A Story of Labor, Industry, Exhibition, Logistics – and Beauty and Excellence and Efficiency in Design – all Told in the Face of a Sunflower

(This post was updated on February 21, 2018)

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.

We work from coast to coast, and operate offices in major cities across the U.S.

Fundamental to our culture and the way we do is business is to strive to– and here we enlist the words of            Vince Lombardi – “do things right … all the time.”   We always try to do our best for our clients and customers – and we seek to be cooperative and valuable teammates with our business partners and suppliers.

We care about and are dedicated to developing our employees, our most valuable resource, and providing them with the support and training necessary to achieve optimally.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services believes that throughout an organization, a passion for one’s work, and commitment to doing that work supremely well, is fundamental to the success of the organization.

We believe that a company can do well by doing good – that a company should give to the community, and that it should consider itself and act as a custodian of the natural environment.

In that Willwork is in the exhibition and events and show business, we believe that we should be about promoting beauty and excellence and efficiency in design and production.

We are about admiring and exalting top performance and meeting exacting standards.

To that end, we commend here the header photo of this blog post.   Denise Franzen, Administrative Director for Willwork, used her mobile phone to take the photo on a warm afternoon in early October.  The photo is of the face of one sunflower among a long row of sunflowers that were in bloom in front of the Willwork headquarters.

Every year, from late spring through early fall, there is that row of blooming sunflowers at Willwork.

Helianthus is the scientific name for the sunflower, derived from the Greek helios, for sun, and anthos, for flower.

Busy is the face of this sunflower pictured here.

Three different insects – bumblebee (bombus), ladybug (coccinellid), and painted lady (Vanessa cardui) – are dining at and on the flower; they are consuming its nectar and pollen.

Planted as seeds in early April, the sunflowers grow fully by mid summer, and range in height from around five feet to a little more than nine feet.

The sunflowers are part of an extensive and vast selection of flowers, shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses, and vegetable plants that wring and ornament the grounds of the Willwork corporate offices. Our property is a gardening showcase – carefully and creatively planned, designed, and constructed.

“We choose plants and arrange them in a way that the landscape is attractive and draws positive attention throughout the four seasons,” said Laurie Johnson, Director of Grounds and Maintenance for Willwork. “Willwork puts a lot into the gardening and landscaping, and we are gratified to receive many compliments.”

Laurie handles and plans the arrangement, planting, cultivation, and caretaking of plants outside and inside Willwork.  Laurie also picks the ripe produce which is given to Willwork employees and those who visit the company.

Gardening and growing and harvesting are all part of a Willwork commitment to sustainability.

“Willwork management believes in sustainability – and in taking care of and managing the land we own,” said David King, General Manager for Willwork.  “This belief, and this mindset, is behind the gardening and landscaping here – and also other initiatives, like the solar panel field on the top of our headquarters, which provides a considerable amount of the energy that the building uses.

“Conserving energy, and using energy more efficiently, and practicing sustainability, is in keeping with what we strive to do for our clients: deliver increased value and cost savings.”

Sustainability and Efficiency in Design and Function

Remarkable – the sunflower … the face of that sunflower.

Talk about industry and natural synergy, and brilliant design and structure. It is all here.

Actually the inner disc of the face of the sunflower is a composition of many flowers, or florets, each with its own source of nectar and pollen. Beneath the florets is the seed head, formed from spirals of seeds, which are also the fruit of the plant.   For the bumblebee, painted lady, ladybug, and other insects, sunflowers offer a motherlode of nourishment – plenty of nectar, plenty of pollen.

In New England, there are also bats and birds who eat pollen; as well, there are a few birds in this region who consume plant nectar.

In making available a landing place and food feast for insects, the sunflower supports pollination, and repels deer and other herbivores that eat flowers and leaves, both processes that are necessary for seed plants to reproduce and continue their species.

Of course, the sunflower is an effective marketer and advertiser of its fare, with its showy and large and bright external ray petals inviting and beckoning dining patrons.

Bumblebees, painted ladies, and ladybugs are all pollinators; they do the work of pollination – transferring pollen, produced in the anther, the male part of the plant, to the stigma, the female part of the plant.

This transfer occurs as a bumblebee, or painted lady, or a ladybug moves from flower to flower, with pollen becoming attached to the bodies of the insects and spread along the journey.

Not just insects, but any animal that eats pollen – for example those bats and birds – are pollinators.

Of the three types of insects on the face of this sunflower, the bumblebee is the king pollinator, but ladybugs and painted lady butterflies do good pollination work as well.

The Remarkable and Versatile and Useful Sunflower

 “Sunflowers are like people to me.”

JOAN MITCHELL

Helianthus has a trove of uses – beyond as a source of pollen and nectar. 

Sunflower seeds– raw, roasted, plain, and salted are a popular food for humans. Sunflower seeds are also a favorite food of birds.

Sunflower seeds can also be ground into a butter, or used to make bread. Oil extracted from seeds is used as a cooking oil and refined into biodiesel fuel.

Sunflower leaves are used in cattle feed, as is the “cake” that remains when oil is removed from the seeds.

Fiber from the stem of the sunflower is used to manufacture a high-quality paper.

Seed Patterns in the Sun Flower – the Perfect Math of the Fibonacci Numbers Sequence; the Golden Angle

“The Fibonacci Sequence turns out to be the key to understanding how nature designs… and is… a part of the same ubiquitous music of the spheres that builds harmony into atoms, molecules, crystals, shells, suns and galaxies and makes the Universe sing.” 

GUY MURCHIE

A considerable aspect of Willwork’s success and the value and advantages we provide our clients relies on a variety of precise arithmetic. Precise measurement, precise estimates, precise timing, and precise angles.

A fraction-of-an-inch less than precise can result in a failed job.

Sunflowers represent precise and beautiful and consistent arithmetic that is hardwired and programmed into their system. Like many other organisms, sunflowers enlist what is called the Fibonacci numbers sequence to optimize growing and reproduction.

Fibonacci numbers were identified and introduced by the Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci who lived approximately from 1175 to 1250.

In the Fibonacci numbers sequence, every number after the first two is the sum of the preceding two numbers; hence – 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89 ….

Again, beneath the florets on the face of the sunflower is the seed head, with the seeds arranged in a series of spirals that originate at the center of the sunflower face.  Each successive spiral curves in the opposite direction of the spiral that precedes it – alternating between clockwise and counterclockwise.

In most sunflower heads, there are a total of 34 spirals that curve in one direction, and 55 spirals in the other, with 34 and 55 being adjacent in the Fibonacci sequence.

Other sunflowers have higher, respective, Fibonacci spiral counts, such as 89 and 144, numbers also adjacent in the Fibonacci sequence.

Yet no matter the total alternating spiral counts, starting with the third spiral, the seed count in the spiral is equivalent to the total number of seeds in the preceding two spirals: a Fibonacci sequence.

Now, for sure, and since nature isn’t perfect, the Fibonacci sequence is not always present and exactly realized in the sunflower seed arrangement, but it is fairly routine; it is the modus operandi of the sunflower.

And across the natural world, the Fibonacci sequence is evident – as described in the following excerpt from an article on the Fibonacci sequence in nature, written by Robert Lamb, and published at the HowStuffWorks website:

” …  Some plants express the Fibonacci sequence in their growth points, the places where tree branches form or split. One trunk grows until it produces a branch, resulting in two growth points. The main trunk then produces another branch, resulting in three growth points. Then the trunk and the first branch produce two more growth points, bringing the total to five. This pattern continues, following the Fibonacci numbers. Additionally, if you count the number of petals on a flower, you’ll often find the total to be one of the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence. For example, lilies and have three petals, buttercups and wild roses have five, delphiniums have eight petals and so on.”

And more math – and more precision.

As more seeds are produced and the spirals arch further away from the center of the face of the sunflower, each seed migrates away, and stays fixed at an angle of 137.5 degrees from the seed that had preceded it in the flower’s seed production.  Mathematicians and scientists refer to this angle as the “golden angle”.

The golden angle, as does the Fibonacci sequence, affords and supports the best opportunity for the sunflower to successfully grow and reproduce.

Where there is a Fibonacci sequence there is a golden angle.

 

Bumblebees are All-Star Pollinators – But So-So Honey Makers  

“I felt the richer for this experience. It taught me that even the insects in my path are not loafers, but have their special errands. Not merely and vaguely in this world, but in this hour, each is about its business.”

HENRY DAVID THOREAU, on observing the conduct of bees

About those bumblebees.

Bumblebees don’t produce honey … well, not real honey.  The reason for this is that, unlike honey-making honeybees, entire hives of bumblebees do not survive cold winters in temperate climates, and therefore don’t need to make use of that nutrient-dense food.

Actually, to be precise, it is the male bumblebees who do not survive the winter. Females, aka queen bees, mate in the fall, and as it begins to get cold, enter diapause – a resting phase, usually spent underground, for the entire winter.

Queen bumblebees prepare for diapause by eating ravenously to build fat stores, with pollen and nectar the primary food.  Nectar that queen bumblebees consume, they process into a honey-like substance – think honey light – which it saves in honey pots made of wax that they secrete from their abdomens.  Queen bees will feed on this processed nectar, and it will also feed the nectar, along with pollen, to the queen’s offspring.

Male bumblebees only consume nectar, and only to feed themselves.

When spring arrives, queen bees lay eggs that had been fertilized prior to winter – and the nest and colony begins anew. Queen bees will continue to lay eggs throughout the spring and into the summer.

In service of collecting pollen, a fascinating characteristic and trait of the bumblebee is that they have the ability to detect and analyze electric fields on a flower, which tells them whether that flower has been visited recently.  Understanding whether a plant has already been tapped of its pollen, allows bumblebees to conserve energy by passing on a pollen-depleted plant and moving to a more bountiful pollen reserve.

Bumblebees are nature’s all-stars in pollen transfer. A bumblebee’s hairy body alone works wonderfully in collecting a dusting of pollen which is then transferred to other flowers as the bee makes its rounds.  As well, and here electricity plays another role, when bumblebees approach a flower, they rapidly flap their wings, with this activity building up an electrical charge that helps anchor pollen to the hairs on its body.

Female bumblebees also groom pollen into pollen baskets that are attached to their hind legs, with these baskets containing as many as a million grains of pollen.

Yes, as Henry David Thoreau observed, bees have “special errands” and “each is about its business.”

The Painted Lady, a Pollinator, and a Sometime Migrator

“We are all butterflies.  Earth is our chrysalis.”   

LEANN TAYLOR

The painted lady is one of the most common varieties of butterfly and is found on every continent except for Antarctica and Australia.

This butterfly, which flies in a peculiar screw-shape pattern, is sometimes called the cosmopolitan because, within a region, it shows up just about everywhere: woods, fields, sandy areas, swamps, and vacant lots … you name it.

It is valuable pollinator in that the species will feed on up to 100 different types of plants.

Their appearance in northern areas of the Western Hemisphere, including outside the Willwork corporate headquarters, is irregular. They may show up these parts some years, and not in others.

The total lifespan and growth phase of the painted lady runs from 45 to 60 days, and is comprised of four main stages:

  1. The egg is laid, and within three to five days it hatches.
  2. Once hatched, the larvae or caterpillar stage begins which is completed in five to 10 days.
  3. Next up is the chrysalis or metamorphosis phase, of seven to 10 days, in which the caterpillar spins a silk pad from which it hangs, and while suspended its skin splits from head to toe, revealing a hard case called the chrysalis or pupa. Within the chrysalis, the organism becomes totally liquid and forms into a butterfly, with the butterfly emerging from the pupa.
  4. The Painted ladies live for about two to four weeks.  During their short life, they focus on mating and reproducing.

A lineage of painted ladies may include eight generations in a year.

These generations are not only produced across time – but oftentimes vast space.

You see, a curious characteristic of the painted lady is that it is a migratory creature, yet unlike some other types of butterflies … most famously the monarch butterfly … its migration practice is not consistent from generation to generation.

That’s right, depending on a variety of elements not totally understood, a family line of painted ladies living, for example, in the Western Hemisphere may make a complete round-trip migration between the ancestral winter habitat of the species – which is northern Mexico – and the northern reaches of the United States and parts of Canada, toward which painted ladies travel in the spring.

Or painted ladies may may complete a large segment, but not the entire migratory path – or maybe a small segment; or maybe next to no migratory journey.

And there are episodes of mass migrations of the painted ladies – with clusters of millions of butterflies leaving northern Mexico, with this multi-generational migration continuing northward, and continuing with clusters comprised of millions of butterflies, until reaching their historic northernmost destination, in late spring or early summer.

Along the way, new generations come and go, and the migration continues … with one butterfly, over one short life, able to cover 1000 miles or more. Painted ladies fly at an elevation of only six to 12 feet off the ground, and at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.  A painted lady butterfly can travel 100 miles in a day.

As autumn arrives, painted ladies living in the northern climes will begin the migration south.

As for the painted lady in this photograph, for all we know it has just about run its course on earth, or it is a newly minted butterfly who is about to up and leave and will be in Connecticut in 24 hours.

Pitching in and Helping Out – the Ladybug  

“A small speckled visitor
“Wearing a crimson cape
“Brighter than a cherry
“Smaller than a grape
“A polka-dotted someone
“Walking on my wall
“A black-hooded lady
“In a scarlet shawl.”

JOAN WALSH ANGLUND

And there is the ladybug, which is actually a beetle. A little background on the name ladybug. It has a religious origin – from Europe and the Middle Ages when the continent was beset with insect crop pests.

As legend has it, Christians offered prayers to Mary, Our Lady, and soon came the arrival of a cloud of these tiny bugs colored red and each with seven black spots (coccinellids in other parts of the world have different numbers of spots).

What was interpreted is that the bugs, as they commenced to devouring the pests, which were probably aphids, had descended from Heaven.

Then there are the coloring and markings of the bug; they were interpreted as a sign, as during this period artists often depicted Mary wearing a red robe, and the seven black spots were thought to represent the Seven Joys and Seven Sorrows of Mary.

People variously called the beetle “Our Lady’s Bug” or “lady beetle” or “lady bird” … or ladybug.

Through the centuries, ladybugs have been admired for their beauty and form, and have been painted, drawn, sketched, photographed … and represented through many other art forms.

Ladybugs are certainly a gardener’s friend.  They voraciously feed on aphids, mites, mealy bugs, scale insects, and other destructive nuisances.  A ladybug can consume 50 aphids in a day.

The livelihood of the ladybug pays off and is a plus in the form of a pollinator, an exterminator, and as a source of beauty and artistic inspiration.

As the Short and Cold Days are Upon Us

During winter, the gardens and grounds at Willwork are not as colorful as during spring and summer, and early fall; but even in the coldest stretch of the year, our property has plenty of beautiful evergreen trees and ornamental grasses for decoration (with these grasses also producing seeds on which birds feed).

Plants are in a dormancy period now. Female bumblebees, and ladybugs of both sexes, are finding covered and secluded places to winter, with ladybugs favoring the indoors of houses if they can gain entry.

Painted lady butterflies have flown away.

And the cycle continues – and again in the summer the sunflowers will grow and establish seed spirals with Fibonacci counts and with seeds spaced at golden angles, and the bumblebee, the painted lady, and the ladybug will return to their eating and their industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More expositions and events with Halloween and scary themes

Character in Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride experience, one of the attractions of the Transworld Tradeshows LLC Legendary Haunt Tour ( image credit: C. Brielmaier and Rogues Hollow Productions)

Here is the second of two posts on this blog – the first was published on October 20 – which feature exhibitions and experiences with Halloween and scary themes — with an add-in for this post of thoughts on “scaring ourselves for fun.”

On Halloween eve, we just had to share in this space, a link to the ultimate Halloween site; here it is, I Love Halloween.  This site is all about Halloween, not just today, but every day — yep, 365 days a year.  

When you scroll through and spend some time at I Love Halloween, enforced will be just how big are the Halloween and horror and frightening culture, and associated industry, in America.    

Here is something to think about — but, then again, you have probably already thought about it: people like to be scared; yes we do.  

For a Halloween story for the The Atlantic (the story was published on Halloween Day 2013), Allegra Ringo interviewed Dr. Marge Kerr, a college professor, and sociologist who “studies fear.”  Dr. Kerr is the author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear (2015, Public Affairs).

Consider this excerpt from the interview, which is published under the title, “Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear: The science behind the appeal of haunted houses, freak shows, and physical thrills”:

“Ringo:  ‘What are some early examples of people scaring themselves on purpose?’

“Dr. Kerr:  ‘Humans have been scaring themselves and each other since the birth of the species, through all kinds of methods like storytelling, jumping off cliffs, and popping out to startle each other from the recesses of some dark cave. And we’ve done this for lots of different reasons—to build group unity, to prepare kids for life in the scary world, and, of course, to control behavior. But it’s only really in the last few centuries that scaring ourselves for fun (and profit) has become a highly sought-after experience.'”

No doubt, the business of “scaring ourselves for fun” has become big business.

Think just of horror films.  Then there are haunted houses, haunted farms, haunted corn mazes, haunted pumpkin patches; there are scary video games and scary virtual reality experiences.

Halloween is most celebrated in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  But far and away it is the U.S. that makes the biggest deal out of Halloween.  That is not to say that we like to be scared more than other countries, because, for sure, much of the Halloween celebrating here is tied more to fun and revelry than anything else.

And, of course, there is money to be made in the “scaring ourselves for fun” business no matter the day of the year, no matter the season, but of course, for the haunted attraction industry Halloween-time is when the money is made.

There are several tradeshows dedicated to frightening and spine-chilling.  Yes, there are a lot companies that make and sell products and services that are needed for haunted and scary enterprises.  Looking to start your own haunted attraction?  There are shows you can attend that where you will find everything you need to operate a great and absolutely terrifying haunted place and experience.  

Indeed, there are companies that specialize and hold a big franchise in shows and events that cater to Halloween and the macabre and spooky and scary.  One of those companies is TransWorld Tradeshows LLC.

TransWorld LLC runs shows for buyers and sellers in the haunted business.  It also operates its own haunted tours.  

Here is the roster of TransWorld Tradeshows properties:  Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show, Escape Room City, the Premier Haunted Attractions Tour & Education Series, Room Escape Conference & Tour, the Midwest Haunters Convention, and the Legendary Haunt Tour.

The next TransWorld event scheduled is the Legendary Haunt Tour (LHT).  It will be held from November 9-11 at the Crown Plaza Philadelphia – King of Prussia Hotel, and nearby areas.  Among the attractions of the LHT are Reapers Revenge, Field of ScreamsBates Motel & Haunted Hayride, and the Eastern State Penitentiary Daytime Tour.

Following we take a look at some Halloween season experiences in the U.S. in which the core of those experiences is about scaring and sending a bolt of fear through people.

Orlando is one of the busiest tradeshow cities in the U.S., and the Orlando office of Willwork is one of our busiest.

University Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights is a destination experience for people the world over.   This year is the 27th edition of the scarefest; it opened for the season on September 15 and runs on select nights through November 4.    

Attraction at Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights (image credit: Universal Orlando)

For some helpful insight on what Horror Nights is about, here we share an excerpt from a story,  “Run for your lives… Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights is back, and scarier than ever,” written by British journalist, Pamela Owen, and published October 6 at Metro.co.uk:

“It’s hard to explain the concept of the event if you’ve never been, but Universal’s hugely talented design team create a series of horror houses, or mazes, in the Orlando theme park. You then line up for hours to spend a few minutes walking through the houses and getting scared out of your wits. It might not sound appealing but it really is.

“The rush of adrenalin and buzz you get will leave you thinking about it for hours, if not days, afterwards. Also you’re perfectly safe, because the ‘scareactors’ are under strict instruction not to touch you, and that comes as a huge relief when you’re in the dark, surrounded by flashing lights and confronted with a scene from The Shining.”

Please click here to be taken to the full story.

Let’s travel out to the West Coast, to San Francisco, another big destination city for tradeshows and events, and busy place for Willwork.  We have long operated an office in San Francisco.

Out in the cold waters of San Francisco Bay sits Alcatraz Island, on which is the facility that once housed Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, a prison that resides in American lore as a dark and scary and forbidden place.  Today the penitentiary is a popular tourist attraction.

The San Francisco Dungeon, a company that offers theatrical tours of the city’s “dark and sinful past,” has developed an Alcatraz experience for Halloween.  For $666 (yes, we know, not good, that number) it is offering a Halloween Eve stay is a specially outfitted recreation of an Alcatraz jail cell.    

San Francisco Dungeon’s recreated Alcatraz jail cell (image credit: Booking.com)

“The cell includes four twin beds, pajamas, midnight snacks, and a spooky bedtime story from a ‘dungeon resident,’” writes Kirsten Fawcett, in her story for Mental Floss about this prison-themed experience.  “Breakfast is also provided the next morning, along with a goody bag”  

If you click here you will be taken to the full story, titled, “For $666, You Can Spend Halloween Eve in a Recreated Jail Cell.”

Now we travel back east, stopping in the Midwest,  in Chicago, to the largest haunted house in the city, and one of the scariest in the U.S.

The 13th Floor Haunted House, in the Melrose Park section of the city, was named, for 2017, the third best Haunted Attraction in the U.S. by America Haunts.  

Scary clown at 13th Floor Haunted House (image credit: 13th Floor Haunted House)

Following is a Thrillist Chicago descriptor of the 13th Floor Haunted House:

“With beautifully detailed sets across two separate haunted houses, ‘Cursed: Purgatory’ will have you meandering amongst witches chanting demonic spells while ‘Dead End District: Freakshow’ features shadows of inhuman beasts soundtracked by screams. For an extra scare, stop by November 3 and 4 for “Blackout,” in which your group will try to make your way out of the house in total darkness with nothing but a single glow stick to light the way.”

For 2017, the 13th Floor Haunted House opened on September 22 and is open weekend nights, and select weekday nights, through November 4.

On to the East Coast, to New York City, the center of it all.  

The Merchant’s House Museum in Manhattan is a landmark historic property in Manhattan and is also considered among the most haunted places in all of NYC. 

On the third Friday of each month, January through July, ghost tours are conducted at the Merchant’s House Museum.  During Halloween season, Candlelight Ghost Tours are held at the museum. This year the Candlelight Ghost Tour schedule is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., with 50-minute tours beginning every half hour, on October 20 and 21, and October 26-30.  All tours sold out. 

Halloween is a major event and a culture and industry booms and revolves around it.    

Merchant’s House Museum (image credit: Merchant’s House Museum)

Then, again, there are businesses that focus on the scary and ghostly and horror all throughout the year.  There is a huge population of people who are into Halloween, and also spooky and frightening, throughout the year as well.   

And it need not be said again, but we will — we like to be scared.

 

How Cool Is This? Employing Neuroscience to Make Exhibits More Engaging, More Eye-catching

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.

In 2017, we are celebrating our 30th year in business.

A primary reason for our success is our commitment to innovating and inventing, which includes placing a strong emphasis on smarter and more effective ways to use technology to provide our clients with value and competitive advantage.

Willwork and its team even considers itself a bit techie/nerdy/wonkish.

Nick Cave Soundsuits

Nick Cave Soundsuits in the Seamans Gallery at Peabody Essex Museum (photograph by Kathy Tarantola, courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum)

Indeed, here on this blog we are inclined to discuss technology as it relates to exhibits and events and tradeshows.

You know, then, it would have had to capture our attention when we saw making news that the world famous Peabody Essex Museum (P.E.M.) in Salem, MA has, as described in a May 7 Boston Globe story, taken “what is being hailed as an unprecedented step in the museum world: hiring a neuroscientist to help apply the tenets of modern brain science to enhance the museum-going experience.”

Indeed, Willwork – beyond the exhibit halls and convention centers – works in some of the nation’s most respected and renowned museums and cultural institutions.

Our skilled trades personnel are entrusted with the care and handling of  precious artifacts and priceless historical items.

So, yeah, what is going on at P.E.M. has Willwork interested.

The neuroscientist whom the Peabody Essex Museum hired is Dr. Vidette “Tedi” AsherDr. Asher earned a B.A. in biology from Swarthmore College and a PhD in neurobiology/Biology and Medical Sciences from Harvard Medical School.

Here is another excerpt from the Boston Globe article:

Asher’s initial one-year appointment is part of a broader strategy at the Peabody Essex, which over the next five years will completely redesign its galleries, incorporating neuroscience to devise multisensory exhibitions, unexpected gallery spaces, stories, and interactive features to heighten audience engagement.

As part of the neuroscience initiative, which is funded by a $130,000 grant from the Barr Foundation, Asher will meet periodically with an advisory group of brain scientists and work closely with museum staff as they plan exhibitions. She will also write a publication that summarizes the museum’s findings and serves as a guide for future programming.

Please click here to be taken to the full story, “Peabody Essex Museum hires neuroscientist to enhance visitor experience,” by Malcolm Gay.

Newsweek reported on the pioneering hire in a May 17 story, “Art and the Brain: Museum Near Boston Hires Neuroscientist to Transform Visitors’ Experience,” by Stav Ziv.

Actually, even prior to the P.E.M. hire of Tedi Asher, making big news was that the museum had won the $130,000 Boston-based Barr Foundation grant.

P.E.M. winning of the grant was featured in a March 17 New York Times story, “How to Get the Brain to Like Art,” by Jess Bidgood.

Of course, in that an event or development gets hyped in the press and receives popular attention does not necessarily mean that that event, that development, is a positive for society or education or culture, or that it is important to business and commerce.

But, most certainly, the neuroscience and neuroscientist at the Peabody Essex Museum is important, revolutionary, truly next generation – and will improve how exhibits and exhibitions educate and enrich and entertain the mind and senses.

Willwork will surely stay tuned.

Expect more on this blog about the Peabody Essex Museum neuroscience project – and on how science is integrated into and enlisted in the way that images and art are shown, products are displayed, stories are told, and brands are established and strengthened.

The growing importance of labor for event organizing

Though society is inching closer to being driven by technology, the exhibition and event industry will be firmly rooted in its founded values for years to come. When it comes to building and dismantling a show, skilled labor is an essential part of the process.

The industry at a glance
Shortly after the economic recession in 2008, the exhibition and event industry picked up where it left off. In fact, according to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the sector has been growing moderately since as early as 2009.

As recently as 2015, the installation and dismantle industry has grown steadily at 3 percent. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • The growing number of startups and “unicorns” that require showcasing.
  • Experiential marketing rising as a viable option to garner millennials’ attendance.
  • Expanding opportunities overseas.

The IAEE argued that because the industry is so closely tied to the health of the U.S. and other nations’ GDP, the next few years will be tumultuous both for events companies and clients. Will the health of the economy continue, or will anticipated rising federal interest rates cap it at a certain growth rate? How will changes in the stock market affect the industry?

One aspect of the exhibition and event industry remains static, though. The necessity for event labor will not change, but the need for skilled labor will only increase as events come to require accurate precision and complex decision-making during the I&D process.

What skilled labor can offer
Once an afterthought, skilled labor has risen to the forefront of the industry. With such narrow deadlines and no room for error, companies simply can’t afford to hand out contracts to companies that don’t place a high importance on skilled team members.

Exhibition and event organizations that place a premium on labor by cultivating it internally through training programs and industry-driven universities will have their efforts rewarded as the market grows stronger.

“Skilled labor will become more valuable as the industry changes.”

Lah-Cal, a corporate event management company, recently predicted on LinkedIn that, with the upcoming trend of experiential trade shows and events, as well as the anticipated benefits of virtual and augmented reality, locations for events will change. Normally done in a conference or event venue, future events will require larger, more unique venues that coincide with the theme. This means that the amount of preparation, wiring and execution will ramp up, and only the most skilled teams in the industry will be able to keep up with the change.

A more competitive market for venues will be the norm very soon as well, according to Lah-Cal. As the amount of events grows, hotels and other venues will begin to charge a premium to host because of how booked they are. This directly impacts event organizers, as the I&D team they contract will have to be able to set up and dismantle quicker than past years.

All signs point to the market putting a premium on skilled labor, rather than just finding some people who can put together a few wooden planks. Carefully consider your contracting decisions moving forward, as speed, efficiency and expertise will all play a bigger role than they have in the past.

In recruiting, when organizations limit themselves to hiring only the candidate with precisely and all the right skills and experience, they often miss out on landing the all star employee unmade

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”

 

JOHN MAXWELL

 

Forces and trends in business are accidentally collaborating to stymie and hamper people and organizations reaching their full potential.

The economy of our country and the economies of households within it are hurting as a result.

Not recognizing and developing potential – not providing opportunity – contributes significantly to unemployment and under-employment remaining high, and record numbers of people dropping out of the work force – even as many jobs remain unfilled.

What is going on?

It is all tied to a widespread lament of managers, and something bemoaned widely, that jobs remain open because companies can’t find or recruit candidates qualified enough to whom a job can be offered. Many enterprises like to blame our schools and education system for not churning out enough candidates with the right education and know-how.

Willwork, Inc. Exhbit Services – a national leader in the tradeshow, meetings, and events industry, with offices across the nation – sees things and operates a bit differently.

Willwork knows that a solution to this problem is for companies to think more creatively, focus more on possibility and potential … and to not be so centered on what a candidate is now, and the lack of skills or experience of that person – and to pay more attention and consideration to the skills and experience that he or she may develop and acquire with the right guidance and mentoring.

All of this is a cultural and operational mindset of Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services – a company founded 25 years ago that today and throughout our history has consistently built a winning team of people diverse in high-level skills, talents, education, and training – and dedication to providing its customers with increasing value and competitive advantage.

Our people – our most important resource – are renown for the quality and excellence of their services across many areas, including the following:

 

  • installing and dismantling exhibits
  • handling, from start to finish, all contracting and logistics of meetings and events – ranging in scope from a single room and a single afternoon to several buildings over several days
  • adapting and developing technology to save our customers money, and to improve the return on investment and advantages they receive from participating in a show or event; an example is our premier, next-generation lead retrieval and customer tracking devices and systems
  • designing, engineering, and building award-winning audio-visual and multimedia walls and displays
  • operating road crews that travel from city to city – to museums, stores, malls, recreation areas, and other venues … unloading, building, installing, and monitoring exhibits and displays … then breaking all of it down, packing it all, and shipping all the property to the next place where we begin again.

 

In recruiting and hiring, Willwork is not constrained by convention, not afraid, … and is open-minded and inspired by possibility. Like every company, we hope to find the perfect candidate – and we are always on the lookout for that person, one with all the right experience and skills – but we don’t spend an inordinate amount of time in that search.

We do place a premium on identifying and training people who are competitive, problem solvers, hard workers, honest, loyal, who will work cooperatively with others, and who are receptive to teaching and coaching.

Willwork also places top of mind that it is difficult to too highly estimate the importance of character and determination.

In the fall of 2011, an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, titled, “Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need: The conventional wisdom is that our education system is failing our economy. But our companies deserve a lot of the blame themselves,” received widespread attention and provoked widespread discussion.

Author of the piece was Dr. Peter Cappelli, one of the most sought after thinkers and advisors on human capital, and the George W. Taylor professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources.

When the story ran, the national unemployment rate was at about 9 percent. Yet, still, many jobs remained unfilled.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Cappelli’s op-ed:

“To get America’s job engine revving again, companies need to stop pinning so much of the blame on our nation’s education system. They need to drop the idea of finding perfect candidates and look for people who could do the job with a bit of training and practice.

“There are plenty of ways to get workers up to speed without investing too much time and money, such as putting new employees on extended probationary periods and relying more on internal hires, who know the ropes better than outsiders would.

“It’s a fundamental change from business as usual. But the way we’re doing things now just isn’t working.”

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Willwork fully subscribes to the “need to drop the idea of finding the perfect candidates and look for people who could do the job with a bit of training and practice … and relying more on internal hires, who know the ropes better than outsiders would.”

We look for specific, relevant, and applicable experience, of course – but we also look for and evaluate potential, for someone in whom an investment will pay off. We do this whether we are hiring for entry or senior level, for floor labor or office support or management.

Willwork Exhibit & Event Services has found a winning formula in dedicating extra effort and resources to helping the right person acquire the right trade and workplace proficiencies and abilities.

We also appreciate the accuracy of the quote above from John Maxwell – that the essence and nature of growth requires that we become uncomfortable and arrive in areas and meet up with responsibilities with which we are unfamiliar.

Constantly and smartly training and practicing is necessary to become familiar with new territories and to expertly take on and handle new responsibilities. This is a reality whether you are in day one on your first job, or in the twilight of a career in which you sit as CEO.

Olympic gold medalist, Jim Craig, goalie for the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, is today a leading motivational speaker and sales and marketing coach. Among the topics he writes and speaks about are his nine Gold Medal Strategies for business success.

One of the nine strategies is “Great Teams Remain Young in Spirit and Outlook.”

And, as Jim explains, if you aren’t growing, getting uncomfortable, constantly training, learning, and looking for ways to do things better, then you are getting old and complacent – and you have abandoned and left young in spirit and outlook behind.

Willwork Exhibit & Event Services believes that Jim Craig is right on with this reflection, and not just because we share a personal and cosmic connection with him in that he is native of, and grew up in Easton, MA, the same community in which Willwork has its corporate headquarters.

Willwork provides workers individual training and mentoring so they are fully practiced and expert in all requirements, skills, and procedures.

Our veteran and experienced trades personnel and labor organizers mentor and oversee and direct training.

Fifteen years ago, Willwork Exhibit & Event Services pioneered training and education in our industry with the launch of Willwork University, a twice-a-year three-day skills and hands-on learning seminar in which Willwork foreman and senior management teach and demonstrate proper techniques and procedures for all aspects of exhibit installation & dismantle and show general contracting.

One session of Willwork University is held at our corporate offices in the Boston area – and the other session is held at one of our satellite offices in another region of the country. Show and event laborers travel to Willwork University from all parts of America to learn, ask questions, and perform the work and tasks required of a fully qualified and capable exhibit and installation professional.

“Students” successfully completing Willwork University even receive a diploma.

Willwork believes in promoting from within, in helping and assisting people to climb the ladder in our organization, to, as Mr. Cappelli recommends, rely “ … more on internal hires, who know the ropes better than outsiders would ….”

It is a policy that allows for pathways to career advancement and success not commonly seen in the corporate world. Consider that well represented on our operations and management staff are those whose first job at Willwork was on show floor, performing the most noble labor, physically intensive labor, such as rolling out carpet and unpacking freight and installing and dismantling exhibits. And, for sure, the hands-on labor end of things at our company is one that offers steady and high-paying work, and there are those who would never leave the show floor to work in an office or spend more than a minute behind a desk – but, for those, who would choose a different route, it is available to them.

This is also the case with our sales team. We have found that working from the floor up – figuratively and literally – supports a successful transition to selling and taking care of customers. To whatever degree necessary, Willwork abets and supports this transition, training and teaching selling techniques, account management and relationship building (customer and sales management technology best practices), and business writing skills.

Willwork Exhibit & Event Services doesn’t fault a company strategy of looking for just the right candidate – at just the right time. Again, we ourselves hope that we could find a superstar everyday.

But that strategy should only be one recruitment strategy – and it should be pursued with the understanding that too much reliance on that plan of attack frequently contributes to teams that “aren’t deep in talent” and companies that give up ground and lose to the competition.

And weave in to the broader strategy the search for diamonds not yet polished, talent not yet cultivated, potential not yet realized, and all star employee not yet made.