Exploring New Options: An Open Letter to CEMA Members


I have a confession to make. I am a “Keynote Speaker Groupie.” For me, it starts with hearing a speaker at an event (i.e., the power of face to face events). I then look for any content they have published such as books, e-newsletters, blogs, podcasts, TED Talks, etc. and I engage and indulge myself in their stories and intellectual banter.

So no surprise that I did this following this year’s Summit with Rohit Bhargava. There are many pieces of great information I uncovered by reading his books, newsletters and watching his videos since we left Terranea. However, there is one thought that I wanted to focus on and share.

Rohit makes a great observation about generations that we as event professionals can undoubtedly apply to our event design, how we interact with each other, and how we can shape the industry.

“A major problem today is that while demographics were never intended to describe how people think, marketers mistakenly make use of demographics to attempt to do so,” Rohit said. “When you target the 18 to 34-year-old demographic, you make an assumption about how everyone in that group thinks and behaves solely on that person’s age. As most of us know, people’s behavior and motivations don’t fit neatly into those well-defined boxes.”

When tech entrepreneur Gina Pell wrote about this problem, she suggested an end to the days of targeting people by their age or generational descriptors like Boomer, Millennial, or Gen Z. She stated, “Perennials get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle. We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic. Perennials are also vectors who have a wide appeal and spread ideas and commerce faster than any single generation.”

When reading this, it is hard not to think that this concept could easily have been written to describe the CEMA membership. We all have the common desire to share and learn as described above to make our industry and profession better.

P.S. As Rohit lives in the DC area, I took the whole groupie thing a little further I am having dinner with him at the end of the month…stalker or perennial?


Jim Kelley
VP Marketing & Industry Relations Corporate Events, PRG
CEMA Board Member

Back to top
Share link: