If the way my month started is an indication of the importance of preparation, then November will be an amazingly interesting month this year! I have an aggressive traveling agenda, including the huge responsibility of producing an event off-site Chicagoland, meet with editorial and publishing companies about book ideas, attend several fundraising galas and board meetings, start planning for 2020 and very important to me, stay connected with family and close friends as well as my ministry at church. Without proper preparation, none of that (and other things not mentioned here) would happen.
Representing a variety of companies through Zambrano Consulting Group has allowed me to understand the importance of PREPARING. Some people only take preparation seriously upon certain topics. An experienced traveler, would prepare according to destination, weather, business or pleasure, time of year, length of trip, etc. A Public Speaker would need to prepare well to capture his or her audience attention with a strong, concise, clear and interesting message when delivering a speech. A Professor, would need to study the lessons and assignments he or she will be given to students and hopefully inspire them to make education a priority. When participating in a marathon, an athlete would go through a series of training and preparation expecting to win first place. When taking an exam in any trade or industry, without preparation, you’d risk not passing the test. When becoming pregnant, a new mom would learn about the changes in her body and prepare for the arrival of the little miracle in her life. In reality, we need to prepare constantly and in all areas of our lives.
I could speak to any of those things just listed, but I’ll take my trip to NY as an example of the importance to preparing well. It became obvious from the beginning of the proposal I received, that the challenges producing a local event in another city would be huge! Being part of the producing team of The first Latinos 40 under 40 in NY entailed coordinating all the moving pieces from a distance and still guarantee to run a show within budget and in a timely manner. Getting a centric venue for professionals during the week was important, securing sponsors, emcee, DJ, photographer, volunteers and traveling arrangements were the basic things to think about.
Even though I was brought onboard close to the date of the event, my expectancy was to help deliver a sold out event at 150 guaranteed attendees. Just a few days before the event, they only had about 40 entries sold. It’s no secret that most people procrastinate and we knew we’d get a rush of reservations at the end. Still, the marketing efforts from everyone involved was extremely important.
There was an interesting situation happening throughout the planning of this event. From these items, the biggest one that worried the Publisher and PIC (person in charge) was how to get the 40 beautifully framed certificates of recognition from Chicago to NY. I gave several ideas knowing he wanted to buy them from Walmart, a national franchise. “Order the frames and have them mailed directly to the venue or hotel where the event will be held” I confidently said knowing it was the best option.
“There’s a charge for every day the hotel holds the packages” he said as if there was no way he would pay any additional costs that will take us out of budget. “Have our local contacts buy them at the store, set them up and hold them for us “, I said as another good option. “No, some of the frames will most likely break and we need to ensure we prepare the certificates ourselves, set them in each frame and use UPS or FedEx to deliver, but it will be very costly.” I think he was still impressed by the fact that he had to pay over $1,200 USD recently for one package to be sent from Chicago to another city and that was definitely out of budget. “Let’s carry them ourselves as additional luggage” I said reluctantly and hoping he would say that he decided to send via UPS or FedEx. However, he didn’t.
I travel light so this was my least favorite choice, but guess what? We ended up carrying 6 huge packages ourselves. After several inquiries and an actual visit to the airport the day before our flight to NY, it was confirmed this was definitely our best choice. It was a bit inconvenient but it was free and apparently very important! Having benefits with AA and access to the Admirals Club became such an important part of this trip! Early morning on the day of the trip, I received an email stating that our flight was canceled and we were booked into another flight late that evening. Under normal circumstances, this would have been fine, however, we needed to get to NY as early as possible as the event was the next day and by then we already knew we had close to 200 people attending. This entailed additional preparation from adjusting our list of attendees to changes in the venue. We were excited and nervous! It’s so easy for me to manage my flights and any unexpected changes, but managing a canceled trip involving several people is challenging, especially when a snow storm in Chicago was not allowing flights to depart or arrive. We were placed on many standby flights along other hundred people. Our original flight was moved several times until finally leaving around 11pm. We arrived in NY at 1:30 am and found ourselves getting to bed around 4am. Talk about an adventurous trip! Why am I highlighting all this? I learned from my mentors that preparation is important and very helpful but there’s always a need to adjust to sudden changes. I often mention my mom because, for the most time, remained positive when things got out of her control. You may think my mom was perfect when you read my writings about her. She wasn’t perfect when it came to planning or anything else. It’s simply the level of respect I had for her and her character as a strong and positive role model in my life that makes me realize the impact she had in everything I do and my perspective on life. If we were to measure who is less perfect, I’d probably win a medal. Would you believe I actually forgot my passport just a few days ago and realized it at the airport on my way to Mexico City? Yes, me! The experienced traveler that I am! Let’s grow together!
I truly enjoyed this day for many reasons. First of all, I just finished several commitments that were taking much of my energy and all my focus in the last month. Second of all, I have family visiting from out of town and it was refreshing to be able to take a day to enjoy their company, catch up on life and rest. As I was laying by the pool, I reflected on all the great things that happened over the last few weeks and remembering the answers my group of 30 pre-schoolers gave me when I asked “Who made you beautiful?”, brought many smiles and warm memories.
I remember the day I asked them, it was 2 days before the program was ending and I had won the right to ask pretty much anything I wanted. We had created a fun environment where they felt loved and cared for. They would come into class with the expectation that it was going to be a fun time! Some them would run to me and hug me while saying “I love you”. They were all lined up and ready to start our session when I asked each “who made you this beautiful?”, nearly everyone answered the same thing “my mom”. I wish I had taken a picture of each one of them while they said it one by one. They had a big smile and the certainty that, if this was a contest, they would win! Moms have that effect on little ones.
I remember “knowing” my mom made me, helped me, loved me, protected me…there wasn’t anything I didn’t think my mom would be able to handle or do for me. She was my hero and I could tell these little ones felt the same way about their mom. To be fair, a couple of kids answered “my dad made me beautiful” and one actually said “my brother made me beautiful”.
When it was my turn, I shared with them the fact that when I was young like them, I didn’t think I was beautiful. My mom always told me I was and I never believed her. As you know I always blamed my insecurities on my dad…but the day I realized God loved me unconditionally and I accepted this love, I felt the most beautiful and loved woman on earth! I had finally felt I belonged and someone cared about me and ever since then, I believed I was a person with a purpose and that made me feel beautiful. The next day was our last day together and when I asked “Do you remember who made me beautiful?” some quickly raised their hands and said “God did and He made me beautiful too!”. Deep down inside, in their innocence, they believe their moms did and I agreed with them because God gave me the privilege to be one of the daughters of the most amazing moms ever.
I wish I was much younger when I learned this truth. Sometimes, even in casual conversations, we are influencing those we encounter, work with, counsel or simply talk to. Let’s be intentional to influence everyone we meet in a positive way no matter how old or young they are. Always aiming to live a life of significance!