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Meeting Leaders: Steve Mickley

Executive Profile

Name: Steve Mickley

Title: Executive Director

Organization: American Institute of Building Design

Location: Jupiter, Florida

Birthplace: West Palm Beach, Florida

Education: High School Diploma

Career History:

Building Contractor

Home Designer

Association Management

Steve Mickley never set out to be a meeting planner, but he became one the day he accepted the position of executive director at the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD).

As the owner of a residential design firm, Mickley stepped into the new role at AIBD and restructured the organization from the ground up to be one that reflected the needs of its membership. Of the organization’s members, 85% own their own businesses, 5% are architects, 15% are design/build builders and the rest are design professionals who design homes without being architects.

Members rely on the organization in order to remain current on new technology, materials and building codes in their profession, as well as to establish and maintain professional relationships with other organizations within the design and construction industry. For that reason, conferences and meetings of all types and sizes are important to the organization.

“We’ve had some great successes in the past five years,” said Mickley, “even this year, when our conference had paired style events — attendees were able to connect and join lectures with some audiences virtual and some in person.”

AIBD typically holds four regional meetings and one national conference each year, ranging on average from 50 participants for small conferences to 250 at larger events. At times, Mickley has had to work with small budgets and do most of the planning himself.

“There’s a little bit of Barnum and Bailey there,” he said, referring to the fact he is often pressed to plumb his own entrepreneurial background and spirit when creating AIBD’s events, which include everything from networking to workshops.

The pandemic forced AIBD to incorporate virtual components into events that would normally be exclusively in person. As a result, the organization invested in its own audiovisual equipment and shifted its approach to workshops, tours and networking. Although the group was already moving toward adding a virtual component, the pandemic made doing so necessary and sped the process along. At the last conference this summer, workshops were made interactive between those participants attending virtually and those attending in person, and those participating online could even do a tour through a house outfitted with the latest technology and building materials.

“I like the idea of hybrid events — where workshops take place in person and online simultaneously — and people can participate as if they are there in person,” said Mickley.

Mickley advises everyone planning conferences and meetings to take advantage of those at convention and visitors bureaus, as well as meeting planners at hotels, by asking for their help whenever you have questions. They can draw on the wealth of other events they’ve helped to create, troubleshoot and problem solve, plus draw on ideas only someone local to their area would know about.

“My most valuable assets were the people at CVBs,” said Mickley. “It’s like having another person on staff — you can ask them what other groups have done, and they’re really creative when it comes to organizing events and experiences because they’ve hosted so many.”

Tips from Steve Mickley

Use the local convention and visitors bureau. It can be a very valuable member of your team.

Be a hacker. Just because it’s always been done a certain way doesn’t mean there’s not a better way.

Trust the “compound effect.” Smart changes, repeated over time, produce huge results. In other words, a system plus discipline equals success.