We chose a topic that would challenge us and our audience: running events that stand out from all the others – or, as Seth Godin would say, creating purple cows.
This not only meant we had to enlighten people on how to plan a remarkable event, but we had to create one ourselves out of this workshop so they could experience what one feels like.
After all – we promised them the best.
Did we do this as an egotistical stunt, to boost our own fame, or to put down the other workshops and their presenters? Of course not. We did it because it pushed us to create a better workshop than we thought possible. We had to be more creative, engaging, and flexible in delivering the presentation and took some rather large risks along the way. If you set the expectation that you will be great, you will work hard to ensure you live up to that expectation.
Too often people use the mantra of “under promise and over deliver,” but I think that is the easy way out. You set the expectation that you’re not the best option out there – that someone else could do it better than you. Maybe that’s why your colleague got the promotion, or your unit didn’t get the funding it requested, or that your crush chose someone else to take to the movies on Friday night. You under promised, so they found the better option.
My mantra, on the other hand, is to “over promise and over deliver.” I will tell you that I run great events not because I think I can, but because I know that I will then work my tail off to ensure that they are. To over deliver to someone with already high expectations is a challenge that may involve a little creativity on your part, collaboration with a unit you haven’t worked with before, or the courage to do things differently than you have in the past. It is true – these high expectations are scary, and sometimes stressful, but they also are super rewarding. Warren and I didn’t know that the Senior Director of Student Development and the title sponsor of the conference would be at our workshop.
But then again, great people aren’t attracted to those that under promise.
Sidenote: Warren Springer, an incredible 2nd year student at UBC, did a stand-up job at presenting his first workshop at the SLC. He did such an amazing job that we won the Best of the SLC award for Best Collaborative Workshop between a staff/faculty/alumnus and a student. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of him! But now, I’m more anxious to see what award Warren will win next year. Which one will it be buddy?