We do not become wise through experience.  

We become wise by reflecting upon experience.

No, you haven’t clicked on the “Zen Wisdom” blog by accident.  That statement will make sense soon, I promise.

I’ve known a great many people in my life who don’t seem to ever gain any wisdom; they continually make the same mistakes over and over again.  To be frank, I can say the same about myself from time to time, so no judgments here.

But I’m always surprised when I discover that many of my new tradeshow & meetings clients suffer the same malady.  They don’t seem to be able to clearly reflect on their past event experiences to gain wisdom so they can grow and evolve their programs.

Why can’t they do this?  One word: measurement. They do not have any data from their programs to reflect upon; all they have…are their memories.

Sure, for a few weeks after a tradeshow or event, their anecdotal, word-of-mouth memories are crystal clear. But before long, those few weeks turn into a few months, and inevitably, their memories fade … and then personnel changes … and before you know it, the next event rolls around that they’re right back to where they started … they’re doing the same thing and expecting different results. (Another popular quote)

Measurement, however, gathers HARD DATA … and data is forever.  It doesn’t fade over time, and frankly, the more you gather, the more potent it becomes because you can use it to compare and contrast strategies; track trends; and identify EXACTLY what works, and what doesn’t for your company and your message.

Hard data also gives you the ammunition you need to convince your Purchasing Department to retain or grow your budgets.  Management responds to data; they don’t respond to fun stories.

Of course, measurement can take many forms; paper-based, electronic; customer- or trend-focused; all-day user groups; down and dirty “man-in-the street” interviews.

HOW and WHAT you measure is not the point here.  The point is that you MUST measure.


It is the only way that you can effectively REFLECT on your experiences, and gain wisdom.

See, I told you it would make sense.

So go and “not measure” no more. (I dare you to diagram THAT sentence!)