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Life and Work with Deborah Elias

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deborah Elias, CSEP, CMP, CIS.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Twenty years ago, I was at a crossroads in life. I was working for doctors and trying to get into medical school and then one day I woke up to realize that is not the future I wanted for myself. I had always loved planning events; was the chair of a high school prom and freshman college dance. But back then, the industry we know today didn’t exist. There were no college courses or means of learning more about the industry. I started interning with wedding photographers, florist and even at the local church watching how ceremonies were performed. Eventually, I got my first client, started a website and figured my way through the ins and outs of event planning. Twenty years later, I have three distinguished industry designations, have won over 20 industry awards included a coveted Gala (which is like the industry Oscar) and have planned events all over the world. I love speaking about the event industry and have had occasion to do this often.  I write about the industry and my articles have been published in many top industry publications. I absolutely love what I do and am very passionate about helping educate the next generation of event industry leaders.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I have fought my way tooth and nail through the many successes I have had. And never one to rest on my laurels, I still continue to move the bar higher and higher.

I struggle constantly with learning about the best ways to run a business in a very competitive environment. Things like where to advertise, whether or not to hire more employees, and basic business necessities like healthcare tend to keep me up at night.

I would definitely tell a young woman that you have to pay your dues. Event planning is not glamorous (no matter how the media portrays it to be). There have been many events where I am on my feet for hours on end and have little time to stop or eat. I have girls wanting to intern only to leave after they realize that we don’t just sit around drinking at parties, LOL.

Please tell us about Elias Events.
I am extremely proud that my company is able to work with all types of events. We are able to do a wedding one weekend, the non-profit or corporate event the next and tie in a selection of incentive trips, as well. Planning each type of event requires a different skill set. For instance, with weddings it is learning how to deal with the emotional aspects of working with brides, for non-profits, it is how to work on budgets, helps the client maximize their profits and with incentive travel is learning how to work in cities and cultures all over the world. I believe this sets us apart. it is a very unique ability.

We are known for cutting-edge events. There have been a number of occasions when I have brought an idea to Houston or have had a completely original product developed that have then gone on to be copied many times over.

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
Don’t be afraid to just reach out.

Definitely mind your P’s and Q’s and don’t post every detail of your life on social media. Posts with alcohol and inappropriate things make seem fun now, but in the future, they can influence your hiring.

This may be simple but grammatical errors in resumes or sending a resume/email or any communication to one person but have another person’s information in the correspondence is just a big no-no. Can’t tell you how many times I have received an email addressed to another company – that definitely will not get you hired.

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