Why I Went Undercover as an Event Team Member for a Day–And What I Learned In the Process

Playing with the red shoes One phrase was on loop through my head throughout the day:

“Big girl shoes, you can do this!” 

“We need more hot water and coffee in the VIP breakfast room, as soon as possible, please.”  It wasn’t the first time I’d tracked down the hotel catering staff with the request that had gotten lost in the busy hustle.

Out of coffee?  Not cool!  If anyone in the room was half the coffee lover I am… I wasn’t about to let them down.

That might seem like an easy request to make.  But for me, making a request, especially more than once and when I had to walk through doors with the foreboding label “staff only” plastered across them, was REALLY pushing myself.

Throughout the day I got to play…

  • Gopher (Need more pens?  I’m on it!)
  • Bouncer (yes, all 5’0″ of me… “VIP lunch is right through this door, enjoy your meal” and “This area is reserved for VIPs but there’s a lovely restaurant just down the hall and to the left.”)
  • Order form collector and decision re-enforcer (“Excellent choice, this program is fantastic for X results, you’re going to love it, and their team will be in touch via email with you after the event.”)
  • Special request helper (“Yes, let me see what the kitchen can do for you…”)
  • Frustrated person whisper (“I apologize for that problem, and you’re right, totally not cool so how can I make this better for you?”)
  • Bottled water deliverer to the stars (Wait, I have to walk ON STAGE while the program is happening to deliver this?!  Deep breaths and boy was I thankful I wore flat-ish boots instead of tall heels I might fall off as I walked up the stairs and on to the stage…)
  • Detective crawling on the floor (Sure, I’ll go look under all the chairs in the room for that thing you taped under the seat that’s still missing in action.)
  • Crowd control (in my “Mom” voice, “Please move into the main event room, we’ll be starting in the next few minutes” then “If everyone could please exit into the networking room…”)

And whew!  While I found that I really enjoyed finding ways to help people have a great experience and playing behind the scenes, I also came away with a completely new appreciation for event teams.  I had no idea how many little pieces they somehow keep together and how assertive they’ve got to be to make things happen.

I’m pretty introverted… and that may be an understatement.  But I put on my purple (event team color for the day), pulled on my knee high boots and stepped into who I had to be for the day to do what I’d committed to do and do it to the very best of my ability.

What’s on your list?

See, I’ve got this list of the areas I am aware that I need to make progress in, based on what I want to accomplish in business and life.  Learning how to be more assertive, ask for things directly, and interact with people more confidently is high on that list.

So throwing myself into the experience of an event team member for a day was a step in that direction.  Plus I got to wear a cool headset and play with the team radio and a cool group of event people.

The next day I was drained, but I walked away excited that I’d made it through the day without any tears and successfully stepped up when needed.

A year ago I couldn’t have done it.  I’d have been crying in the bathroom at the first complaint over breakfast and run away the moment someone wanted through the door before they were allowed.

Those who know me and love me sometimes let me off easy when it comes to these types of situations.  I needed to switch my environment to one where I was expected to show up and do what needed done.  No excuses or “but this is who I am and how I am” justifications allowed.  I had to go undercover.

How’s this tie into blogging and business? 

Blogging requires getting out of your comfort zone to be vulnerable in your writing, to promote yourself and pitch your blog, to create the opportunities you need to get in front of your readers, be you and break out of the crowd.

Those butterflies in your stomach are the same no matter which area of your comfort zone you’re pushing beyond.  So learning to manage it in one context helps in others.

I read The 4 Hour Workweek a couple years back and I remember Tim Ferriss describing how he’d lie down on the floor in a public place to get past worrying what other people think.  I’m exploring my own versions of that exercise.  It’s working.

I went “undercover” to a space where no one knew me for the day (okay, a few people recognized me and asked what the heck I was doing on the event team, but I was mostly incognito).  I proved to myself that I could make it through the experience.  That’s an empowering realization.

Question mark

What’s on YOUR list to break out of your comfort zone and push to the next level you need to reach and how can you make it happen?

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  1. For me it is probably going to be public speaking. I want to get more comfortable with it in 2014.
    sushant recently posted… Entrepreneurship Lessons From A Small Business Coach – Mike Kawula (Part 1)My Profile

    1. That’s on my list too, Sushant. Such an important skill for us as entrepreneurs!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

  2. That was a great project for you then. When you are on an event team, you are too busy to think about anything but the job at hand. Did you also find out you have to be a little crazy to be an event planner?
    Daphne Bousquet recently posted… The Ultimate Holiday Party Guide To Jam-Packed WorkshopsMy Profile

    1. Oh definitely! What a great group of slightly-crazy people though. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Time-Saving Hacks to Keep Your Blog Visible During the Holiday SeasonMy Profile

  3. For me, it is getting out in front with my expertise. Planning a high end implementation experience – big jump to claim the expertise to pull that off.

    1. Hey Meredith, knowing you, you have SUCH expertise to share. Jump–you’ve got the wings to carry ya!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Why I Went Undercover as an Event Team Member for a Day–And What I Learned In the ProcessMy Profile

  4. thanks for sharing this, Michelle. Just like Sushant, Public Speaking is also on my list. I’m starting with Google Hangouts on Air, which is already public enough for me. ‘The whole world’ is pretty public, right? But then I also need to do some smaller live speaking gigs in front of a real live crowd. I can handle up to 25 people right now. Let’s see if I can do 50 in 2014 ;-)
    Sarah recently posted… Expert Interview with Michelle Shaeffer – Blogging for BusinessMy Profile

  5. My big bug-a-boo is having my picture taken and displayed. Totally ridiculous problem considering I don’t have much trouble with live presentations, including TV, radio, and community stage. But boy, ask me to sit and pose for a pic, or turn and hold while you take an impromptu shot … that’s hard.

    I’m the master of “dentist” shots. You know, mouth open, eyes closed. So displaying pics isn’t easy, and I even have trouble admitting a decent pic when I get one.

    But like you, Michelle, I’m deliberately working on doing what’s needed anyway. So, despite that it’s taken me several all-nighters to put some new pages together on my website (static home, freebie landing page, etc … pages that needed my mug shot) … all-nighters because I had procrastinated my daylight hours away and I was determined to at least get something live by morning. And I did it. Ain’t perfect. But for the most part my heart’s stopped racing when I look at those pages and see my face smiling back at me.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. *-* It’s inspiring.
    Kathy Henderson-Sturtz recently posted… First step in overcoming procrastination is acknowledging your problemMy Profile

  6. Hi Michelle,

    What lies ahead often determines what steps we need to go for. Breaking out from the comfort zone may readily not be pleasing at the moment but it surely is necessary if one needs to make a mark in blogging.

    I share your experience and insights and will gladly do all it takes to make my blogging succeed. We learn everyday because we are open to success!

    Sunday – kingged.com contributor


  7. Michelle,

    Excellent action advice on how we can all learn to evolve through different channels. I love your down to earth approach to life and implementation actions. Don’t ever stop sharing! It’s helps all of us to stay determined and persistent in our quest for fulfillment. THANK YOU!

  8. That’s a great project you did. Sometimes, we need to get out of our comfort zones to learn new things and shake things up a bit.
    Andy Bland recently posted… Auto ResponderMy Profile

  9. I have done a lot of what you wrote about however I do need to get into controlling the time I spend on the computer that is non-productive. When you talk about “Blogging requires getting out of your comfort zone……….to promote yourself and pitch your blog……and break out of the crowd.” you are talking to me. I tend to leave comments to the same people all the time instead of looking for new people to contact. I am not involved with near enough forums. I really have work to do in 2014
    Chef William recently posted… Puerto Vallarta Restaurants KoshiMy Profile

  10. Hi Michelle,

    Sounds like you had a really good experience and most importantly you took away so much positive inspiration.

    What you said here…
    “Those who know me and love me sometimes let me off easy when it comes to these types of situations”…

    Being the youngest I know how it feels to be ‘let off’ in these sorts of situations. Which I regret because I now have to improve on lack of confidence, where others it seems confidence is their second nature!

    Thanks for reminding me to break out of my comfort zone.

    Naomi recently posted… 5 Powerful Quotes to Cure Any ‘Sitting on the Fence’ Start-upMy Profile

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