The Business of Meetings – Episode 130: Occupational Wellness with Nancy Snowden
We have the great pleasure of speaking with the education guru, Nancy Snowden today! She is the Lead Manager of Educational Experiences for Meeting Professionals International (MPI).
Nancy joins us for a fully-packed session where she shares her insights and experience. We dive into mental health, emotional intelligence, financial literacy, humor, improvisation, and unschooling.
We hope you enjoy listening to today’s thought-provoking episode with Nancy Snowden!
An educator by trade, dream chaser by nature, and brain-science fanatic, Nancy Snowden has always sought to do things in her own way. From earning her bachelor’s degree in English, Creative Writing, and Women & Gender Studies, to continuing her education and earning her master’s degree in Adult Education & Interdisciplinary studies – she loves to look at an average opportunity and carve out the path that cultivates her zeal for life and passion for helping others. After spending a decade working in Higher Education and specifically, the wellness sector, she took a leap and joined the Academy team at MPI Global Headquarters and launched headfirst into the world of meeting and event professionals. Since then, Nancy has found an incredible amount of fulfillment working to provide #meetingprofs with the tools and resources they need to live and work at their best as the Lead Manager of Educational Experiences.
After graduating with a degree in adult education and various other subjects, Nancy spent eight or nine years working for universities and international non-profit organizations with chapters and clubs on student campuses. She did some low-level event planning on college campuses and worked with college students, mainly with leadership, wellness, emergency response, and risk reduction in the education and development realm.
A job at MPI
In 2018, Nancy got tired of working within the confines of higher education and spent almost a year looking for a new job. Then a friend of a friend posted her original role at MPI. Nancy learned about the organization, landed the job, and joined MPI.
Health promotions standpoint wellness
Consumerism has taken hold of health promotions standpoint wellness. That is why there is currently one notion of wellness based on what you own, participate in, and put into your body.
Like many others during the pandemic, Nancy could no longer function because she was extremely overwhelmed. She even went into a short-term care facility before starting at MPI because she needed a break from the world to get herself together enough to move forward.
Feeling overwhelmed is unacceptable. Sometimes, the feeling is almost indiscernible. Event professionals are positioned uniquely to design and create experiences that can underpin that side of wellness in an integrated way.
Wellness becomes transformative when we address the small things that impact how we live or interact with others daily.
Nancy’s wellness presentations
When Nancy talks about the transformational power of wellness and event wellness design in her presentations, she is referring to the deeper facets of what it is to be human and how that shows up in the events people create.
Financial wellness in meetings and events lies in having tiered prices and providing discounts, scholarships, access to unique funding sources, and community structures for networking to equip attendees.
If people cannot go to events, interact with people who are meaningful to them, and network, they are not socially well. If they go to events and do not see themselves reflected in the content, speakers, and accommodations, they will not be their most authentic selves in the space. That is another barrier to social wellness.
Bringing wellness into organizations
The expectation that organizations and people in leadership positions will be submissive has framed Nancy’s understanding of how the wellness conversation gets brought into the corporate sphere, how organizations get shaped, and how support systems get created for employees, teammates, and colleagues.
Emotional intelligence is being so self-aware that when a moment of conflict arises, you can work through it in a way that the other person does not even realize you are helping them work through it.
Learning emotional intelligence
For people to learn emotional intelligence, they need to be willing. They also need to be aware of the lizard brain (the primal piece of the brain that works out of fear and response) and be able to turn it off.
Improvisation can be used as a tool for enhancing one’s understanding of emotional intelligence.
Nancy helps organizational leaders and employees to find compromise when moments of conflict arise. That allows the organization to continue and grow and the leaders and employees to maintain their wellness.
Key indicators of success
Collaborative leadership and emotional intelligence are the key indicators of success within business units.
Open communication and flexibility are key elements of any safe working environment.
Occupational wellness creates a foundation for people to have successful careers.
If you articulate your values clearly, you can position yourself uniquely within your workplace and ensure your strengths get utilized.
Nancy uses humor to wield her emotional intelligence, self-reflect, and be candid. Allowing herself to be made fun of helps diffuse difficult or offensive situations. It also alleviates pressure and lets her take a step back mentally.
Nancy points out that it is a fallacy that people in leadership don’t care or are disinterested.
Education in professional industries
Nancy shifted her opinion about the role of education in professional industries when she learned that there is no one size fits all way to create experience and credibility. She does not see education as a marker of intelligence.
Rather than creating more educational inequity and making it harder for people to be successful, we should look at what each person brings to the table and provide them with opportunities for advancement, fulfillment, and success.
New learning dynamic
Within the events industry, there are some non-degree holding professionals and others from degree programs with less than four years of experience. There is a divide between them even though they both bring valuable experiences to the industry. Nancy proposes a new learning dynamic in which both sides could learn together and from one another.
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