We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Manire, CMM and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
My philosophy is if you don’t take risks you don’t grow. The way I measure if a risk is worth taking is by identifying what is the best and worst thing that could happen if I take the risk. If I’m willing to accept either outcome, then I go for it. Some successful risks I’ve taken were being the first woman general manager for 2 major hotel companies, sight unseen I took a general manager’s position with a hotel in California. Most recently due to the Pandemic I totally pivoted my company from producing in-person events to virtual events. We called it “Flex Courage”. The ability to face reality and “grow” through it not “go” through it.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
After having a successful career in the hotel business I decided to start my own meeting and event management business. I thought after managing a multi-million dollar asset (hotels) and managing 500 employees opening up a business would be easy. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I made every mistake in the book from not hiring the right people to not having enough capital. It was a wake up call and I became a “lifelong learner” so that I was armed with the information I needed to run a company.
My company, Coast to Coast Conferences & Events (CTC) is a WBENC certified woman-owned business. We provide services for up to 10,000 attendees and projects of 8M. Some of our Los Angeles clients are City of Los Angeles, LACDA, Greater Los Angeles Realtors, and Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). We see our role as a strategic partner with our clients ensuring that our clients save 15% – 40% in event costs and we limit their financial liability.
In March of 2020, the events industry ceased to exist due to COVID-19 and so did CTC’s business. We immediately acted, knowing to be of value to our clients in transitioning their in-person events to virtual events we needed to immediately learn all aspects of the virtual and hybrid event space. In April 2020 we received a certification in Virtual Meeting and Event Management through the Event Leadership Institute. Knowing that when in-person events would take place safety protocols and hybrid events would be required, therefore, we received a certification in Pandemic Meeting and Event Design. Only 2% of event planners have these certifications.
We have been producing virtual conferences and events for the past one and half years. To produce a professional event that has production value requires an event platform which is expensive. Non-profits, small businesses, and associations can’t afford the cost of producing a professional event, To fill this void we produced a DIY product, “Virtual Event Depot“, which provides all the services and products needed to create a professional event at a fraction of the cost.
I’m currently the Sr. Vice-Chair of the OC Forum for WBEC-West. My passion is mentoring other women business owners. A lesson learned, I wasted time trying to figure out everything on my own, spinning my wheels and going nowhere. It was painful! My aha moment, there is already a method/process for everything, and you just need to ask the right person for help. I really enjoy making those connections!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
That’s hard to say since the past year we have been locked down with the Pandemic. The place that gave me a sense of sanity through the Pandemic was Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach. I played golf throughout last year. It was one of the few places that you could go and social distance. While the world was chaotic all around being outdoors in a beautiful place and exercising provided normalcy. Other stops would be the Pantages Theater for a musical, the museums, and sporting events.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are several people who have been amazingly supportive throughout my career. The two that I would like to highlight are someone who believed in my capabilities when I didn’t even know I had them, Lino Bresa and my CEO Success Community!
Lino Bresa was the Front Office Manager of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. when I started in the hotel business. He sat me down one day in his office and asked me if I wanted a career in the hotel business. To tell you the truth even though I went through the management training program I never thought of a hotel career. He told me if I would commit to growing my career he would mentor me. I eventually became the first women general manager of Stouffer Hotels & Resorts.
The second is an amazing community of women CEOs, the CEO Success Community. We have been meeting every week for 3 years! If you are the CEO of your business it’s lonely at the top. They are my support, my accountability partners, friends, and sisters. We all have grown both personally and professionally together. Through peer learning and tackling business challenges together, we have all scaled our companies. It is true, it takes a village!