1. Lessons In Leadership
  2. Thoughts from the Zeitgeist

Still Learning

The secret to success: always work with amazing people.

By now, you may have heard that I will be officially retiring from Freeman at the end of June 2024.

I’ve already received notes and calls from so many of you — which is humbling and deeply appreciated. This wasn’t a sudden decision. In fact, it was all thoughtfully planned. We have bolstered our portfolio of products and services. Our client relationships are as strong as ever. And we have built an unbeatable leadership team that is more than ready to take the helm. Fortunately, I will be able to watch Freeman’s continued success from my seat on the Board of Directors.

As I have told many well-wishers, I am happy about this move and the opportunity to pursue some personal goals. And I am lucky to have many months to transition. Even so, just thinking about it has stirred a lot of reflection. What I find overwhelming is just how lucky I have been throughout a long and varied career to find myself working with the best people at the best possible time. My 15 years at Freeman is proof. I knew Don Freeman as a client long before I accepted his job offer, and working with him has been a masterclass in gracious leadership and scrappy business sense.

I actually got my start in hospitality and received a crash course in leadership from the housekeeping team. They taught me that if you want to lead, you need to give people a good reason to follow you.

From there, my journey took me into tech publishing, and I quickly learned that the whirlwind of new technology was creating a vacuum — a need for in-person connection — that I could help fill. I was fortunate to work on the teams that invented such tech events as Seybold Seminars, Digital World, Networld + Interop, JavaOne, Bluetooth, COMDEX, Web 2.0, and many more. Those were heady times — some days the info came so fast and furious I thought my head might explode. It was exhilarating and confirmed my commitment to building a career in the events industry.

And as with so many people at risk of becoming the leader of a growing enterprise, I was also blessed to work with people, often younger and less experienced, who called me out and challenged my thinking. (This includes my three daughters.) I learned that what I thought of as standard operating procedure wasn’t always just or equitable. I was schooled on DEI issues — not because I didn’t embrace them, but because I didn’t realize at first what it would take to make things right. I also learned that it wasn’t enough to “think green” — we needed an actionable plan and timeline.

I began writing this blog in 2015 when I realized that I was in the habit of passing along advice in the form of stories — essentially, lessons I learned by working with crazy-smart people. (You know who you are.) I still have more old stories worth sharing and new stories in progress, so watch this space. I plan to fully enjoy every minute I have at Freeman. I plan to connect with many of you in the intervening months. And I plan to keep learning from the best.

With gratitude,

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