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Four Questions With a Pro: An Interview with Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP

April 13th, 2015 by

4 Questions With An Association Engagement Expert

Holly Duckworth’s new book, Ctrl+Alt+Believe: Reboot Your Association For Success moves associations through a process to clarify association beliefs, evaluate control, and create new alternate solutions. Her premise is that to innovate and thrive, association executives and boards of directors must balance the desire to honor their history and innovate simultaneously.

1. What is an association belief? How can we identify them and use them in our associations?

A belief is an acceptance of truth for your organization. Often this comes from history, sometimes bylaws and more often than not the stories that have been told year over year. Beliefs have a hidden power that truly inform our leadership experience. If you believe you have troublesome, demanding or hard personalities in your boardroom you will get more of that. If you see, feel and express energy that your boardroom has perfect strategic leaders dedicated to your heart centered vision – that is what you will attract to your organization. It is important to recognize the association’s collective beliefs and when necessary consciously shift them to be positive and flexible.

2. A theme in the book is that Boards unconsciously fear change, causing problems in their organization. “Organizations die of fear,” as you write. Is there something about the structure of boards that encourages this fear? How can we overcome fear?

Fear of change in organizations has a micro and macro component. Micro meaning that each individual board member will naturally have a little tentativeness leading an organization. The macro comes from their collective fear. Being part of a board/organization forces people to look at their strengths, weaknesses and what they contribute, and then ultimately creating an unknown or new future together. Until we embrace that individual and collective fear as a positive catalyst for change we may experience stagnant organizations.

3. You recommend that the organization spend time distilling its mission statement into six words. Why is this valuable and how can it help the board be more strategic?

You can determine the success of any organization by asking its leaders what the vision/mission of the organization is. In most cases nobody in the room can answer that question. Yet, organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars writing vision/mission statements to carve on marble walls or place on stationary that is never used beyond the moment the period is put at the end of the sentence. Most vision/mission statements are paragraphs-long and full of meaningless jargon that does not link anywhere else in the organization.

I use the 6-word model as a guideline to direct leaders to shorten the vision/mission statement to something that inspires. It needs to be a statement you and your leadership can memorize with your heads and with your hearts, meaning you can each articulate what the vision/mission means to them in their own words.

Note, I also choose intentionally to use vision/mission together. We can debate all day long what a vision is, what a mission is and if you need one or both. What I know is 100% true is it doesn’t matter if nobody is reading and using the vision/mission each and every day as a guiding and inspiring principle.

4. One suggestion you have for organizations to shake off the dust is to beta-test new ideas. To make them successful (or identify them as unsuccessful), what kind of structure should a beta test have? Should you set distinct time limits on them? Definitions for success? When do you pull the plug?

I find it fascinating that corporate America uses the term “beta” on projects all the time. Software companies like Microsoft, Apple and other developers intentionally put out products when they are not quite finished to get customer feedback on them. If this concept is good enough for corporate American why can’t associations borrow the concept?

Identify an aspect of your association that needs attention, and define the dollars and volunteer hours to devote to it. As an example, instead of making the decision to retire the annual golf tournament forever, we might “beta test” a mini-golf tournament for a year. At the end of the project, assess if it worked, did it not work, do we do it again.

In a beta project – you set a deadline to “pull the plug” at the beginning rather than the typical association outlook that assumes a project goes on forever. Assume the project has an end and “re-plug” in the beta project only if/when it works in a way that exceeds the needs and desires of your members.

Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP, Spirit Strategist is CEO of Leadership Solutions International

Follow her @hduckworth and on Linked In at https://www.linkedin.com/in/hduckworth.   Her book is available at Amazon and www.ctrlaltbelievebook.com Interested in booking Holly to speak or facilitate your next conference or event? Contact Kinsley staff today for booking information.

Five Questions With a Pro: An Interview with Dave Mitchell

December 5th, 2014 by

Kinsley: The name of your company is the Leadership Difference and you speak on a variety of leadership topics all over the world. Do you find that there is a correlation between leadership style and the type of wine someone drinks?

Dave_Mitchell_PhotoDave Mitchell: Well, I think being in a leadership role can certainly drive someone one to drink! I actually do a seminar called What is Your Wine Personality that compares a person’s leadership style to a type of wine. The program was inspired by the content of my new book The Power of Understanding People. In the book, I refer to four types of leaders: Romantic, Warriors, Experts and Masterminds. For example, emotionally sensitive leaders – Romantics — tend to be quite attuned to the morale of their team and work hard to make the organization’s culture fun to be in and for the group to have a comfortable unity. I think a sparkling wine, with its effervescence and inherit celebratory nature, is a nice reflection of this style. On the other hand, analytical leaders – Warriors – are direct and results oriented; sometimes even perceived as brusque. A big Cabernet Sauvignon perfectly captures their style with the bold flavor profile and substantial tannins. Having said that, one of the most aggressive leaders I know drinks White Zinfandel. Go figure.

Kinsley: You travel the world doing keynote speeches and seminars. What is your favorite wine region?

Dave: Oh my! That’s like trying to pick your favorite band. Several wine regions have left me with amazing memories. My lovely bride and I were lucky enough to visit Valpolicella and tasted some amazing Amarone de Valpolicella at Le Salette Winery. It was just us and the winemaker. It was incredible. We visited a charming winery outside Madrid, Spain. Unbelievable! We love the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Columbia Valley region in Washington, too. However, based on the number of visits we make there, I would have to say the Dry Creek AVA in Sonoma is our favorite. They have a huge range of varietals and it is not as crowded as the rest of Sonoma and Napa. It is a beautiful area, lovely people and a real foodie vibe to boot.

Kinsley: During the holidays, do you have specific wine recommendations that pair with the traditional foods?

Dave: While I have some favorite pairings, I have found that everyone’s palette is unique. My motto is, “if you like it, drink it. If you don’t like it, drink it fast!” Here are the four wines I recommended in my November newsletter for Thanksgiving and I would feel comfortable serving them all through the holidays. Again, I broke the selections down to reflect the style of the person and I focused on my favorite region (with a bow to the Willamette Valley).

No celebration can begin without popping the cork on some sparkling wine. A lovely brut rose works great for the holidays. I love J Brut Rose for its floral and raspberry flavors and elegant bottle. At $38, it’s at a moderate price point for high end sparkly and worth it to start the party off with class. It is wine in the style of the Romantics: fun and effervescent

For the Experts, I recommend one of the great food wines in the world; Riesling. The combination of acidity and full mouth feel makes it perfect as an insurance policy against overcooked white meat.   The best version I tasted this year was the Trisaetum 2013 Estates Reserve Dry Riesling at $32 (Trisaetum also offers less expensive Rieslings that are wonderful, too). It is the Experts version of wine; traditional, safe and exceptional quality.

For those Masterminds out there, I found an exceptionally unique wine in the Dry Creek appellation of Sonoma County at Preston Vineyards. It is the Preston Vineyard 2012 Marsanne. Marsanne is rarely made into a varietal wine and even more unusual to find in this wine region. It is definitely unusual on the palate, but the first time I tasted it I was overwhelmed with holiday flavors. This one is a love/hate wine. You will have an opinion, but you won’t be bored; much like talking to a Mastermind. $30 and probably only available through the winery: www.prestonvineyards.com.

Finally, for those Warriors, we need a red wine. I don’t like big reds like Cabernet Sauvignon with the traditional holiday fare. For my money, I pick Zinfandel. Zinfandel is made in a variety of styles ranging from huge fruit bombs to delicate food wines. Porter Creek makes an old vine version that strikes just the right balance. ThePorter Creek 2011 Zinfandel Old Vine Sonoma County is priced at $34 and is bold enough to satisfy any red wine fan while not overpowering the food.

Kinsley: What is your favorite wine and why?

Dave: You’re killing me.  I almost said, “whatever is open,” but you are probably looking for a more thoughtful answer. Well, I am fond of saying that the appreciation of wine is 90% context. It is more about who you are with, what you are doing, where you drink it and how you feel at that moment. So, given that, my favorite wine right now is the Red Car 2009 Sonoma County Syrah. We bought a case of it and got a crazy, great deal at the winery. When we tasted it in Sonoma we were having a great day in wine country and now it is our Friday night pizza wine. Friday night pizza and wine is my favorite thing, so the current wine pairing would stand to reason as being my favorite wine. I reserve the right to change that answer on Saturday.

Kinsley: Are there any life lessons you have learned that relate to your training as a sommelier?

Dave: I really wish I could provide a pithy remark to go out with, but the truth is that my love and appreciation for wine has taught me to pay more attention to the simple joys that surround us all the time. I think it is easy to keep looking forward to something big in our lives while missing the fantastic details that are happening now. Is there anything so amazing in life than a glass of wine and a moment in time? Oh, wow; that was pretty pithy.


About Dave Mitchell, Founder/President, the Leadership Difference, Inc.


Since founding the Leadership Difference in 1995, over 250,000 people have attended Dave’s “enter-TRAIN-ment” seminars on topics that include leadership, customer service, selling skills, and personal performance enhancement. His clients include Allstate Insurance, Bank of America, Universal Studios, Hilton Worldwide, Sub-Zero Wolf Appliances, Electrolux Appliances, Trek Bikes, Walt Disney World and the CIA.   Dave has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois and designated as a Certified Advanced Wine Sommelier by the International Wine Guild.

Dave is the author of the book Live and Learn or Die Stupid! The book focuses on personal contentment and performance excellence. His second book, The Power of Understanding People, was released in December 2013 and was immediately named Best Business Book of the Month by Amazon.

“Dave’s ability to keep people engaged and laughing and truly teach something is incredibly powerful.” — Kimberly Janson, Vice President of Global Leadership of H.J. Heinz

“Investing in Dave Mitchell has been the best business decision I have ever made. He is the mos
t entertaining speaker I have ever heard, which is why he is so effective getting his message across to the audience.”
— Willis Chrans, Chairman, Avitus Group

Five Questions You Should Have the Answers to Before You Source – and Why

October 6th, 2014 by

Five Questions with two Kinsley Pros: Erin Parrott and Joslyn Strock who are responsible for a large percentage of the hotel sourcing and contracting that is provided for our clients.


Erin Parrott, Meeting Architect


Joslyn Strock, Meeting Architect

Do you think you know your meeting and what you will need for a complete and efficient RFP? Can you answer the questions below confidently? These 5 questions may help when you source your next meeting. They will certainly make it easier for hotel partners so that you get the correct information the first time.

1. Where’s Waldo? – Where and when to hold the meeting?

The first question to ask is actually not where, but why you are holding the event. Once you have determined the reason (hopefully not just that you always hold it!) you will be able to narrow down other key factors. Where are the large majority of your attendees located? Is priority on ease of access to the meeting site, or do you want more of a remote retreat setting? When would you like to hold the meeting? Have you made sure your dates are not over holidays? Are your dates/pattern flexible? As the meetings industry picks up again, a lot of locations are being booked farther and farther out, and being flexible could help your chance of finding availability – and your bottom line.

2. What it’s worth? Do you know the value of your meeting?

Once you have figured out the reason for the meeting, it is helpful to look at data from previous meetings and understand the economic impact of your meeting. Do you feed your attendees three times a day or leave them to their own devices? Is your audio visual budget on the scale of a Broadway production, or more along the lines of flip charts and markers? It’s up to you to know the value of your meeting, as it drives the ability to negotiate pricing and concessions for the hotel contract.

Finally, create a budget, and don’t be afraid to share what may be perceived as budgetary limitations with the hotel. Ask them to be creative within your guidelines.

3. Wide Open Spaces – What are your meeting space needs?

When envisioning the meeting agenda, do you have a clear idea of what meeting space you will need? Will you need multiple breakout rooms? Can you reuse a general session for a breakout or is this room going to be a black hole for 23 hours of the day that you are not using it? You might want to rethink using that room for something else during the day, or in the evening. Have you looked at setup times? The more accurate schedule you are able to provide with the RFP, the more pertinent the information returned will be. Keep in mind if you need a 24 hour hold on all rooms your F&B minimum will more than likely be higher than if you only held one or none of your rooms on a 24 hour hold. The hotel can then resell the space after your conference hours. If you are just using a room with hotel equipment, this may not be necessary. Give this some thought as it could save you money in the long run.

4. Keep Me Connected! – Do you know what your Internet needs are for the meeting?

As technology changes and advances, this is a KEY element in the RFP process. What are your attendees using the Internet for? Will it primarily be for email or for streaming the television show they missed last night? Make sure that you are familiar with the differences between WiFi and Wired and which you would prefer. The costs for each can be dramatically different. Do you need your internet to be dedicated for only your attendees? This will help in negotiating contracts and potentially asking for internet in concessions. Another related consideration to keep in mind: how much A/V the group will use and if you are going to use in house AV or an outside AV company.

5. What are your Must-Haves? – Contract Clauses and Concessions

What are the most important Terms & Conditions for your organization? Are there specific clauses that will make or break the contract for you? Add them to the RFP and ask if the hotel will agree to the T&C’s before submitting a proposal. If they don’t agree with these T&C’s upfront, then it will save everyone some time later on.  This also goes for concessions, list your 2 to 3 must haves upfront in the RFP. No one likes to be blindsided. The more communication/information you can give the property the better. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, if you are nice about it they just might say yes!

Five Questions With a Pro: An Interview with Jama Rice, CAE

May 6th, 2014 by

Jama Rice, CAEJama-photo-300-200x300

1. We talk about “Meeting Renovation” – a complete re-imagining and overhaul of events. How does “renovation” apply to your association in terms of the work you are doing on your organization’s mission, vision, and/or structure?

The Museum Store Association is itself in the midst of a “reinvention”  — the term the board and staff use to describe our “renovation.”  Everything about the association is being scrutinized for relevance and value added – for members and for the sustainability of the association – including the vision.  A big step taken over the last year has been the board refocusing its time and energy on strategic issues the non-profit retailing industry is facing and handing the implementation of the association’s strategic plan and day-to-day business operations back to the staff to manage the tactical steps.  As a result efficiency and effectiveness are increasing and the association is talking about some big issues that have needed attention.

 2. How do you see your annual meeting changing to align with the association’s goals and objectives?

While many changes are taking place in and around the Museum Store Association’s annual conference and expo, there are three that I point to as critical:

  1. Increase the quality and quantity of the content for increased relevance.  The non-profit retailing industry is being challenged by for-profit competitors.  In order to maintain focus on the institution’s mission and extend the experience of visitors and patrons through to the retail environment (often the last place they interact with the institution’s brand), non-profit retailers must be knowledgeable and skilled with all of the business aspects of retailing while also exceptional at interpreting the mission of the institution and its collection in the retail environment.
  2. Incorporate adult learning techniques.  Encourage the attendees to learn from each other, to learn through doing, to direct the learning process.  Sessions incorporate a variety of learning formats and opportunities to “connect the dots” are part of the schedule.
  3. Work with vendor exhibitors as partners in the non-profit retailing world as the Museum Store Association plans and designs its expo. Because of the nature of our museum members’ business, the Museum Store Association has a large expo.  The expo is an efficient buying opportunity for conference attendees since the expo presents a condensed and targeted gift show.  It’s important that the Museum Store Association support those vendors whose products and services complements this distinct retailing space and clearly communicate the unique aspects of selling to this retail market.

3. What are the most exciting challenges you see for the year ahead?

Reinvention doesn’t happen overnight; the association is going through a huge culture shift.  The overall anecdotal feedback is positive:  the association is being handed back to its members and they appreciate that.  And the devil is in the details.  We’re continuing to update and modify; but we’re also assessing what’s working and what’s not and making changes on top of the changes.  And change is hard for an organization that’s been around for almost 60 years.  The exciting part: members are telling us that they are excited to see the ship changing course.  The challenge: continuing to change course in a way that leads to a sustainable business model.

4. Can you share the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Pace yourself – but not too much.

5. If you were stranded on an island with only 1 thing to eat and 1 thing to drink, what would they be?

For survival I’d tell you water and a fruit yogurt, but I’d really be ordering up a cosmo and some really good sushi (which now that I think about it covers a lot of the food categories needed for survival, so change my order from the practical to the fun!).

About Jama Rice, CAE


Jama has more than a decade of experience as an association management professional.  Prior to her position as Executive Director/CEO of the Museum Store Association she was a senior staff member with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, Intl. She has also been on staff at the Financial Planning Association, the largest membership organization for Certified Financial Planner® professionals in the U.S. and served as interim ED for the Advertising Club of Kansas City (now the American Advertising Federation of Kansas City).  She has an MBA from the University of Kansas and a BS degree in communications and political science from the University of Tennessee, Martin.  She is a Certified Association Executive (CAE®), the highest professional credential in the association industry.

One Question – Five Pros

March 5th, 2014 by

What does “Meetings Week” mean to the meetings industry in Colorado?

For one week in March, the meetings industry descends upon Denver, centered around the annual event of the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado (MIC).  What started with a one-day tradeshow has spread to events over the course of the week.  This year, it takes place next week, March 10-14.

Steve Kinsley, President

Kinsley Meetings

 We love Meetings Week! It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our industry in the Rocky Mountain Region and beyond.  How often do you have the opportunity to connect with so many people in one week?  Educational opportunities, networking opportunities and personal motivation, it all comes together over the four days that we celebrate our industry here in the Rocky Mountains.  The fact that so many organizations, 13, can set aside so much time to collaborate is a testament to our spirit here in the West, and all to the benefit of those that take a little time to learn and enjoy.  Meetings Week is seen as a leader in regional meeting and event industry gatherings with suppliers and planners from all parts of North America and the Caribbean.  What fun!

Kathy Reak, Director of Convention Sales

Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

Meetings week is a great opportunity for suppliers to come face to face with their clients and make a one-day tradeshow into a full week of sales calls.  I think this “week” is really beneficial to those destinations coming in from out of state, allowing them the time to meet with people they do not see on a regular basis as well as maximizing their time and dollars.  With the many changes to the traditional tradeshow model, including these extra activities throughout the week, it certainly provides multiple ways to connect with people we do business with.  It also aids in the development of building new relationships and nurturing relationships already in place.

Amy Drotar, CMP, CMM, Global Meeting Manager

Polycom, Inc.

Meetings Week is a whirlwind of excitement in the Rocky Mountain region. We meet with our industry friends, celebrate our successes, pack our brains with education and fill our hearts with motivation. It starts with Colorado Meetings + Events Magazine’s annual Best of Colorado Readers’ Choice Awards and Hall of Fame induction. Then, vendors come in from all over the world for Meetings Industry Council (MIC), a phenomenal trade show and educational forum. By connecting 13 different associations and their members, this event brings in the best of the best at an extremely reasonable cost for attendees. Suppliers pow-wow with planners throughout the week, with both sides looking for partnerships to create the perfect event. It is one of the busiest weeks of the year, in our area, for our industry, but it couldn’t be more rewarding. Make sure your calendar is wide open though, because it’s almost time for Meetings Week!

Beth Buehler, Editor

Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings

Meetings Week in March is a not-to-be missed opportunity for the meetings and events industry to network, learn, and celebrate over a three-day period in Denver.  Almost since the inception of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine’s Best Of Colorado readers’ choice awards and Hall of Fame induction eight years ago, we have scheduled the event in tandem with the annual Meetings Industry Council of Colorado’s Education Conference and Trade Show (now in its 14th year), with both organizations thinking it could be a banner week for the industry and help draw people from outlying areas in the state (this year Best of Colorado is on March 10 and MIC is on March 12). Continued growth in attendance at both events and positive feedback confirms that “Meetings Week” is working. The magazine’s editorial advisory board also meets during this timeframe to discuss the state of the industry in Colorado, information that is typically reported in our summer issue.  Is there room to add more to this week? I’d love to hear what others think! 

Kristin Hutton, CMP, Director of Catering & Conference Services

The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa

Former Meetings Industry Chair

“Meetings Week” has evolved over the 14 year history of the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado Conference & Trade Show.  At one time, there was a push to formalize the week with scheduled events every day, but it has grown more organically over time to suit the needs of participants.  Planners & suppliers alike recognize an invaluable opportunity when the industry’s best comes together.  A flurry of site tours, meetings, advisory boards and client appreciation events all happen around the main core events that make up the week.  I believe that the opportunities that extend beyond the conference help create the value for its attendees, which allow the event to grow and flourish year after year.