MPI Announces WEC Vegas Keynote Speaker Rich Bracken

Blog > Industry News

MPI Announces WEC Vegas Keynote Speaker Rich Bracken

By Rich Luna | Mar 22, 2021

We’re aware of the five basic human senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.

Rich Bracken, keynote speaker at MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC) in Las Vegas this June, would offer another: emotional intelligence, as in the ability to recognize one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

Research has shown that those with high emotional intelligence have increased mental health, resilience and leadership skills while improving job performance and lowering stress dramatically—all areas that are likely to resonate with meeting professionals still reeling from the work and personal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Prior to the pandemic, I always equated emotional intelligence, and I use a little bit of a football analogy here, to having your feet shoulder-width apart,” Bracken told The Meeting Professional. “You know, you’ve got a good base. You feel foundationally grounded. You feel like if something’s going to blindside you, at least you’re not knocked off your feet, or at least you can withstand the shock. Since the pandemic and all the things that have happened in the industry and everything that’s changed, it’s widened that foundation a little bit more because we need to withstand more unexpected hits.

“I have always been that person that people go to for energy, for motivation, for inspiration.”

“Having been an event planner in a previous life, all of the bells and lights went off on how emotional intelligence can truly benefit each and every person in our industry. This is one of the most stressful jobs in the country, even before the pandemic, so understanding how emotional intelligence can really empower people to take back their emotions, take back the control of their lives, is liberating. As event planners, we always feel like we’re just kind of hanging on for dear life as we try to control things, because inevitably, things are going to go sideways at some point.”

Bracken was not immune to the devastation caused by the pandemic. He said he “succumbed to some dark times” within the last year as he battled numerous factors during the pandemic when he gave in to anxiety and other negative emotions, including dealing with parents that were affected by COVID and the declining health of his mom.

“I sat at one point at this crossroads of, ‘What the hell, what’s going on?’” he said. “It just seemed like it was just one shot after the other. There was a time for about a couple of days where it got to me more than I would have liked. But then having the knowledge of saying, ‘Hey, look, this is something that you can control without succumbing to this—quit letting it own you,’ I got back into my positive habits and got back into the routines that I had been leveraging up to that point.”

That’s one example of the journey he envisions sharing at WEC in his presentation, “Leveraging Emotional Intelligence for Daily Success & Happiness,” along with tools on how to strengthen one’s emotional IQ, whether it’s to deal with high stress, depression, sadness or frustration. It’s a blueprint he’s successfully mastered as a global keynote speaker, marketing executive and media personality, including as host of his EnRich Your Soul podcast. Bracken, who is based in the Minneapolis area, has worked with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100s, associations and individuals seeking to establish sustainable change and improvement.

WEC Vegas, June 15-17, 2021. Make your future.

In addition to emotional intelligence, he has spoken on topics such as leadership, goal setting and achievement, change management and communication. He’ll integrate data points with pop culture references and comedy, maybe even sing a few lines from his favorite Prince song, Baby I’m a Star, or, in honor of speaking at CAESARS FORUM in Las Vegas, a Celine Dion song.

It’s been quite the journey since Bracken was a 266-pound inside linebacker who later ended up at the University of Memphis, where he earned degrees in business administration, marketing management and communications/sports marketing. He worked as an event planner early in his career for a global medical technology company and has since focused mostly on marketing and business development before launching his speaking career in 2013.

He’s long been comfortable in front of people, going back to when he was a peer counselor in high school.

“I have always been that person that people go to for energy, for motivation, for inspiration,” Bracken said. “When you combine the energy that I have, the ability to sense people’s emotions and connect with people on a different level combined with my experience in the in the events industry, it is what I really love about the position that I’m in now because I am there to serve.”

“The word for my presentation and the one thing that I want to give to the audience is hope.”

He’s a big believer in the power of the face-to-face, though he did have some reservations about speaking in front of a live audience.

“Sure, there’s trepidation and there’s a little bit of anxiety because it’s been 13 months since I’ve been in front of a live crowd,” Bracken said. “So, it’s a blessing to be that person that gets up in front of people to say, ‘Hey, look, here we are, we’re not fully back, but we’re getting there.’ I’m bonkers excited. We’re social creatures by nature, especially in this industry.”

There’s another sense that Bracken wants to impart on the WEC audience.

“The word for my presentation and the one thing that I want to give to the audience is hope,” he said. “It has sucked for a long time and it’s gotten better, and it’s going to be so much better after all this is said and done.

“I want people to feel like there is a way, because I have been in that place so many times in various levels that I have not felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. There is an actual plan that they can take back their energy, they can control their time, they can control their emotions through leveraging emotional intelligence. At the end of the day, I want people to feel empowered. I want people to feel hopeful.”

Learn more about Rich Bracken.



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.