Secrets of the Life-of-the-Party People
Some people just have it.
That thing that makes you want to talk to them. That certain something that effortlessly puts them at the center of attention.
They are the lives of the party, no matter if they know everyone in the room or no one.
Want to know their secrets? We asked four locals known for lighting up the room what makes them the spirits of the events they attend.
Whether Shelia Davis is winning an auction at the Naples Winter Wine Festival or taking top performer in a ballroom dance competition, she is doing it with confidence, charm and a 1,000-watt smile. Her advice to being a success at any event: Do good things for other people.
“I try to make everyone feel welcome by speaking to as many people as I can and introducing people to one another,” Davis says.
This charismatic, energetic woman can be found raising money for good causes all around Naples. She currently is working as chairwoman of the grand opening gala for the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples to be held in 2012.
“The secret is to have fun while doing good things,” Davis says. “It is always easier to be the life of a party if you’re benefiting others—I think the excitement of caring definitely comes through.”
Davis turned her love of cooking into an annual holiday cookie-exchange fundraiser, which last year benefited the children’s museum. She uses her ballroom dancing skills as both a great exercise and a creative outlet.
“I believe that every day is a great day,” Davis says. “Because of my faith, I view every day as a gift and treat it as such. That means making the most out of it.”
Brenda O’Connor doesn’t miss a thing people say. She files away every nugget because she never knows when she might have a need to take up that thread of conversation and weave it into charming tapestry at a black-tie event. Her advice to being a party success: Pay attention and be yourself.
“You can always be relaxed if you don’t have to worry about what
you are going to talk about,” O’Connor says.
As vice president of programs at the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, O’Connor is well known throughout town. Her job and her social calendar put her in a position to meet many people, often with competing agendas. But she cautions against creating a different persona to suit each group.
“You have to know what creates your personality, relax and not try to prove anything to anyone,” she says. “If you try to create a person that night, you are not going to have fun.”
Paying attention to what’s happening in the community doesn’t hurt either, both politically and socially.
“You need to know what is going on at the party and around you,” O’Connor says. “If you have a library in your head, you always have something to talk about.”
For O’Connor, being socially successful isn’t only about being a good guest, but also knowing how to be a good host. She says the key to this is being well organized and being sure that guests know what is expected of them.
“The most simple gesture is taking the effort to make people feel comfortable,” O’Connor says. “When you are planning an event, all of your guests should know what is expected of them and what the evening is to entail.”
When Lou Pontius walks through the door, the party begins. With her Texas charm, signature style and bright red hair, Pontius is a force, in a good way.
She is quick to hand out a compliment and make guests feel at ease, even those who never have met her before. Her husband, Steve, is the executive vice president and general manager of Waterman Broadcasting NBC2 in Fort Myers. Between the events she attends with her husband and those for the causes she champions, Pontius keeps a packed schedule. Her advice to relaxing and enjoying a party: Make others feel at home.
“I choose to look at the glass half full, to be positive and to focus on others at events,” Pontius says. “To relax and enjoy an event, all you have to do is focus on making someone else feel comfortable, and before you know it, both of you are having a good time.”
You can find Pontius at galas all over the region—the Heart Ball, Cattle Baron’s Ball, Edison-Ford Winter Estates Gala, Grande Dames Tea, Take Stock in Children Auction, Arts for ACT, Race for the Cure—and at events hosted by NBC and ABC television networks in New York and Los Angeles. She says she has learned many tips on event decorating and logistics from attending these network parties.
But great design doesn’t take the place of personal touches.“My outlook on life is to make a difference, focus on others, pay attention to details, and always look for the positive and build on that,” Pontius says. “With so many charitable events, often it is the one or two small things that make an event memorable.”
If you’ve been to a few events in Southwest Florida this year, chances are you have come across DJ Ceron. Many know him by his trendy mohawk and original style of mixing music. His DJ setup is sleek and simple, a stylish addition to any party. Everyone at the party is going to hear a song that they love, leaving guests wondering, “Did he take a survey, or is he just psychic?” His advice to being the life of the party: Listen.
“My strongest point is reading a room,” Ceron says. “I don’t play music that I want to hear or what I want them to hear. It’s what they want that I play.”
It’s not hard to enjoy a party when Ceron is behind the decks. He is not just the guy you want to party with; he is your friend. He knows what you like. He gets it.
“The secret is communicating, listening to people,” Ceron says. “What is your vision? How do you want the night to unfold?”
Ceron was born in Colombia and raised in Brooklyn, where he says a person can’t help but learn music. The melting pot of people produces a stew of sounds where one becomes steeped in rhythms of hiphop, tropical, Jamaican, Latin, jazz, rock and every genre in between.
“You get so many flavors that even if you don’t want to hear it, you hear it,” Ceron says.
Ceron had a successful real estate business in Southwest Florida when he decided he not only wanted to spin music, but to be the best DJ he possibly could be.
“I wanted to be the person that you call when Cher is coming to town, when Barack is coming to town, to truly bring it,” Ceron says. “I’m not just the DJ. I’m the ring leader, and I want it to be the best day, the best party. Memorable.”