Gold Member Highlight – Madonna Suever, Extra Tough Events

How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today?
There were signs along life’s road I should be an event planner. In high school I was arranging surprise guest speakers, cooking classes with restaurant chefs and scheduling K-9 demonstrations. At U of O, I worked at a store organizing cooking demonstrations and other in-store events for the customers. Looking back at my professional life the same thread ran through most jobs and industries – planning a company event, conference or convention. Those events were what I looked back on as my success. So, why not do what you love 100% of the time?

What is the most important thing you want people to know about your business?
No one will do a better a job. After EVERY job I am surrounded by an assortment of compliments. I “raised the bar!” Other, so pleased they never want the night to end. “You are so approachable, friendly and your  attention to detail is something never seen to this level.”

What is an important lesson you have learned?
Something will go wrong. Life is not perfect, nor are events. But with the years of experience I know how to think on my feet, remain unflappable and fix it. My guiding principle don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. If you can do it ahead of time – do it. Prep and be ready so you have the time to fix or shift gears.

Who has inspired you in your life (either professionally or personally)?
As a little girl looking at photos of the events Jackie Kennedy hosted was captivating. She had breathtaking charm with everything she touched. Events like those were glamorous and dazzling. She elevated what an event could be. I think that impression was always tucked away and never realized until now.

Perhaps my creative side is an off-shoot of my dad’s sense of humor and love of a surprise. His military WWII stories were snapshots of reality where finding the humor was essential. The surprise came when I accidentally found his articles published in LIFE magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, Time and others. I never knew this side of him and unfortunately it was too late to tell him how much he cracked me up laughing!

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop?
There are many platform choices of where to spend time “growing.” Pinterest and magazine articles are favorites. My preference is talking to people who share that event excitement just before opening the doors. Talking with those who have worked with famous people, undertaken celebrity events where money is endless and so are the visions of inventiveness.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
People are always surprised when they learn my personality profile places me exactly in the middle of the spectrum of being an introvert and an extrovert.

What about your business keeps you up at night?
Wanting to fast forward to having my reputation spread not only in the Portland arena but in the world of event planners nationally.

What have you accomplished that you are proud of?
My first event was a sit down awards dinner for 2,500 employees. It was my vision to take photographs of the employees dining and enjoying the evening. Before the main entertainment started those people watched a slide show as the “warm-up act.”  It didn’t take long before they realized they were the “stars” of the slide show. The room went silent – it was truly a surprise and remarkable show stopper! Folks were mesmerized! They were seeing themselves on the big screen realizing that big screen photo was taken just minutes ago. It was an astonishing tribute to these hard working people. Remember this was my first event – 25 years ago….at the time this idea and technology did not exist. By the way, the main act was the Pointer Sisters.

What do you perceive as the benefits you receive from Chamber membership?
The best benefit truly is the solid friendships made and how we have all helped support each other to move ourselves and our businesses forward.

Click here to learn more about Madonna and Extra Touch Events

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