Experience the Gift of Mentoring at WEC Grapevine

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Experience the Gift of Mentoring at WEC Grapevine

By Maria Lenhart | Mar 9, 2020

Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, CED, who will speak on “The Gift of Mentoring” at the MPI World Education Congress (WEC), November 3-6 in Grapevine, Texas, brings deep knowledge of her topic, having played a mentorship role herself for many years. A decade ago, she transitioned from running a successful meeting and event management firm, San Diego-based Concepts Worldwide, to form her own consultancy, Breining Group LLC.

Breining, who chaired the MPI International Board of Directors in 2003-04 and has been instrumental in formulating the organization’s educational programs, including Strategic Meetings Management, is particularly excited about this year’s conference theme. The importance of creating authentic experiences is something she likes to emphasize when serving as a mentor or consultant to students, meeting planners and destination management organizations.

“I think it’s a great theme,” she says. “Let’s not try to be somebody we’re not. When we’re creating experiences or events, let’s try to create events that fit the people who are attending them. Making a meeting relevant to the needs of attendees is something that goes to the heart of event design.”

Breining advises those she mentors to always take a deep dive into learning who the attendees are.

 “What do they need in order to be more successful?” she says. “All too often meetings start looking the same. Borrowing ideas happens a lot, but don’t copy something without figuring out how it applies to the people who are at the meeting.”

Picking a theme or speakers on the basis of what’s trendy or even what has worked well for prior meetings is short-sighted and will not deliver authenticity, according to Breining.  

“The key to authenticity comes on a personal level—be who you are and figure out who the meeting is intended for,” she says. “What impact do you want to deliver?”

Breining, who frequently serves on the advisory boards of destination management organizations, also counsels these entities on the importance of authenticity in their approach to promotion and branding.

“People really want to find authenticity in the places they are visiting,” she says. “One thing I emphasize to destinations is to identify what you do best. All destinations are not the same and no one should not try to be like the others. Dallas should not try to be Las Vegas. Figure out who you are and emphasize that.”

With her presentation at WEC Grapevine, Breining’s aim is to provide insights for those who want to serve as mentors as well for those who are looking for mentors to help them advance in their careers.

“One thing I’ll address is how to identify someone who actually is a good mentor,” she says. “Sometimes people act as mentors who really shouldn’t. What does it take to actually be a good mentor?”

Mentorship is a deeply personal topic for Breining, who is committed to preparing the next generation of meeting planners—something she does by teaching at San Diego State University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.

“I wanted to do this presentation because mentoring has been a part of my professional world for a long time and people have been asking me to do this,” she says. “At San Diego State, it’s been wonderful to watch people grow in their confidence and watch them go beyond school to put this knowledge and experience to work. It’s really an honor.”

As a meeting planner, Breining says the mentorship she has received from others has been invaluable throughout her own career.

“I’ve been fortunate in having some extraordinary mentors myself, both men and women,” she says. “The mentorship process is available to everybody.”

At the same time, Breining has found myriad opportunities to play a mentorship role for colleagues in the meeting industry.

“I’ve done mentoring formally and also informally over the years,” she explains. “Sometimes it’s a short-term thing with people who are going through a tough situation and need somebody to listen and advise. It’s not that I have all the answers, but sometimes I can draw on my experience to provide solutions.”

In many cases, Breining has found that mentorship benefits the mentor as much as it does the mentee.

“Serving as a mentor has helped me as well,” she says. “I become a better meeting planner from doing it. I can formulate ideas better—sometimes an idea will strike me when I’m telling somebody else about something. At the same time, I gain because I get a good feeling in my heart when I do it.”

This year Breining is changing the focus of her consultancy business away from basic meetings logistics to advanced business skills for established meeting professionals.

“My target industry will be people who are at a senior corporate level—meeting executives who manage teams or who are the owners of meeting management firms,” she says. “They may want to start an initiative or want some help in navigating conversations with senior executives who don’t always know their value or what they do.”

See you at WEC Grapevine!

Join the event for event planners and learn how to create authentic, unforgettable experiences—while having one yourself.



Maria Lenhart

Maria Lenhart is a former editor of multiple meeting and event industry publications, and has won numerous awards for travel writing, including a prestigious Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers.