Want to plan a successful event? Ask planner Lynn McCary

Event planning is a notoriously stressful business, but New York City-based entrepreneur Lynn McCary makes sure every event runs seamlessly under her watch through quick problem solving and expert multitasking.

McCary, the founder of Lynn McCary Events (LME), runs her own boutique event planning company that specializes in fundraising for cultural organizations. With over 20 years of experience under her belt, she has grown her extensive list of clients, which includes the Columbia University Medical Center, Van Cleef & Arpels, and The Daily Beast.

She took her first job in the programming office at the Washington Project for the Arts, where she discovered the world of event planning. She was instantly hooked, and it was that excitement that paved the way to start her own business.

We recently sat down with McCary for this member spotlight series – a series that showcases the individuals behind small businesses and startups. Here’s what she shared:

I’m a PK (preacher’s kid) so I grew up moving around quite a bit, between New York and Connecticut. My family spent most holidays and part of every summer visiting my grandparents in the DC area; subsequently, I went to American University and graduated with a B.S. in graphic design and visual communications. I continued to live in DC for another several years before making the move to New York City to take advantage of the larger creative and arts scene.

With my arts background, I always gravitated to cultural non-profits. One of my first jobs was in the programming office of the Washington Project for the Arts. This gave me an opportunity to assist an event planner who organized the annual fundraising gala and auction. I was spellbound and excited about all the responsibilities that went into these planning these projects.

I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur in the literal sense because I’ve been running my own business for 20 years. But I do need to stay on my toes and reevaluate my business plan and goals on a regular basis so my business continues to thrive.

I try to have an open and positive mindset, which allows me to stay curious and learn new things. For example, I’m always willing to try out new tools and resources that will help my business run better, such as using mobile check-ins with iPads like Zkipster to joining community-minded spaces like WeWork.

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My workday starts when my eyes open. I literally check my emails before I get out of bed. The office day starts at 10 a.m. and ends around 6 p.m., unless it’s an event day and then it goes on well into the night. My team and I are usually juggling several client events at the same time, each in different stages of the planning process, so most days are spent on the phone, preparing emails, reviewing contracts with vendors, tracking guest lists, and organizing leadership meetings to keep everything on track.

Event planning can be very stressful, especially during the big day of the actual event. Problem solving is an all-encompassing aspect of the job and it requires quick thinking to keep everything moving smoothly. Adrenaline is a major factor too so it can make for an exhausted “day after”. I always make sure that we take care of everyone on our team.

My clients inspire me every day. Most of them are changing lives and I’m proud to be associated with them. I absolutely love what I do, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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