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Too Many Awards -- Or Not Enough?

The principal of my daughter’s elementary school many years ago went on and on at an assembly praising staff members and volunteer parents for a variety of contributions. “I know we tend to thank a lot of people around here and it’s taking a long time,” she said in a friendly, unapologetic tone. “But that’s too bad!” She had an instant fan.


Leadership gurus preach the value and necessity of appropriate praise as a cornerstone to generating intended results. Like pistachio nuts, investments and extra golf balls, it’s one of those things you can’t have enough of.


The same can be said for professional award programs – even though there are so many of them. The Top 25 This. The Top 25 That. For innovators. For up-and-comers. For lifetime achievers. For being good. For being nice. For being generous. For just being!


Yet I keep coming up with the same reaction: Bring ‘em on!


I’m currently helping the Convention Industry Council stir up interest and nominees for its Hall of Leaders. One of the most respected recognition programs in the meetings and conventions business, we like to think of it as our industry's equivalent to baseball’s Hall of Fame (which made some news of its own today). Along with the Hall, the CIC last year added the Pacesetter Awards for innovative and younger professionals -- a necessary and intelligent strategy by CIC to create a program that relates to today’s stars in context with yesterday’s icons. We’ve even coined the tagline, “By Celebrating Our History, We Are Inspired To Make It.”


Yet people and organizations can be territorial. “We already have too many award programs honoring rising stars,” they say. In fact, several of them are called exactly that – the Rising Star awards. No doubt, you could find award programs at each of CIC’s 31 member organizations, to say nothing of each of their regional chapters as well.


Say, have you won an award recently? What did you do with it? Where did you put it? Is it on your desk? In your bookcase? Included in your email signature? On your website? Did you issue a press release? Did you tell your friends? Was your mother thrilled?


Ever enter a hotel, better yet a hotel sales office, or a restaurant and see a dozen plaques recognizing the venue for outstanding something, often from local or trade media? In my publishing days, we’d give laminated awards to meetings venues, but not before checking their Wall of Fame to make sure ours was bigger than our competitors.’


People love to be recognized – and the meeting and conventions industry loves to recognize them. For my two cents, that’s a wonderful thing. There are thousands and thousands of people in our industry – enough for every association to issue a weekly award in 20 categories and still not cover everyone. I mean, what do supermarkets do after every employee has been named Employee of the Week? Does anyone get hurt?


Cindy D’Aoust, COO and Interim CEO of Meeting Professionals International (a CIC member), said the industry has to think and act like a collaborative whole, as partners, with the greater good the primary objective – in this case, honoring the doers and achievers as often and as shamelessly as possible. In fact, her latest column in MPI’s One+ magazine focuses on just that – the need for industry groups to work together, which to my way of thinking includes collectively celebrating the good. Let’s not fret if too many people are being honored and not enough people are buying sponsorships.


Not long ago I came across -- and have them in a little frame in my office -- the “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.” One of them, the Law of Influence, states, “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.” Want to feel good about yourself? Nominate a colleague for recognition today. It doesn’t have to be the Hall of Leaders or the Pacesetters (although that would be nice -- deadline is Feb. 1, if you’re wondering), but let’s take an inordinate amount of time to praise and thank as many people as we can. It’s a noble undertaking -- and if you ever think we’re devoting too much time to it, well, uh…..that’s too bad!

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