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Coordinating Boston’s Meet Plan Go Career-Break Travel Conference

MPG Boston
Public speaking is a useful teacher skill!

The Meet Plan Go career-break travel conference rocked out this past Tuesday evening, September 14, in 13 cities across America and Canada… and I coordinated the Boston chapter!

The next article will dive into the play-by-play of the event itself, but for now I’m vibrating with eagerness to share four overall revelations.

“Are you nuts?” gasped my friend a few months ago, “Why would you agree to coordinate a giant conference when you just re-entered the country after nine months abroad and are looking for work? And you’re not even going to get paid for this?!”

Naw, there was no pay for coordinating a chapter of Meet Plan Go, but something about the whole thing felt right. So from May to September, I (and all the other MPG hosts) spent a whole bunch of hours each day seeking and organizing the panel speakers, scoping out possible venues, networking for publicity, planning the event program, and more, all in the name of making extended travel an option for a greater number of great Americans. Phew!

MPG Boston
Around 150 people attended Meet Plan Go Boston on September 14, 2010!

Then September 14 rolled around… and the Meet Plan Go Boston career-break conference was a rollicking success!

Now, several days after the proud evening, I am so very thankful that I took the chance and told Meet Plan Go’s national mastermind, Sherry Ott, “I’ve never done any sort of event planning before… but, okay, I guess I will give it a shot!” when she offered me the Boston position.

MPG Boston
The audience browses the informational brochures

Here are my overall insights gleaned from coordinating Meet Plan Go Boston, because they’re useful for all!

Revelation 1: You SHOULD sometimes say “Yes” to exciting new opportunities that may be way too big or unfamiliar for you and may take up a ridiculous amount of your time and energy.

Wednesday morning, September 15, the alarm went off at 5:15am as usual, and I staggered to work with four hours of sleep under my belt.

Teaching that day was lovely (I’m so thankful for my new job!), but as the last class rolled around, I felt buoyed by the happiness of pride from the events of the past evening, and had to say something.

“A final announcement,” I said. “I am crazy tired right now because last night was the 150-person travel conference I helped coordinate.”

“Huh?” said some students.

“I tell you this,” I continued, because this month in school, you will be offered the opportunity to join sports, clubs, community service jobs, and more. You may be thinking you don’t have time for them, or that you don’t know how to do them. But listen: coordinating this conference was something I never thought I could do, and had never done before… and it took a ton of time. But it turned out awesome, and now I feel proud! If you take on a new, big challenge, you will almost surely find that you will rise and expand to succeed!”

MPG Boston
A jam-packed panel of superstar speakers!

Thirty youthful heads nodded.

Revelation 2: Being a teacher and/or a traveler gives you majorly useful skills.

Organization! Public speaking! Time management! Confidence! Working networks! Crowd management! Assertiveness! Delegation! Strength! Yay!

I was struck all night on September 14 by how much I’ve learned over the past six years, teaching and traveling, and how useful those lessons and skills proved to be under the big lights.

I can’t speak highly enough of the fabulous things you gain by being a teacher or taking time to travel.

MPG Boston
Attendees included Nomadic Matt and Adventurous Kate!

Revelation 3: There is massive interest in Career-Break Travel in this country !

How majorly inspiring to swim in a sea of 150 people planning to take that glorious but terrifying leap from a steady job to months on the road living out of a backpack!

Having done it myself, I have full confidence that it’s an awesome career move that is more wise than foolish… and to be on a panel of 9 people each explaining WHY to a room full of excited possible travelers why career-break travel is both possible and awesome was a real rush!

Revelation 4: Having a good team (and an organized schedule) is key.

MPG Boston
Thrilling to see the excited mingling after the panel!

First and foremost, Meet Plan Go’s national masterminds, Michaela Potter, Sherry Ott, and Tara Russell are AMAZING, and worked ridiculously hard to create the materials, publicity, organization, sponsorships, and more involved in a thousand-person, cross-Continent event… not to mention their new online travel bootcamp.

What a stroke of luck that a friendly stranger on Twitter randomly put me in contact with Sherry! It is wonderful to work for great bosses.

MPG Boston
Attendees joyfully talked travel with the panelists until late

Then there were the hosts. For each of us 13 Meet Plan Go city coordinators, our major responsibilities were: gathering a panel of speakers, finding a venue, and organizing local publicity and sponsorships. It was inspirational how all the hosts around the country worked their rears off in this endeavor– while sharing insights and tips to the whole team. Our kind sponsors were indispensable, as well!

But what really brought tears of gratitude to my eyes was the way that the Boston panelists I “hired” (many of whom I’d never met before the event!) stepped up, chipped in, and helped out like champions throughout the event. It was a delicious sensation literally akin to being carried by caring, strong arms. Thank you, superstar Boston panel, and hooray for teamwork!

And thus concludes the list of life lessons learned from lovely Meet Plan Go Boston, September 14. Stay tuned for the play-by-play of what exactly happened that night!


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Sunday 28th of November 2010

Ms. Marshall, you are very famous. When you become a millionaire don't forget me.

Sherry Ott

Friday 1st of October 2010

I remember that day I met you in Boston Common to simply meet up - with no real intention of trying to sway you to head up the MPG Boston; hell, we weren't even planning a Boston event then! But once I met you, it was if the clouds opened up and the rays of sun came down and shined upon are a bundle of energy and travel knowledge - you were perfect! Thanks for all of your time consuming effort you put into the Boston event; I can hardly believe the magnitude of what you pulled off. And yes, you continue to be a great roll model to students and want-to-be travelers all over the world. Sherry


Friday 24th of September 2010

I'm so glad it was a huge success and a positive experience for you. Wish I could have been there, but on a weeknight when work has been very busy, I just couldn't get away. I really, really love that you used your experience as a life lesson for your students. Leading by example--that's the best way to teach.

Granny from Connecticut

Friday 24th of September 2010

The evening was amazingly inspirational and I discovered that I am NOT too old to realize my dream of traveling rtw after all. Thank you Lillie and the other wonderful panelists.

Mike Hedge

Friday 24th of September 2010

so way fun!

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