Steve Ford at Smart Meeting Southern California

When you are hosting an event for professional event makers, it is no time to be a wall flower. That is why Smart Meeting Southern California at the metamorphizing Renaissance Newport Beach Hotel was designed to inspire with fresh ideas for presenting food, career advice, and even what it means to do business. Here are three tips from this fashion-forward meeting.

When in Newport Beach, capitalize on your local strengths. From the fresh salad wall and dripping honey/cheese display at the opening reception to the house-made Balboa ice cream bars (pictured right) served up in a frozen tray during the break, and a spring style demonstration in the palm tree-lined patio courtesy of Nordstrom’s and Fashion Island, the event played on the attractions that make the destination unique.

Lead with hope. Executive coach Libby Gill shared the true meaning of leadership—caring. Real leaders care about their teams on a personal level and help them move through the hard work of change through stability, compassion, trust—and most importantly—hope. “High-hope people set more goals, set more ambitious goals and have more success and satisfaction and less stress,” she said. That bit of advice is particularly applicable in the event world where leading a team to try new things is essential for exceeding attendee expectations.

Libby Gill at Smart Meeting Southern California

Focus on the long-term good. Actor, rancher, recovering alcoholic, speaker, and—most poignantly—son, Steve Ford put the connections being made in that ballroom into context when he shared a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to turn 18 in the White House as the son of Gerald Ford, a man thrust into the presidency at a crucial time in American history.

Ford explained that a family living in the White House is not Republican or Democrat family. They are just people. And like everyone else, they make decisions every day, but sometimes what they do has implications for an entire country for years to come. Although his father’s decision to pardon President Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal was a big part of the reason the senior Ford lost the next election to Jimmy Carter, Ford said in the long-term, that was the right choice because the country needed to move on rather than letting a trial drag on for five years.

That focus on the future was key for planners going into their one-on-one appointments as well. Although many brought RFPs and one booked business on the spot, many more found the relationship-building to be an important part of growing their careers. Learning about new venues and catching up with properties that have reinvented themselves is what inspires planners to make the next event even more brilliant.