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Expo Expo! Day 2: Be Optimistic, Resilient, Make Connections


Bestselling author and television host Valorie Burton was the keynote speaker for Day 2 of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) Expo Expo!

Burton, founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute, challenged the crowd to acknowledge their fears and mistakes, and turn them into tools to develop optimism and resiliency.

“Positive emotion actually expands your ability to deal with adversity and with stress,” she said. “When we have more positive emotion, even with things like gratitude—noticing what’s going on that’s actually good—it acts like a cushion, so that when we fall, when we’re stressed, we have more resources to deal with it.”

Burton recalled experiencing a divorce about 10 years ago. In a phone chat, Burton’s mother reminded her she was not the only person to experience such pain.

“I made a decision that day and it became a mantra for me: I will work through this fire, but it will not consume me, I will be better, not bitter,” she said.

Burton offered five commitments—things she reminds herself when things are not going her way:

1) Don’t wallow in pity.

2) Focus on new, future opportunities rather than on past troubles and obstacles.

3) Be courageous in facing change and stress.

4) Direct your thoughts, don’t let them direct you.

5) Choose to believe in things that lead to goodness and resiliency.

One of the key paths here, Burton said, is understanding one’s purpose in life and work. She recalled working for a marketing/public relations firm in Dallas years ago.

Burton said her job performance was fine, but she lacked true passion for her work.

“I began wondering, ‘What am I here for?’” she said.

Burton then had an epiphany—she’d be more passionate about being a life coach inspiring others through her writing and speaking.

“What I discovered was purpose isn’t just about your job, it’s about how you show up in each relationship in your life,” she said.

Burton said purpose drives resiliency and turns people into more optimistic, accurate thinkers in their professional and personal life.

“When you become frustrated, when you become tired, you should be able to think what’s your purpose,” she added.

“Even when you’re sitting in a meeting, you think, ‘What’s my contribution here?’”

Finding purpose and fully investing one’s self to make for a memorable event experience with deep connections was a theme in some educational sessions on Day 2.

It was the case for one of many posters created by college professors nationwide and viewed by trade show attendees. Amanda Cecil of Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, and Madison College’s Janet Sperstad, offered one poster.

Cecil and Sperstad, both CMPs, suggested blending technology, behavioral science, wellbeing, event design and corporate social responsibility to develop purposeful meetings.

Cecil and Sperstad wrote: “Purposeful meetings shift the focus of the conversation from outcomes to human-centric experiences. Purposeful meetings put humanity back into meetings.”

About the Author

Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz is a San Antonio-based freelance writer who has been published in outlets such as the San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio Magazine, San Antonio Current, Portland Tribune, CultureMap, and Virtual Builders Exchange.