© Brian Walter
A sampling of case studies and client success stories
See how corporations and nonprofits nationwide stage more engaging, productive events with support from No More Boring Meetings
Large Healthcare System
His energy rocked our audience….
Nearly every organization today is undergoing massive levels of change. Those in healthcare experience particularly high levels of upheaval, given the current heights of healthcare innovation, changes to health records, shifts in insurance payments, and rising employee expectations. Add to that hospital mergers and leadership attrition.
A large healthcare system in the Puget Sound, facing such unheard of change and a near doubling of staff in just a year, was planning its largest managers’ meeting to date. They knew they needed to give attendees immediately useful tools for navigating change, build cohesion among the newly created team of managers across the organization, as well as deliver a message of positivity and inspiration so everyone could return to work re-energized and more resilient. How do you tell people that such high levels of change were not going to change—yet keep them focused on the literal life-and-death nature of their work?
Further, the organization knew that the seriousness of their mission and of the meeting content had to be balanced with some humor. As they say, a little sugar makes the medicine go down. Especially in healthcare! After all, when we laugh, we’re more open to learning and we lowering our defenses to new ways of thinking and doing. (Click here to learn why humor is such a powerful antidote to stress and a catalyst to learning.)
Strategizing with No More Boring Meetings, the team chose two outside speakers to complement their internal programming: Dr. John Izzo, a best-selling author and speaker on change resiliency, and Bill Stainton, an internationally known expert on leadership and the musical band, the Beatles.
To ensure all the meeting messaging—from internal organizational speakers as well as from John and Bill—was tailored, on target and cohesive, No More Boring Meetings scheduled a “message continuity conference call” with the organizational leadership and the speakers. Doing so ensured each presenter could amplify the other’s content so the audience heard a unified, consistent message. Ta da: increased retention, impact and memorability long after they returned to work.
After the event, they reported:
“John Izzo was a home run, sharing how to thrive and be resilient in an uncertain and constantly changing environment. With a mixture of entertainment, motivation, and important information, he connected with our team in a way that was inspiring and encouraging. John artfully wove evidence-based tools to succeed with change into messages of hope and inspiration.”
Individual comments included “John really helped put things in perspective and emphasized that we need to balance life and take care of ourselves.” And “I liked the way John presented how we are all resilient if we choose to be.”
About Bill, an executive wrote: “When Bill Stainton speaks to your team, you are guaranteed a top-rated, excellent serving that will energize, mesmerize, and recharge. Bill engages with meaningful, useful, and fun tools and tactics to gracefully and confidently work with and manage continuous change. Bill’s knowledge of the Beatles evolution and revolution translates elegantly to any work place. Bill captured the minds, hearts and attention of more than 500 managers….Bill eloquently wove our rapid growth and associated challenges and changes into his delivery….His energy rocked our audience….and he called on every manager to ‘Carry That Weight’ to embrace change.’ …Managers have been saying, ‘Best retreat ever.’ And ‘This is exactly what I needed.’ ”
“It was a huge success …”
A fresh meeting format designed by meetings expert Brian Walter, Apprentice Tank combines the concepts and energy of The Apprentice and Shark Tank TV shows, while staying within the legal parameters of parody.
How it works: Organizations identify a business problem to solve, or throw down a new product challenge. A real problem, not a possible scenario, because the power of Apprentice Tank is in the game’s very serious purpose: the winning team’s idea is actually funded.
Participants roll up their sleeves to create something new and relevant. Your audience’s natural competitive instincts are ignited. Leaders appear in their very best light because their strategic reasoning gets the spotlight. Teams are engaged in focused competition and relevant problem-solving. As the game taps well-known pop-cultural references from television, your company enjoys a reality show about … your reality!
We recently staged this segment for a retail client. In short, the segment went swimmingly. Reporting back, the Vice President of Operations wrote: “Scheduled at the end of a long, multiple-day meeting with a room full of tired field leaders, our customized ‘Apprentice Tank’ exercise from Brian Walter raised the energy levels right back up … It was a huge success …”
CHI Franciscan Health
“To say our team was transformed…is not an exaggeration.”
CHI Franciscan Health periodically brings its leaders together to build on strategy and boost team cohesion. In the midst of massive changes within the U.S. healthcare system-and by extension, the organization itself-an all-day retreat set high expectations. That’s why No More Boring Meetings recommended transformational change expert Dr. John Izzo to present to and work closely with the CHI Franciscan executive team. One executive observed:
“Within 20 minutes, Dr. John Izzo had our executive team engaged and riveted, so much so that we didn’t see anyone checking their phones or iPads. John masterfully talked with (not at!) our group in ways that built buy in and cohesion. He used fresh ways to engage our team, keeping their attention throughout the day. To say that our team was transformed in how they interact and move forward into our future is not an exaggeration. It was one of our best retreats ever.”
“The comments we received from our participants since the performance have been outstanding.”
For Starbucks’ first-ever Store Development Leadership Conference, among their goals was to enhance the emotional connection between Partners [employees] and the coffee company, further humanize their executives…as well as visually and viscerally illustrate the ideas of connection, partnership, and the customer experience. Part of their strategy, from No More Boring Meetings, included customized infotainment from Brian Walter, such as the Fact or Crap game show, along with a thigh-slapping-and on-message-movie parody video.
Afterwards, the meeting manager wrote: “Our conference here at Starbucks went great…thanks in part to the efforts from Brian Walter. Your team truly understands how to take our business content and add the appropriate level of entertainment…to bring the content to life for the audience. The “Fact or Crap” game was an incredible hit, and the “Show me the Store Count” video parody was awesome! These easy to execute skits really helped to show off the personal side of our executives. The comments we received from our participants since the performance have been outstanding. Thanks again. I look forward to working with you again in the future.”
“Doubled the value …”
With their all-day off-site teambuilding meeting less than a week out, a group within Microsoft sought a closing keynote speaker to ‘wrap up’ the day’s activities-to summarize the essence of how the teams could best move forward, given the day’s exercises. Allotted just 20 minutes to close, No More Boring Meetings speaker Jim Sorensen provided a pointed, tailored, and humorous speech. The lead manager’s response: “Jim’s program doubled the value of the entire day.”
The Boeing Company
“John Keister really nailed it with his style of humor and local jokes about the city and the company.”
To celebrate the completion of a critical 10-year project, The Boeing Company prepared to honor their people and their accomplishments with a retrospective video and dinner banquet. They selected iconic Northwest comedian John Keister to hold tongue-in-cheek interviews with top executives involved on the project, using his one-of-a-kind humor.
Later, during the banquet itself, John performed for the entire team, serving up a customized program about aerospace, the Pacific Northwest, and the lives and times of Boeing. One of the meeting planners reported:
“I cannot tell you how many wonderful comments we have received regarding Johns’ performance. With all the changes recently in the Boeing Company and the challenges in daily life, John brought a team of folks together to share an evening of warmth and laughter.” Another planner said “John was fantastic. There was a super reception of his comedy, and he really nailed it with his style of humor and local jokes about the city and the company.”
YWCA of Seattle
“thorough, professional and solutions-oriented …”
Seattle’s YWCA has set the bar for impactful, results-driven fundraisers headlined by some of the world’s best female speakers. In 2010, they tapped No More Boring Meetings to secure best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, for the Bellevue, WA luncheon. This luncheon raised more funds than any in the YWCA’s history. Their meeting planner later wrote:
“Andrea Driessen listened to my needs, asked the right questions, and provided recommendations that were beyond my every expectation. She was thorough, professional and solutions-oriented, opened my eyes to new possibilities and gave me the support and tools to excel. Andrea is a shining example of excellence, and sets the bar for professional expertise and integrity within her field.”
Oregon Dental Assn.
“perfect opening to our most successful conference to date …”
Oregon Dental Assn. was celebrating its 50-year anniversary and chose the theme “Reaching New Heights.” To reinforce this tagline, they aptly booked Jim Whittaker, the first American to Summit Mt. Everest, to present the opening keynote.
Afterwards, they wrote: “…Jim’s presentation about being the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest was the perfect opening to our most successful conference to date. With the ease of a seasoned speaker, Jim spoke to the crowd in a way that made you feel like he was talking to a room of good friends. His humorous manner and laid back-personality made for a delightful start to the morning….Jim Whittaker’s presentation is an awe-inspiring story of a life lived to its fullest. If the time presents itself again, we look forward to working with him.”
“our best-ever event”
A Toronto-based financial corporation sought inspiration and practical time management tools for its owners’ meeting. They also wished to capture and create some Olympic-level buzz as the Winter Olympics in Whistler was scheduled soon afterwards.
A tall order? Not if you’re Vince Poscente, Winter Olympian and best-selling author of the time-management resource “The Age of Speed.” After their event, one of the business partners wrote Vince a personal note of thanks:
“Vince, Thank you very much for joining us at our symposium this week. We had many, very positive comments regarding your presentation; the way you were able to incorporate personal and industry events into your presentation and through the use of personal, compassionate stories, combined with your unique sense of humour, contributed to what we have determined to be our best-ever event. Again, thank you for your contribution to our success.”
United Federal Credit Union
“a true business partner …”
United Federal Credit Union needed to motivate and inspire staff, stage a high-energy, collective training day and give everyone-from front line tellers to leadership-the tools to work smarter, not harder. Enter speaker, master juggler, acrobat and author Dan Thurmon. After the half-day training, they said,
“Everyone without exception was just thrilled by Dan Thurmon’s program. So much of what he said was exactly what we needed to hear. Dan really hit the mark, and it could not have been better! How will we ever top it?”
They added: “Andrea Driessen (of No More Boring Meetings) is a consummate professional with a keen eye for detail and a clear understanding of our big picture-a true business partner. She goes above and beyond to make the experience enjoyable and worry-free.” –Mike Nicholas, SPHR
“You delivered with gusto …”
In holding its annual Town Meeting series, WSECU chose speakers from No More Boring Meetings to entertain their members. Afterwards, they shared the following feedback:
“Bill Stainton is the epitome of what you look for in a speaker…Not only does he deliver an amazing keynote…but the time and effort he devotes before he even hits the stage are inspiring. I found Bill extremely easy to work with and nothing less than professional… and highly recommend Bill for any speaking engagement.” Project Manager, WSECU
“If you ever need to engage and captivate a large audience, look no further than Paul Huschilt. Young or old, corporate or more personal, Paul can entertain them all. What separates Paul from everyone else is that Paul not only entertains, but he also drives home the message or theme you wish to make and does so in a way that’s not only engaging, but also informative … Paul is a consummate professional … and I will definitely keep him on my short list of speakers to use in the future.” Project Manager, WSECU
“…I want to single out John Curley as the perfect choice to engage and entertain…Amid sober conversation about the challenges of the modern mortgage market, Mr. Curley added the perfect amount of levity while discussing themes of considerable gravity. He shared touching yet hilarious stories on the topic of “recognition” and why it matters….His speech resonated with the audience on a personal level and connected to WSECU-a member-owned business….It was a job very well done.”
Used Truck Assn.
“… an instant standing ovation from the 272 people in attendance …”
“…You [Dan Thurmon] started your connection with the audience by having everyone clap, and then you re-entered the stage with a back flip and from that point on you had the audience attention for the rest of the hour. Later you had volunteers from the audience assist you and even taught one person how to juggle–amazing!”
“…You used juggling as a metaphor for dealing with all the challenges we face in life and how we must keep our eyes on the ball and not on our hands to succeed, “we must keep looking up…”
…Normally at the conclusion of a speaker’s presentation, a small group may stand and clap in appreciation, then gradually the rest of the audience may stand as an ovation, but your response was an instant standing ovation from the 272 people in attendance–the whole room stood up instantly. I have heard many keynote presentations at various conventions over the years but never have I seen an immediate standing ovation. This shows the impact of your words as well as the relationship you made with each person in just 1 ½ hours.
An acquaintance of mine works for a major corporation came to me after your presentation and was so inspired by your comments he asked me how to get in touch with you as he believed ‘Dan Thurmon’ was exactly what his company needed to get their company’s motivation back on track….”
“Going to “EXTREMES” to convey “Different””
This large retail clothing chain, in planning its largest management conference to date, realized they needed to “go to Extremes” to perform at an entirely new level in the coming Holiday buying season, and ensure their people heard the messaging and content they needed to succeed.
They turned to two “Extremes:” Brian Walter, creator of Extreme Meetings, and Steve Farber, “Extreme Leadership” author and speaker.
After the event, Eddie Bauer’s CEO commented:
“Working with Brian Walter helped us to conceptualize and deliver a fresh, exciting, and memorable event that communicated our important business strategies in a manner full of energy and unique humor. Brian’s contribution on the planning end of the event was as important as the talent he and his team contributed to the success of the event itself.
We look forward to future opportunities to leverage this new resource and appreciate the significant contributions to the success of our conference.”
And in describing the impact of Steve Farber’s message, he said: “Steve Farber…really energized the audience to think about everything that is familiar-in a very different way.
Steve worked with us in advance to understand our company’s unique challenges such that he could weave them into his keynote message. The message itself was simple; yet presented in a way that was engaging, and most importantly, real vs. theory-oriented. Steve’s message of Extreme Leadership was full of energy. His unique talent to tell compelling stories with concrete lessons and real-world application made the time particularly well spent.”
Since this conference, Eddie Bauer relied on us repeatedly to continue advancing their EXTREME, on-message conferences and sales strategies.
“… a keen sense of listening to the true issues …”
Known globally for its RFID and barcode technology, Intermec holds an annual multi-day sales conference to inform and inspire their sales force and partners. To amplify the extent to which their people acquire both the knowledge and the inspiration to thoroughly reach their growth targets, Intermec brought in Extreme Meetings.
Faced with the challenge of communicating to a worldwide audience, the Team developed and performed a set of carefully customized infotainment-entertainment about their messaging.
Even before the conference finished, the COO said, “I’m afraid we have a problem. I hope you enjoy working with us. You’ve done such a good job, you’re stuck with us as a client for life!”
True to their word, following the initial sales conference, Intermec booked The Extreme Team for two additional conferences, one for their employees and another for customers. They added:
“It is with utmost pleasure that I take the time to thank you for an amazing performance by you and your team…As you know, humor is very difficult to do with a large international audience. Not only was your humor acceptable to the entire audience base, the music and added relevant humor that reinforced the messaging built a better than expected energy in the room that bled into the entire conference program. Here are some of the actual comments we received:
Emcee/entertainment were first rate, polished, and understood product themes quite well.
Emcee and entertainment MADE this show one of the best I have attended. They kept it moving and entertaining all the while delivering the corporate message. It was worth the investment!!
All the entertainment was excellent and the lyrics composed especially for the conference were very clever, and showed a good study of our business by Extreme Meetings
“When boring is NOT an option”
The maker of in-flight entertainment systems, Matsushita was planning an international Users Conference-a pivotal event during which they sought to impress customers and ensure they came away with an exceptionally positive view of the company, its services, and its products. Because days’ worth of technical information can become dry, they looked to us to jazz up all event elements, including the technical presentations.
Corporate Humorist and Masterful Master of Ceremonies, Brian Walter, developed and delivered his highly customized song parodies, quiz shows and well-orchestrated between-program banter so all programs were anything but dry. Accompanying Brian-in song and in style-was Elvis [Entertainer Ken Boynton], the “King of In-Flight Entertainment.”
According to the VP of their Product Support Group, “It was clear Brian Walter spent extensive time studying Matsushita, given the knowledge he displayed. Many attendees even asked if Brian was our employee….Brian Walter turned our conference into an exceptional event.”
PEMCO Financial Services
“The power of customized programs”
As part of a day-long training for its sales agents, Seattle-based PEMCO insurance brought in No More Boring Meetings speaker George Walther, CSP, CPAE (the highest designation for professional speakers] to conduct a Power Talking program. The results, according the Business Development Manager:
“You nailed it!…Stan McNaughton, our CEO, commented, ‘He really understands our values…clearly he did his homework in order to meet our needs’…Steve Miller, COO, told me, ‘Thanks for picking a speaker who delivered substance and value to our sales agents’ and Dave Lorenz, Manager of Customer Service, shouted to me, ‘I’ve got to get this guy to talk to my group.'”
Shortly thereafter, George Walther was hired to speak as well to the PEMCO customer-service team.
Premera Blue Cross
“Highest [evaluation] I recall at Premera …”
When the Premera Blue Cross leadership team gathered to discuss year-to-date progress, they sought a speaker who could motivate, build even more accountability into the culture, tie his or her message to company goals and the bottom line, as well as ensure continuity of message among all the day’s speakers. Certainly a tall order.
Premera selected No More Boring Meetings speaker Tom Flick, and following Tom’s closing keynote, CEO Gubby Barlow wrote, “Thanks again for your fabulous presentation. All who attended found your talk inspirational. Overall, the evaluation is the highest I recall at Premera (in almost 7 years!).”
Two other attendees reported: “Tom Flick was terrific. Best P&O I’ve attended” and “…Good balance between information, Q&A and a speaker who really internalized our message and our metrics.”
“… one of the most inspiring speakers we have invited …”
Seattle’s Lakeside School holds an annual lecture series for which they invite a speaker on topics related to the environment, technology, and economics. In 2011, they choose iconic mountain climber Ed Viesturs, after which Lakeside’s Head of School commented: “I found him to be one of the most inspiring speakers we have invited. He has actually done something rather than just talking about what others are doing. And, I loved his message of set a goal, be persistent, patient, and try to keep your ego in check.”
Franciscan Health System
“… even the nuns wanted your autograph!”
To build buzz, deeply engage the audience and raise more funds in a challenging economy, Franciscan Health System’s Foundation desired an effective Master of Ceremonies to headline the annual gala. After choosing radio broadcast journalist Luke Burbank, the event manager wrote to Luke:
“I want to thank you for your incredible efforts and talent in making the St. Joseph Ball such a successful evening. All I have heard since Saturday night is how fun the event was, best one yet and there was never a dull moment. You kept it alive, funny, poignant and meaningful. We are still crunching numbers but I can safely say this will be our record-breaking Ball to date. I appreciate the time and detail you took in making this a personal cause for everyone. I look forward to working with you in the future!
PS: how great that even the nuns wanted your autograph!” Then they invited Luke back for a second year!
“one of my favorite speakers… “/p>
“[Brain researcher] Scott Crabtree was great at our client event…and one of my favorite speakers I’ve worked with in advance, during the planning process. He was always professional and friendly. On site, he was proactive, knew what he needed to be successful, and brought a solution to any problem that arose.” Krista Fleming, KF Events
WA School Info Processing Coop
“…our highest ranked keynote speaker since we started tracking feedback 5 years ago.”
The largest educational conference in WA State, the Washington School Information Processing Cooperative, was planning its annual gathering. To balance out the mostly technical education and subject matter expert-led sessions, they decided to bring in an external keynote speaker to kick off the first morning.
Seeking a speaker who would encourage and affirm attendees’ contributions to students and districts, and deliver a positive, story-driven message especially aligned for those in education, they chose Greg Bell, founder of Water the Bamboo Center for Leadership. Greg’s message—about how watering bamboo and patiently waiting for it to grow is much like nurturing children into adulthood. Patience, self discipline, a careful tending to relationships are all critical for success.
Following the conference, the meeting manager, Krista Fleming, wrote that Greg Bell “was our highest ranked keynote speaker since we started tracking feedback 5 years ago.”