As the former president of Catalyst, Brad Lomenick has worked with the best in the industry, equipping leaders with the skills they need to grow and better direct others. That was the prompt behind his first best-selling book, “The Catalyst Leader.” After reaching his own point of burnout, he was inspired to write a second book, “H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle,” which came out in September. Rejuvenate’s Natalie Dupuis spoke with Lomenick to learn how the leadership principles in his new book apply to meeting professionals.
What do you see as the biggest pitfalls for leaders in the events industry?
If you’re building your event only around content, you’re not going to stand out. You’re competing against a digital space that has content readily available. I can listen to someone talk from my living room, so why would I deal with the travel and the hassle of being somewhere in person? Events have to be about more than content.
With every angle, environment and session you create, you want the posture of what you do to feel honest, real and authentic. If you mess up, just own it. People want to see that you’re real. Sometimes the bigger the event, the further we get from our authentic selves, which is the opposite of what people want.
How can planners be excellent on-site leaders in the heat of the moment?
Be confident. Prepare. You want to walk into that day and feel like you’ve done everything you can to be ready. But then chill out. Your sense of proper perspective feeds your team. They feed off of your anxiety, or lack thereof. Laugh at the moment; but don’t disregard [problems]. Come up with a solution.
In “H3 Leadership,” you talk about creativity as a discipline you can pursue, not necessarily a gift you’ve been given. How do you reconcile discipline with something like creativity?
Creativity is built through a process. People think they’ll come up with great ideas in a brainstorming meeting, and you might, but the magic of it is that you’re constantly imagining. Everyone can be creative—it doesn’t require some cool conference room with art and whiteboards, although that can be helpful. People always asked about Catalyst, “How do you have so many huge ideas?” And the answer was, “We had a thousand that were bad.”