Long-time corporate planner and event wellness expert David T. Stevens has transitioned to a new career as a full-time consultant focused on bringing full-spectrum wellness to meetings and events globally.
David T. Stevens, an award-winning corporate events and meeting planning professional with more than 20 years in the business, recently announced he is plunging full time into a new wellness consultancy called Olympian Meeting. Called OM for short, the consultancy will provide everything from customized wellness programs and mindfulness workshops to expert guidance on healthy catering, fitness breaks, and sustainable event practices.
“While David has served as a Corporate Advisor at Olympian Meeting in the past, this move to full time will bring a fresh perspective, innovative approach, and a deep understanding of both event management and attendee wellbeing,” said Tanya Andrade, Olympian Meeting Partner.
OM is the perfect melding of Stevens’ extensive experience in corporate event planning for companies including Streamline Events, Salesforce, 24 Hour Fitness and Alation, and his growing personal and professional interest in bringing wellness to events in a way that offers to meet attendees, planners, exhibitors and internal staff and third parties where they are in their wellness journeys.
Stevens, whose accolades include being lauded by several industry publications for his planning prowess and recognition as the 5X Fittest Male Event Prof, sees this career transition into wellness consulting as a way to marry his personal and professional passions into something that will benefit everyone involved in an event.
The Path to OM
The importance of physical wellness in events came to the forefront when he was running incentives and meetings for 24 Hour Fitness. “That really changed how I thought a meeting could be done because they really lived their brand — fitness was their passion,” he said. He learned about how physical activity and food choices affected participants’ experience at the event. Several years later, he formed Event Marketing Authority, an agency to help event marketers to drive return on investment, or ROI, which a partner ran while he continued to work in corporate planning.
In 2019, he and his partner read a book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, which examines the physiological link between movement and mental and emotional health. Then the pandemic hit, and like many, Stevens found himself struggling with anxiety, even though he was working out and focusing on nutrition. “That’s when I had an epiphany that took my passion for fitness into a passion for wellness, including mental health,” he said. “I started having conversations and came to the realization that wellness is not a one-size-fits-all thing. It means different things to different people.”
When in-person events restarted, Stevens, his co-founder and his wife — a medical doctor and nutrition coach — wanted to create an event that would take the best of online meetings, where people had more time to talk and connect, that also had wellness options designed to accommodate everyone where they were, from morning workouts at different levels of intensity, to 90-minute-long meals, to short sessions and evening activities that wrapped up by 10 p.m. so people had the option to get enough sleep. This being early 2022, that includes pandemic-related precautions. Stevens, who in addition to having his Delos Wellness for Meetings and Event Certificate also is Pandemic Meeting Event Design certified, applied all the theories they had been discussing for a 400-person event in Las Vegas. The result was a 9.4 NPS score (on a scale of 1-10).
“That’s when the lightbulb came on,” he said. He wrote a white paper for Prevue, on whose Editorial Advisory Board he participates, that focused on three simple wellness factors: mindfulness, movement and meals. In 2023, he launched a YouTube channel called Return on Wellness that features event and wellness experts. “The caliber of people who were willing to sit down with me just blew my mind,” he said.
All it took then to take the leap into a wellness-focused consulting business was a tough-love push from a friend during a discussion at IMEX America in the fall of 2023, and the decision to launch into the next phase of his career was cast.
Wellness Means More Than Checking a Box
The time is right in another way, Stevens said. “I think 2024 is going to be the year of ‘wellness washing,’” where companies and event organizers try to check the wellness box without truly committing to meeting people where they are on their wellness journeys. “There’s an opportunity for authentic education so people can see through the marketing,” he said.
“It’s really all about agency and letting people choose their own paths. It’s about having a comprehensive menu that lets people choose what they want and what will serve them best at that point in time, including tasty non-alcoholic drinks that don’t have more sugar than a can of Coke.” He added that it’s important to avoid what he calls “toxic wellness,” where people are shamed if they don’t do whatever others think they should be doing. “That’s not what wellness is about,” he said.
“It’s really about giving people the opportunity to make choices that are right for them, not you making choices on their behalf.”
The name Olympian Meeting encapsulates the spirit behind the venture, he added. In addition to “om” being considered to be the sound of the universe, which may appeal to some who are heading down that branch of the wellness path, “The Olympics are literally the gold standard not just for athletics, but also for inclusivity of diverse people and cultures,” Stevens said. “We want to help people reach their own gold standard in reimagining every aspect of their events and their lives by incorporating our seven elements; mindfulness, movement, meals, gathering space, community engagement, technology and agenda design, in order to plan and implement experiences that reflect the changing times and enhance overall wellbeing.”
OM wants to meet planners at whatever level of assistance they need, from analyzing, proposing and executing on wellness at an event to reviewing and sharing ideas a planner then can implement on their own, he said. Stevens added that OM partners with practitioners of all modalities throughout the world, “so we can support any meeting, anywhere, with any wellness element they want to implement.”
Added Ariadni Pereira, COO of Olympian Meeting, “We provide guidance, strategies and science-backed decision making on how to incorporate inclusive engaging wellness practices, mindfulness and health-conscious choices into every aspect of events — from planning to execution using the best practitioners in the industry.”
Learn more about OM at OlympianMeeting.com.
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