The summer holidays are approaching; time for a little light reading!

Here’s a list of 10 fantastic books for event planners that will enhance your life generally, as well as your career in events. We hope you enjoy!

1. Buddhism Plain and Simple, Steve Hagen

To stay cool and calm when chaos is all about, event planners must harness their inner Zen. If you’ve ever been curious about Buddhism this book is a fantastic introduction. Written by Steve Hagen, a Zen priest from Minnesota, the concept is explained simply and clearly with real life anecdotes rather than baffling Zen riddles.

Will it solve all your problems? No. As the Buddha says, if you’ve got 83 problems, he can only help with your 84th problem, which is that “You want not to have any problems”. However, it will help put things into perspective. Has the caterer forgotten to supply a gluten free option? Are your colleagues bickering amongst themselves? Are you stressed to the max? The teachings in this book will help you take a step back, see the reality of the situation and move forward in the ‘right’ way.

2. The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs

This book, as well as giving you a good laugh, will teach you about totally immersing yourself in a project. Author A.J. Jacobs decides to spend one year living his life by the many dictates of the Holy Bible. After four weeks of reading the Bible, he has a list of 800 rules to follow, from growing a beard and not wearing clothes of mixed fibres to stoning adulterers and sacrificing oxen!

By the end of his experience he has a new view of religion and spirituality, which proves that sometimes to really understand something you have to live it.

3. Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, Karen Blumenthal

‘Think different’ is the famous advertising slogan coined by Apple in the 90s, and that’s exactly what this book can teach event organisers. Steve Jobs was the ultimate ‘disrupter’. He shook up not just one industry, but a whole list – computing, mobile phones, music, animation – leaving an incredible legacy. He was undoubtedly a genius, although he didn’t actually invent the first computer, mobile phone or MP3 player. Jobs simply knew a good idea when he saw one and was not ashamed to ‘borrow’ it and make it his own.

Just like Jobs, event planners should keep their eyes open for great ideas that they can interpret into their events.

4. Richard Branson: Losing My Virginity

This is an inspiring read for wannabe empire builders. Why stop at one event when you can launch a whole media portfolio? Losing My Virginity details Branson’s rise from entrepreneurial schoolboy to business behemoth. The Virgin Group now encompasses music, air travel, mobile, financial, retail, music, internet, drinks, rail, hotels and more. Find out how you, too, can diversify your business model.

Tip: If you’ve global ambitions of global business domination, you should also check out our partnership with Virgin on their ‘Pitch to Rich’ competition where over £1m is on offer to support new business ideas!

5. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

The master of suspense, Dan Brown can teach event organisers a thing or two about storytelling. The Da Vinci Code was his breakthrough book, selling more than 81 million copies, but there are a number of novels in the Robert Langdon series, all featuring edge-of-your-seat narrative. Each novel is a treasure hunt set in a 24-hour period, taking in exciting locations, and high-profile, historical buildings.

Like a good Dan Brown novel, an event programme should not be predictable, but feature twists and turns that keep the audience alert and intrigued – telling a complete and compelling story in 24 hours (or whatever the length of your event). Don’t forget to choose venues that add to your story.

6. Not On The Label: What Really Goes Into The Food On Our Plates, Felicity Lawrence

Not On The Label offers food for thought for everyone, but particularly for people involved in the food industry. How much thought do you really put into what you serve up for delegates? How far back can you trace the supply chain? What implication does the horsemeat scandal have for your business? This book is a shocking expose of the UK food industry, showing how the appalling conditions of migrant workers, the obesity crisis and supermarkets are all intrinsically linked.

7. Hotel Babylon, Imogen Edward-Jones

If you’ve ever hosted a residential event, you’ll know just how much trouble guests can get up to, from the unofficial ‘room sharing’ to the late night partying (and it’s often the guests you least expect!). Hotel Babylon crams 10 years of real life hospitality industry misdemeanours into 24-hours in a five star London hotel. Full of shocking revelations and amusing antics, it’s a romp of a read. (The author has also written an expose of the airline industry, Air Babylon)


8. The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness, Prof Steve Peters

According to Sir Chris Hoy, this is the mind programme that helped him win Olympic golds, while Chris Evans states he is ‘obsessed’ with the book. The Chimp Paradox is a mind management model that helps you understand and manage your emotions and thoughts and become a happier, more confident and successful person. For the event planner, this book can help you cope with the challenges of the job, get the work/life balance right, and release yourself from anxiety that you are not performing well enough. A real life changer.

9. Chris Hoy: The Autobiography

To learn more about that Olympic mindset, event organisers should check out Sir Chris Hoy’s autobiography (this book is also the perfect companion to The Chimp Paradox because it shows the mind programme in practice). Hoy is Britain’s greatest ever Olympian, with a total of seven Olympic medals. This book documents his will to succeed and the drive and determination it takes to reach the top. A great lesson in hard work, mental preparation and self-belief – vital skills for event professionals.

10. Meeting Architecture: A Manifesto, Maarten Vaaneste

…And finally, a book specifically about meetings. ‘Meeting Architecture’ is a manifesto for the meetings industry, put together in 2009 by Maarten Vaaneste following contributions from 39 industry thought-leaders. The concept of Meeting Architecture is designing and implementing the content of meetings based on objectives and measuring outcomes. The idea is to get maximum value for stakeholders, while also achieving the desired participant response. A must-read for event management students and industry veterans alike.

How many of these books have you read? What other books are on the essential reading list for event organisers? Let us know in the comments!

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