By Andrea Michaels

"woman thinking with palet in hand"If asked, most owners wouldn’t say they’re in the business of selling creativity. That’s where they’d be wrong. Business is all about creatively helping its customers achieve their goals. I happen to be in a business that emphasizes that fact in a very sensory way.

I’m an event producer, and my company projects our clients’ messages and solidifies their brands by creating solutions to their marketing challenges. When you boil it down, creativity is not just about art, entertainment or producing a beautiful event. Creativity is about problem solving. Let me share two annual events we produced for CEMEX that prove my point.

Synchronicity plus Collaboration plus Connectivity equals Teamwork

CEMEX is a leading global producer of quality cement products based in Mexico. Each year we produce a conference for 300 of its top world-wide executives. When CEMEX acquired RMC, an international ready-mix U.K.-based company, our main objective for the conference was to unite the two organizations through team-building, education, problem-solving and networking.

The year after the acquisition, the theme of the conference was “Meeting the Global Challenge Together.” Four key words-“Synchronicity plus Collaboration plus Connectivity equals Teamwork”- were used in everything from events to education and meetings.

The main stage was set to uniquely convey the conference theme for daytime activities. The stage was built out of… cement, of course. A huge, round cement globe was the set’s centerpiece. As it slowly revolved, each continent revealed CEMEX plant locations and the company’s global outreach. Various business sessions demonstrated what connectivity, synchronicity and collaboration could achieve for the company and its employees.

Learning through Experience

The events were crucial, because they allowed participants to learn through experiencing. No opportunity to experience the message was missed. A walking tour of Barcelona was a unique way to get participants to emotionally and intellectually experience the event. The group was divided into 16 teams, and each visited four different historic locations that provided CEMEX analogies. For instance, in the historic Gothic Plaza Palace where Queen Isabella commissioned Columbus to find the new world, a current CEMEX challenge was addressed. The executives were loathe to take risks, so “Queen Isabella” described how King Ferdinand, fearing risk, tried to discourage Columbus’ voyage. She emphasized what can be achieved through risk and “collaboration.” Along the way, guides weaved in the four words key words for all the historical analogies.

Learning by Example

The evening events continued to promote the theme. Dinner seating was designed to ensure that everyone would meet someone new and promote “Connectivity.” A performance by a famous New Age flamenco guitarist and his dancers illustrated complete “synchronicity.” The enhanced sound of the guitar and the footwork of the dancers working in total sync drove home the theme-together the audience could create greatness. Each evening event was critical to reveal the collaboration, synchronicity and connectivity by example-from the information, entertainment, visual displays and even the food and wine. Food and wine, you ask? The exceptional local wine and food were served in precise unison by synchronized wait staff.

To learn what we did the following year and how this relates to your business, see Part Two of this article in the next posting.

Andrea Michaels is founder and President of Los Angeles-based Extraordinary Events and a multiple award-winning international event producer. She is the first to be inducted into the special event industry Hall of Fame and is the author of Reflections of a Wallflower – Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life.