EO Q&A: Education through EO Events
An inside look at what it takes to host a regional event
Every year, chapters around the world unite to host regional events that inspire and educate countless members. One of those events, EO NERVE, is a testament to the value these programs provide on a local and regional level. In this special interview, EO Charlotte member and EO NERVE Committee Chair John Bly talks with Octane about what it takes to host a regional event and the impact it has on the EO community.
You’re currently planning the 2013 EO NERVE. What do you want this event to accomplish?
JB: EO NERVE is a US-East regional event with a focus on bringing members value. The goal is to bring 500-700 members together to grow, learn and build relationships with other members. You’ve attended previous EO NERVE events.
Why did you decide to chair the event in 2013?
JB: I started planning for the event with a few EO Charlotte members last September. It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it from an economical and member value standpoint. The benefits of hosting a large regional event are significant for the city and the local EO chapter. For example, Charlotte—the location of EO NERVE—is getting behind the event because it’s bringing in more than US$10 million in economic impact. Additionally, EO Charlotte has gained considerable PR and marketing traction. This will help the chapter grow in membership and add strategic alliance partners over the next few years.
What have past EO NERVE events taught you about the planning process?
JB: I learned that the core of EO goes back to one of its values— ‘Thirst for Learning.’ We are trying to make this year’s NERVE a conference laser-focused on the learning element of the entrepreneurial journey. To do this, we doubled the learning budget from the year before. Another big lesson learned was that EO members really want to interact with each other as much as possible. So for our socials, we have cut back on loud music and other distractions, choosing instead to emphasize the need for social interactions and experience-sharing opportunities.
What were some of your big wins in preparing for this event?
JB: Looking back, I’d say the biggest success we have had is in announcing all of the speakers before registration began— this was a first for EO. Additionally, we were blessed with a new funding model that had each US-East member contribute US$100 out of local dues. These funds were then sent directly from EO Global to our NERVE funds, allowing us to commit dollars to speakers earlier and help minimize the loss risk to EO Charlotte.
Do you have any tips for those chapters interested in starting a similar event in their region?
JB: For starters, leadership support is critical to putting together a successful event. Our Regional Council is 100-percent supportive of the event, and when leadership starts at the top it makes the entire model better. Also, it’s important to get strong leaders on the event committee. Without a great committee of dedicated and proven EO leaders, the event would not be strong. There are 17 chapters in our region, and we have eight chapters represented on the committee; having these folks involved brings hype to their local chapters, which means more of their members will attend. Finally, if there’s a way to get the regional funding model set up front, it will provide a backstop for the hosting chapter and allow the committee to focus on producing a high-quality learning event and not a fundraising campaign.
What kind of mark do you want EO NERVE to make in the EO community?
JB: We hope that NERVE provides a significant impact on the 360° of the entrepreneur— My Business, My Family, My Community and Myself. We have built the learning and social events around these elements, and believe that each member will walk away with at least one thing from each category that will impact their life.