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The Business of Meetings

Nov 22, 2022

The Business of Meetings – Episode 141 – The Challenges Faced by Senior Planners with Shawna Suckow


We are delighted to speak with Shawna Suckow today! Shawna is the founder of SPIN (Senior Planners Industry Network). She is also a writer and speaker. 

Shawna joins us today to share her insights, discuss her take on what is happening within the industry, and talk about mental health, finding balance in life, and how to care for oneself. 

We hope you enjoy listening to today’s enlightening conversation with Shawna Suckow!


Shawna Suckow, CSP, CVP, CMP, is a former planner who became a professional speaker in 2012. She speaks to salespeople, marketers, C-Suite, and business owners across all industries seeking insight into the shifting marketplace and how to reach customers better. 

What Shawna is proud of: Her latest book was recommended by Forbes as a top-six marketing book of 2022 (woohoo!). She has spoken in 17 countries on 5 continents (c’mon, Australia and Antarctica!). In 2019 she earned her CSP (like a Master's in professional speaking). 

Three memorable things about her: She is so good at parallel parking, she should get a trophy. Her first car was a Volkswagen Bug that caught on fire on her way to school. Also, she once did a turkey call for the Jimmy Kimmel audience. (She’s still embarrassed about it). 

How Shawna got into the industry

After college, Shawna joined a commercial real estate company. She worked her way through PR and into the training department they were launching, where she helped create a training curriculum for real estate professionals. She fell into the industry through the meetings she planned to deliver the curriculum. It was hard initially because she had no one to guide her, but she loved it!

Leaving the industry

After she wrote the tell-all book, Planner Pet Peeves: Straight Talk for Meetings Industry Suppliers to Understand How Planners Really Think, Act and Buy, people began asking Shawna to speak. So she left the industry and transitioned to becoming a speaker.

Speaking on stage

She learned that when stepping on stage, only the first few minutes were about her. After that, it was about what she had to offer and how she engaged with the audience.


Shawna is always there to help up-and-coming speakers and answer their questions.


Shawna started SPIN in 2008 because she wanted a more senior and distilled type of conversation than she was getting at the industry associations, where they speak to planners at multi-levels.

SPIN currently has 2500 members. It also has a free Facebook group for planners with more than ten years of experience.


One of the top five most stressful occupations nationally is being a planner. It became even more stressful for planners when the pandemic hit because they had to cancel live meetings without knowing when they could reschedule them. Shawna points out that unplanning a meeting is almost as complicated as planning one!


Many planners failed to practice self-care during the pandemic. As a result, they suffered mental health challenges including depression and anxiety.

Brain, body, being, and business

People need to speak about what they are going through, especially during difficult times like the pandemic. Soon after a well-known SPIN member took her own life, Shawna appeared on stage at SPINCON and spoke about it because, at that point, no one in the industry was talking about mental health. That was when they, in addition to business, began focusing on the brain, body, and being.

Board of advisors

Shawna joined a mastermind with two other speakers about six years ago. Since then, all of their businesses have grown exponentially. They look out for one another and help each other physically and emotionally. The other two speakers have become Shawna’s board of advisors.


Shawna has been feeling more balanced since she stopped traveling and started focusing more intentionally on her self-care.


Shawna speaks about sales and marketing from the customer's perspective. She loves helping people in businesses better-understand their prospects.

A new course

Shawna believes that now is a good time for small business owners to compete, especially if they focus more on telling their stories. She is creating a new course to help small business owners rethink branding, improve marketing, and enrich their stories. 


People care about what others do. That is why Shawna advises speakers, coaches, and meeting planners to regain trust by rebuilding their brands, humanizing themselves, and telling their stories. That will help them avoid getting perceived as commodities and being put into the same category as everyone else.


The SPINCON annual conference took place virtually during the pandemic. This year, it will be happening live in Tempe, Arizona, from the 11th of December through the 13th. It will focus on self-care and great conversations!


Connect with Eric

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Connect with Shawna Suckow

On her website


Books mentioned:

Touching Two Worlds by Sherry Walling

Planner Pet Peeves: Straight Talk for Meetings Industry Suppliers to Understand How Planners Really Think, Act and Buy by Shawna Suckow