Are You Creating an Experience?

By Tiffany Chepul

dateThu, Dec 18, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

This year I’m slowing down.Christmas_Experience

Usually, I’m a whirlwind of activity around the holidays, checking things off my to-do list like a madwoman. Buy the presents, decorate the tree, mail the cards, cook the meals, host the parties, get the farm ready for winter, oh, and coach numerous teams through Annual Planning and Q1 prep.

After listening to James Gilmore speak at the 2014 Secret Service Summit, I realized that I’ve got it all wrong. Life’s not about tasks. It’s about experiences.

In Gilmore’s The Experience Economy, he defines an experience as a memorable event that is staged over time. A person walks away from an experience remembering the feelings, smells, sights and sounds. When I read that, I had a sinking feeling that I had been missing out.

So, true to my Myers Briggs personality type, I set out to change my approach with a plan. (I’m an ISTJ – can you tell?) I needed to approach the holidays through Gilmore’s lens – How could I create the Ultimate Chepul Family Christmas Experience?

First up, the Christmas cards. The old Tiffany took the best picture off her iPhone, used the Costco app to order 100 generic cards and shipped them out as fast as possible with printed labels.  Check and check. Then, I thought about it. I hate getting those cards. My mom always called those people stamp traders. You send me your generic card, and I’ll send you mine. How could we make it an experience?

So, we had extended family out to the farm for a day with a professional photographer. We had a party, took some pictures, and made a weekend of it. We all got our Christmas cards done, and we created a memorable event in the process.

Next up, the Christmas tree. Instead of stopping to pick up a tree on my way home from the grocery store, we decided to head out into the wilderness to choose & cut our own. We called in the grandparents and took a day trip up to the North Carolina mountains. We drank cocoa, got covered in sap, and even saw some snow. The kids are still talking about it.

So, I feel like I’m on a roll. Who knows what’s next on my experience makeover. Holiday baking? Putting up the exterior lights? Standing in line at the Post Office? I’m still pondering how to make an experience out of stacking 150 bales of hay, but I’m a work in progress.

 Executive Summary from Patrick Thean's book Rhythm


Tiffany Chepul


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images