With diversity becoming a growing business imperative in today’s meetings industry, James Sun delivered a compelling MPI keynote address at IMEX America this morning entitled “Color Does Matter: The Truth About Diversity in the 21st Century.”

Entrepreneur James Sun speaking about the importance of diversity at IMEX America 2014. Courtesy image

Entrepreneur James Sun speaking about the importance of diversity at IMEX America 2014. Courtesy image

Sun, an accomplished entrepreneur and diversity advocate — as well as the first Asian American male contender on Donald Trump’s Apprentice reality show — shared his first-hand discrimination experiences. Starting with stories from his childhood in rural America after his family came to the US from Korea, right up through a testing experience just last week, James riveted the audience.

Moving the thinking to what we do to combat discrimination and cultural misunderstanding, James then used the Rubik’s cube as a powerful image to bring his vision of true diversity to life, discussing how the toy’s six colors and 54 squares can create 43 Quintillion (yes there is such a number) combinations. This elicited a lively reaction from the audience and further opened their minds to the infinite possibilities and types of people and perspectives in our world—beyond color, ethnicity, religion and culture. He also urged his audience to think of diversity and inclusion beyond just corporate policies and programs, asking them to question “How do I see the World?” and to challenge and combat individual and collective biases. Global thinking, coupled with an awareness and observance of local cultures at the same time, was also a key take-away.

After this inspiring start to the busy day, learners poured into an array of other education sessions taking on the industry’s hottest topics.

Eric Amram, CEO of Evenium Inc. brought technology into sharper focus with his session “Google Glass and Wearables for Speakers: The Future of Presenting,” offering practical tips on mastering the newest innovations to increase audience interaction.

App enthusiasts also enjoyed “Ultimate Lifehack Apps for #Eventprofs,” on the Tech Hub given by Dahlia El Gazzar, Event Tech Spotter, from the Meeting Pool who also presented a Top 10 Out of Office (OOO) Apps workshop earlier in the day.

At the new Research Pod on the Inspiration Center, attendees were brought “Inside the Minds of the Meeting Buyers,” by David Kliman, President of the Kliman Group. Kliman discussed common issues faced by buyers based on data aggregated across 25+ recent customer advisory boards hosted by hotel companies and others.

Creating & Sustaining Green Grew

On the Sustainability Hub, show-goers learned how to extend the usefulness of show materials, supplies and equipment and keep waste out of landfills with, “Sustainability Lifecycle: Planning a Second Life for Event Materials,” headed by Jeff Chase from Freeman.

New this year were Storytelling Tours- “Sustainability: The Destination Perspective,” designed to showcase exhibitors own “green” success stories and guiding participants around the most sustainable destination booths on the show floor for green best practice updates and ideas.