In 1995, Country Western Artist, Patty Loveless recorded a song entitled, “How Can I Help You To Say Goodbye.” It did not reach #1 but made an impact on country western music.   It is a heartbreaking tune about a woman’s relationships in life including re-location, divorce and caring for her elderly mother at a crucial time in her life.

collogoHere is an excerpt:

Sitting with Mama alone in her bedroom
She opened her eyes, and then squeezed my hand
She said, I have to go now, my time here is over
And with her final word, she tried to help me understand
Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?

Saying “goodbye” is difficult no matter what the situation.  It is especially difficult when a loved one dies and there are strong feelings of sadness as well as sincere feelings of appreciation for the life shared. Finding small, personal, and unique ways to celebrate in the midst of the loss helps us move from hurt and grief to acceptance and hope. It’s a process.  As you go through that process, I encourage you to be kind, generous, and gentle with yourself.  Be flexible and accepting of the vast range of emotion that you are experiencing.  Seek support form others.

I particularly like the closing words; “It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry.  Come let me hold you and I will try.  How can I help you to say goodbye?”  Look for those people around you who are trying to convey that message or at least thinking it. They will be there.

What are your thoughts? Blog with me!


Last week we had the honor of helping produce the Celebration of Life for Tim Abbott of Fun Productions. We specifically say help because the amount of involvement from the Denver event community was truly amazing.  One of the first things we did was to send word to our local ISES community letting them know what happened and if anyone wanted to join us in providing services or products.  In 24 hours, 30 companies contacted us to provide EVERYTHING for free (even though Tim’s wife Dawn wanted to pay for everything since she felt our industry is asked often to donate.)

The event took place at a beautiful venue in Castle Rock Colorado called Cielo at Castle Pines. The owners did not know the Abbotts but after hearing about the tragedy, they offered their venue for free.  Catering by Design provided all the food and staff for 300 attendees, All Well Rents provided the rentals, Splendor For Your Guests provided umbrellas and shawls (good thing- it rained!), All Digital Photography and Video provided photography and a video booth where guests could leave messages for the family, Pure Energy Events provided all the A/V, 5 Star Talent & Entertainment provided live musicians and singers, Star Parking provided valet service and Jay’s Valet provided rides for the family.  Patty Moser from Blue Eyes Consulting and Nicole Marsh from the Arrangers helped us find the right venue.  Paul Anderson from our team (retired Air Force Chaplain) did an awesome job officiating the service. Our Business Development lead Allison Freeman coordinated ALL the vendors and did most of the work pre-planning and setting up. Many other vendors are providing long-term support such as meals for the family and for their staff over the next few months….and there’s more help that we’re probably not even aware of…

14132_10151550460975064_2094301651_nWe want to share the reasons we all did this: One, we love Dawn and Tim and we couldn’t help but act since we are all “do-ers” by nature.  Two, I believe this is how our industry should be. When tragedy strikes, we should circle the wagons and take care of each other.  Our Denver community is not perfect but we are very tight knit competitors who want the best for clients and each other.  I speak often at industry groups nationwide and I sadly don’t see the spirit of cooperation that we enjoy in Denver.  I hope this story can be an example of what we can be.

We started planning celebrations of life after working for a cancer center for children.  We saw the need for planning services where families wanted a thematic & customized event to honor the child. We gladly take on the  burden of planning an event at one of the most difficult times in someone’s life. We were honored to be able to do this for the Abbott’s.

-Tami Forero


# # #

Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in celebrations of lifecorporatenon-profit, and social events worldwide. This award winning team also designs custom, experiential learning programs and corporate training sessions.

CEO of Forté Events, Tami Forero is a veteran of the special event industry having planned hundreds of strategic corporate, social and non-profit events.  She’s a sought after consultant and speaker with topics both on the event industry and business skills.

ISESREC_2013Last week I had one of the best experiences at a speaking engagement. I was invited to the 2013 ISES Northeast REC Conference “Innovation. Education. Inspiration.” outside of Washington DC. I didn’t have the best start; I got bumped off my first flight and missed many of the classes I was hoping to attend myself. Things started looking up as I arrived, this ISES region really knows how to throw an event! I made it in time to attend their Monday night social event. Their vendors went all out, Cort Furniture had created a gorgeous lounge and there was a $30,000 laser light show from GrooveBoston. Like I always say, if you’re going to sponsor something for event planners, go all out & really show them the best you can be!

The next morning was my ”Building a Business that Creates the Life You Want” class. The stars must have been aligned as it felt like so many people in the audience were in the same situation I was in years ago: working too much, not happy, no work/life balance, thinking “paying my dues” would pay off eventually, etc. You really can build a business to fit the  lifestyle you want. You have to stick to specific goals, price yourself effectively, and delegate those things you don’t like or aren’t good at. It was an amazing experience for me as a speaker as I could see a mind shift happening in front of me. The reaction was visible, several people were even crying. I believe they needed to hear the things I was saying to help get them on the right path to a healthier work/life balance. I look forward to seeing many of them at a future Business Boot Camp here in Colorado Springs.


Colorado Meetings & Events

(As published in the Fall 2012 issue of Colorado Meetings & Events Magazine)

Although many businesses in our industry have struggled through the past few years of economic downturn, I believe some good practices have emerged as well. For example, many companies have reevaluated who they are, what they want to provide in the future, and how they want to be perceived in the marketplace. Other companies have reduced or eliminated debt, allowing them to make a fresh start.

Some companies have scaled back staff levels, which can be viewed by some as a negative. However, these event professionals have created a very profitable role for themselves as independent contractors. This is the best trend to happen to the event industry in a long time!

Experienced event planners, A/V technicians, salespeople, caterers and designers were the first to lose their higher paying jobs when economic cutbacks hit our industry. Many of these people have 12 to 30 years experience-so when there were no jobs to replace the ones they’d lost, they took matters into their own hands and became independent contractors providing their expertise to many companies nationwide.

My company has greatly benefited from this new trend. Most of our firm’s work is international and requires a lot of onsite management and travel for high-end clients, so we really need event professionals with years of experience. As a small business, I found it difficult to afford the large salaries required to attract this caliber of planner. Now, I am grateful to work every week with planners I could not have hired prior to the economic downturn.

Everyone wins! The contractors set their pay scale, assist many companies, pick and choose the projects they work on and make more money than they did being employed by one company. Event companies like mine are afforded the opportunity to work with some of the best planners in the business for a fraction of the cost of hiring full time, we choose the contractor that is a match for a specific client and we make more profit while ensuring the client is happy.

Kevin Kowalczyk owns Giant Steps Consulting, a Denver-based company he started three years ago after experiencing a layoff. Forté Events hires Kevin for onsite event delivery worldwide, pre-planning and monthly social media marketing. He offers similar support to many companies and has seen an increase in demand for the type of services Giant Steps offers.

“I love the flexibility and profitability I’ve experienced since becoming a contractor. I have had a lot more opportunities for growth in the industry since starting my company and feel I have a higher quality of life and a better work/life balance,” he says. “I am able to be successful by maintaining closer relationships with many event professionals…something I could not have done while working full-time for one company.”

Forté Events hires six contractors regularly and will continue this practice in the long term. While our industry finds new ways to compete, stay profitable and rebuild during an ever changing economic landscape, I’m grateful for independent contractors!
– Tami Forero

# # #

Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in corporate, non-profit, and social events worldwide. This award winning team also designs custom, experiential learning programs and corporate training sessions.

CEO of Forté Events, Tami Forero is a veteran of the special event industry having planned hundreds of strategic corporate, social and non-profit events.  She’s a sought after consultant and speaker with topics both on the event industry and business skills.

TSEThis years The Special Event Conference is going to be extra special for us.  There will be five of us from Forté Events attending this year and Tami will be speaking at three different classes!   We’re very excited that basically the entire team will be able to experience this event.  Many have been multiple times before, but for others it will be their first.  People ask us all the time what’s the value in attending this conference (which is the largest in the event industry).  Here’s some of the reasons we go:

It’s one of her favorite things to do and a way of giving back to the industry.  If you have ever attended one of her classes,  you know how much fun they are and how enthusiastic Tami is.  This conference is especially fun for her since it’s all week-long; she gets more time with everyone who comes to her classes.

  • Certifications

Tami at 2009 TSEThere’s lots of educational opportunities all in one place to get an industry certification.

Where else can you learn what are the current trends and find out what others are doing at events across the country?

  • Relationship Building

This is the biggest reason we go.  As planners, we don’t go expecting to get direct business from it (we’re sure vendors do), but we strengthen and make new relationships with our event peers.  We’ve met so many friends, interns and employees at The Special Event over the years.  These days most businesses are national, if not international.  You never know when a client may call on you to do an event in Ohio and with the network of peers you can create from TSE, you’ll be able to do a great event from wherever you are.   We’ve gotten many referrals throughout the years from people we’ve met at TSE as well as calls from other planners who needed help planning an event where we’re based.  One recent example was from an event we did last year that tied in a premiere event with the latest Batman movie.  When we had a question about the movie itself, we were able to call on the event planner from Warner Brothers, who we’d met at a past TSE.  Without the relationship we developed at TSE we wouldn’t have gotten that direct help.

We’re looking forward to seeing old friends & making many new ones later this month in Chicago!