Inspire Smart Success Experience – Atlanta Recap

| by Stacie Francombe | 13 Comments

The inaugural Inspire Smart Success Experience kicked off this week in Atlanta with a casual and fun welcome party on the pool deck at the W. Midtown Atlanta In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined how amazing the next 24 hours would turn out!

“Your success is your responsibility!”  As the incredible Diann Valentine, a panelist at the very first Inspire Smart Success Experience, spoke these words, I saw all the wedding planners, designers, photographers, catering and marketing directors in attendance drop their heads in unison, scribbling down the phrase in their uber cute ISSE notebooks.

A few seconds later, bing, bing, bing, my blackberry started blowing up as everyone tweeted the quote and #ISSE. It was moments and advice like this that made hosting the experience so gratifying for me.  The Altitude Ballroom at W. Hotel Midtown, overlooking downtown Atlanta – a city that was reborn from ashes and symbolized by the mythical Phoenix – was a fitting setting for the inaugural Inspire Smart Success Experience.

 Eight incredibly talented and successful panelists joined me to deliver information and inspiration in equal doses, all sharing the same goal of assisting the 60+ wedding professionals {from Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and the Bahamas}  in attendance to reinvent their businesses. You’ll notice that I call the event an Experience… not a seminar, not a lecture… an Experience. For me, it’s all about sharing with one another during welcome cocktails, breakfast, lunch, and dessert. It’s about the practical advice from a variety of super knowledgeable sources in one amazing, laid back and friendly atmosphere, where everyone participates and everyone grows.  My wonderful and talented design partners Christopher Confero and Sandie Ivers {aka Mom}  took my vision and helped create exactly what the Experience was meant to be.  The outpouring of emails, tweets, facebook messages and letters has really warmed my heart and confirmed that this is exactly the path I should be on.

“You are fab! Words cannot express to you how powerful yesterday was for me! I needed to hear everything you said, what panel members expressed, and the best part of the whole day was the amount of new friends I have come to meet… I am forever in your debt, you helped me make my business what it is today and for that I say THANK YOU!” -Randi Moore

“Thanks Stacie so much for inviting me to the Inspire Smart Success. I left there so inspired and I felt lucky to be there, thank you so much… You have already not only changed my business, but my life.”Shondra Glover

“If you missed the Inspire Smart Success Conference hosted by Stacie Francombe, shame on you… Stacie pulled out all the stops!  I can honestly say that this was the best conference/experience that I have been to at any time. Stacie provided a beautiful and intimate setting that helped to promote a great atmosphere for networking. Each panel guest made themselves available to us to answer our questions and gave good solid advice that will help us take our businesses to the top!   If you are a Wedding or Event professional, you should make attending this “Experience” your top priority, if you are lucky enough to have it come your way…” –Alisha Nesbitt

“Stacie, thank YOU for following your heart and your dreams and starting ISS.  You have no idea how much this experience moved and inspired me to become a more confident and devoted business woman.  The world needs more women like Stacie Ivers Francombe.” –Lorri Davidson

“Amazing time at The Inspire Smart Success Experience – I feel like someone just gave me a check for $1,000,000 and I’m going back to Wilmington North Carolina to cash it! Watch Out! Thank You Stacie Francombe – this experience changed a lot of lives!” –Khalilah T. Olokunola

“You can’t put a price on what I’ve learned today. I’m so blessed & grateful for the opportunity and so happy I could come!!” –LaToya Parnell

The focus on this first Experience was “How to Get Published and How to Get on TV.” Now I know it’s not a topic that wedding-learning seminars are usually built upon, but remember that this was an Experience, not a typical seminar. After having heard so many success stories from wedding pros that I’d already helped place in either print, blogs, or TV, I felt strongly that the topic be a total game changer and have an immediate impact on business, so I really wanted to spread that knowledge.

Brian Green of F&G Events in Atlanta shared that he is currently planning an event in Hawaii and another in Italy’s Lake Cuomo, booked right after his work was featured on the cover of a national magazine and on a TV show.  As he attested, his business grew overnight.  So you see that it works. The trouble is, very few understand the mind set of editors or producers, what they are looking for and when, and how to present their work  and company in the best light. The ISS Experience set out to arm everyone with the tips and tricks to make that happen.

First up to talk about TV, the incredible Diann Valetine, Tony Conway and Tiffany Nieves Cook were joined by Executive Producer {aka my hubs} Dave Francombe. Tiffany has been featured on Platinum Weddings amongst others shows, and Diann is wrapping what sounds like an awesome new show for WeTv called I Do Over. Those are rare accomplishments in themselves, but what truly struck me about these successful women is how they are intelligently harvesting the power of TV to GROW their business and brand away from the TV spotlight. They clearly understand the power of TV to expose their talents to a captivated audience and build a positive perception in the minds of brides watching their shows… The fruits of which are evident in their blossoming empires! In other words, they are very, very savvy business women.  

Tony Conway, the uniformly well-respected owner of A Legendary Event and who has been featured on NBC, ABC, and recently made a cameo on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, took a slightly different approach. He is personally more comfortable letting his work take center stage (it is awesome, by the way) but keeps a finger on the pulse of local and national media. He also maintains relationships with PR agencies, all of which keep him top of mind for any number of broadcast outlets. In short, Tony is incredibly media savvy.  And of course my hubs Dave Francombe, a seasoned television producer, gave his take and advice on what he looks for when being pitched.  Everyone loved meeting him, which made me so proud to have him involved in my first Experience {and he even signed up for Twitter! @DaveFrancombe!}.

All of these panelists also provided wonderfully motivational tid-bits gathered from years of experience. A few points resonated throughout the discussion: Be persistent, be you, and build relationships. What I particularly loved about this discussion was the frequent interaction from the attendees that sparked wonderful conversation, and from what I saw, several “AH-HA” moments.  Awesomeness.

After fantastic conversation and networking over lunch and a dessert bar from Sugar Style Events , it was onto the world of print.  The multi-talented and faceted Heather Vreeland of Occasions Magazine was joined by the amazingly motivational, soloprenuer Karlena Wallace of Stilleto woman. They took to the stage and spoke eloquently about the benefits of simply understanding editorial calendars, print deadlines, and which magazine is best suited to a particular pitch. They also gave a few insiders do’s and don’ts that if followed will help get work placed in editorial, and help build a vendors portfolio and positive perception.  And to cap off an amazing day, Jayne Hallock, Lei Lydle, and Tammy Elliot took to the white leather white couches {THANKS AGAIN ROY from Unique Event Management} to provide valuable insight into getting published online!

As the Experience wound down, the positive tweets kept coming, the facebook posts were overwhelming, and I felt honored to have been joined by truly amazing panelists that so graciously shared their considerable knowledge, all to simply help others hoping to one day walk in their successful footsteps. Having seen the figurative light bulb go off above the heads of many all day long, I am sure in the not too distant future that many of those that sat in the audience will be taking their place as panelists to impart the secrets of their success to industry colleagues. I hope they will always say that the first step to greater success was taken at the ISS Experience in Atlanta.

A HUGE thank you again to my hubs and my parents Sandie and Larry who were both able to join me at the Experience…  to Christopher Confero for the countless hours of support and design talent… to  Jacob and Esther who took some amazing photos of the welcome party and Experience {Full gallery coming soon to the ISS blog}… to the talented Ryan Rodinis for shooting both days {recap video coming soon to the ISS Blog}… to Roy Arriaga, you are an amazing man and I thank you so very much for coming through with the gorg furniture and superb AV at the last minute for me… to Brittany from Bliss Design Studio for the unique and fun Escort Cards we used on the tables… to Ashley Baber for helping to coordinate the details… to Joel Rabe for the music at the welcome party… to Connie Duglin for the perfect shade of apple green for the  linens… and to my kids who helped stuff the killer swag bags!!

Next stop… on to ISSE-Orlando on July 18-19th, stay tuned for registration details on the blog! I hope you all have been INSPIRED to think SMART on your Journey to SUCCESS!


  1. Stacie is amazing and can’t wait to announce the dates for her South Florida Experience debut!

  2. This was the best wedding professional experience I have ever attended! You are in for a treat South Florida, with Stacie Francombe and the team of Inspire Smart Success Experience!

    Congrats Stacie!

    Randi Lawrence Moore

  3. Gail Johnson says:

    Congrats on a successful event! Go Team Success – Inspire Smart Success!

  4. Looks like a good time! Can’t wait to see how the next events turn out!

  5. What an inspiring and information packed event!! Stacie, you and your team definitely brought the newest information and presented it by the brightest and best in the industry! Can’t wait to hear what you have next!

    Lorri Davidson

  6. This is a “must attend” event ! This experience will definitely provide a great ROI! I was truly inspired to be smarter on my journey to success!! Thank you to Stacie Francombe & the entire team that made this event a success!

    Much Success!
    Carol McKnight

  7. Pingback: Sugar Style Events on ISSE Atlanta blog | Sugar Style Events

  8. As many have said before me, this is a must attend event! I immediately felt so much more wiser on really taking my business to the next level and I really can’t wait for the next one, regardless of where it is! The information that was shared with us will remain with me. There’s no way to put a price on what I took from it and to be surrounded by so many people that are as passionate about the event indrustry as I am, was priceless!! Stacie, you are amazing and your mom just as much and I can’t wait to see you again!

  9. Wow! I absolutely lovelovelove the ah-may-zing details! Stacie, I can’t wait for ISS to come to California. Congratulations on your successful event! xoxo

  10. Would love for you go come to North Carolina for ISS! Let me know if you do, and I’ll help out!

  11. Beauty and inspiration …a fabulous combination~

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  13. Pingback: Be Inspired, Be Smart, Be Successful: ISSE with Stacey Francombe coming to New Jersey! | Munaluchi Bridal Magazine

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