It was about this time a year ago, after I had completed my 10th Valero Alamo Bowl, that I began my journey of self-reflection and discovery. I had built a successful career that I loved in a city that I now called home and was surrounded by friends and colleagues that I truly considered family. Yet there was still something missing and that void was pushing me to question what I wanted my future to look like.
Over the next several months I became determined to discover my purpose and in doing so I would develop a plan to create the life that I believed aligned with my values and true self.
Discovering My Purpose
I moved to San Antonio in July of 2007 after graduating from the University of Denver and living my entire life in the Mile High City. I loved everything about Colorado but knew that in order for me to grow as a person and build the professional career that I wanted I needed to step outside of my comfort zone. What originally was supposed to be a six-month stint in the Alamo City turned into 11 years with two incredible organizations, the Valero Alamo Bowl and Spurs Sports & Entertainment. The relationships that I was gifted and experiences that developed my professional identity were priceless and I am forever grateful, but as I began to define my purpose what I was missing the most was my family.
Last May, I took my Dad to the Kentucky Derby for his 70th birthday. It was a trip that we had been planning for over a year and had a special significance for our family. In 1971 my Dad and Grandfather went to the horse track and bet $2 on a horse that had a 100-1 shot at winning. With a bit of luck and a good pick they ended up walking away with $200 and would use those winnings to purchase the first horse, Princess, that would call our families 12-acres of land in Centennial, CO home. To add more excitement to our experience my brother and his wife were expecting their first child and on May 6, the morning of the Kentucky Derby, Emmett Charles Wheeler Smedley was born in Anderson, Indiana, just 150 miles from Churchill Downs.
After all of the excitement of the Derby, I moved back to Denver this past July in order to be closer to my parents and family while I embarked on my new journey of launching Smedley Events.
After I made the decision that Colorado was where I needed to be I began to look at my career and what I valued most from my experiences. I rifled through all of my favorite memories, from developing a mock trail where a class of elementary students had the opportunity to interact with a Spurs player as he judged their debate skills, to watching a room of football coaches from opposing teams fill with amazement and camaraderie as they listened to an incredibly talented violinist play a mesmerizing version of All of Me by John Legend, to the life lessons that I was blessed to receive (and hopefully bestow upon) a family of Bowl Interns that cycled through Intern Square each year.
At the core of each memory was connection. Connecting students with an athlete that they admired in hopes that they find inspiration to excel in school. Finding the perfect environment that fostered connection between coaches from opposing teams, reminding them that life is about more than just the outcome on the football field. Building relationships and life-long connections with young adults that are looking to follow in your footsteps, and hoping that you instill a work-ethic and dedication to excellence that allows them to find success and happiness.
Smedley Events was born from my desire to create events and experiences that truly connect people and communities, so that all of our lives can become enriched with more purpose and meaning.
A few months ago, I conducted a survey that was distributed to businesses that are involved in event planning including Corporate, Non-Profit and Third-Party Event Planners as well as Décor, A/V, Catering, Hotel and Venue Partners. The purpose of this survey was to determine what challenges were facing the event industry. A theme that arose was understaffing with 57.2% of respondents sharing that their teams are ‘sometimes or always understaffed’ creating serious issues including Time Management (66.6%), Staff Morale (60%) and Creative Fatigue (53.3%).
As I developed Smedley Events’ services I wanted to bring insight and a process of ‘positive disruption’ that would allow for a new approach to solving organizations biggest challenges. By understanding my client’s core wants and desires I am able to create efficient workload solutions, infuse fresh ideas into their current projects and bring innovation to help increase customer engagement.
Looking back, I’m not sure I would have predicted that starting a business was the ultimate goal but as I sit here today and reflect on what 2018 means to my life I know that Smedley Events has been built on a foundation of family, connection and a challenge to always seek excellence.