Imagine working in a well-respected, stable job that you have always enjoyed. Overnight, your profession – and your entire industry – gets turned upside-down as it is suddenly subject to public scrutiny from every conceivable press source in the country. The entire validity – and value – of your career is suddenly questioned by everyone from major newspapers to the U.S. government. With our recent economic recession, that is exactly what happened in the Meetings and Events industry. Now, for ordinary individuals, this may mean giving up instantaneously, finding another job, or perhaps lashing out in uncontrollable anger. Spending resources on a professional conference probably wouldn’t even enter into consideration. However, the 2,500 industry professionals who attended last July’s Meeting Professionals International (MPI) World Education Congress are far from ordinary. Grand Dynamics team members Tim Walther and Stephanie Sibille had the privilege of meeting many of these extraordinary individuals at the event in Salt Lake City, Utah. The theme for this year’s Congress of “When we meet, we change the world,” permeated the air of the Salt Palace, where the event was held, and was taken to heart by every attendee. These people were not simply here to fulfill a personal agenda – they came armed and ready to fight back and show the rest of the world how meetings DO change the world. The event began by reviewing human history. The Opening General Session referred to meetings ranging from the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the Kyoto Protocol to Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech to the series of events that elected Barack Obama to presidency. Without a doubt, each of these events has had an extraordinary impact on our world today, and drawing this kind of parallel within the industry is exactly the breath of fresh air that was needed. In a matter of hours, the entire industry was reframed in a way that is universally meaningful, shifting from a series of extravagant parties to some of the most significant events in world history. With this foundation laid, the entire focus of the Congress was around adaptability. Each educational session was packed with incredible resources and tools on how to work within the current circumstances, rather than simply accepting the new status quo. Common themes included employee engagement, social media tools, return on investment (ROI), and new leadership models. With this kind of knowledge exchange, there is no doubt that everyone left with fresh, useful information that can be applied right away! It didn’t stop there. The 2,500 attendees were so determined to redefine their profession that a petition was created – in the form of a massive banner – that allowed every individual to share their opinions on WHY their work was so valuable. This petition, or “The Wall,” as it was called, served as a forum for people to express themselves. More than that, it was subsequently sent to Congress (the U.S. Congress, not the World Education Congress!) as a collective effort to frame the industry in the way that it deserves to be recognized. What truly made this event a success was not the content, but how seamlessly the people attending actually embodied what it was that they were trying to convey. The people at this conference were not there just to talk about how meetings were changing the world – they were actually USING this meeting to change the world. It was the passion with which the attendees embraced their cause that made this event, and all those who participated, truly extraordinary. It is clear that with our current economic situation, the need for relationship building is more important than ever. As the only Teambuilding provider at the congress, the Grand Dynamics team did an extraordinary job of contributing to educational sessions, sharing our unique industry knowledge, and connecting with an amazing and diverse group of industry professionals that will remain friends and allies. It is clear that our role is crucial, and we look forward to acting as the leading information resource for Teambuilding in the meeting and event industry and expanding our involvement with MPI. So, by definition, we did help to change the world. Stephanie Sibille Program Specialist