Chief Celebration Officer, Scott Friedman & Associates
After working as an events coordinator for a show productions company and in sales and marketing for a printing company, Scott Friedman found his calling as a professional speaker 28 years ago. Along the way, he has served as president of the National Speakers Association and helped create meaningful organizations such as the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado, International Association of Speakers Bureaus/National Speakers Association Council, Global Speakers Summit and Together We Can Change the World.
"The work he is now doing in Asia is very impressive and is recognized by industry leaders as an incredible bridging of cultures," says Gary Schirmacher, who nominated Friedman. "Scott is an accomplished author and has written books that help readers to bring humor into their professional and personal lives."
As a motivational humorist, Friedman speaks more than 80 times a year, with 30 percent of his time spent in Asia and other global locations. Just back from a trip to Singapore, we caught him in Golden for a brief Q&A.
COM+E: What motivates you to get up and do your job every day?
SF: Life is one long holiday for those who love their work. I love my work. I wake up every day with gratitude and passion to learn more. I love the opportunity to make a difference and collaborate with good people. Loving what you do makes all the difference in the world.
COM+E: How did you get into the meetings and events industry?
SF: Cavett Robert, the founder of the National Speakers Association, encouraged me to become a speaker. Being a collaborator and connector, it seemed natural for me to plan events and meetings and bring like-minded people together.
COM+E: What advice do you have for up-and-comers in the industry?
SF: Collaboration is the new competition. Look for ways to leverage your relationships. Always come from a place of what can I give not what I can get and your life will be filled with abundance.
Best Meeting Planner
Owner, Rocky Mountain Event Consultants
Anyone who becomes active in industry associations quickly crosses paths with Freddie Templeton. She established Rocky Mountain Event Consultants (RMEC) in 1996 after 11 years of working in jobs as varied as helping with Anchorage, Alaska’s bid for the 1994 Olympics, organizing volunteers for the National Western Stock Show, and handling regional marketing and agency administration for Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance.
When Connecticut Mutual was acquired in 1996, she realized it was time to follow her dream to start an event company. "It was strictly a service-driven event company that I started with just my computer and printer and no real capital," Templeton recalls. Soon after, she met and married Keith Templeton, who has owned Fairway Graphics since 1997. The two companies now work side by side handling the administration, promotion, design and printing needs for clients.
In 2000, Littleton-based RMEC added association management to its portfolio, managing seven associations in Colorado over the next 13 years. RMEC has since resigned from all but two: Meeting Professionals International Rocky Mountain Chapter (MPIRMC) and Meetings Industry Council (MIC) of Colorado. As chapter administrator/executive director, RMEC assists the MPIRMC board with all aspects of running the association, including as many as 20 events a year. RMEC has managed MIC since 2006 and is heavily involved in planning the annual educational conference and tradeshow.
"All my business successes have been through relationship building in the hospitality industry and association networking. If people like and enjoy working with you and you do a great job, they are going to recommend you to others," Templeton says.
"Every day is different and our company allows my husband, partner and best friend to collaborate with our other best friends in the hospitality industry on many different types of events and community service projects," she adds. "It is very rewarding to know what you are doing today will be an incredible event when it comes to fruition."
Best Special Events Professional
Kathy Fort Carty
President/CEO, Destination Services Corporation
After 28 years as the owner of a full-service destination management company, it might be challenging to remain motivated. However, Kathy Fort Carty emphasizes that "no two days are alike and I am passionate about the experiences we create for our clients."
She explains, "My time is dedicated to such a wide range of business disciplines that I am certainly never bored. From day to day, I can be working on a big sales presentation, negotiating a hotel agreement, entertaining clients, mentoring a sales manager through a deal, leading an executive team meeting or working with my IT director to implement a new, cool tech initiative."
She graduated from Miami University in Ohio, majoring in public policy, and considered a career in law or politics. She briefly worked a "character building" job in copier sales and then landed in Vail and ran operations for CME Transportation, before buying Destination Services (now DSC) in 1985 at age 23. She is now the president/CEO of a multimillion dollar, five-office, 50-plus employee firm.
DSC now services the entire state of Colorado, Utah and Lake Tahoe, and Fort Carty has been an active industry volunteer as a founding member of Destination Colorado and previously serving as a board member for the Vail CVB (now known as Vail Valley Partnership), Association of Destination Management Executives, Young Entrepreneur Organization and Financial Insurance Conference Planners Association. She also is passionate about mentoring women who have interest in exposing girls to the benefits of being involved in athletics.
Fort Carty has discovered that the meetings and events industry is perfect for people who love a fast-paced, creative and deadline-oriented work environment. "You will be challenged on a daily basis and rewarded for your efforts when you walk into an event and feel the excitement that your concept generated with the attendees," she explains. "It is a high that I can’t describe, and like a great golf shot, it keeps you coming back for more."
Kimberly Forte, CGMP
Senior Sales Manager, The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa
Just walking into The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, an iconic property in downtown Denver, gives Kimberly Forte the drive to do her job as senior sales manager. "I’m immediately inspired walking into The Brown Palace. The hotel’s beauty, the people that keep it running so smoothly and the energy guests bring in with each visit, all make this such a wonderful job," she explains. "Helping clients arrange an event that allows them to take a little piece of The Brown with them is extremely motivating."
Forte first pursued a degree focusing on public relations and advertising before switching gears and studying to become a kindergarten teacher. However, she started working at the front desk at a hotel while in college and found her true passion in the hospitality industry. "From there, I began to work my way through the different departments to gain perspective on the entire operation."
One of her favorite roles was sales coordinator and working with events and clients, which led to her current career path in sales. She has been at The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa for nearly four years after serving as a group sales manager at Loews Hotels. She is immediate past president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Professional Convention Management Association and a board trustee for the Gilmer Institute of Learning for The Society of Government Meeting Professionals.
"When you are passionate and involved, you will increase your learning opportunities, grow your network and refine your skills," she says.
A Denver native, Forte has a passion for the state of Colorado. "I will always want to bring people into this beautiful state, whether it is selling for the one-of-a-kind Brown Palace Hotel or selling different areas of the state," she says. "I truly love this industry and could also see my career taking a turn into sharing that with the next generation by teaching hospitality courses at a university or college."
Associate Director of Group Sales, Breckenridge Hospitality - Vail Resorts
"I love to make people happy and to help give them and create for them an experience they will never forget," says Sarah Franzese, who has been in hotel sales for more than five years, most recently with Breckenridge Hospitality - Vail Resorts for the past two years.
Ironically, it was on her honeymoon in Colorado that she met her first general manager, Christine Hall, at TownePlace Suites by Marriott Colorado Springs. "I guess it was destiny," Franzese says. "About three weeks after our return to Oklahoma, she reached out to me, letting me know she had a sales manager position open."
Franzese worked for Sage Hospitality almost four years, including the position at TownePlace Suites then as area sales manager for Courtyard Denver Downtown, Residence Inn Denver City Center and TownePlace Suites Denver Downtown. Prior to that, Franzese was in the golf business working in sales and operations for courses in Oklahoma City and her hometown of Omaha, Neb., where she graduated from Creighton University. "I love selling for Breckenridge and truly believe all things happen for a reason," she says. "I got married in Breck in 2008, so my life has truly come full circle. It is incredible selling a destination and helping create memories and experiences for clients that they may not otherwise have."
She currently is a member of Meeting Professionals International Rocky Mountain Chapter and part of the Young Professionals Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She previously was involved in the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and has served as volunteer event director for Climb to Conquer Cancer.
Franzese advises other up-and-comers in the meetings and events industry to "take it all in, do as much as you can, volunteer to be on committees, ask questions, take advantage of every educational and networking opportunity and always strive to be the best you can."
Up-and-Coming Special Events Professional
Director of Sales, Wellshire Inn
Sometimes work and life synchronize in a way that can’t be planned, which is exactly what happened to Todd Seymour. After graduating from the University of Denver’s (DU) Daniels College of Business and majoring in Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Management, the hotel school’s dean asked Seymour to stick around and help open the new event center, from unpacking glassware to helping hire the director of sales, Patty Farmer. Meeting Farmer not only taught him to the importance of being involved in industry associations, it introduced him to her daughter, now his wife.
Seymour suspects his interest in hospitality started way back in fourth grade when his class had an assignment to run a cruise ship, and he was assigned the job of hotel manager. His first real job was as a dishwasher at a golf course in Portland, Ore. Since then, he has worked various hospitality jobs at Vail Marriott Mountain Resort and Hotel Denver Tech (now the DoubleTree) and in sales for the past seven years at Wellshire Inn, where he is director of sales. With 20,000 square feet of event space and a golf course, Wellshire Inn hosts approximately 1,000 events a year.
He is a member of several associations, has served on the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) board and currently is on Meetings Industry Council of Colorado’s executive committee. "I feel honored and a bit out of my element sitting at the table with the MIC board," he says.
Steve Bartolin, chairman and CEO of The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, shared a key philosophy when speaking to one of Seymour’s classes at DU: Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves. "I use that in my personal life as well," Seymour shares. "I’m also big on work/life balance. It’s easy to burn out. Take a morning off and go fishing or go skiing on a weekday to avoid the crowds; it keeps everything fresh."
Up-and-Coming Meeting Planner
Meeting Architect, Kinsley Meetings
Littleton must be the hot spot for talented meeting planners with both 2014 Hall of Famers in this category being based there. Before joining Kinsley Meetings seven years ago, Joslyn Strock was thinking of going back to school to finish her degree after taking two years off but "didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up," she reflects.
Her aunt, Debbie Kaylor, executive director of conventions and meetings for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, wisely asked, "What do you like to do?" When Strock responded that she liked planning parties, Kaylor shared more about her job planning meetings. Strock was stunned to find out that it was a "real job" and Kaylor connected her with Metro State University of Denver.
"I started the summer of 2006 in the Hospitality Meetings and Events program and by December 2006, I was hired as the intern at Kinsley Meetings. I graduated in spring of 2008 and was hired as a full-time meeting architect at Kinsley Meetings," she explains. "I thank my Aunt Debbie and adviser Dr. Cynthia Vannucci for showing me the light into this industry I love."
Strock’s early experiences in the hospitality industry were as a server for Egg & I and Epicurean Catering. Her work motto has been, "Ask as many questions as you need to, to be successful. "
Outside of work, she has served as director of membership for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association from 2010 to 2013, and has been involved with the organization since she was student chapter secretary from 2006 to 2008.
Greeting each day and doing what she loves makes work fun for Strock. "My job is enjoyable, so it is easy to go to work and be there every day," Strock says. "I love the fact that every day is different and I learn new things every day."