Melinda

S. 3 Ep. 29: Hot Tips with David Adler

We sat down with event expert, David Adler, and were not disappointed! David came with great event pet peeves which ended up turning into a hot tips list!

Tell us your story.

I am definitely one of the oldest people in our industry at this point. I was a startup guy, I started a magazine. So at the age of 21 I put on my tuxedo and I started covering events and parties and built a media company there where we would cover the event for the power and society of Washington DC. Everything was about black tie. I met the greats of the world that are no longer with us. I worked from the Gerald Ford administration to the Carter administration, to the Reagan administration, to the Bush administration and then sold my media company and got headhunted to work for a British media Lord by the name of Robert Maxwell who was like Rupert Murdoch’s arch-rival. He would host events all around the world on his yacht and his yacht was, he and Donald Trump had the same kind of yachts. So we had all these events on yachts. I would do events within three hours notice, call the president of the United States and set up a meeting, that type of thing. So I really learned that the CEO’s of the world really think of events as an real strategic tool. This was back when I thought the event industry was sitting at the children’s table for Thanksgiving. Nobody cared. Now what they realize is that this is where the action happens. So I ended up doing all the events for New York magazine, 17, and soap opera digest, and we had, we had so many magazines and we did all the big events and we kept them at the corporate level so that we can use it for investment purposes so we can show off our events to our analysts and things like that. I really got into the event industry and I was spending millions and millions of dollars on events. 

We started covering events in New York city. We did that for about three or four years and then we just exploded and go, went to other cities. We started out as an online property only. Then we decided to do a trade show at the Javits center in New York. Then we decided to do a magazine. Then we decided to go into Los Angeles. We expanded. Then we decided to go into Toronto and we expanded. And then Miami and then expanded and then Washington and expanded. And so we went into these major markets because that was kind of where the action was. It was kinda like being in the real estate business by the hour. Cause the first thing people need is a venue. So they’re basically buying a venue like you would search for an apartment, you’re going to search for a venue for your event. So we kind of used that and we added this really strong editorial voice to it. So we didn’t say, okay, here’s the florists. We said, here’s this cool thing that they’re doing.

Then 9/11 happened and devastated the industry. So I gathered about 300 event organizers and companies and we brought together this group called the convention exhibit meeting coalition to help bring New York city back after 9/11. I spent six months working for the city to do this and we hosted events at the mayor’s house, Gracie mansion, where we brought all the meeting and event planners together and we flew people in from all around the world and we lit the empire state building in yellow so that Snapple would be encouraged to do an event. We would do all of these different types of leadership roles. We found that when you get these people together and you go to Gracie mansion and a Broadway singer is singing New York, New York, after 9/11, you get goosebumps. Right from that, I started a magazine so that convinced people around the world that they should come to New York to do their events. So we added this emotional element to our business. I do think that that is kind of the key. I mean, it’s kind of what you’re doing with your podcast too when you think about it, because you’re adding an emotion to something that doesn’t have emotion. Events have emotion, but they’re also something that that goes away. My whole career is driven on the Maya Angelou quote, but people don’t remember what you said. They remember how you made them feel.

Our whole industry is driven by that. Everything that we do has gotta be about that. So I started out covering events and we now are the largest website for event organizers in these major markets with about 200,000 users a month come to our store. They get ideas and they love it. They really love it. We do trade shows in New York, LA, and in Florida.

Let’s talk about things you see in the event industry people are doing well, and things you see could be improved on.

What is an event, first of all? An event is a conference, a trade show, a party, a festival. It really is the way humans gather in any way, shape, and form. In fact, when when 9/11 happened in New York city, while the big commercial events didn’t happen, there were more events than ever because people wanted to gather. That is kind of a part of the core of, we need food, shelter, clothing, and we need socialization and people want to gather, especially in things. So I believe that event organizers can not be just event organizers and worry about logistics anymore. They have to be collaboration artists. They have to be taking their audience in one way and making sure that they talk to each other. Because when people talk to each other, things happen. The most powerful word in the English language, I’ve stolen this from somebody else. It’s not my original idea is the word. Let’s L E T apostrophe S because whenever people get together, they say, let’s go to lunch, let’s go to dinner, let’s hook up, let’s start a revolution, let’s get married. When people talk, they get together. So if you are on a stage and you’re just talking at someone and don’t give the audience the ability to connect, you’re going to lose the let’s, so my feeling what’s happening with Ted talks and things like that, people are doing shorter programs to allow people to absorb and then talk amongst themselves. That’s why at at trade shows and conferences, the white space is in the hallway, we always thought that was just the doorway. But it’s really where the action happens. And so I’m seeing that happening more and more that that smart event organizers are giving people time to germinate these ideas that they’re hearing from the stages. And so you’re seeing more of that.

So you judge an event by not how many people attend, but by how many conversations that you’re curating. And you can almost do it the way the web is doing it, where if they’re like 300 people and there’s a bunch of conversations, you can actually sort of say there’s 20,000 conversations happening. It’s a whole new way of thinking about what an event is. So that’s one thing. The idea now is that you have to value people’s time because we’re busy, we have choices.

The other thing that I think that is on the collaboration side, is that CEOs and corporate guys suck at being hosts many times. Millennials, they go into a room and they never even meet anybody. They never talk to anybody. So you have to give people permission to talk to each other. And one of the ways to do that is to be a better host. I’m seeing that that is like something that’s happening now or they’ll just sort of sit and they’ll be looking at their screen and not having to interact. So the idea of giving people permission to talk to each other is an important part of the event industry now. I do it on stage. Before a speech I say okay I’m not the important person in the room. You are, talk to the person next to you like you do at a church or synagogue and you never know you can get to the less you can hook up with them. You have to kind of give people permission to interact cause nothing is more boring or less satisfying than going to an event and never talking to anybody.

Summer camp is kind of the model for what an event really should be about. Well that’s what people are wanting. That’s what these big events are, people spending thousands of dollars to going to an event. They’re returning to summer camp. So learning becomes fun again. We’re also trying to figure out how to get over what they call the forgetting curve, which is 99% of the time you go to an event and you forget everything by the time you leave. And so then you go back to your office and you forget everything that you said. So a lot of people now are figuring out when they videotape their events, they’re sending people a snippet every day for a week so that you remember, it gets top of mind. And so that’s a big problem that we’re trying to overcome. That’s huge.

Pet Peeve:

I was at an event the other night, the sound system was terrible. If you cannot hear, don’t even. It was too big. The sound system didn’t work and I wanted to jump out of my skin. People don’t realize the value of sound. They don’t realize the value of looking at all different parts of a room so that you can hear the sound in all different parts of the room. I heard this blaring at my table and the lighting was bad and they had a singing group up there and they seem to have the wrong microphones for the singing group cause they just sounded terrible. The worst singing I have ever seen in my life.

The other thing that was a pet peeve was they kept the lights so dark and they started serving food. I couldn’t see what I was eating. 

The idea that type, the programming. The other thing that is two type programming that goes on for hours. Nobody gives a crap about half the things you say. So keep it really, really tight and make sure that you’re a little bit entertaining because you’re getting bored. Boredom is the worst thing.

Oh, here’s another one. Big hors d’oeuvres. It’s two bites, one shoe. Like sometimes they give these huge hor d’oeuvres that you like are like, it’s spilling all over you and things like that. And like you can’t do that. You don’t know what to do with your napkins. At the end of the day you have your pocket stuffed with, but there’s no place to really put it. 

Super Power: Thinking on his feet idea guy

David, are there any last things you want to leave with our audience? 

Our BizBash newsletter that comes out every day has so many ideas for people that inspire so many people that I encourage as many people as possible to go to bizbash.com start reading our stuff because our end users touch 30 million people. If you’re an event organizer listening to this, that’s the lesson: How do you respect your audience and how do you do everything with integrity and everything with sort of a sense of the higher purpose.

Dadler@bizbash.com.

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S.3 Ep. 28: Magic, Networking, Events, and More!

This week we sit down with Twin Cities’ Brad Gudim, an event veteran.  Listen to how he used events to gain exposure and now creates opportunities for those starting out to meet others!

Tell us about you and your story.

Well, the story is, I have been in events for a long time. When I was a little kid, I got an interest in magic. A guy pulled a quarter out of my ear and it just got me interested in the magic thing. So that was a hobby for me. My entrepreneurial brain kicked in and thought if I do magic shows in the garage and charge the kids a quarter and sell them a popcorn and Kool-Aid, I can make some money, so I was producing events. I would hang a sheet in my garage and play a super eight movies on there and used to do fundraisers for like muscular dystrophy and you get the little kit and turn the riding lawnmower into a train and tie a bunch of wagons behind it and charge kids a quarter to ride the train. I was the kid that bought by the candy and resell to the kids at retail. I graduated from Fridley high school, which is close to here and that was in 1975 and I tried the job thing and I got laid off and then I decided to go back in and be a full time magician. I didn’t want to chase after event planners. I created my own event back then it’s called the great Minnesota event show. It was done at international market square and it was a place for event planners to come and find all their resources for doing events. I would invite all the people from the corporations and then they’d fill out a little form that says, my name is Tammy from 3m we got a budget of $15,000. I go, there’s a lead. If they weren’t a magic lead, I’d just throw them away. But it built my database up. This was back in the 90s.

So you started this event for marketing, when did you realize there was something to it?

I started doing it with other companies too. There’s a trade show company that make trade show displays and their common market is they want to reach exhibit managers cause they’re the ones that buy the displays. They were just going to do an open house and invite their past clients and whatever. But what we did is we brought in other people that were complimentary and not competitive. So we brought in a cater that did an edible floral display. We brought in a photographer that took pictures of that, brought in a printer, and then the postcards were the invitation to the event. All of these different people that involved with this synergistic event are non-competitive and actually complimentary. So an exhibitor manager very possibly could use a trade show, display, a printer, a caterer, a photographer, and they’d all kind of work together. So it’s a little team that’s already there and the synergistic group of people are all inviting the same avatar of person. So you’ve got multiple people and that way you can fill a room much easier than trying to do it yourself.

How did that evolve into what you’re doing today?

My brain, because of the magic works kind of different than most people’s because I grew up with seeing behind the scenes kind of thing. So, especially with stuff like Facebook now to be able to, I mean I’m getting into the marketing part, so I use Facebook events, and then connect that with Eventbrite and you can boost the audience on Facebook and find whoever you want on a marketing level. Now it’s just like I want everybody that’s a meeting planner that lives within a 10 mile radius that has a birthday in December and I’m going to invite them into your restaurant and we’re going to have a party.

Tell us what you are currently doing now.

I’ve got a four expos. Two of them are scheduled and have dates. One is an event planner expo for the vertical market of the events industry. Another one is a business expo for a horizontal market of all businesses and they’re set up more as a networking thing with a lot of booths. The way I set it up is there’s booths are on the perimeter and then tabletops in the, in the center and it’s open air. There’s not a lot of pipe and drape that blocks your view. So it’s more of a social type of thing. And then got a thing, I call it synergy first Thursdays. And that is so that people can just put that in their head that it’s the first Thursday of every month. Now they just got to find out where, and this is just a casual happy hour, get together and just talk about events. Some of them are in the event profession, they might be planners, they might be suppliers, but then there’s just businesses in general that want to do an event, maybe a golf tournament or they want to do a a retreat and they don’t know where to go to get these things. So these events are to be able to go and have a happy hour and grab a pizza or something and then get to meet the person, live in person and go, I like that guy. So all you have to do is throw a happy hour and then find that those ideal clients that you want to make the connection with and then put them in the room.

Super Power: Keeping things simple

Any great pieces of advice for somebody who’s just starting out in the events world?

Yeah, I’d say get out, get to a live event, let go of the likes, the follows, and the shares, and start getting smiles, handshakes and hugs. At least get on video and talk to people.

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S.3 Ep. 27: Wrapping up 2019: Our Favorite Moments

This week Charles and Lisa sit down to talk through segments of the podcast that have stuck with them! We highlight some of our favorites, listen to hear what has changed our team!

Charles:I was listening to the one with Justin Jones he’s on the road a lot doing emceeing and promo work and he was talking about these different tricks he has to stay healthy on the road. I thought that was really cool. He was talking about how he brings this like hand tool to Julianne noodles, off of carrots in his hotel room. He makes his own salads while he’s on the road.

Lisa: I need to take some notes like seriously. 

Charles: Then he was talking about, he would rather have good food and good sleep over exercise. Because an hour of exercise has nothing on a full night of good sleep. If you haven’t heard that episode, it is so fun.

Charles: I also think about the episode with Keith Mercurio. 

Lisa: Oh, that was Epic. He’s got so many nuggets of wisdom. I could have listened to him for hours.

Charles:There was a point on social media where I was watching Keith and he went to a school to learn how to ski jump. When I saw it I was like, Keith, you’re like the craziest person I know.

Lisa: It’s gotta be like tough to get over your ego when you’re surrounded by children.

Charles: Oh my gosh. He said that the hardest thing was humbling his ego and of course for days afterwards he was in pain. That’s what happens when you get old. If Keith’s listening right now, I’m not saying you’re old, but you know like yeah and a nine year old. Something I found interesting about Keith, Keith is one of those guys that you learn something really valuable from every time you talk to him. 

Lisa: Oh yeah. The great thing is he has met so many high level speakers that he’s got like this wealth of knowledge from all these other people. Then he shares it and then he’s got his own wealth of knowledge. So it’s crazy.

Charles:My biggest thing I learned from him was learning to actually listen to what somebody saying without trying to have an inner dialogue of my own. Obviously as the host of a podcast, that’s 100% the opposite because you’re constantly being like, all right, what are we talking about next?

Lisa: Our culture is just so quick to do everything that I think he reminded me it is okay to slow down and think a little bit before you respond.

Charles:You know, what I thought was really fun was the gal from VNTANA. What they do is they do holographic technology and they can beam people other places. If you want the CEO to address the audience, but he’s in a different country, you can either live beam him in or prerecord him or her and have them on stage doing their keynote and that looks three-dimensional.

Lisa: I think it’s going to be great for events and for many other applications. 

Charles: I’m really stoked to have an opportunity at some point to bring in some of that holographic tech to one of our shows. What about Michael Cerbelli? 

Lisa:Oh, he was great. He’s just like the guy, that he knows everyone and everyone knows him. He’s one of the best event producers. 

Charles: I thought it was crazy cause we dialed this guy up. I’ve never met him before and Mel, our producer, was like, I think you’re going to like this guy. He seems to be doing some cool stuff and he comes on the call and he’s dressed like 10 million. From New York. A brilliant mind in the event space. He’s got this thing called the hot list. Michael, if you’re listening to this. Okay. We want to be on your hot list somehow. He is not only a really nice guy, like super calm, but extremely, uh, well connected. His approach to everything just seems so creative and interesting. Loved having him on, which brings me to someone who knows him. The Bronx zoo people. He was talking about how people will ask for the most ridiculous things from the zoo. The Bronx zoo does events and he said that at one point there was a guy who wanted to ride in on an elephant into his event and he was legitimately believing that that could happen. And when he was informed that riding an elephant into his event was not going to happen, he was not happy about it. He was also talking about how people will try and go into the animal’s spaces and he’s like, look, there’s barriers so you don’t get eaten by that tiger. 

Charles: So there’s this group in Minneapolis called Secondhand Hounds. They do puppy parties. 

Lisa:Yes. They even bring them to corporate events. Had them at one of our client events in, an area that was for their health pavilion.

Charles: Yeah. Like for a donation to the organization they will bring a volunteer and a bunch of puppies out. 

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S.3 Ep.26: Creating a Spectacular Event

What goes into creating a spectacular event? Erich of Spare Key joins us to share how they have transformed their event to be something amazing!

Tell us about Spare Key.

It was founded in 1997 by a south Saint Paul family. They had a little boy, shortly after he was born he was rushed into the ER for emergency surgery to repair a heart condition he was born with. Subsequently what happened, over the course of the next couple of years their son had numerous hospitalizations and surgeries where the recoveries were a couple  of weeks or months at a time. Like a lot of families, the most significant financial commitment was their mortgage. Mom and dad had to spend time at the hospital, they were not at work. It got to the point where they were concerned about losing their home. They reached out to their family, friends, and church, they made sure they had a house to go back to. The sad part of the story, the son lost his life to the disease. A year after his passing they started SK and it’s goal was: provide families the gift of time. If SK does a mortgage payment for a family, they can focus on the kid. 

The program has evolved dramatically, that’s how we started out. SK today is a much different organization. 

You use the event to mobilize the mission, tell us about that.

Events are only as good as what you can connect in terms of your mission and engaging with people to support what you are trying to do. We have a small staff, 5 people, running an organization that supports families in 5 states. We have to find other people who are third party validators. Events aren’t just about the money, although it’s always about the money, events are really about branding your organization, about creating credibility with people who do not know who you are or what your purpose is.

Every time we get involved with an event, each and every time the goal and focus is to tie it back to the mission and our purpose, but also to energize and empower people to be our strongest advocates once they leave that event.

You entertain people at your events.

Yes let’s talk about this, the reality is consumers have choices. Minnesota has 35,000 non profits. There’s a lot of competition out there. It says a lot about who we are as Minnesotans but people have choices. Galas and events are all about choices, if given a choice between going to a gala you’ve been going to and know what it’s going to be… on a cold February night, it’s as easy for me to stay in. Our goal has been to make it tougher for people to want to stay home. We’ve focused on this idea that gala’s are obviously about raising money, but if you don’t entertain your guests, if you don’t keep them guessing and make it feel like a surprise each time while delivering the highest level of customer service you can, they’re not going to come back. 

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S.3 Ep. 25: Be a Boss at Bossing

Dustin Westling is a team leading guru! Listen to how he hires, inspires, and leads a team.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a life long hospitality professional. My background is in hotels, convention centers, public attractions. I found my place in this industry and over time transformed into the business I have now. We have a full service production design company in Calgary. We have an amazing team of project managers and designers that work on events of all shapes and sizes. Things are always moving and shaking. I also am a partner I a photography business. It is a 15 year old event photography company across Canada. 

How do you move into starting your own company and managing a team?

One of the things that I think you gain from the industry, you’re trained for service. I believe to truly be successful in this business you need to understand the elements of service. There’s no better way to understand guest experiences than literally serving them. So much of what I learned in the hospitality world, I’ve brought to my business. 

What are key practices on ways listeners can succeed in inspiring a team?

Hire the right people. I have a unique process when it comes to how I find my future team members. I use our industry association a lot to hunt. I’m not a big fan of sitting behind a desk, I will meet the candidate at a coffee shop downtown and we will go for a walk. 

I am a big fan of education. I think our industry has come a long way when it comes to formal education, We have a long way to go still. Education varies from university, trade school, college, it’s too varied and theres some work that needs to be done there. 

Pet Peeves: Division between teams

Cause: Search Foundation

Superpower: Calm during a crisis

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