From event professional to CMO: PCMA’s Traci DePuy’s career journey

2 Event professional ladies in the frame
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Episode description

It's not just about logistics—it’s about crafting event narratives that truly resonate with your audience.

This is a philosophy that Traci DePuy, CMO of PCMA, encourages us to follow.

In this episode of Great Events, Rachel Andrews and Traci explore crafting impactful experiences and professional growth within the events industry.

Traci reveals the multifaceted nature of event success, weaving together strategic alignment, technological innovation, and personal development.

She discusses the critical elements that contribute to the success of impactful events. Using examples like EdgeIcon in Detroit and the SEMA summit in Seattle, she illustrates how aligning objectives, branding, and location can reshape expectations and drive success.

You won’t want to miss it.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • By embracing AI tools like Spark, you can make your event planning easier and more impactful
  • Boost attendee engagement and create memorable experiences by aligning your event objectives, branding, and location
  • To build a strong support network within the events industry for mentorship, identify key stakeholders, and research existing networks

Things to listen for:
00:00 Leveraging AI to set yourself apart
04:23 Traci’s transition from event management to corporate marketing
07:16 New roles = learning opportunities.
10:52 Don’t be afraid to explore, grow, and diversify your career path
14:23 Navigate imposter syndrome by seeking mentors and building a team
21:44 Focus on event objectives, strategy, and branding
26:00 Stay informed, adapt, and  learn from your failures

Meet your host

Rachel Andrews, Senior Director, Meeting & Events, Cvent

Meet your guest host

Traci DePuy , CMO at PCMA

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Traci DePuy: So Spark is actually the tool for event planners to use with an AI. So other event planners are helping train this model so that when you're asking questions specifically around how to do a plan, an event plan, things like that, other people are asking some of those same questions,, and we're building muscles in that machine to actually give you more tailored things for events. So when you're thinking about why not just use ChatGPT or Gemini from all these other platforms, Spark is really specifically being trained in that event space to actually help event planners do their job faster.

[00:00:35] Alyssa Peltier: Great Events create great brands. But pulling off an event that engages, excites, and connects audiences. That takes a village. And we're that village. My name is Alyssa.

[00:00:48] Paulina Giusti: I'm Paulina. 

[00:00:48] Rachel Andrews: I'm Rachel. 

[00:00:49] Felicia Asiedu: And I'm Felicia. 

[00:00:50] Alyssa Peltier: And you are listening to Great Events, the podcast for all event enthusiasts, creators and innovators in the world of events and marketing.

[00:01:00] Rachel Andrews: Hello everyone and what is going on in this wide, wide world of events? My name is Rachel, and I am your host for this week's episode of Great Events, a podcast by Cvent. As you've gathered from the last couple episodes, this month is all about celebrating women. And today we are going to dive into an exceptional leader, my friend, an inspiration in the meetings and events space, Traci DePuy. Traci is the new CMO at PCMA. For our listeners, if you're not familiar with PCMA, it is the Professional Convention Management Association. Welcome to great events, Traci DePuy.

[00:01:33] Traci DePuy: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to sit here and chat with a good friend and talk about my career history and the events landscape. It's a fun time to be in events right now.

[00:01:44] Rachel Andrews: We're thrilled to have you. I met Traci, God, what a year ago? Yeah, about a year ago. We both live in Denver, and we met at, what are we calling ourselves? What are we calling the group? The Event Marketers Meetup group in Denver.

[00:01:58] Traci DePuy: I love that I'm a CMO and don't brand our things, but apparently I need to work on our branding for our groups, but it's actually one of those like, "Hey, I just want to know who's here." I feel like I moved to Denver and was like, "Does anyone feel or anyone out there that does what I do in this space and can be in real life?" So I appreciate everyone who jumped in and was like, "Yeah, I'll come hang out with you."

[00:02:20] Rachel Andrews: I love it. It was great. It was just like a group of awesome people. Next meet up. Let us know if you're in Denver, and we will put you on the invite list. But, yeah, it was just a good group of friends just meeting for the first time and chatting about events, but also we don't talk about work the whole time. It's way more fun than that.

[00:02:38] Traci DePuy: It's what you need in life. 

[00:02:40] Rachel Andrews: Exactly. Cool. Well, I'm going to dive right in here. I feel like you've been such a force in the industry and throughout your career and in the interest of letting people know all about it. I love your journey from the event space to becoming a CMO. I feel like that's a very awesome career trajectory for a lot of event props to hear about. So I'd love for you to just take us through your career and events, event marketing all the way to CMO. So take it away. We want to hear about your journey.

[00:03:12] Traci DePuy: All the things. I've been reflecting on my journey a lot lately just because I was like, "How do you explain the path that I took and where I landed?" I went to go get my undergrad degree in public relations, and that was the first step into what is this career and can you make a career in events? And public relations was a lot about business and writing and things like that. And so graduating with that degree, I was like, "Okay, what do I do with that?" And ironically, I wanted to be doing things in tech and doing public relations at a tech company. And at the time you couldn't work remotely. That was not the space in which the land was. So you had to be in the Bay Area. And so how did I get out there? I took an in-house live-in-nanny situation to be in the Bay.

And so jumped in and was like, "I guess I'm going to do this so I can network my ass off and figure out how to navigate the tech world." And ended up actually landing in a marketing research firm and working my way around because I was like, "How do I make money and support myself in the Bay Area?" It's not a cheap place to live. And navigating that space was like, "I don't think I can have a job at events and still support myself." And so I stayed on the outskirts of events for a while and really started landing into the event landscape with working at UBM Tech. And that's where it was all around communities and marketing, but also the events was a big part of what made money and was able to reestablish the community and making that space a reality.

And so that's where I really started to hone in a corporate event space and navigating my life aspects of there, landing at Salesforce, which basically changed how I viewed what you can do within a strategic marketing mindset of using events to actually create products and drive ROI and using any type of business story you want to throw out there to create going, "Here's the repercussions of what events humans can do." We bring so much more to the table than just, "here's the tablecloth," to actually we're driving the business forward, and what a reckoning we bring. My trajectory really within Salesforce, I feel like I grew up as a leader. I got my master's in executive leadership while I was at Salesforce and then started going, "What else can I do? How else can I grow and adapt?" And so I made a jump ship out of Salesforce, which was scary after you've been at a company for so long and started at another tech company that I was like, "Hey, I want to grow this space. I want to adapt, kind of bring on field marketing underneath my belt."

And then actually spoke at a conference, which is where people were like, "Hey, I know that girl. Can we pull her into this CMO space?" And to me it was the next right move for where I was and where my career was. But I think for myself, you go through the imposter syndrome of I've been in events my entire life and you're like, "I do marketing, I do branding, I do Demand Gen, I do all these things that we do within an event marketing space." So, yeah, it was a nice next step, and I feel like I'm in the right job every day, and this is where I'm supposed to be. This is a really nice place to be.

[00:06:22] Rachel Andrews: I think taking that leap of faith is just always so scary, especially when you've been somewhere for a long time. But I was recently talking to somebody that's making a career change and they were like, "I'm going to be the new kid at this new place, and I don't know if I know all the things for this new role." I'm like, "Yeah, but at the core you do." You do all these things marketing wise when you plan events, even if you are moving into you're still in events, but you're still doing marketing. You've learned a lot of that stuff through promoting your events. You've learned all the different other channels that go along with events to help promote them. So it is a natural trajectory for people if they don't want to be in the day-to-day of a logistics role and they want to get more strategic. It is a natural fit in my opinion. So it's good to hear you do that.

[00:07:16] Traci DePuy: It's fun being the new kid as long as you feel like you have a head of learning, walking into a new space. Because I was used to being the go-to person. Where do I find this? Who do I talk to about that? And that's just the inner workings of a company, which is a whole skill in itself. And so jumping ship to a new company where you're like, "I don't know who to go to talk to about basic, how do I get paid? Or where do I find my W2s?" Or those types of things that you're trying to navigate in addition to how do I do my job every day? And so you get to rebrand yourself a little bit too, which is the fun part is, what do you want to make as your key topic? I bring up all the time our sustainability stuff. Are we actually making decisions based on what are we going to do with all this furniture afterwards? Are we donating it someplace?

Are we making the right decisions based on how we're affecting the world? And so now in conversations, people are like, "Okay, I know you're going to ask this question." So you're kind of rebranding yourself in a new phase when you jump ship to a new place, so it's fun.

[00:08:20] Rachel Andrews: Yeah, love that. You touched on this very briefly, but how do you think events have helped you in your CMO role or helped to make you into the CMO role?

[00:08:30] Traci DePuy: The fun part of trying to convince someone you're supposed to be a CMO is breaking that apart, right? You're selling yourself. You're going, "This is what I've done in my life and in my career and why I deserve to be here." And at the same time, I think I was talking myself into it in that part too. But we as event marketers do all aspects of a CMO job. We are looked at as you're only a specific channel, but that channel drives a majority of the revenue when you start breaking it down and what the return on investment in there. Is it a larger investment than paying for an ad? Yes. But when you look at conversion rates, it's way higher. So when you're talking about how you're adding value to a company, there's a lot of substantial things you get to sit on when you talk about it.

So as an event marketer, you should be looking at your Demand Gen plans and the communication that leads up to it and the success of the people who are going. And so there's multiple different journeys you're talking through, the campaigns that you feel like you're creating. You're creating all those things all the time. You may not be using the same language, which I highly encourage to dive into, but there is so much navigation around marketing from the channels, from the paid ads, to getting people to register, to the flow on site of your registration to what they do after and how you're setting up your salespeople for success with all of these leads that you just now created for them.

So it is a full cycle, and you rebrand your event pretty much every single year. So you're like, "Well, I have not maybe rebranded an entire company before, but I rebranded an event or multiple events every year for the past 20 years of my life." So there are so many synergies and creation ways that you're like, "I'm messaging, I'm branding, I'm creating experiences, I'm driving campaigns." You're doing all those things on a daily basis, and it's really just around branding yourself and how you're talking about what you do every day.

[00:10:22] Rachel Andrews: And its core events are just campaigns that you're running, and so it does translate very quickly.

[00:10:27] Traci DePuy: There's a lot more stress, I think.

[00:00:00] Rachel Andrews: Yeah, it's a much more complicated campaign, but the baseline things that you're doing are very similar to other campaigns, so it fits in. So what advice would you have for someone maybe more junior in their event marketing role or maybe people that are in more of a standard logistics or planner role that want to move into the marketing side?

[00:10:52] Traci DePuy: Interestingly enough, I think the biggest question I get from people I've mentored is, I don't want to be pigeonholed in a particular side of an event. So whether they're in event content or maybe they are in logistics or maybe they're driving registration or maybe they're in a mid tech and they're like, "I'm getting really good at this, but I don't want this to be my entire trajectory of my career, so what do I do because I'm good at it?" And I always say, feel free to cross contaminate as much as you can. Try to broaden your horizons as much as you can throughout your career. And even though you have this experience or things that you love, I'm not saying drop the things that you love, but see if there's stretch goals or stretch projects with your manager that you can take on something else.

Some of this is you're not getting to experience it, so you don't really know if that's something you love. And the more things that you can dive into and experience it, the more that you get to grow and say, "Here's kind of the breadth of what I can do and what I can take on." So it's always a fun thing to take on those stretch projects.

[00:11:50] Rachel Andrews: Yeah, I always say failure is the only way I've learned. Success is really nice, and you can learn from that too, but failure, it's a really big learning lesson. And if you're not uncomfortable, I feel like you're not growing. And that that's when people get stale in their jobs to just keep doing the same damn thing over and over and over again. And they're like, "Okay, how do I-

[00:12:11] Traci DePuy: That's where burnout happens. And I will say I've experienced it myself. I have burned out of my career and taken some pretty terrible steps of what I thought was forward, but I took some steps backwards to actually go forward. It took me to go, "What am I doing? What do I want to do next? Who are the people I want to surround myself with?" And part of that was when I was getting my master's degree and experiencing that I love to manage humans, and that's what I do on a daily basis now as a CMO. It's more about people management than about a lot of other things.

And so I would say as event professionals, a lot of us are lone rangers. We love to control everything and control all the details and all aspects of that. So as you're growing, management is a part of that, people is a part of that, getting them to agree that they want to create this massive structure in the middle of your space is development on managing people. And so take that too as you're growing throughout your career, whether you're just starting out or in a senior management role, you still can lead people and guide people in every way of your job.

[00:13:20] Rachel Andrews: Totally. Speaking of your new job, tell me about all the great things that you're doing in PCMA. I know you're relatively newer. Has it been a year yet?

[00:13:30] Traci DePuy: No. It's only been four months. I feel like it might be a year. I feel like I jumped in and threw some boots on and was like, "Let's do this." And I came from the CEMA part of the community, so our Corporate Events Marketing Association and felt like that was my home and my people, which through growing up in the corporate event marketing aspect, I didn't actually know much about the PCMA side of the world, which is really all association planners, which are incredible humans who do things with really terrible budgets and they make fireworks out of nothing, which I love to talk to them all day long. And there's a lot of synergies between the two. So now being as CMO of both of these organizations and as we're looking to expand, I actually jumped in and they're like, "Okay, let's do a rebrand project."

I'm like, "Cool, never done one of those before, but we can figure it out." And I think that that's the piece of me that's like, "I've never done this before, and am I the right person for this?" And there's that imposter syndrome that comes out, but at the same time I'm like, "I can run this like any other rebranding project of an event that I've done." So there's people you can pull, there's mentors, there's people within the CEMA community that I've called and I'm like, "Okay, this is what I'm thinking." Also, ChatGPT and Spark within the PCMA community has been my best friend. I ask questions all the time, and I'm like, "What is this, and how do I do that?" And it's okay to do that. I think at the end of the day, we don't have to know everything when we start a new job, and we're going to hit those roadblocks and have those failure moments, and that's when you learn.

The fun part of my job right now is building the team, and I am hiring quite a few roles within my marketing organization that I am excited to fill, but at the same time, we're looking to expand. We are that nonprofit, so it's not, "Here's this tech, all these extra bonuses," but I feel like the mission to care for other humans within this event space and love on them and help them learn more education and thrive in this type of environment is a huge part of this, which gets me up every day. So that's very exciting.

[00:15:37] Rachel Andrews: I went to Convening Leaders, and your team does a great job of that program. It was a really awesome program. I met a lot of the association members that you have, and they're just total bad asses. I just want to echo what you said because some of them they run such tight programs and they have such hard goals to hit with their own membership base and just the ways that they get creative with budgets that are pennies and with their sponsorship and their driving revenue, they're little mini CEOs in their roles. They have to basically sell their business to keep the association going. And the events piece is probably the most important piece at those associations.

[00:16:23] Traci DePuy: One thousand percent.

[00:16:23] Rachel Andrews: Yeah, it's very impressive. Speaking of your events programs that fall under you, anything exciting coming up for your membership base? I know you guys do a ton of events.

[00:16:34] Traci DePuy: I actually enjoy the second half of the year, even though I've not been there very long, and I'm maybe a little biased because I'm excited about the new things the team are doing, but it usually happens whether in June or July, EduCon, and this year is in Detroit. And it's going to be the 23rd through the 26th of June this year. And Detroit's going through a whole rebrand in itself and growing and revitalizing. And so the fun part about EduCon for us, it's always an event that we really lean heavily into the director level and below of rebranding themselves and helping them grow in their career and investing them to continue to learn and investigate their own. And maybe there's some up-leveling that they need to do, which is actually our theme of this year. We're talking about up-leveling, skilling up, building up, and so it's going to be one of those events that really aligns with the city.

And so we're landing this year on the city-wide fireworks that are going to be happening. So it's going to be like this magical party that's going to happen, and also just embracing each other. And so we capped this event at 1,000 people, so trying to keep it a little bit smaller, which is a nice feeling, but also you got to get in the door to get there. So keeping that in mind on the contrast of Convening Leaders, which is around 5,000 people. So it does make you feel like you can network with everyone and actually talk to everyone in that smaller environment.

[00:17:52] Rachel Andrews: Yeah, I love it. It's so funny, whenever I say 1,000 events or 1,000 attendees at an event, my family's like, "That's small to you?" I'm like, "Yeah, that's intimate." But it is. It's the sweet spot, I think.

[00:18:05] Traci DePuy: I think so too. And it's just enough people to do some really cool things when it's small enough where you feel like you can't actually talk to everyone. It's a nice balance, even though I'm like, "Wow, that's 1,000 people," which is so exciting. But on the flip side of even the small and intimate, our corporate event marketing association has their event in August, and that's our CEMA Summit that's going to be happening in Seattle, and that is actually a more intimate environment. We keep that pretty intimate as well. It's only 500 people, which I feel like is a little bit more balanced in the small I can talk to everyone sort of vibe, but it actually will be a cool event this year. We are hosting it at the Summit Convention Center, which is just to open this year in Seattle, and it's a fully sustainable location. It's beautiful. It's got this great wood and warmth to convention center, and I don't ever get excited talking about convention centers, and this one I actually am. So if you're in the corporate event space, I highly recommend looking that up. It's the first week of August this year.

[00:19:02] Rachel Andrews: And I know you quickly mentioned it, but I have to give a quick shout out to Spark because I have been in the back end of Spark and it's a very cool tool. So kudos to your company for making that. I love that.

[00:19:16] Traci DePuy: Well, just a plug on that. So Spark is actually the tool for event planners to use within AI. So other event planners are helping train this model so that when you're asking questions specifically around how to do a plan, an event plan, things like that, other people are asking some of those same questions, and we're building muscles in that machine to actually give you more tailored things for events. So when you're thinking about why not just use ChatGPT or Gemini from all these other platforms, Spark is really specifically being trained in that event space to actually help event planners do their job faster. So I highly recommend checking it out.

[00:19:53] Rachel Andrews: I like that it's all contained and it's like, "What do you want to do today?" And it's like, Build an event brief. Make a timeline." There's just things that can save time, and hopefully the more and more you teach it, the better it'll be. I know AI can be this big hairy beast that you don't really know where to start, but that makes it easy for a launch pad for where to start. So kudos there. I'm going to shift back to brand for a second. I feel like you and I have talked about brand before. I struggle with it for my own events program. Do you have any best practices for event props that are dealing with maybe management that doesn't understand what a brand does or why you need a brand or a theme for your event? I know I've struggled with creating a consistent brand for programming while also keeping it fresh for attendees. Any quick best practices that you've run into? I know you've done a ton of this.

[00:20:46] Traci DePuy: Brand I feel like goes hand in hand with your strategy. And so when I think about event branding and event strategy in general, you have to start at the basics of what are you trying to achieve? And to me that branding helps you say no, which is my least favorite word and my most favorite word at the same time. Because I feel like we as event professionals get looked at as, "You're the magician, you can make anything happen." And you're like, "Yes, within reason and within our strategy." And so at the end of the day, we look at things within the brand sphere of is your location changing? Which a lot of events don't. They actually go back to the same place. So when you're thinking about the brand in that space, how do you recreate something that you just did last year and make it look fresh?

That's a challenge. That's probably harder. A lot of the events that PCMA and CEMA do, they change locations every year. So you get to align a lot of your brand with what's happening in the city or how things are adapting and moving, which actually helps invigorate your brand. But at the end of the day, what are your objectives? What is the strategy behind it? And if your target audience is something that's not related to the event theme, then you have to reevaluate that because it needs to all align and coexist together. So I always start with what's the objectives of the event? What are the pillars that you're coming out of that with? And that really streams into what your branding is going to look like. We just are rolling out our CEMA brand this week, which I'm really excited about.

So check it out. It really does align with Seattle in general with a lot of the earthy tones and mountains that no one ever thinks about with Seattle. They always think about the Seattle needle that comes up. So we were trying to bring in a lot of what the actual city brings in to the event theme. And then we have a lot of, I would say, earthy pillars alongside that, synergy by design. And people are going to go, "What does that mean?" It's like, "How do you bring in mindfulness to your events that is body, mind, soul together?" And so we're thinking about that not only from an event location, event theme, your branding altogether, and then bringing into, "If I leave this event today, what am I going to take with me?" And I'm excited to actually bring those things together and make people like you, Rachel, go, "Oh, I actually feel fed and loved on and appreciated at this event." And then hopefully I can take some of these things back to the events that you create.

[00:23:07] Rachel Andrews: Yeah, that is my biggest beef with going to shows, going and you sit in a session and you're like, "There were no actionable takeaways at the end of this. I don't know if I actually got anything out of that particular session." I hate that. If you have a panel of people talking, make sure you're giving actual tidbits of advice or a cheat sheet or takeaway or something that they can actually use in their organization.

[00:23:32] Traci DePuy: I'm a huge fan of having speakers be like, "This is books that really affected me," or, "Here's things that you can actually take back with you whether it's a white paper or research that they've done or something like that." It's really nice to have those things. So I guess I'll plug this. One of my favorite books is The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, take away from this podcast also. I'm a huge fan of her and what she's done there. And the other thing I've been talking a lot about management and what that looks like from a CMO perspective. There's one definitely looks like a textbook, but it's been one of my favorite things when I'm leading people. It's actually called FYI: For your Improvement, but it actually gives 109 different ways to not only improve yourself, but if you're managing people, you could be like, "Hey, this person's struggling with communication."

The book actually breaks down how to help someone with their communication. And then you go, "Well, this book says..." and it's not about you anymore. It's about the book. And so there's ways that you can help navigate and help other people grow and develop in your management. So that's my book's plugs.

[00:24:35] Rachel Andrews: That's a good plug for people that maybe aren't early on in their career, but they're just starting to be a people manager. That's one of those career steps. It's huge jump for going from not managing anybody to managing people. You have to be built from a different cloth to manage people, I think.

[00:24:54] Traci DePuy: Well, also, I feel like us in the corporate environment don't get the training. It's more like, "Congratulations, you've been promoted and here's three people you need to manage." And all of a sudden you're like, "What do I do, and how do I develop them exactly?" And so I highly suggest books like this, but also mentors like Rachel and other people who've been managing people for a long time. It's really key to have people in your back corner to help you navigate.

[00:25:19] Rachel Andrews: It's really funny, the Art of Gathering is next up on my audible list. I just downloaded it two months ago. It's funny you said that because I've been looking at Priya for a long time to listen to that book. It's just been nagging at me to do, so now you've pushed me in the right direction.

[00:25:37] Traci DePuy: Now you're plugging it.

[00:25:37] Rachel Andrews: I'm going to go do it.

[00:25:38] Traci DePuy: Good, good, I'm glad.

[00:25:39] Rachel Andrews: Well, speaking of content, so I know you've been on a couple lists lately. Congratulations on your recent recognition on women's watch lists and the session board content Leaders to Follow. Any other content wise things that you're following for your programs? I'm assuming you have a huge team that's the actual content with your members.

[00:26:00] Traci DePuy: I wish I had a huge team. We do not have a huge team, but we do take resources from everyone. And I think that part of that is tapping into the industry, making sure you're watching things online, making sure you're seeing what industry trends are happening, things like that, that you just need to be in tune in and touch. And I think that we sometimes get into a point of we put our heads down and keep doing the things that we've always done because we're trying to move so fast that you do have to take a look up in trying to reevaluate. So that's what we get to do with EduCon. It's really the event that we push the needle, and sometimes we fail miserably, and that's okay. It's in the space that we set ourselves up that way. This is the event that we're trying new things, we want the feedback, and the things that work that we can do more at scale we will bring to convening leaders or other things, but we try to set the stage of being the place where we can try and fail. And that way other event professionals don't have to.

But that's actually why we enjoy people coming to our events because they will give us the hard truth, "Yes, this worked, don't do that." That aspect. But also it hopefully will set others up to go, "Hey, I can bring this back," or, "Hey, it really did work. Let's try it at my event." And it hopefully streams down from a content perspective that way. They're always looking for ideas. And if people are like, "Hey, I've always wanted to try this, but don't have the budget or the people behind it," send it our way, we'd love to try it out and try some innovation and maybe fail miserably together, but we could at least try it together.

[00:27:29] Rachel Andrews: Failing upward, is that what it is?

[00:27:32] Traci DePuy: Failing upwards. Yeah, failing forward or all the catchphrases.

[00:27:36] Rachel Andrews: Well, that's awesome. Yeah, that's good advice, and that's good that you all tap into the ecosystem. There's so many smart people in our industry that have a lot to share, and learning from each other is seriously so awesome. So final question for you. I want to see if you have any advice for event professionals. I'm leaving that wide open. That could be event marketing, that could be event logistics, event tech, whatever it is. But any advice for those professionals coming into the workforce or early on in their career or just in general?

[00:28:08] Traci DePuy: There are so many ways I could take this question, Rachel, but I think that at the end of the day, my biggest advice to anyone getting into this field is don't be afraid to fail, number one. And number two, I myself have had such a fear of failure that held myself back. And so when I'm talking to people that are like, "Do I want to do this or do I not?" And part of me is like, "Just try." The opportunities are open, doors are opening, windows are opening, whatever that looks like. Sometimes it's just jump through and see what happens. If it doesn't work, it's okay. We learn through those failures, we learn through what we've gone through, those experiences that no one else can take from you, and you bring that to the next phase. The second piece of advice I want to say is surround yourself with the community.

That is a huge, what has made or broke my career is having people around me to have the tough times and being able to be vulnerable going, "This isn't going well. I don't know what to do next." And they might not be the advice gurus, but they're going to help you process or just ask questions or maybe you made the wrong decision and you feel like you failed and that wrong decision might be the rightest decision for you that has propelled you to the next phase of your career or the next phase of having a balanced life. And maybe I'll do a third piece of advice is, don't neglect yourself. You are the most important commodity that you have. And I talked about time being that for a long time, and honestly, it's you. It's your mental health, it's your physical health, it's your wellbeing. And so making sure that that's a priority because we as event professionals love to make everyone else your priority. And at the end of the day, who's looking out for you? That is your job.

[00:29:51] Rachel Andrews: That hits home I think for a lot of people. You've got to pay attention to yourself sometimes. I love that advice. One of my new connections I just networked with a couple weeks ago said that she has a board of directors and she's like, "Not in the sense that I have an actual board. Board of directors in the sense that I have confidants, best friends, colleagues in my circle that I run business ideas by or wellness ideas by, whatever the trajectory of their career." And I thought that was really interesting. And I was like, "Do you officially appoint them in your board?" And she's like, "Yeah, I have a group chat that those are my people that I ask, and I have my mentors in there, and they advise on what to do." And I was like, "That's really smart."

If you can surround yourself with a community of strong people that have either done that before or maybe they're newer and have fresher perspectives, I feel like that's also something that when you start to get more senior, I'm not talking about you or me, but you tend to ignore the new workforce coming in and they're a very strong voice that we should continue to listen to. Even if they haven't been in a 20 plus year career, we should still be listening to all those voices. I love your advice. I think that community is really, really strong.

[00:31:05] Traci DePuy: I do say that the more senior you get in your career, the more lonely it gets. And I don't think I realize that as a younger self. If I could go back and tell myself something as advice, it would be, "Surround yourself with as many people as possible outside of your job so that as you rise through the ranks, you still are surrounded by people." And the best thing that I've done in the last year and a half is actually joining a women's purpose community. That has nothing to do with what I do today, but it's people that have pushed themselves and are high achievers like I set out myself to do. But they also have a reality check for you that they're not in your industry. They're all over the globe. And they kind of have those moments of like, "Traci, are you really taking on one more thing?"

And they're not afraid to ask you that question, and they're not afraid to push you. And I think that those people are so important that aren't in your world and aren't in your circle that you can go, "I'm struggling with this human," and you can talk it out where it's a safe place, and it's a safe aspect to process, and you need that outside of your current company.

[00:32:08] Rachel Andrews: Totally, totally. Awesome advice. I have to do a couple of the plugs at the end. Where can listeners find you, and do you want to plug any other resources that would help our listeners?

[00:32:18] Traci DePuy: I'm very active on LinkedIn. It's probably the most active social that I have, and so please connect with me on LinkedIn. I would love to chat with you if you want that. Other places, I'm around the PCMA landscape, so if you're active in the Rocky Mountain chapter, I'm pretty much there I feel like at all of their activities and events. And then come find me at EduCon or CEMA or Convening Leaders. Those are definitely events that I will be at, but I'll also be making my industry rounds. So for some reason you want me to come jump into your event, feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn, and I'll see if I can make it in my schedule. But I'd love to support the community in other ways that I can.

[00:32:55] Rachel Andrews: Love it. Love it. Well, thank you, Traci, so much for joining us. Listeners, make sure you check out. Traci will link to all the things that we talked about on our podcast page, so you can just click on our website and find it there. But thanks for joining us for another Amazing Women in Leadership Podcast, and to our listeners, thanks for tuning in. See you next time.

[00:33:18] Hosts: Thanks for hanging out with us on Great Events, a podcast by Cvent. If you've been enjoying our podcast, make sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss an episode. And you can also help fellow event professionals and marketers just like you discover great events by leaving us a rating on Apple, Spotify or your preferred podcast platform. Stay connected with us on all your socials for behind the scenes content, updates and some extra doses of inspiration. Got a burning question or an epic story to share? We want to hear from you. Find us on LinkedIn and send us a DM or drop us a note at greatevents@cvent.com.

[00:33:56] Rachel Andrews: And a big thanks to our amazing listeners, our guest speakers, and the incredible team behind the scenes. Remember, every great event includes great people.

[00:34:05] Hosts: And that's a wrap. Keep creating, keep innovating, and keep joining us as we redefine how to make events great.