An acknowledged pioneer in the event-production industry, Andrea Michaels already was a veteran planner when she started Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Extraordinary Events in 1988, for which she still serves as president. She wrote about her colorful career in the recently published Reflections of a Successful Wallflower (OutskirtsPress.com).
What was the industry like when you began? I entered the business in 1973, when there was no event industry as we know it today -- just a few fundraisers, that was it. Within a few years I had hooked up with others with like thinking, and the whole idea of special events in the corporate world was born.
What was the idea behind starting your own business? I wanted to do innovative, creative and very targeted work. I didn't want to just act like a fulfillment company, but rather to understand the motivation behind and the meaning of the event, and cater to that.
What advice would you give to a would-be independent planner today? I'd say, if you're not sure of what you're doing, please don't do it, or your efforts will be to the detriment of the entire industry. Study the methods of people who do first-rate events. Get the best attorney and accountant you can. Adhere to a personal code of ethics, or it will come to haunt you later on.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I write, read, go to the theater. I also enjoy my grandchildren -- the way they bring joy to their experiences is so wonderful.