The moment you wake up and decide to be incredibly vulnerable, raw, and honest is the moment you realize not all is well in the world. My name is Lesley Plumley and I have a problem…
You see I started my career in the sports industry, the good ole’ boys clubs and while I love hockey and thought it was my dream job I started hating what hockey was turning into. The constant business end and making these players a business transaction was more important to management and ownership; it literally made me sick. Then there were the fans; and when I say fans I mean bat shit crazy fans. I will not ever name anyone but wowza were these folk obsessed with the players and the moment you make a change in policies for their own protection and for the protection of the players – you were chastised and hated. I felt like it was nothing but junior high all over again. Going from hero to zero was a tough mountain to fall off of.
I decided another passion of mine was events. Planning, designing, and executing amazing events. Just like most, I decided to venture into the 80 billion dollar world of weddings. Yes, you read that right and it is a lot of zeros so that’s why I typed it out – weddings is an 80 billion dollar industry in North America. Who wouldn’t want to join the industry and be part of the glamour? Movies like The Wedding Planner, Bride Wars, Mamma Mia even the Father of the Bride changed my mind to go from sports to weddings. I was ready to take the industry by storm. However, no one told me the negative parts, the areas of the industry that shaped me into who I am today.
Self-doubt and depression happen and it is real. Anyone that is a business owner in any industry feels this way and if they don’t admit it – they are fooling themselves. You continuously check up on your “competitors.” What is this person doing? Why didn’t I think of that? Crap, they have more weddings than I do. Self-doubt creeps in and you start to lose sleep, your worry if you are doing enough for the clients you have. You worry about what others are saying and what they are doing. You become almost a recluse or you even start to embellish your number of weddings. You stay up all night wondering where the money is going to come from for rent or even food. If someone told me 15 years ago that I would become “that” person I would laugh at them but indeed I became that person. Someone I didn’t recognize and someone who I truly didn’t like. It is hard to be judged all the time and it is hard to put a smile on your face each and every damn day.
While my company has evolved into event planning, not just wedding planning, I have learned a lot of lessons along the way a few of these lessons I feel is important to share.
1. Take out the word competition and replace it with a colleague. In Canada alone, there are 160,000 weddings a year and well over 200,000 events. You can’t do all of them, not all clients are going to be your clients. Not all budgets are going to fit your style of the event either. I have colleagues that I lean on and refer and that has made the stress level in my world ease up.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are great at what you do. It’s the simple saying, “You be you!” Say it over and over again. Sure, I still see what my colleagues are doing but I can say 7/10 times I am okay with it and applaud them for their creativity. That other times, I still question myself but then I have to talk to myself to realize it is all good, I will be me! This step has taken me a decade to get semi over but in order to be the best I can for my clients, I have to work on it each day.
3. Rumors and idle gossip happen, it’s the nature of the beast but you have to be bigger than it. You have to try and let it roll off your shoulders and continue to walk with your head up high. Hey, if they are talking about you maybe they are leaving everyone else alone. (insert laugh here)
4. Find your niche and stick with it. I am the first to admit I had no idea what my niche was until recently. A colleague of mine who has become a dear friend helped me figure this out and let me tell you – it was a game-changer. Be amazing at one thing than mediocre at several. Hone in on your niche and work that.
I am certainly by no means an industry guru or a Calgary event planning expert, but I have been in the trenches for a long time. For all the new planners or event industry peeps out there, when you are able to be raw and actually take a hard look at yourself you will achieve great things. When you can look at yourself in the mirror and realize what has to change your business is going to expand.
I don’t know what is in store for my company that I have built from the ground up but I know this. I have changed as a person, a wife, and a friend. I am still figuring out this industry after 17 years and I know it will continue to evolve. Who knows, maybe one day there will be another career change for me but for now, I am just sticking to what I know – planning.