Five things my sister’s wedding taught me about business

Image courtesy of the Newlyweds, and their hilarious dog Dexter.

This past weekend I spent hours in front of cameras, friends and most importantly, family. As my face has spent the week recovering from nearly three hours of grinning for photographs, my mind has scrambled to quell the (strictly metaphorical) wedding hangover and return to the business world.

During the transition out of a tuxedo and into my refreshingly comfortable business attire, I realized that I learned five business lessons from the big day.

1. It’s almost impossible to plan too much

Although things are bound to go wrong, proper planning keeps your resources and responses to potential crises readily available. There was no catastrophic event at my sister’s wedding, but if there were, I’m sure she would have had a SWAT team ready to move in. I chided her for months about the finite wedding wrinkles she meticulously ironed out, but those details elevated the entire weekend. I knew planning is a cornerstone of business, but now I’m accounting for the whole structure.

2. Charisma is the currency of great leaders

The sink or swim moments of every reception are the speeches. Clammy hands pass the mic around until collective sighs of relief saturate the room. The victors pass off the mic to adoration and congrats from the crowd. The losers, to a few awkward hugs and sympathy high-fives. This weekend, the speeches were all slam dunks. They had all prepared, consulted with friends and family, and included humor. In business, it’s no different. Prepare, ask for a second set of eyes, and throw in a few jokes.

3. Ask “why” before you act*

As every odd task, request and demand came down the line to me this weekend, I’d try to understand the purpose.  Although I put my head down and plowed through tasks for the wedding, I immediately remembered why I started asking “why” before taking on a job. If I don’t understand the motive behind taking the flowers to a cooler environment, my job isn’t at risk. If I don’t understand why a piece of news matters, however, I’m not serving my clients’ interests. It may take clients a minute to explain their reasoning, but that will always be less time than it would take to re-do a project


4. It takes a village. Appreciate it.

The ivory-clad CEO may get the lion’s share of credit, but behind the scenes there is a massive undertaking by the people who love and supported her. It was my sister’s special day, but we all had a hand in putting on the show. In the face of everything during their day, the newlyweds could’ve easily waited until after their honeymoon to thank everyone for their support. But they immediately went about their appreciation tour. Rarely will just one person drive a business project, and it’s important to thank everyone as it progresses.

5. Sharing experiences connects people in unique ways

At a family event, you’re bound to review stories you’ve heard, or told, hundreds of times. Luckily, people outside of your family aren’t so familiar with a famed food fight or father-son road trip stop in New Orleans. You may not want to lead off a business talk with a flying hamburger or drink out of a plastic grenade, but you’ll be surprised at what you uncover by sharing stories. Never underestimate the power of a profoundly ridiculous experience.

Now, as we approach the latter-half of wedding season, we can slowly migrate back to the business world a little wiser, a little brighter, and a lot heavier.

Follow my Paragon Twitter as I transition back to reality:

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