• Reflections on How Parenthood Parallels Planning

    FROM THE Summer 2018 ISSUE

    It Takes a Village

My daughter was born on her due date: Aug. 12, 2017. “Of course she was!” everyone said; I’m a planner and things in my life go according to a carefully and meticulously laid plan.

This “following a plan” impression people have of me got me thinking about the meetings and events industry. A behind-the-scenes look, however, often offers a whole other story. While Lillie, my daughter, was born at 8:57 p.m. on her due date, I labored for 28 hours prior to that. And had three epidurals. And had a C-section to bring her into this world. It was exhausting. It was scary. And it was perfect. Virtually nothing, except the end result, went according to plan. And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.  

All of this reminds me of putting on an event. You know the end goal; you work to define a road map to achieve that end goal, but what you really end up doing is a whole lot of punting. If you’re a good planner, you make sure you have really smart, creative, agile people around you the whole way. When I was having Lillie, there was a whole cadre of people around supporting me and making sure that we achieved our goal of bringing a healthy, happy human into the world. 

Not only is labor like putting on an event, but parenthood also reminds me of the job I (and many of you reading this) do. Or, put a different way: Much of what we do as meetings and event planners has prepared us for parenthood. Rarely do you work on it alone. As a mother, I rely on my husband, parents, day care providers, doctors, friends, books and mom-groups; as a planner, I rely on my CSM, transportation provider, decorators, trip directors, caterers, production team and professional organizations to create a flawless event. 

I wouldn’t want to plan and execute an event without my support team around me, and I certainly wouldn’t want to mama alone. With each event, I hope to better myself as a planner and better the experience for attendees and stakeholders; with each day as a mama, I hope to find new ways to make Lillie smile, laugh and learn. Both jobs are constantly evolving and never-ending, and that’s what makes it so fun and so very rewarding.


Debbie Friedman-Hueller, M.A., CMP, CSEP, CMM, is a veteran of the meetings and events industry. She has spent her career doing more than managing logistics; she is a strategist, designer, and choreographer who executes in-person and virtual meetings and events. 

Any planner knows that reliable Wi-Fi and networking opportunities are necessary, but here are 10 equally crucial elements for executing successful meetings and events.

1. CLEAR OBJECTIVE Attendees need to know what they’ll gain from the event, and speakers need to know what to prepare for. Once you determine the objective, run all decisions regarding the event through that filter: Do the chosen speakers and breakout session topics all contribute to achieving your event’s purpose?


→ 2 oz. London Dry Gin
→ 3/4 oz. raspberry syrup*
→ 3/4 oz. lemon juice
→ egg white
→ Angostura bitters

Place all ingredients into a shaker. Shake without ice. Add ice and shake hard. Double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with three drops of Angostura bitters.

* P.S. Steak’s team adds grains of paradise, rose and other botanicals to its syrup.