Harnessing Serendipity: David Adler Explains Shifts for Event Organizers and the Industr

Event industry icon David Adler shares insights from his new book on event professionals’ valuable role in creating opportunities for collaboration.

Veteran media, marketing, event industry entrepreneur, and chairman and founder of BizBash David Adler has seen the event industry evolve throughout his career. “The role of event organizers, meeting planners, party planners, and conference planners has become increasingly important. Yet, they are often overlooked and underappreciated,” says Adler. “To be really successful, event organizers need to be collaboration artists.”

In his new book, Harnessing Serendipity—Collaboration Artists, Conveners and Connectors: The Art of Collaboration for Visionary Leaders, Adler believes that “collaboration is a skill we can all better learn, develop, and share” and “serendipity isn’t totally serendipitous.”

We sat down with Adler to learn more about the ideas from the book and how collaboration is emerging as an essential skill in all aspects of life – not just within the event industry.


“The collaboration artist is a higher-level version of the event world.”


Adler explains that “collaboration is everywhere. It’s an important skill, and I believe that if you can connect a room and create solutions to problems, you have the power to change the world.”

In writing the book, Adler wanted to elevate the artistry of event organizing to a higher form that would get the attention and respect of the general public. He says that “by calling event organizers ‘collaboration artists,’ we are assuming that their execution will be perfect and that the art of connecting people to reach the desired objective of the gathering is the most important aspect of the job.”

Adler went on to explain the power of the word “let’s.” “I call it the most powerful word in the English language. When people talk, they say, let’s go to lunch, let’s go to dinner, let’s start a revolution. So when you gather people together in a room, you never know what will happen.

That’s why Adler says harnessing serendipity is the art of event planning. Event organizers and planners are the ones who create “community centers” to bring people into the room and let the things that happen when people talk to each other unfold.


“We’re now in the goosebump business.”


As an example of how events have evolved, event organizers can look to events like the annual Dreamforce conference that brings the Salesforce community together.

“When you can make someone feel the subtle difference, they want to go instead of coming to your event, that’s the greatest ROI you can get. And when you go to an event like Dreamforce where the artistry of how it is put together is beyond comparison, you feel the goosebumps, feel the excitement.”

Adler explained that parasocial relationships drive events. “We have a two-way relationship with events. When I go to SXSW, I think I’m cooler. When I go to TED, I think I’m smarter. When I go to the World Economic Forum, I think I’m a global player.”

When you can get people to connect with your brand or organization in these potent ways, that’s the art of our business and why our industry is more powerful than people think, shared Adler.


How event organizers can raise the bar


The power of events and organizers to make a difference drove Adler to write his book, Harnessing Serendipity.

As an industry, “we need to raise the bar. Too often, we focus on the logistics and forget about the people.”

Adler offered suggestions to help event organizers raise the bar:

  • Scale intimacy. Especially for online and virtual events, Adler recommends breaking up larger events into smaller, more intimate events. “We’ve programmed all different types of face-to-face events, and we need to digitize these formats now to connect people and help them feel like they’re being heard.”
  • Orchestrate collaboration. Adler discovered that trust, awareness, belonging, creativity, curiosity, and empathy are common philosophies and methods used by some of the most innovative collaboration artists to orchestrate collaboration, intimacy, and serendipity.
  • Tap the power of technology. “Many powerful technology tools are available to tell a better story that connects with audiences.” Adler also said there would be many ways that artificial intelligence (AI) will be transformative for event organizers – whether it’s helping identify subtle details to make experiences feel more authentic or transform reams of event data into understandable and actionable insights.


Adler concluded by saying, “We need to celebrate event organizing as a respected line of work. Collaboration is the key to success, and event organizers are the collaboration artists that bring people together to create something extraordinary.”


Discover more information about how ConnexMe helps facilitate collaboration at your events.

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