A Reason to Celebrate

This month my family will gather to celebrate my parent’s 65th wedding anniversary. Oh we are doing it up big with a dinner for 90 or so at a local country club. The festivities will last about five days with the out-of-towners staying that long to prepare, celebrate and recover.

It’s a momentous occasion and one that should be acknowledged just the way we are doing it with a big party and a celebration of a life raising 5 kids, babysitting grandchildren and sharing in the young lives of great grandchildren.

Can you even imagine? I can’t and I am a witness to it. Sixty-five years of annoying habits, arguments, ailments and disputes. But of course, there was always a lot of love, respect and caring.

And the bond not only affects them but everyone around them. With this example of a partnership to emulate, I have always nurtured strong relationships in my personal and professional life, as have my siblings. My parents have set a great example.

We as a family have always commemorated their milestone anniversaries with trips to Hawaii, parties and at 60 years a Caribbean Cruise because they deserve to be celebrated. So we will be reveling in this wonderful milestone and starting to plan for the 70th Anniversary because to do anything else would be so unlike us!

Why Am I a Planner?

So I have been thinking lately, what makes me a good planner? Why is it that everyone turns to me when something needs to be planned? Sure I am a meeting planner and educator by trade but what makes me do that? I fell into my profession by accident; I answered an ad in the newspaper for a job that looked interesting. Went through the interview process and low and behold got the job.


As a young woman a few years out of college, I struggled to understand my situation, the stakeholders and my employers. But I excelled at planning, setting and achieving goals and fortunately, the bosses recognized that. I sought out new experiences and more challenges at work. All of which forced me to be organized. And checklists well, I am the queen of that territory.


But what made me a “planner” to begin with? Perhaps as the youngest of five, I needed organization in my life. I needed to feel in control and in charge of something. I could make my brothers a mean fried bologna sandwich, (want fritos and a pepsi with that?) but that wasn’t enough for me.


And so I planned through college with an uncluttered shower caddy and the cleanest dorm room frig ever. After college; as a bartender in my early 20’s getting to work early so I could cut the lemons and limes and be prepared for the onslaught that came with working a bar. And in my career as an education manager, where planning was critical to success. Working with surgeons is truly like herding cats, the first time I heard that expression I didn’t really understand but if you think about it for a minute, it’s a tough job.


So a planner I am, currently running my own business, planning my parents 65th wedding anniversary party and organizing the next family vacation. I actually think it’s my siblings who are the smart ones, they just say, let Kathie do it because of course, I will.



About the Author: Kathie Niesen, CMP is a former Education Manager at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. She is the owner of KMN Meetings and Events. She is also a consultant with Coe Truman International.

What Facebook Taught Me

I bought my Mom a Kindle Fire for Mother’s Day. My Mom is 87 years old, and was using my old laptop to play bridge. The laptop died and she was lost without her bridge games so this seemed the best course of action.


At first she was unsure and really not happy with her toy but as she began to play and experiment more, she has come to really love it. She plays bridge, scrabble, and does crosswords.


And then one day I registered her for a gmail account and got her on facebook. And her world opened. Friends and family that she no longer kept in touch with except for the annual Christmas card were suddenly talking to her, posting pictures of their grandkids and great grandkids, sending jokes. She is sharing recipes and even making new friends.


She is slow; she really has to think about her actions when she wants to do something lest she get stuck somewhere and cannot get back to her newsfeed. But that’s kind of the beauty of it, not only does she have the time to be slow but she also really reads things, actually looks at the pictures and appreciates what people are sharing with her.


She will call me and discuss what someone posted or this person posts a lot of garbage or that person must have a lot of time on their hands. She goes through people’s entire timelines and then comments on it.


It’s made me realize what an amazing time we live in and what an amazing tool Facebook is. I have friends that have taken a Facebook break or gotten off it completely. For me the social interaction is priceless and more importantly, its doing amazing things for my Mom.

Setting the Mood

Do your employees seem tired? Not as enthusiastic as they used to be? Are they listless in meetings and not contributing? It could be that you are not setting the mood for creativity. And it all starts with your attitude.

Believe it or not your employees (and co-workers) can sense if you are down and bring that into work. All it takes if a few things to turn that ship around.

First and most importantly, you need to be happy with what you are doing and if you are not, well that’s a whole other post. But if you are for the most part, satisfied, show that every day. Little things can go a long way. Have a contest; place a bet on the next baseball game. Have a competition for who will win, place or show based on “The Voice” or “Dancing with the Stars.” Even those who are not fans will want to participate.

And buy prizes, small things that won’t break the bank, a Starbucks gift card or an inexpensive bottle of wine, even a Pez dispenser can create laughter and interaction.

Store up on jokes or antidotes that you can start meetings with and make them relatable to them. Get to know their interests, if they cheer for a specific team, do your homework, read the sports page once in awhile and have a quick conversation about their interests. Ask about their Mom, child or brother and BE INTERESTED.

Make them comfortable about entering your office for a conversation, even if its not a good conversation. And mentor, in mentoring age doesn’t matter, its can go both ways, we all have different talents and knowledge we bring to the table.

It doesn’t take much. Remember the people that work for you take their cues from you. Try every day to set a tone that makes them want to use their creativity and talents for you and the organization.

Kathie Niesen, CMP is a former Education Manager at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. She is the owner of kmn meetings and events. She is also a consultant with Coe Truman International.


In my many years of association management, I always considered my most important role to be a manager of people and a mentor. There is no greater challenge than supervising people and no greater reward than when they display the same principles and integrity that you sought to instill.

It doesn’t always work out that way, for one reason or another things can go wrong but when then there are those special employees that do exactly what you had hoped they would. They learn, absorb and even mimic the best practices they observe in you.

Performance reviews, can be painful but take them seriously and ensure that your comments will help them grow in their job and in the organization. Best honest along the way too, an employee should never be surprised by something in the annual review.

And don’t forget those who don’t directly report to you, your knowledge and actions are observed and you can be an example to those who are not your direct reports. Always do what you say.

Learn as much as you teach. Everybody has gifts and knowledge that you don’t have. My past employees have taught me countless lessons.

I read a post on facebook yesterday that said, “Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.” So very true.

If you are a manager of people relish the experience and strive to set an example of integrity and respect that your employees will want to emulate.

Kathie Niesen, CMP is a former Education Manager at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. She is currently consulting with Coe Truman International and looking for new opportunities.