation, though some wouldn’t see it the same way because there were several 18 hour days involved. I wanted to get out and spend some time with another organization that I could learn leadership and event execution. So I chose to go see my friend JT over at Bristol Motor Speedway. I’m not really a die hard NASCAR fan, but I enjoy the sport. (and to all the nay sayers, you can’t tell me that watching 43 cars drive 180mph around wrecking into each other isn’t exciting.)

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An event at BMS is an incredible undertaking, one of the many reasons I was excited to spend the week with this fine team. The details and logistics of a race weekend rival anything I’ve been a part of, including the presidential debates and CMT Music Awards that I have been a part of in the past. Bristol is the 4th largest sporting venue in america, 8th largest in the world with 160,000 seats. Aside from just the ticketing side, they also have to juggle three races in a 48-hour period, deal with the merchandising of all the driver’s and teams, coordinate the details for a massive outdoor festival with sponsors and hospitality and on top of all of that help deal with the thousands who camp onsite.

But enough about Bristol, the best part about the entire weekend was that I was able to follow in the footsteps of a bunch of amazing event people and learn their systems and processes.

I was a shadow. 

I used to think this was something you did in college or when you were younger… and so I didn’t really tell anyone what I was doing. However I have come back to Nashville realizing the importance of this process. Leaders must be learners. If you are in a leadership position and not doing everything you can to continue learning and growing, then you’ve hit your peak and you need to begin preparing yourself for someone else to come along side you and take over. Maybe it’s time to become a shadow of someone else.

Have you ever taken some time off to learn from another organization? Are you too “good” or too “successful” to be someone else’s intern for the day?

 

I’ll likely be processing all that I learned at Bristol for weeks and months to come. It was a weekend of WORK too, I didn’t walk around with a notepad and paper. I was a part of the team, fully immersed.

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Who’s shadow would you like to be?