Lisa Mae Brunson, Founder of Wonder Women Tech, shares her insights, passion, and excitement about the event industry.
What event are you most proud of?
I am most proud of our Wonder Women Tech Conference that we are currently producing. We are into our third year producing the conference and we have learned from our growing lessons on what makes a great experience for our attendees, and how we can truly ‘disrupt’ the conference model. This year we are going global, so we get to pull in some cultural elements into our planning and execution. We are creating some truly interactive experiences, and allowing our attendees to not only highlight their ability to be #changemakers, which is an element of our event theme, but we are also creating the opportunity to discover new facets of who they are as they travel and engage throughout the event. I am excited to see how the magical elements of our vision, mission, and the collective visions of our sponsors and partners who are co-creating the event with us, unfold in one exciting weekend. People may not realize all that it takes to produce a conference or event. We truly have to not only think outside the box, but also pull in several pieces of a puzzle to ensure all involved get what they desire out of the event. It’s truly a skill that is cultivated over and over with every event produced.
What are you most excited for when thinking about the future of events?
I am really excited about the emerging technologies that allow us to create truly interactive experiences for our attendees and stakeholders. I love the ability to tell stories within our events through a variety of modalities and partnerships. The Wonder Women Tech team thinks about how we can push our events to the edge on a budget, and there are many ways we can do that with leveraging resources, and creating innovative partnerships. I love that people are more willing to collaborate to produce experiences that highlight everyone at the table. I love that diversity and inclusion is becoming a theme in conference planning and programming, and WWT gets to be at the forefront of that transformation. The possibilities are truly endless and we can absolutely ‘disrupt’ the conference model.
What makes an event successful for sponsors? And for attendees?
Success is relative to each event producer I think. Ultimately, if you can have a healthy amount of sponsors and partners at the table, and fill the room with attendees, then you have pulled off a successful event. There is another exciting element though, and that is the testimonials of people who have attended your events and claim a life transformation or catalyst of some sort, which led them to accomplish something they’ve always wanted to do. Wonder Women Tech has transformed several people’s lives and I am always pleasantly surprised and honored to receive emails, tweets, and messages from those who have stories to share about how their lives were impacted by our conferences and events. To me–that is our legacy for success! We are igniting futures and creating opportunities for the next generation!
What do you find challenging in your role? How do you overcome this challenge?
Creating any event is challenging. Creating a large conference is even more challenging. Going global and creating multiple conferences across other cities and countries is absolutely taking a step outside my comfort zone. Every single day I find myself learning about myself and about the industry and about building and scaling a business that has a life of its own. Doing something challenging can be incredibly difficult to navigate, and I have had my share of ups and downs, disappointments and victories. I’ve had sponsors back out, and experienced lack of attendees, and I’ve had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and partnerships show up at the table–each presents its own opportunity for growth and discovery. I overcome challenges by first, admitting when I am overwhelmed, or disappointed, etc. and then taking a moment to sit in that space and understand what that feels like. I am a huge proponent of admitting (even if it is only to yourself) that you feel scared, or stressed out, or even wanting to give up, but then the magic is in rolling back up your sleeves and getting right back to the grind again. I overcome challenges by creating an even greater challenge for myself–to be resilient, persistent and to keep pressing forward. In the end, it feels so much better to have conquered a fear and challenge, even if it wasn’t perfect, than to have given in to the fear.
What words of wisdom can you share with Event Professionals who are just starting out?
Take a deep breath, and keep pressing forward. You WILL have events that won’t turn out as planned. In fact, they almost never do! Be willing to flow with the process and take baby steps. Be willing to learn from the lessons created from the ‘missteps’ and try to remember that there is no such thing as ‘defeat’ when you are determined to keep trying again. With every event you create, it only gets better and better and you will hone your craft. Every day is a day to discover what you are made of as a Creative Visionary–so go out there and positively disrupt the planet with your events!
More about Lisa Mae:
Lisa Mae is CEO and Founder of Wonder Women Tech, a global conference that highlights, celebrates and educates women and diversity across STEAM industries. She is a commissioner on the Commission for Technology and Innovation for the City of Long Beach, and is passionate about technology, equality, social innovation, hackathons, humanity, and hugs. She has hugged over 8,000 people and counting on her Love, Hugs and Inspiration Campaigns.
Wonder Women Tech produces a series of conferences, workshops, educational training and innovative events focused on diversity and inclusion, women, and under represented and under-served communities. Learn more at: www.wonderwomentech.com