CEO and IdeaSparker, Play with a Purpose
Based in: Orlando
How I got here: As my father tells all his friends, I got a degree in ‘whistleblowing’ and that started my launch into this crazy business. I’ve worked in government, resorts, corporations and consulting firms before I launched Play with a Purpose. Each one gave me a new skill set and different perspective on the business of play and how it fits so effectively into the meeting and training worlds. That combined with all the people who coached and taught me through my volunteer work on boards and in industry groups has made it really fun.
Greatest career accomplishment: In my wildest dreams I never thought or wanted to own my own business. So I’d have to say now, 30 years later and having made it successfully through all kinds of world events that have devastated our industry, starting Play with a Purpose and getting to do something I truly love for my entire career is it.
A specific improvement I’ve made: Like everyone, when COVID hit, we had a choice: Close up or figure it out. I am so proud of my team for saying ‘We’re going to figure it out,’ and together we built a completely new business doing learning, team building, CSR and networking events in the virtual world. This new business model will stay a big part of our business model way into the future.
What I do outside of work: I’m an avid gardener and love digging in the dirt, in addition to scouring any and every beach for seashells to add to my collection.
What I'd tell my younger self: ‘Figure out a way to do what you love.’ I got lucky and did this, so my entire life I’ve never really known when I was working and when I was playing because I was always doing both! The second is geared more toward owning a business: ‘Know what your skills and gifts are, and be sure to hire someone to complement those.’ We all have things we are good at—and not so good at. So, as quickly as you can, hire someone to fill the gaps. Not only will you be way more successful, you’ll enjoy your work more.
What I’m most excited about: I am thrilled to hear our industry starting to have conversations about getting involved in the content of meetings and events, and not just the logistics and parties. We’ve had a great divide between content and conversation, learning and networking, and education and participation that needs to come to a close. Blending all these accomplishes the critical components of meetings. We learn by doing—by being hands-on, touching, talking, experimenting, applying, playing—and I’m thrilled to be leading the charge into that world and hearing top meeting thought leaders beginning to dive in with both feet forward.