Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher was interviewed by Exhibit City News about being selected as one of the "Top Women in the Trade Show Industry".
This article will help you gain insight and learn more about Linda.
President of TradeShow Teacher
I have been in the Trade Show industry for 10 years, but was studying and working in the fields of Advertising, Marketing and Graphic Design since high school.
My formal educational background leading towards my current industry started with vocational Commercial Art programs at High School, during which time I participated in a variety of competitive activities. Due to my school’s affiliation with local marketing and advertising companies, several of my submissions ended up being implemented into client campaigns earning me awards and a marketing based college scholarship.
My need to mature somewhat more quickly than average was triggered by giving birth to my son while I was 16. The need to manage organizing your time around caring for an infant while planning a future and finishing high school on time was probably a more efficient logistics training than anything I could ever have learned in a formal logistics background. I continued to attend school during pregnancy and graduated with my class being on the honor roll and subsequently attended Art Institutes in New York and Miami, which I now call my home.
While working in the marketing department at a former employer I got asked to attend Comdex, which in those days was the by far largest show in the High Tech Industry. The show was enormous, encompassing the entire Las Vegas Convention Center and several surrounding hotel convention facilities.
As I navigated the scores of halls and rows, I felt invigorated and excited by the buzz of the exhibit hall. The creativity of the booths impressed me. This artificial world of lights, sounds and creativity was such a captivating experience for me and I instantly felt a desire to be part of it, and be part of shaping and building it.
After attending my first show I started to express my desire to be involved in Trade Show exhibiting. It wasn’t long after that for the company I worked for to start exhibiting at Shows and as it is often the case in small growing companies; the volunteers were chosen to lead the effort.
At that time I was already in charge of the company’s Public Relations and Corporate Events Planning; so Trade Show Manager was quickly added to my title. This position was a huge stepping stone in my career since it not only allowed me to experience firsthand all the things you can do wrong; it also led to formal training and allowed me to grow from blindly experimenting to consistently delivering impressive results with detailed planned accuracy.
There are really 3 mentors that have impacted both my personal life and career significantly:
1.) The first one would be a former boss at a company I worked for: The Company already had a full time graphic designer, which was the job I originally went in to apply for. But I was offered a position as a general member of the marketing team. He told me he appreciated my enthusiasm and obvious desire to learn. So the job offer came with the condition that he would spend time teaching and mentoring me to produce a wide variety of projects in unfamiliar marketing areas for me. This was at a rapidly growing company where the marketing organization grew with every success and I was to grow into any area where I showed strength. I missed designing, but was excited about the opportunity.
When it became apparent that I have this natural ability to effectively plan the company’s Trade Shows, Public Relations and Corporate Events, he arranged for professional training. Those areas of responsibility became my new job description. Having such a phenomenal opportunity offered to me has made me eternally grateful to him for all of the growth, support and opportunities provided; he dramatically impacted my life and changed the path of my career.
2.) The second mentor would be my Dad: Though he was more of a passive or silent mentor, unaware that I was watching his actions as I grew up, he would impact me so significantly. What I learned was to be an entrepreneur in a field you are passionate about, provide top-quality work on projects, consistently deliver them on-time or early - every time and always deliver more than what the client expects. Focus on client relationship building; this is what consistently provided him with new projects for existing clients and a steady stream of referrals for new business. These priceless business lessons learned from my dad are now applied to my business on a daily basis.
3.) Finally, my Mom: She was also more of a silent mentor, who taught me valuable life lessons through her actions, which I have not only applied to my life, but my business as well. She showed me that every problem has a solution if you look long enough to find it; and never to give up. No task is too big to take on; stretch yourself and your capabilities to reach new heights. She led me to be a strong, powerful woman, work hard, assert myself and find opportunities to advance when possible. Watching my mom accomplish so many achievements and recognition, by applying these philosophies, has been inspiring to watch and learn from.
The first Trade Show I exhibited at was the Internet Telephony Expo (or IT Expo) which happened to be in Miami at that time. Exhibiting for the first time was a great experience to learn from. Our results were very poor; we simply were not experienced enough and realized we had a lot to learn before exhibiting again.
After receiving trade show, public relations and corporate event training at my former employer, key departmental managers were impressed with the results delivered, all the way up to the CEO. In later years the company created a Channel Program. Once watching several partners exhibit at trade shows, I realized they often knew even less about exhibiting than when I went to my first trade show, they desperately needed training to improve results. I proposed and was supported to initiate the availability of a trade show training program for the Channel Program partners.
Really enjoying helping companies improve their trade show skills and see them so greatly improve their return on investment made me want to do this full-time. So, having an entrepreneurial spirit learned from my dad I started my own business and became the TradeShow Teacher.
Since I started my career in the high tech industry, which almost by definition is one of the most progressive industries imaginable, gender was never an issue while I grew into my profession. So I got used to being judged solely on my performance. Having clear strategies and plans of action confirmed through results, I experienced no problems working with more traditional industries. If you show to be strong and confident in your capabilities, people accept that regardless of gender.
What I feel has been the biggest business benefit, as well as a competitive advantage is my attitude towards having an open mind when working with all sorts of clients. Taking the time to learn about their personal likes and style, then adapting to their surroundings.
If clients are conservative, I dress and act accordingly; if we are socializing, the locations selected and conversational tone would also be conservative. Then again, if they are a little wild and want to go dance on tables, I am fine with dancing on tables! Knowing to understand those details and building relationships that extend beyond existing projects has been the biggest benefit for me in client satisfaction levels, as well as having them add further training, consulting services and referring new business contacts to me.
Balancing these 2 worlds is challenging at times, but I have a great support team of family and friends. Everyone pitches in as needed; my husband, son, daughter, parents and a network of other moms I have built; we always lend a hand to each other as needed. The combination of this remarkable support system has delivered me with the ability to work countless hours at times, always deliver projects on time, and travel as needed. I am grateful for their help and support.
There are so many professional achievements I am proud of having accomplished for clients, I wish I could share them all with you. But for many of them, somebody else has already taken credit for and who am I to spoil any of that? I am the TradeShow teacher, so my ability to take complex information and turn them into digestible bits and pieces and then see a client go from what is often an experiment in chaos theory to being one of the most successful exhibitors is tremendously rewarding.
I do like looking back at my fairly humble beginnings and now being considered an industry expert. I frequently get asked to speak at industry events, get contacted as an expert source for articles and write the monthly TradeShow Teacher column for Exhibit City News. Most recently I was excited to accept an offer presented to me by The Idiots Guide division of Penguin Publishing to write “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows”.
I enjoy making a difference. There is so much that goes into such a simple sentence, but it really is the essence of what I enjoy about being the TradeShow Teacher. Every day I get to contribute to scores of businesses improving their Trade Show results and company revenue as a result. I also enjoy the opportunity of working with so many different, interesting people, businesses and industries. The Trade Show concepts stay roughly the same for any type of business, but I enjoy applying them in such a large number of different situations.
TradeShow Teacher, Inc
18305 Biscayne Blvd.
Aventura, FL 33160
Phone: (305) 742-0982
Fax: (800) 259-4269