Look What I Found Outside My Box

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

My comfort zone is my box. It’s oh so comfortable, warm and inviting. Inside my box is my daily/weekly/monthly routine and it’s awesome! I work from home, have only a dog to look after and have an amazing husband who does all the hard work for our home life.

My box has plenty of time for leisure activities (i.e.- watching Royals games) and fun outings (i.e.- going to Royals games). My box also has time for daily walks with the dog and home cooking experiments. My box is a wonderful place of true comfort and joy.

And yet, there are things that need to change in my life. To fully address them I need to get – out – of – my – box.

Look What I Found Outside My Box!Getting out of my box is uncomfortable, but it’s true what they say…outside your box is where the MAGIC happens. Here are some lessons I learned recently when I changed my ‘box’ behavior and did something different…

Working With a Professional Athletic Trainer

(Thanks Tim at TimCroughFitness.com!) Working with a personal trainer for the first time in my life has been unexpectedly…FUN. My box is thinking… “How could this be fun…it’s working out, right?” Yet, the MAGIC is in learning a new way to “workout” that doesn’t feel like a drain and is actually challenging to my mind, body and spirit.

Making a Daily and Weekly Task List

Making a daily task list each day/week and then knocking it out makes me feel accomplished. Lately, my box was in control of my time and wasn’t managing it very well.

Now, MAGIC has helped me realize that getting the garbled thoughts out of my head and into a task list each morning keeps me focused and allows me to be much more productive.

Being Proactively Thankful

Being thankful is a powerful attitude adjuster. My box is like… “Yeah, yeah…we have a lot to be thankful for and let’s move on.” But MAGIC has shown that if I use gratitude in a specific way each day it helps me keep a positive attitude.

I’m amazed that much MAGIC can happen outside my box. I’m thinking about staying here for awhile.

I Waited 18 Months For This

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

18 months ago.

That’s when I first met with a promising prospect.

After our initial meeting, I was convinced they would be an excellent partner for MJMeetings. Their needs aligned well with my professional experience, they had a corporate culture that resonated with me, and they respected how my unique skill set could help them.

But 18 months ago they were going through a transition on their Executive Team. A key executive was retiring but hadn’t yet named a retirement date. Once a retirement date was set, a new executive was hired. The transition plan had to take place after retirement parties, both internal and external, etc.

18 months.

hourglassI had no choice but to be patient because I understood the timing wasn’t right for them to begin working with a new meetings partner.

Through the transition, I maintained steady communication with my contacts and reassured them I was the right partner for when they were ready to move forward.

18 months.

Now, after a recent meeting with them, they’re ready to move forward. This experience has reminded me about the critical power that timing has in the life-cycle of my business. And that persistence and patience is the only way my business will grow.

I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to know that the timing is finally right for my new client.

I waited 18 months for this.

I can’t wait to get started.

You Get Out Of It What You Put Into It

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

I’ve been a member of a professional association for 15 years and I believe the age-old saying is true:

“You get out of it what you put into it.”

Membership in the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) has been extremely rewarding and it’s because I’ve always been highly involved at both the national level and locally with the Heartland Chapter.

As a Past-President of our chapter, I was recently asked by the current President and President-Elect to facilitate a strategic planning session for the current leadership group. I was humbled and nervous at first, but after giving it more thought I realized that I would be getting a lot more than I would be giving. Here’s why:

Rookies Need Vets

PCMA Heartland Chapter“Rookie” leaders look to “Veterans” to gain insight and grow more quickly.

In sharing my experiences, I’m able to help the new crop of leaders walk a little taller and feel more confident about the direction they’re heading.

At the same time, I’m getting more out of my membership by helping in a way that is unique to me and my past experience.

Strategy Requires History

It occurred to me that a strategic planning session wouldn’t be as productive without first giving a bit of a history lesson to everyone to help set the stage. Our chapter is only 21 years old, but many of the current leaders have only been involved for a few years.

I realized it was critical to walk them back through the history of what makes our chapter great – the active members, the organizations who sponsor us, and the unique culture that has developed over time.

Vision Doesn’t Occur In A Vacuum

From 30,000 feet you can see a lot more than when you’re standing on the ground. So with a good shared understanding of the history of past successes and failures, rookies and vets came together to create a vision for the future that was solid as a rock. It was clear to all of us: We will create a stronger future by working together as a team.

My experience that day as the strategic planning session facilitator was rewarding in many ways. Most of all, I was able to connect on a unique and more personal level with our current leadership group. The best ideas are formed when leaders come together, share experiences and learn from each other.

And in the end, it was a great reminder that…You get out of it what you put into it.


“I Hate Event Planning!”

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

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone new, described what I do for a living to them and get the response, “Oh, I hate event planning. How do you do it?”

What I’ve come to realize is that, for many people, meeting and event planning is like getting a root canal or giving your dog a bath…not fun. I think a lot of people can’t understand how managing multiple tasks and tracking every detail of an event could ever be “fun”.

Listen, I get it…like any profession, there’s plenty in my day-to-day job that isn’t fun. On the flip side, there’s enough challenge in my role that I do enjoy and, thankfully, after 20 years, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Here’s what I always tell old friends and new acquaintances who don’t like event planning: “Why don’t you hire me to do it for you?”

Why should you spend time doing something that isn’t your job and that you don’t like doing? Why not have an expert who will not only execute it at a very high level but also very likely save you money at the same time?

My skills at negotiating discounts with vendors often will pay for a part, if not all, of my fee to handle the total execution of the event. Many people don’t even realize that their meeting or event possesses the power to earn discounts and concessions…which is just one of the many reasons why you need an expert on your side. Oh, and never mind the added benefit of me helping mitigate risk by ensuring your vendor contracts are legally sound.

Hate event planning? Enough already. Hire a professional. You’ll be glad you did.

Guest Post: 6 Thoughts From My 10-Day Summer Vacation

My husband Mic and I recently took a summer vacation to California. He wrote a blog post about it for the company he works for, Blue Gurus. He did such a good job with it that I wanted to share it with my network as well. There are some great lessons here for all of us to remember.

I hope you enjoy the article. We really did have a great trip.

Also, if you have any topics you’d like me to consider for future blog posts, drop me a note at missy@mjmeetings.com.

Thanks, as always, for your support of me and MJMeetings!


P.S. – My 5-Course Meal Contest is still in full swing! Help me find my next client and I’ll cook for you and a guest!


Hi everyone…it’s Mic. My wife Missy and I recently got back from a 10-day vacation in California. We had a great time and I wanted to share a few thoughts and experiences from the journey:

1. Take vacations.

http://www.danapointharbor.com/This one might seem obvious, but I thought it was worth mentioning because it’s easy to get busy and never get a vacation on the calendar.

Each and every one of us needs to make a conscious effort to take time off and unplug from the stress that comes from work and day-to-day life.

Missy and I typically take 3-4 day “long weekend” vacations and I have to say it was really nice to have 10 days to disconnect and enjoy ourselves.

2. Go someplace you haven’t been before…and EXPLORE.

I’d never been to San Diego before. I really enjoyed the tour of the USS Midway, riding a golf cart around Coronado Island, checking out the Gaslamp District, eating an amazing meal at Juniper and Ivy (owned by Richard Blais, winner of Top Chef All Stars), and doing a beer tasting at Ballast Point Brewery.

3. Become one with nature. Check out a National Park.Sequoia National Park Bear (Custom)

It was a long drive from San Diego, but we really enjoyed our visit to Sequoia National Park.

We did a couple of hikes, saw the world’s largest tree, and were thrilled to see four black bears and several deer.

On top of that, just being out in a peaceful, natural setting with nature and the fresh air was extremely relaxing.

4. Spend time with friends and family.

Jocko and FamilyDuring our trip, we were able to reconnect with friends living in California that we’ve known for years. We were also able to spend an afternoon with Missy’s cousin and family, who we hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years.

I’ve known this for years, but sharing experiences with friends and family is what life’s all about…and we really cherished the opportunity to mix that into our vacation.

Reconnecting (and laughing) is just so darn good for the soul.

5. Eat well.

Missy and I are total foodies, so enjoying a few good meals is always a part of our vacation experience.

I mentioned the incrTuna tar taredible meal at Juniper and Ivy, but we also enjoyed my favorite food, sushi, while on Coronado Island, had some great Mexican food in Orange County, and grilled out one night with friends.

You only get one shot at this life, so eat well.

6. Do something you’ve never done before.

I’ve often said “Outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.” While it can be hard to practice that in your day-to-day life, vacations give you the perfect opportunity to do something different.

On this trip, we went sailing for the first time ever. My friend Mike Sailing had been taking sailing lessons and chartered a boat from Dana Point Harbor.

It was a lot of fun, even though the dramamine didn’t quite prevent a few of us from feeling sea sick. Hard to get your “sea legs” growing up in Kansas, I guess.

In closing, I hope this post has inspired you to plan your next vacation. I’d love to hear about any exciting adventures you’ve already experience or have coming up!

Who knows…maybe you’ll inspire me to book my NEXT vacation!

Mic Tree (Custom)


Help Find My Next Client and I’ll Make You a 5-Course Gourmet Meal!

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

Since launching MJMeetings in January 2014, I’ve been actively pursuing clients looking to partner with an experienced and passionate professional to more effectively run their meetings and events.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some great clients and now I’m looking for a couple more. With that in mind, I’m offering a new, mouthwatering incentive to friends and colleagues.

Many of you know that I enjoy gourmet cooking and entertaining…and I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it. If you don’t believe me, just ask my husband and Sous Chef, Mic. I very much enjoy dining with friends and awesome people who are soon-to-be friends.


So if you like eating great food and want to help a woman-owned small business, this offer is for you!

Your Challenge, Should You Choose To Accept It

If you send me a qualified referral who becomes a client, you and a guest will be invited to our home for a 5-course gourmet meal…personalized to your tastes!
(NOTE: If you don’t live in Kansas City, you’ll have to get yourself here for the meal!)

What Does An Ideal MJMeetings Client Look Like?
An ideal MJMeetings client would be any U.S.-based company or association that has meetings and events (think Board Meetings, Annual Sales Meetings, Incentive Trips, Educational Seminars, etc.)

(Note: Companies often have administrative assistants, marketing, or sometimes even their Executives (yes, I’m not kidding) plan their meetings. Click here to learn why that isn’t smart business.)

Thank you! I look forward to celebrating a new client with you over a delicious meal! If you have any questions, call me at 913-645-6649 or email me at missy@mjmeetings.com.

How I Taught An Executive That Her Admin Wasn’t The Answer

Missy Johnson, CMPAuthor: Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

Most chief executives I’ve met think their administrative support staff are invincible. Make no mistake. Many of them are incredibly talented, which makes them great at supporting others in the workplace.

However, through no real fault of their own, they don’t often have the specific skillsets necessary to effectively plan meetings and events.

Recently I had a conversation with a chief executive that shed light on the fact that the skills and technical expertise I possess are VERY different from that of her admin. She seemed entirely unaware (even surprised) that the skills and expertise I bring to successful meeting and event planning weren’t things that her admin could do.

I went on to explain the many things that I could bring to her organization that her admin wouldn’t, such as:

Savings Negotiator

Much of my role is negotiating better deals with hotel venues, caterers, decorators, trade show vendors and more. When you spend as much time as I do negotiating deeper discounts, you learn very quickly what vendors are willing to discount…and what they aren’t. Years of doing this has taught me that I know what to ask for and what to avoid.

ROI Master

With savings comes a return on investment. I’m able to demonstrate the ROI for every single meeting I plan because I know what fixed costs have been reduced due to my relationships with vendors. I’m also able to demonstrate the value of my time to each client with this data-driven report.

Risk Manager

Through my knowledge and experience, I navigate tricky contract clauses and limit risk on behalf of my clients. We have some very industry-specific language in vendor agreements for meetings and events that can proactively limit liability and manage risk.

Big Picture Thinker

Planners by definition are meant to plan ahead for all scenarios and identify blind spots. We’re able to strategically and proactively plan for all possible scenarios while also paying attention to the details. I call it “big picture planning” and it only comes with years of experience planning meetings of all shapes and sizes.

These examples helped the executive see that her admin, while amazing at what she does every single day, doesn’t have these critical skills. She also realized that by allowing me to focus on their meetings it would free up her admin to work on the tasks she was actually hired to do in the first place!

Passion Matters

Missy Johnson, CMPAuthor: Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

We all have a passion for something in our lives. It might be a passion for a sports team, a passion for your faith, a passion for building things, a passion for helping others, and so on.

Some of us are fortunate enough to have a passion for the work we do. It gives us strength, purpose and allows us the freedom to grow and learn. I have a passion for what I do and know it makes a meaningful difference. Here’s why:

Passion Drives Quality

Because I bring passion to my work every day, it helps drive a quality that simply wouldn’t exist if I didn’t have it. Giving 100% on every task is something that separates those who have passion for what they do vs. those who don’t. I hold myself to a very high standard and take great pride in providing quality meeting professional services for my clients.

Passion MattersPassion Brings Expertise

Having passion is what has driven me to become a trusted and respected expert in my field. I’ve spent countless hours earning (and keeping) my Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation.

I’ve spent extra time earning my clients trust by giving expert advice through years of real-world learning on the job. Additionally I work hard to go above and beyond in contract negotiations for my clients in situations where I know liability and risk management are at stake.

Passion = Success

Without a passion for my career and industry, I wouldn’t be nearly as successful, personally or for my clients. My passion helps me win negotiations, manage risk and provide successful meeting outcomes. Working with a passionate, experienced meeting professional isn’t a requirement for businesses…but it is SMART business.

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3 Tips To Networking with Purpose

Missy Johnson, CMPI’ve recently attended a few networking events with other business professionals. At one of these events, I knew many people in the room already and had an established rapport with most of them.

At the other two, I attended without knowing who would be in attendance, assumed I would know no one, but was eager to meet new people.

As a relatively new business owner, I’ve realized that making time for these networking events is critical to the success of my business in the short…and in the long…term. Staying in touch with my own community of established connections over 20 years in the meetings industry is important, but networking outside of my industry is equally important.

Here are a couple of things that I focus on at networking events to get the most out of them:

Bring A Good Attitude…And A Smile

Who likes to talk to a grump or someone who just looks like they’ve had a crummy day? We’re all naturally attracted to people who look happy, well-groomed and are approachable.

What’s more approachable than a big smile and a good attitude when it comes to meeting new people? I remind myself that no matter what type of day I’ve had, I need to be present in the moment and enjoy the opportunity to mix and mingle with people who have similar interests.

If I don’t think I can bring these things and give my attention to the moment, it’s better to bow out and attend the next one when I have a healthier mindset.

NetworkingGet Comfortable Talking To Strangers

It doesn’t come natural to most of us to enter a room of strangers and just start introducing yourself.

This is something that master networkers get comfortable with very quickly and I’ve always made a point to force myself to do it in networking situations where I don’t know anyone.

The more you do it, the more comfortable you become. It’s also easier if you know what you’re going to say before you approach a stranger or group for the first time. I typically go with something like…“Hi, I’m Missy Johnson…(smiling)…this is my first time attending this event…have you been before?…Who do you work with? Are you here alone or with other colleagues?”

The simple act of thinking this first step through makes it easier to engage with someone I’ve never met. 95% of the time, the conversation flows naturally from there.

Follow-up Is Key

It’s pretty easy to meet new people at an event and then completely forget that you met them. Or, even worse, let them forget that they met you. I aim to exchange business cards with everyone I meet so that I have their contact information and can check out their website to learn more about the company they work for.

I’ll look to see if their business might be a good fit for my services. In addition, if it’s someone I had a great conversation with and want to be sure to stay in touch, I may send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. I always do this with a personalized note saying “It was great to meet you at the event last night and I’d love to stay connected”..or something along those lines.

It’s common sense but not always common practice: People that follow up leave more of a lasting impression with people they meet.

What other networking tips do you have? How do you typically break the ice when you meet someone new? What follow up techniques have you used that have proven effective?

I’m In Love With The Kansas City Royals!

Missy1985I’ve lived in Kansas City most of my life and, for many reasons, have grown to love the city that I call home.

I love our beautiful boulevards, our eye-catching fountains, our walkable communities and our plentiful farmers markets.

But right now my number one reason I love it is my ever-growing infatuation for the Kansas City Royals.

Since about mid 2013, the boys-in-blue have captured my heart…and I’m all in! In fact, my husband Mic is getting a little concerned that I’ve gone over the edge with all of this Royals love.

Since the mid-1980’s, we didn’t have a lot to cheer about, so only die-hard baseball fans paid much attention.

But all of that has changed with our current roster of young, tough and humble players, who use defense and strong pitching as to challenge and frustrate other teams.

MicandMissyRoyalsThey’re a great group of talented players who are so much fun to watch in action. And this season they’ve also found their power at the plate which is making them an ever tougher opponent.

I watched or listened to well over 100 games last season as we made a historically epic run to the World Series after capturing the American League pennant in amazing fashion.

And now, in 2015 for 162 regular season games from April – September, I’m once again captivated by anything and everything Royals.

The Royals have also helped me find balance as I juggle finding new business, executing meetings logistics for my clients, and learning how to be a better small business owner. I have the Royals schedule loaded onto my calendar so each day I know when and where my boys are playing.

RoyalsFansTaking it a step further, I often schedule my time around being able to, at the very least, listen to the radio broadcast or keep up with the the score on my MLB app.

I’m motivated to handle all of my job responsibilities at a high level when they’re not playing so that I can fully enjoy the games when they are – even if that means a mid-day, mid-week game.

You see, for me personally, this is one of the best benefits of being an independent business owner: I decide how to spend my time.

A happy Missy is better for me, for Mic and for my clients. I’m simply better at my job when I make time for my favorite leisure activity – watching the Kansas City Royals!

Play ball!