This summer, our Senior Project Coordinator and Master of Positivity Amy Martin landed on Special Events Magazine’s “25 Young Event Pros to Watch” list – and true to her seemingly limitless energy and enthusiasm, she’s only picked up steam since then. Today marks Amy’s 3rd year at OneWest, and while she’s just getting started (and has some very exciting things happening professionally in the near future!), she’s taking a moment today to look back and share three lessons she’s learned in her three years with #teamONE.

Lesson 1: Find a team that will shape you, and be ready to shape your team

I am beyond grateful that I walked into this team 3 years ago, and there is no doubt in my mind that the growth and success I have found is directly related to the fearlessly creative and unconditionally supportive team around me. That being said, looking back I can see that things really went to the next level when I started showing up in a different way. If I could give 2014 Amy any advice, I would tell her not to underestimate what she can bring to the table.

In my first year-and-a-half with OneWest, I sat comfortably in the seat of the student. I was a sponge, learning as much as I could from the leaders around me. I did this by not asking many questions, saying “yes” to everything, and colouring as meticulously as I could between the lines. This made me a great worker and allowed me to rapidly gain skills and insight from those around me, but it didn’t bring anything to my company that they didn’t already have.

As good leaders do, my boss and coworkers started prodding me to speak up with my own voice and thoughts. Stepping out of the student’s chair and into a role as a genuine contributor felt foreign and risky. I often had to shut out thoughts like, “you haven’t been in the industry long enough” or “the people at this production meeting are pros – if they didn’t ask the question, it’s probably because they all already know the answer.” It turns out that the best way to change limiting thoughts is with purposeful action. Joining my local ILEA Chapter as Director at Large widened my understanding of and sense of belonging in our industry. Letting myself ask questions at meetings resulted in better communication and design choices.

Whether you are starting out in the industry or an established professional, I would suggest that you can always be both a student and a contributor! Know and trust that there will be times when it is appropriate to sit back and soak up the expertise around you, just as there will also be opportunities to share your unique perspective – allow yourself to embrace both.

2. Expect exceptions to your expectations

Recently I stumbled across a formula definition for happiness that read: 

At first this seemed to oversimplify my favourite emotion, but as I started to apply this concept to different aspects of my life, I was surprised at what I learned. Looking back, I can identify times where my own assumptions and expectations resulted in my being less satisfied about my achievements than I could have been.

To keep dreaming big and delivering big without sacrificing our personal happiness, we need to seriously keep an eye on that reality line. This can relate to everything from projects to career goals to work/life balance. Ask yourself: what are my expectations? What do I need to identify about the context of my situation? How can I leverage reality with my expectations for a positive outcome?

There have been many times for me when authentic communication would have whipped unrealistic expectations right into shape! I’ve learned that the more you can openly and objectively communicate with your coworkers, your peers, and your clients, the more you may realize you are actually right on track!

Most importantly, in order to rein in our expectations we can’t constantly compare ourselves to others. I’d like to make a special shout-out here to all the Millennials on this point. As the social media generation, we’ve grown up in a constant state of comparison. This exposure to inflated images and examples of our peers’ successes and happiness can leave us feeling like we can’t can’t compare and aren’t measuring up. Take it from me:

Let social media platforms be a place to celebrate achievements and gain inspiration, but don’t use it as your reality baseline. I think if we all opened up a bit more we would realize we are sharing the same growing pains, and all doing a lot better than we give ourselves credit for!

3. Hit pause once in awhile

Sometimes we move so quickly that we miss out on some important opportunities to grow. I’ve realized that it’s valuable to stop every now and then to reflect on how things are going – what’s working, and what isn’t? Pat yourself on the back for the things that are going well and question the things that aren’t; evaluate how you can disrupt and change those patterns.

This industry is fast-paced. There aren’t always ending credits after an event that give you a chance to reflect – your team will likely be on to the next project already! Grab the remote yourself, hit pause, and cultivate a space to reflect once in awhile. I believe that some of the smallest reflective chats over coffee with my boss have had the biggest correlation to my growth.   

It’s also so valuable to take time to go to events like ILEA Live and The Special Event. These are great nights for our industry to press pause together and celebrate in each other’s successes!


Photo credit: Cadencia Photography