That’s right! This is our 25-year anniversary, and we started things off right with our annual Leadership Conference!
This year we met in Orlando, with demonstrators arriving all week long! Most of the home office staff were on site by Tuesday and Wednesday, setting up, rehearsing, and getting ready. Thursday was the official start, with an estimated 1,500 demonstrators checking in and getting ready for the perfect start to an amazing year!
In addition to check in, on Thursday we had classes, a senior executive/counselor and above meeting, and an Advisory Board meeting. (We also had an Advisory Board Reunion luncheon on Saturday—I LOVE seeing all these amazing women again, so grateful for them for all they’ve done.) The highlight of the day for me, however, was our service project—staff and demonstrators joined forces to stuff 2,000 bags full of fun Stampin’ Up! product that was sent to kindergarten through third-grade teachers throughout the Orlando area. (LOVE our new Stampin’ Up! trailer that we’re using this year to ship and deliver our stuff, including the service project bags. . . )
I loved working alongside our wonderful demonstrators who took time out to participate in this service project! It was especially fun to finish the bags off with a tag with a handwritten message; I got a little thrill thinking of the teacher opening the bag and getting excited about the things she could do with the great product inside!
The service project was just the first of many things that helped focus on this year’s theme—Making a Difference for 25 Years! I really love this theme, and loved the way it was presented throughout the event. To be able to look back at some of the things we’ve done together, and to hear about how Stampin’ Up! has made a difference in the lives of demonstrators, as well as how our demonstrators have made a difference in the lives of those around them, was humbling and heartwarming!
From main stage presentations to classes and the Share Fair and more, we had a wonderful time. I love all our Stampin’ Up! events—each for different reasons—and what I love most about leadership (besides the opportunity to be with our demonstrators, of course!) is the focus we have on business. There’s plenty of stamping and new products and all of that fun stuff, but we do talk about building a business and sharing Stampin’ Up! more than at any other event, and I do enjoy that specific focus.
As I hoped, I was able to talk to dozens of demonstrators (some who have never missed a leadership conference!), and so many of them mentioned how much they enjoyed this particular leadership and how they needed it to “fill their cup” and focus after the hectic holidays. It really is an ideal time for us to gather together and start the calendar year off with new excitement and commitment.
This leadership stands out for several reasons. In addition to the fact that it was the first event of our 25th anniversary, I felt like there were several very strong, specific, and fundamental messages that we shared with our leaders. I was especially proud of Rich (our president) and Pam (one of our VPs) who both delivered messages that were sensitive but essential. Rich talked about getting back to the “pearls” of what Stampin’ Up! is all about—the things that we all love most about what we do (the stamping, the fun, the relationships, the people, etc.) and how we may have gotten distracted through the years by other less-important things.
Pam talked about building a Stampin’ Up! business based on doing what is right—both for you and for those you work with. We’ve called it the “Golden Rule” in the past, and we continue to feel strongly that doing what is right is at the heart of what we all do.
Both Rich and Pam received standing ovations (definitely a rarity), so I think our demonstrators also recognized the power and importance of what they said. We also reiterated—several times—that everything we are doing (and we’re doing TONS of fun, new things!) is designed with one end result in mind: to reach out to new customers and bring them back to our demonstrators!
A few other things that made this leadership special was our first-ever pajama party general session. It was actually just a normal general session scheduled in the evening, but the fact that we all got to wear pajamas did make it seem more cozy and warm—and fun! Loved seeing everyone’s jammies!
We had more giveaways than we’ve ever had at any event, sometimes several giveaways in one session! In the spirit of focusing on the “pearls” of Stampin’ Up!, we devoted fewer of our resources to some of the “packaging” of leadership (bags, Make & Takes, set, etc.) and focused on what we all love—Stampin’ Up! products! I think everyone loved that!
Our Managers’ Reception was definitely fabulous—especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan! We had the entire Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios all to ourselves for an entire evening! No lines, free treats, all the shops open. . . it truly was amazing! Hopefully all our managers and above felt truly recognized and rewarded for all that they do! (Note: I can't post any photos of this event because of the approval process required by Universal, but once our photos are approved, we'll use them in other publications.)
I will remember this leadership as the one where I actually bent over double in a coughing fit on main stage! Never had that happen before! When I left for Orlando last week, I only had a tickle in my throat, and if I had had any idea I would be as sick as I got, maybe I wouldn’t have gone (so perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t know!). While I wasn’t feeling my best, I still enjoyed experiencing leadership, especially spending time with our demonstrators. Although I warned all the demonstrators that hugs were not recommended, a few took the risk and since I love hugs, I didn’t refuse! I just hope I didn’t spread too many germs!
And, although it wasn’t directly connected with leadership, we had a customer event (Celebrating Sale-a-Bration) on Saturday night after leadership was over. Many of our leadership attendees signed up and brought guests, and the crowd was great! I have to say that the mood at the customer event was incredible—one of the most fun events I’ve ever been too! I’m not sure if it was because we were all punchy after leadership or because we felt more comfortable (several of the presentations were ones that we had shared at leadership) or just because we were doing what we loved best (stamping!), but we really had fun. . . on stage, back stage, and (hopefully) in the audience.
So now I’m home—thankful for the opportunity to spend a few days with some of the most amazing people I know! I’m so grateful to be able to work with people who share a commitment to truly making a difference—in lots of different ways! I can’t wait to see what the rest of our 25th anniversary year has in store. . .