Event Design

It’s Showtime!

Together in one place for the first time: interviews with 11 General Session and Thought Leader speakers taking the stage at PCMA Convening Leaders 2016.

 PCMA Convening Leaders 2016 has arrivedin Vancouver next week, and the program will bring with it several packed days of education sessions, workshops, and networking events — all anchored by an assortment of heavy-hitting General Session and Thought Leader speakers, whom Convene has been busy interviewing over the last few months. Here are links to all those interviews, including a tantalizing snippet from each one to whet your appetite:


Opening General Session “Mergers and Disruptions and Provocations, Oh My” (8–9:30 a.m.) — Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International: “Our global meeting strategy focuses on taking meetings beyond tables and chairs to transforming the meeting into an experience.” Full interview.

Thought Leader “Viral Business: Creating Obsessed Fans” (10:30–11:30 a.m.) — Johnny Earle, founder of Johnny Cupcakes: “People have planned and attended events of all sorts. Why will yours stand out? Now more than ever, it’s crucial to be unique.” Full interview.

Networking Luncheon and General Session (11:45 a.m.–1 p.m.) — Juliet Funt, CEO of WhiteSpace at Work: “I think meetings are often designed with such care and talent, but I also think that one of the saddest sights I see as an external visitor at a conference is a giant room full of wonderful, smart people literally running through hallways for three days in a row and then getting on planes and never even talking to each other.” Full interview.

Thought Leader “Thinking Ahead: Confronting the Gray Rhino (1:15–2:15 p.m.) — Michele Wucker, author of The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore: “You need to recognize that things stand in the way of seeing what’s right in front of you that could be very, very dangerous.” Full interview.

Thought Leader “INFLUENCE: The New Rules of Coaching High-Performance Teams” (2:45–3:45 p.m.) — Mel Robbins, CNN commentator: “Your conferences need to be so awesome, in your opinion, that people would be morons not to go because it’s going to be such an incredible opportunity.” Full interview.


General Session “Crafting Contagious Ideas” (8:45–10:15 a.m.) — Jonah Berger, professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On: “Event marketers might not think about the power of word of mouth, and the power of social influence. By word of mouth, I don’t mean social media — I mean one person talking to another person, whether it is online or offline.” Full interview.

Thought Leader “Courage at Work: Bravery as an Overlooked Resource” (11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.) — Robert Biswas-Diener, psychologist and author of The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self — Not Just Your “Good” Self — Drives Success and Fulfillment: “Instead of just asking the question that psychology has always asked — What goes wrong with people? — we’re interested in what goes right with people. Often that’s in a work context, so we’re interested in what does good leadership mean?” Full interview.

Thought Leader “Five Strategies That Transform Innovation” (1:45 p.m.–2:45 p.m.) — Michelle Stacy, business leader and former president of Keurig: “Great leadership and great innovation come when people can be themselves and share their humanity. It comes when they respect and value all of their team members.” Full interview.

Thought Leader “The New Geoeconomic Opportunity and Risk Map of the World” (3:30–4:30 p.m.) — Afshin Molavi, columnist and senior global adviser at Oxford Analytica: We didn’t get a chance to speak to Mr. Molvai in advance of Convening Leaders, but check out The New Silk Road Monitor, which he edits, to learn more about his expertise and interests.


Morning General Session “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” (9–10:15 a.m.) — Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before: “Don’t judge and think that you have to change yourself. You just have to change the way things are set up, and you can get the results you want.” Full interview.

Closing General Session “Living Beyond Limits” (11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.) — Amy Purdy, model, actress, and champion Paralympic snowboarder: “I believe passionate vision, vision that is so real you can feel it, is a huge driving force in our lives. I believe we should each write, and follow, our own storyline, guided by whatever we’re most passionate about.” Full interview.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.