Do What You Love & Love What You Do

Missy JohnsonPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

My favorite t-shirt reads “Do What You Love & Love What You Do”.

I know for a lot of people that’s actually harder than it sounds, but for me, it’s true and has never been more meaningful since I started MJMeetings in 2014.

As a small business entrepreneur, I’ve made the decision to get up every single day and do what I love for myself, my family and my clients – Meeting and Event Planning for people and companies who ‘get’ it.

Just like anything you set your mind and spirit to do, it’s not always easy. There are many days where I wake up and think “Gosh, was this the right decision?” or “Would I be happier working someplace else?

But then I remember the main reason I decided to set out on my own path and embrace working for myself…

It was the unrelenting support of my partner in life, love and work, Mic, who encouraged me to own the experience and forge ahead without looking back.

mic and missyHe convinced me that because I already love ‘what’ I do, that the ‘how’ to do it would soon follow. He helped me believe that when you’re so passionate about something and you have a work ethic that is unrivaled, anything is possible.

Mic showed me a path and set the example by also working from home in a small business that embraces, first and foremost, a passion for helping people. He was the one who made me believe that I could actually do what I love every day while also building a business and a life for myself.

Having all the right tools for entrepreneurship is essential – passion, work ethic, reputation and hunger – but the most important one for me was LOVE…the supportive love that only a true-life partner can provide for another person.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I want to take a moment to thank Mic… thank you for pushing me, believing in me and encouraging me every single day in this journey.

I love you with all of my ROYAL-blue HEART!

Love what you do

How My Passion Inspired Me to Advocacy

Missy JohnsonPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

Advocacy is a word that has been on my mind for several weeks now. With the sharp divide in our nation’s current political climate, the news I read or watch is full of stories about advocacy.

But other words are also often used to describe advocacy – words like passion, compassion and activism.

As I absorb what’s going on around me, I realize that in order to cope with all of it, it’s best for me to break down what often feels very big into smaller, more relevant pieces that affect me and my reality.

That’s why this word – ADVOCACY – has been on my mind lately. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines advocacy as follows:

(a noun) as: (1) the profession or work of an advocate; (2) the action of advocating, pleading for, or supporting a cause or proposal.

To be honest, I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who is a strong advocate for anything in particular. Sure, in conversations with friends or family I’ll vocalize my core values and those that align with my character and the way I think life ‘should’ be. But, I’ve never seen myself as a dedicated disciple to any one cause or movement. Until today.

I realized as I’ve been thinking so much about advocacy, and watching many examples of it recently in the news, that I too am an advocate – a strong and dedicated one – for the meetings industry

Meetings Mean BusinessThis realization just made the big, wide world feel a lot smaller and more meaningful. You see, I identify strongly with the other words often associated with advocacy – passion, compassion and activism – but never made the connection for myself.

I’m a strong supporter of the U.S. Travel Association’s Meetings Mean Business campaign that advances our industry by rallying advocates, working with stakeholders, conducting research, engaging with outside voices and much more.

The Meetings Mean Business Coalition is an industry-wide coalition comprised of over 50 members that unites the meetings industry with one strong voice.

Their messages are powerful and help to showcase the undeniable value that business meetings, tradeshows, incentive travel, and conventions bring to people, business and communities.

If you want to be an advocate for the meetings industry too, explore the MMB website to:

*Download the MMP app which is filled with toolkits, facts and figures.
*Find and contact your government officials to tell them how important meetings are to you.
*Download toolkits and infographics about the true impact of our industry.
*Learn about Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) and how to celebrate it.

Finally, I advocate for my industry in other ways too:

*By earning and maintaining my Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation which holds me to ethical standards.
*By maintaining my 17-year membership in the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) thereby giving them a collective membership voice from which to advocate.
*By acting as a leader within my local chapter of PCMA and encouraging the growth of new leaders.

What about you? Have your turned your passion into advocacy? Share your experiences with me. We’re all in this together.

Interested in learning how I can advocate on behalf of your company to save both time and money on your meetings and events? I’d love to chat. You can reach me at 913-645-6649 or

We All Need a Little Push Sometimes

Missy JohnsonPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

The difficulty with a weekly task is that sometimes you just don’t get to it. Your work and clients become a priority, your day-to-day life becomes more important, or more often than not, you just run out of time.

This has been the issue with my struggle to complete my weekly blog article over the last couple of months.

For meeting and event planners, the Fall is almost always our busiest time of the year. That’s when most membership associations hold their annual conferences…and my clients are no exception.

From August through November, I’m strapped for time and committed to delivering great service to my clients. As a result, other ‘tasks’ get pushed down the list. And, to be honest, sometimes I wonder if anyone is even reading what I write or getting any value from it (And if you are, THANK YOU, and drop me a note and let me know…all bloggers need encouragement from time to time.)

However, being married to your ‘blog coach’ and ‘business marketing manager’ can cause some friction at home when the task of writing the blog doesn’t get done each week.

I shared my frustrations with said ‘blog coach’ last night and he said, “Why don’t you write a blog about why it’s sometimes so hard to write a blog?” Well, that’s a great idea, I thought.

think-like-a-bloggerYou see, not only is it hard to execute blogging because of work/client deadlines and lack of time, but when I’m busy with work, I’m also not as creative or motivated. And so trying to come up with blog topics is really my biggest problem.

For me to feel good about my blog each week, I need to have time to observe my surroundings and as said ‘blog coach’ so often preaches – “think like a blogger”.

What I need to do a better job of is participating in networking and other meetings and then put my meeting planner spin on what’s going on with myself, my network, my clients, my life…and then creatively write about that.

But when I’m wrapped up in deadlines, client work, and other family commitments, it’s REALLY hard to ‘think like a blogger’. Can anyone else out there relate?

So as my busy Fall winds down and I’m wrapping up client projects before the end of the year, I’m recommitting to my weekly blog for 2017 and looking for ways to re-focus, re-engage and re-energize it.

Do you have topics you’d like me to write about? Do you have particular types of posts you’ve read from me that you want to see more of? Do you have questions about your meetings you’d like me to answer? Please leave your comments below or email me at

We all need a little push sometimes.

250,000 Reasons Why My ROI Report Is Your New Best Friend

Missy JohnsonPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

One of the things I find most rewarding about what I do is saving money for my clients! A large part of my responsibility is to negotiate savings in contracts anywhere and everywhere I can so that my clients save money on their overall meeting budgets.

Sometimes in negotiations, certain discounts of some items don’t seem to save very much on the surface – but, when added to the big picture of overall savings – even the smallest discounts can add up to huge savings.

But overall savings don’t matter if they aren’t recorded, tracked and summarized into a bottom line dollar amount for my clients to see the real value of my negotiating expertise.

That’s why I created The ROI Report. This report shows the hard dollar savings I negotiate on behalf of my clients. It illustrates the real, tangible return on the investment my clients have made…both in me and in my negotiation skills.

The ROI Report tracks savings that were negotiated on everything during the contracting and planning phases. Discounts on guest room rates, food and beverage and audio visual requirements are just the beginning.

My ROI Report also tracks negotiations on discounted rooms for staff, complimentary and upgraded suites, shipment receiving and handling fees, complimentary or discounted Wi-Fi for attendees, electrical discounts and even in-room amenities.

I recently completed the ROI Report for a client who booked a large annual convention at a downtown hotel in a large mid-western city. The savings I negotiated on their behalf added up to almost $250,000!


Sample ROI Report

You read that right. That’s not a typo. A quarter of a million dollars worth of savings – and that’s just for ONE annual meeting! I believe in this report because it simply articulates, in one convenient dollar amount, why my clients should continue to work with me and what my expertise is really worth.

Isn’t that really what it’s all about anyway – proving value through action rather than words?

Interested in learning how I might be able to save your company money on all of those meetings you have each year? Give me a call at 913-645-6649 or email me at

“Hey Missy…Why Do You Blog? Is It Helpful for Your Business?”

Missy JohnsonPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

I’m sometimes asked by people I know, “Why do you blog and is it helpful for your business?”

I originally began blogging back in early 2015 because I’m married to a ‘Blog Coach’, Mic Johnson of Blue Gurus, who told me to do it. So I did. I started blogging because he told me (just like he tells all of his clients and prospects) that blogging can do so many positive things for a small business…heck, for just about any business.

By providing regular content that is shared on my social media channels (I use LinkedIn and Twitter the most), I create top-of-mind brand awareness, generate trust and loyalty, and become a helpful resource for my network and potential clients.

This all sounded great to me back in early 2015 but I still didn’t really understand what it would mean for me or my business.

I recently attended an event for female entrepreneurs held in KC by a group called Athena League. The topic was around public relations and marketing for small businesses. The group of expert panelists were all strong advocates for creating your own brand and your own content via a blog. They encouraged audience members to grow their own social networks organically, but to also publish relevant, helpful content on a regular basis to ensure you’re in control of your ‘public’ persona online.

The panel discussed three key factors to a successful blog:

1. Provide content on a regular, consistent basis.

2. The content you create should always be helpful and interesting for your audience.

3. Your content should ‘live’ on your own website and not a third-party site.

Mic Johnson

Mic Johnson

These things sounded very familiar to me because it’s essentially the same message Mic gave me back in early 2015 (and non-stop ever since) but for some reason it sounded different this time around (probably because it wasn’t my husband telling me!).

I think this was in large part because it was coming from some very successful female business PR professionals, but also because I’ve come to understand more on my own about just how important my weekly and monthly blog effort really is.

I’ve now been blogging about 3-4 times per month for almost two years. Believe it or not, I’m just now really starting to understand that my blog is really important to my business and that it provides intangible returns over time that couldn’t have been obtained any other way.

When a business colleague greets me at a cocktail reception to say they really enjoyed my blog last week…or a current client says that they totally agree with my views on a particular topic that I wrote about…or a friend forwards one of my posts to someone I’ve never met because they think I can be helpful to them….ALL of these are those little ROI moments that remind me that the time and effort I put into my blog is all well worth it.

So I have to say it…honey, you were right! Thank you, Mic Johnson, for showing me the path to take for this journey and for helping me get my blog out each and every week!

What Happened In Las Vegas Will Stay With Me For A Long Time

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

I spent four days last week at the Wynn | Encore hotel in Las Vegas for a meeting planner forum. The goal of the event was to offer meeting planners an opportunity for education, a bit of peer-to-peer networking and to familiarize us with the Wynn | Encore brand.

The event accomplished all three goals, but the attention to each and every detail within the physical property, and in the event itself, left me with a lasting impression about this unique brand that I won’t soon forget.

Wynn (1)Butterflies | HAPPY

It was early on the first day of walking around the hotel’s public space that I noticed a butterfly theme. There were colorful butterflies in the carpet pattern along the promenades and artfully displayed in the mosaic tiles at the hotel entrances.

But it wasn’t until the third day that I looked up and noticed the butterflies along the ceiling as we entered one of the hotel theaters for a show. The butterfly is a strong symbol of transformation because of its impressive process of metamorphosis. This aligns perfectly with the Wynn’s ability to transform the guest’s mood upon arrival into one that is lighter and brighter – much like a butterfly.

Wynn2Modern Necessities | GRATEFUL

Don’t expect to hunt all over for a power outlet near your bed or at the work desk because a pop-up outlet/USB plug-in is right there where you need it. Want to easily turn off all the lights in the room when you leave to save energy?

No problem – just use the smart switch at the entrance to the room or near the bed to switch “all on/off” each time you come and go instead of having to run all over the room to hit light switches.

The most impressive detail in regard to modern necessities was when I spotted the drawers below the booths inside their new club, Intrigue.

Wynn (3)Nice for purses and jackets, I thought…until I opened the drawer a little further to reveal a hidden mobile phone/tablet charger with multiple tip adapters, allowing club goers to party until dawn without losing precious power to Tweet and Instagram all night long – while at the same time leaving them feeling like every detail was careful considered.

Giving Back | HUMBLED

Wynn | Encore are the largest donors of used hotel soaps and bathroom amenities to Clean the World’s recycled soap project. This organization collects used hotel soaps and bathroom amenities to make new, fresh soap bars and bathroom hygiene kits for deserving charities in all communities.

As guests, we were able to put together a new hygiene kit and add a personal, inspirational message to the kit we created for the person who will receive it.

HygieneKitWhat an innovative why to accomplish so many good things – unused bathroom products get recycled instead of ending up in a landfill, the hotel gets to do some good while also being green and, as a meeting attendee who interacted with the program, it left me feeling humbled to be able to provide a smile for a person who needs it.

So why did I feel motivated to blog about this experience? Because how you make someone FEEL is so much more important than what you do or say, isn’t it? The careful attention to detail in my experiences at the Wynn | Encore made me feel great about myself and my profession and left me HAPPY, GRATEFUL AND HUMBLED.

Thank you for taking the time to read and share this blog post. And, as always, if you’re interested in learning more about how I can help you save time and money on your next meeting or event, you can reach me at 913-645-6649 or

My Top 5 Lessons From 3 PCMA Education Conferences

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

In the last month, I’ve been on-the-road for three engaging but quite different Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) education conferences and have collected some great lessons along the way.

My travels started in St. Louis for the PCMA EduCon in late June – a conference with the theme “Leading Strategies for Business Events.”

I then packed my passport for Ottawa, Canada at the PCMA Independent Planners Educational Workshop where the theme was “Driving Entrepreneurial Excellence.”

And finally, I recently returned from a weekend with close friends and colleagues at the PCMA Heartland Chapter’s E3 Conference: “Educate, Engage, Experience” in Lake Ozark, MO.

pcmaFor those who don’t know PCMA – it’s the Professional Convention Management Association and the membership organization where I earn my continuing education credits to maintain my CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation.

It’s also where I’ve spent 16 years building a professional and personal network of colleagues and friends. PCMA is known for delivering high-quality, senior/executive level education and these three conferences did just that, so I wanted to share my Top 5 lessons from these three valuable education conferences:

  1. Being Nimble Is A Requirement

At all three conferences, both attendees and speakers spent a fair amount of time discussing the environment of change that we live in now and how it affects the business events we produce. The ability to be nimble and change with the adapting needs of our audience is now an urgency – especially as more Millennials enter the workforce and Boomers continue to retire.

If you don’t change with your audience demographics and their needs, they will find what they are looking for somewhere else!

  1. Educational Trend: Crowdsourcing

PCMA1Crowdsourcing is a term that means curating the content of an educational session in real-time from your audience. Understand what they want to learn about TODAY – then deliver content on that topic TOMORROW.

The PCMA EduCon in St. Louis used this trend and it inspired me to incorporate it into the PCMA Heartland Chapter’s E3 Conference for a panel session. Interested to learn more? You can find specifics about crowdsourcing your content on

  1. Work-Life Blend

I’m taking a cue from PCMA here as they’ve stopped using the phrase ‘balance’ and started using ‘blend’ as it pertains to the way we manage our lives. PCMA conference programming now includes options in almost all of their schedules for attendees to join a morning yoga class or an early morning fun run/walk.

They’re incorporating more options for attendees to take a break from traditional learning models like panels and lectures and offering one-on-one vendor appointments and health or tech ‘bars’ that allow attendees a more blended learning experience.

  1. PCMA2Get What You Give

I’m an active volunteer for PCMA at both the local chapter level and the national level. I serve on committees and help coach and mentor young professionals. Yes, this takes up some of my time and it requires me to be accountable to other members, but it’s totally worth it.

Because I’m active and a volunteer, I meet all kinds of people I normally wouldn’t and it provides opportunities to be exposed to things and places that I wouldn’t otherwise see.

  1. Mix Business with Pleasure

On two of the three trips, my husband Mic joined me and we enjoyed many of the conference experiences together. In both Ottawa and Lake Ozark, we added extra days to fully enjoy the destination with other friends who either lived there or were also traveling there (There’s that work-life BLEND again). We tend to do this often and it really makes business travel so much more enjoyable. It allows me to ‘blend’ my home and business lives so that they are intertwined and therefore that much richer.

If you’re interested in learning more, please post your comments below. And, as always, if you are looking for help in planning your next meeting or event, I’d love to talk to you. You can reach me at 913-645-6649 or

IMG_0595 IMG_0568 IMG_0547

You Can’t Afford To Wait: It’s A Seller’s Market In The Hospitality Industry

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

We’re in the midst of a seller’s market in the hospitality industry and have been building toward it for quite a while. The meetings industry is in a period of robust and healthy levels of growth around the world. It’s good news for hoteliers and convention suppliers, but what about for companies, associations and meeting planners?

According to the American Express 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, many corporations are experiencing growth. When that happens, it leads to the hiring of workplace professionals….which leads to training…which leads to (you guessed it)…live meetings. This growth pattern has been gaining momentum in the last few years and is proving to be even stronger in 2016.

So what’s the fallout? It’s causing hotel inventory in many cities to SELL OUT.

The need for speed is present as hotels are increasingly at capacity in key cities. Working quickly and far in advance to secure key properties has become a necessity and is predicted to be even more significant in 2016. While new hotel builds are in progress, supply has not yet caught up to demand in many popular cities”, says Issa Jouaneh, Senior Vice President and General Manager, AmEx Meetings and Events.

The projection of growth isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Most meeting organizers in both corporate and associations are predicting an increase in total number of meetings planned for 2016 and beyond. In addition, they’re also predicting growth in overall size of each meeting from the previous year.

sellers marketAssociations in particular should pay very close attention to these trends for several important reasons:

  • An increase in demand for rooms and space causes rates to go up…and not just for hotel rooms but for convention center space, transportation vendors and food and beverage expenses. Vendors throughout the industry feel the crunch of high demand and raise prices to meet it.
  • With key cities selling out quickly, demand for second and third tier cities goes up. This means that the dates that you’ve always been able to secure in the springtime in Cleveland for your regional symposium might not be available nine months out. In order to secure these dates now, your association will need to think about booking further out. And, when it comes to booking key first-tier cities like San Diego, Chicago or Boston…you’d better get to it quickly and prepare to be flexible with your day-of-week patterns in order to find a fit.
  • Budgets will be impacted. In a seller’s market, hotels and convention centers can charge higher rates and they won’t offer as many discounted and complimentary concessions. Associations will need to budget more for items like WIFI, audio-visual and room upgrades that were free or discounted in the past.

Need to get jump started on booking your next face-to-face event to avoid some of these pitfalls? Give me a call at 913-645-6649 or email me at and I’ll help you better navigate this seller’s market.

3 Awesome Event Marketing Lessons From March Madness

MarchMadness4Post written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

As a Kansas University alum and spouse to a Jayhawk basketball fanatic, every March Mic and I spend quite a bit of time watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

(And yes, as of the writing of this post, it’s very exciting that the Jayhawks have made it to the Sweet 16 and will continue their quest for another National Championship!)

This year, as I watched TV for countless hours on CBS, TNT, TBS and TRU, I saw much more than just great basketball (but, boy, all of those buzzer beaters were amazing!) I also learned 3 great lessons about event marketing from one of the most powerful not-for-profit associations in the country. Here they are:

1. Clean, Simple, Consistent Design Stands Out

MarchMadness2Bright Jewel Tones, Clear Logo Placements and Consistent Designs win every time. With the tourney being shown across four networks and in nine cities during the first and second rounds, they showed how you can achieve brand recognition without confusing viewers.

The courts in each city were defined by consistent logo placement, bright jewel tones (which look great on TV) that announced the round and city where the games were held.

The clean consistency of the designs in front of the scorers’ tables also stood out to viewers and were easy to see from all TV angles with university and sponsor logos given priority placement.

2. When You Have a Winning Tag Line – Feature It

March Madness is a tag line that’s not only truly descriptive of what takes place for so many teams in the tournament, it also owns an entire month of the year. The NCAA knows that thousands of people wait an entire basketball season for this event.

MarchMadness1March Madness was shown at mid-court in big, bold black and white letters in a way that says, “Yeah, we own this tag line and we love it as much as you do”.

They also used it on the sides of each basket, as a motion graphic coming out of each commercial break or coach/player interview, and on the backs of the chairs where the teams sat.

All of these places received plenty of TV airtime and gave viewers more chances to see their winning tag line.

3. Premium Sponsors Get Premium Attention

The NCAA was masterful at showing how to feature their premium sponsors and give viewers many options for consuming those brands. AT&T, Coca-Cola and Capital One were given the first commercial out of each break about 80% of the time and their logos were featured in live shots both during games and in shots with analysts in-studio.

They also encouraged viewers to download sponsor games, apps and contests online to further engage the audience with the NCAA and the premium sponsors.

Watching March Madness is always a lot of fun, but for this meetings professional, gaining valuable marketing lessons for my clients and future events was priceless.



I Provide Pain Relief For A Living

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

Being a business owner in my third year of business, one thing I continue to learn is how important the role of educating people is to their (and ultimately my) success.

A large majority of people I talk to don’t know what meeting planners do or the value they provide. Even though my title – Meeting & Event Planner – seems descriptive, most people don’t really know anything about the actual work that goes on behind the title.

Allow me to provide one recent example of what I mean…

Recently I got a phone call from the Executive Director of a small medical association. As the conversation got going, I quickly realized she didn’t really understand all of the ways I could help her and her association.

I began by telling her how I could help her association save money when booking their annual meeting. After a minute or two, I quickly realized she didn’t understand all that goes into booking an annual meeting. She went on to explain that she was fairly new to the organization in her role as Executive Director and that the task of booking and planning the annual meeting had always been done in the past by a committee of volunteers. This is an all-too-common dilemma and unnecessary pain point that many associations experience.

pain reliefSo I began educating…

-I talked to her about all of the reasons why she would want a 20-year professional like me on her side.

-I educated her about industry norms for meeting sourcing and booking.

-I told her about how I could use my experience to not only save her association money but also mitigate risk that the association will have to assume with large hotel contracts.

-I mentioned how my 20-year relationships with hotel sales partners could be leveraged for her association’s benefit and the numerous ways this could help save money and deliver real ROI.

-I let her know how using an experienced meeting planner like myself instead of an ever-changing committee of volunteers can provide stability, strength, savings, strategy and history building for her meeting year after year.

In the end, the Executive Director was fascinated by all of the ways we could work together to alleviate the “pain” and uncertainty that she and the association has experienced for years. This is what I really enjoy about what I do…helping associations and companies have better meeting experiences while relieving them of the stress and uncertainty that goes into planning their events.

If you or someone you know is in need of education about how a meeting professional can help you and your next meeting or event, call or email me at 913-645-6649 or