Melody Khodaverdian is Director of Conference Partnerships at Forbes, including events like Forbes Women’s Summit, Forbes Healthcare Summit and Forbes Under 30 Summit. She is past co-chair of TEDxToronto, Canada’s largest TEDx event, and a longtime activist for children with cancer, notably with Camp Oochigeas. Melody will graciously lend you her mobile phone on a mountaintop in Canada if you need it.
BS: What do you do for a living, and how did you get there?
MK: I work for Forbes Media as their Director of Partnerships for their ForbesLive product. We execute more than 10 Summits a year ranging from our Forbes Philanthropy Summit where we bring together the world’s billionaires to discuss and execute actionable strategies to the world’s most pressing problems, to our Forbes Under 30 Summit which brought together 5000+ influential millennials this past October in Boston.
Prior to joining Forbes I lead business development for Childhood Cancer Canada and was the Co-Chair of TEDxToronto 2014 – Canada’s largest independently organized TED event. My team and I went to TEDCity2.0 in NYC where I sat next to the Managing Editor at Tech at Forbes (at the time) who told me about Forbes’ plans to expand into the live events space. I mentioned how much I loved bringing brands to life at live events and was a self proclaimed “experiential activations nerd”, the rest is history! I am a big believer in serendipitous situations, and embracing opportunity (no matter how scary or overwhelming it might seem at the time) and this was a great example of that.
BS: Who are your collaborators and co-conspirators, and how do they influence you?
MK: Organizing 10-12 Summits around the world, with so many moving pieces is incredibly rewarding but also can be a huge challenge. My collaborators are my co-team members. Everyone from our edit team, to our logistics team to audience development. Our team at Forbes is amazing and everyone understands that no one team member can be successful without each other’s support. When you’re caught up with your piece of the puzzle, it’s easy to lose track of so many other important and influential factors, and so we consistently remind ourselves that communication is key. The ability to continuously remember to be grateful that you are only able to do what you do, because your team members are good at what they do is a great thought to hold onto. One of my biggest collaborators is also my boss. He trusts me do the work he brought me on board to do, bottom line, which is a simple concept but a very big motivating influence.
BS: How do you concentrate?
MK: I shut down everything except what I’m working on. My phone, social media, conversations, etc. Put it all away and don’t allow it back until you’ve done what you set out to do. Sounds simple, but we all know it can be really hard.
I also love to run as it clears my head. When you’re running a far distance, you need to concentrate on your breathing and movements to keep going. It really pushes everything else out of your mind. I try to draw from this concentration and clarity when it’s time to concentrate on something important and I find that this practice has been very helpful.
BS: What lesson keeps appearing in your life?
MK: Be generous in giving back (your time, your energy, your money) whether it’s volunteering for a cause you care about, listening to a friend, buying coffee for the person behind you in line, or checking in on family members. It will always, always come back to you and no good acts are ever wasted.
BS: What have you changed about yourself recently?
MK: I’m trying to learn to be more patient in all aspects of my life, whether it’s in line at the grocery store, or figuring out where I see myself in the next 5 years. I’m trying to be patient and good to myself, reminding myself that nothing that was meant for me will ever miss me.
Check out the Forbes Conferences and Camp Oochigeas.
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