Melinda

Stop. Collaborate and Listen!

This week is all about collaboration to tell the story and create the best event. Lenny joins Charles and Paige at ILEA live and explains how he has used the relationships he has made in the events industry!

You have to tell us about you.

I’m in Las Vegas, an experimental architect, aka event producer. I have lived there for most of my adult life. I started out in the entertainment industry.  I moved for what was supposed to have been a 2 week job singing and dancing. I preformed for shows on the strip for many many years, once you get to a job and you start looking to your left and looking to the right you’re now old enough to be the father of the person you sing and dance next to, move into production. That’s how my career evolved. 

You’re a speaker here at ILEA Live, what are you talking about?

I partnered with a close friend and associate, he works as the current VP for Top Rink Boxing, together we partnered for many many years. We produced everything from hotel openings, to show openings, Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson, what we were speaking about was those entertainment activations and how you partner with sponsors and suppliers to deliver and get the messaging out there. It’s always in the story, depending what the story is. It’s a marketing effort to get it out there, you want to sell tickets, at the same time its a public relations activity, you want to stay on point with messaging for that particular hotel or producer. That’s what our conversation was about today.

When you put these things together and producing an event, tell me about the essential elements.

Money. A lot of elements are involved. Budgets are always nice to have. Take best practices and ideas and partner with the people you meet. 

Tell me about when you are looking for great partners. 

You have to have the basis of a relationship.  Whether you met them somewhere before, been an admirer of their work, you reach out and begin to have those conversations and see if it’s going to be the correct fit. Not everyone is going to be the correct or right fit for a project, it’s the scaleability for that particular supplier. There are a number of great A/V providers, but they may not be scalable, you have to make a judgement call. 

How would a young professional start a successful career in the events industry?

I work for a school in Las Vegas International school of Hospitality, specializing in certificate programs. Our students are not ready or they are not cut out for a 4 year degree program, yet they still want to be in the hospitality industry. They can come or do it online and learn about those particular disciplines. The certificate then gives them those baseline skills to prepare them to go out for interviews. The challenge for some of the young folks is having some applicable skills that they can enter with. Everybody wants to do it and has the passion, but you have to have something that’s actionable. Looking at those types of opportunities. Or come to a special event conference and taking those educational classes and core curriculum where you can learn from professionals working in the industry. 

Take someone starting out who doesn’t know what part they want to be involved in, what should they do?

Stay off my turf. For someone to figure out what their calling is, they have to get engaged.  There are not any hard and fast rules, it’s a matter of going out there and doing it, and saying it’s a fit I enjoy, or going a different direction. 

Enlighten us on how you do great storytelling at an event?

It’s important to understand the project, what’s the story there. Who is the customer, who is the client? There are certain types of stories, The Who am I story. There’s the why am I here stories. The other types of stories are what I call the teaching stories. You’re always going to fit in a certain type of story and based on that you are going to use whatever tools are at your disposal. 

Lenny Talarico

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Authenticity and Events: The New Movement

Our first international guest, Dan Bolton brings two words to mind: Genuine and Authentic.  He shares how specific events have impacted him as well as help change culture!  This episode shows how events are more than just gatherings but can be movements!

How did you get in the events world?

Pretty much by fluke, I was a circus performer. I wasn’t that good at it actually. We toured around the UK and Europe, I was a fire breather, stilt walker, a clown. Not the career path my parents had wanted me to do. They thought I’d be a lawyer, doctor, or police man, when I said I was going to run away with the circus they were disappointed. That’s how I got into it then it was the case of you need a real job. I started booking entertainment and managing, creating shows and performances, worked with agencies and started my own business 4 years ago.

You’ve worked on projects around the olympics.

I’ve done two. I was a performer in Athens for the closing ceremony, I was a dancer. Then for the London olympics I was supporting the choreography for the athletes parade.  Every time you see the athletes with the flags, we do things like that as well. 

It’s [the olympics] interesting because it’s dominated by two or three big companies always pitching for them.  It depends on who is the favorite at the time. Can you imagine the politics  and stressed involved? We worked with Jakata last year, the stress levels to put that show together were pretty intense.

It’s something I’m going to talk about in my session tomorrow (At ILEA Live) basically talking about how bigger events really do help drive and position countries. It’s basically a marketing machine so they showcase their country and use it as an opportunity to promote themselves and empower their population.  It’s a pretty big deal. There’s often interventions or recommendations with presidents. Last year in Jakarta, we were working with the military and Vice President.

Events can really put you on the map.

Yes for good or bad reasons. They definitely put places, people, and country on the map for sure. It’s a form of soft power, thats why these countries bid for them, they want to project themselves as a great nation.  

We are working on Expo 2020 at Dubai, a world fair that happens every 5 years in big cities.  They bring together 195 nations taking part in this six month festival.  They have over 60 events every day for 173 days.  It’s huge, countries build pavilions and they are almost like mini embassies and they showcase innovation and technology. They are like a tour center to showcase countries. People travel from around the world.  They are expecting 25 million people to attend.  They are building infrastructure for that. They are building a whole city basically outside of Dubai to accommodate. Then they factor that into the legacy plans.  This will become a destination once the event is finished. It’s an opportunity for people to come experience the Middle East and position itself as a center for live events and knowledge sharing, bringing people together. This is important for the way the world is. Nations use these experiences to really propel them into the future. It’s competitive. It can really help drive the future of the city or destination.

Great, tomorrow you are speaking, what are you speaking about?

I’m going to talk about my experience in Jakarta, some of the things we went through.  It was a really humbling experience.  We go there and kind of tell people what to do. They are bringing in the internationals and we got so absorbed into the culture, it was a beautiful experience.  They are all volunteers, 4000 we had to choreograph. You have these school girls and they don’t see the big picture, it’s a four month journey, they don’t want to be there, they are forced there and it builds to this extremely proud moment of them being proud of their country.  It’s empowering to see this. 

What’s the most memorable event experience you have ever had?

I’m going to say a recent project, the special olympics. 

Anything new for those starting out?

This industry is changing so fast. We need to be consistent, authentic, real it’s hard work.  People think it’s really easy and simple, but it’s pretty stressful.

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Raise More By Spending More

Hear about the story of Goodwill, why your giving matters, and how you can take what they’ve learned and use it to impact your event. Shannon from Goodwill joins us in the studio.

Shannon, the director of Philanthropy.

What is goodwill, what is easter seals?

For goodwill, we are a member of goodwill international incorporated , across the whole world. For easter seals we are an affiliate. The difference is GW, most people know us through our stores, we collect your stuff and sell it for revenue. The original model was started by Edgar, he went around to wealthy people and knocked on their doors and asked if they had old broken stuff. He took people that were poor in his church and taught them how to fix it for revenue. He used the revenue to help lift them out of poverty, that is still our model, we don’t do the fixing stuff anymore. Our CEO likes to say if you’ve been to one goodwill you’ve been to goodwill. Ours might me different from those across the nation but still the same concept. 

Is it a division of the national, funded by or connected?

Being a member you do get some support through GW, mostly through the retail stores. We get some marketing support, you’ve probably heard our ads, “Take me to Goodwill”. 

Before envelopes were self-sealing, you had to seal them, so Easter Seals started by sending those so they could seal the envelope so people would know they gave to ES. It was the first marketing campaign in a way. They do a lot of advocacy work around vets, people with autism, and people with disabilities. 

Tell us about what you do?

GW is an interesting organization. We have this massive retail side that people are familiar with. People are confused why we are collecting donations. 

Before we started recording we talked about the investment in the event.

This was our 12th year of our event.  When it started it was the idea of friend-raiser. Sometimes people take that idea and forget about the fund. You have to tell the people to come and bring your wallets. It’s ok to say we are having a fundraiser and expect you to bring people that will bring money. When they first started they didn’t really identify what this event was going to be. Kind of staff appreciation, kind of inviting partners and they didn’t make an ask, just hoped people might want to give.  That never works. Hope is never a strategy!  After a few years people felt more comfortable with it being a fundraiser. About three years ago was the first time we put on the invitation signature fundraiser event. 

We are seeing a lot of changes in the non profit fundraisers, what is the mentality you are using when approaching the growth, how are you keeping your mindset in tune with the investing and growth?

You have to know what you’re telling them that you can back it up. What we did was hiring an outside agency to do some donor focus groups. We knew what they were looking for.

  1. Education
  2. Mission connection
  3. Community

We have three events and know the three important things and each event focuses on each one.  This event is the mission event, everything is mission focused and we don’t need to muddy the water with the other things. I can go to leadership and say this is what we know about our audience. 

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How to have Social Influencers Grow Your Event

On this episode we hear from Shinjini Das, a public speaker, author, and influencer! Shinjini shares about what being a Go-Getter means and what her mission is. She is funny, smart, and drops so much knowledge, we can’t wait for you to hear it for yourselves!

Tell us all about you.

Taking a step back, I am a speaker. Speaking is a versatile skill and would become more than I thought. I got discovered in the media. In 2015 this publicist’s friend saw me on twitter and that’s when I had 200 followers. She said you need a publicist and that kick started everything. It’s been exactly three years for me in the media.

What is bringing more intellect into the media?

This is intellect everywhere. Event is a media, media is everything. It is the medium of communication today.  I honestly think most of the content we consume today is not that smart. Even if it’s not smart, if you make an informed point, I’m still going to listen to you. Many times it’s not smart or informed. That bugged me for a while. I’m trying to make the media positive, diverse, informed. And how can we use it to empower kids? 

There’s no walls or fences around putting digital media and it’s infiltrated the events world. Where do you see the social/digital media impacting live events?

This is something I am incredibly passionate about. I think about it on a very deep basis. I am doing my own events, I think we are already seeing marketers see the value of live event marketing.  Events are experiential. Personalization is a new thing. I comment and reply to all my comments. People want to feel heard and that they have a unique experience to them. Personalizing engagement is huge. Inclusion is another thing. We are not just personalizing so they feel engaged but we are also including everyone. 

When you’re talking to meeting planners, as an influencer, how do go about attending and promoting their events?

I have a very unique perspective. I am an influencer but also an event planner and a future conference organizer. I am able to see both sides of the puzzle. As an influencer we are looking for an authentic connection to the brand. Is this something I use or is this something that feels fake? Are your followers transferable? If they are not why are you doing this?

How does an influencer charge for their services?

You’re not seeing regulations, they are imposing standards. Earlier you could say I’m partnering with ____ and say it is great but now the FTC is sending out orders to people and influencers to tell them to comply with the FTC social media policies. It’s interesting because I was not big enough last year to get this. It’s interesting as I’ve grown and coming into it more, I have a much deeper understanding and view.  Now we are seeing intermediary platforms, mostly all digital. A platform I am is on is invite only, brands post opportunities and it’s personalized. They check out my channels and profile and send me personalized invites. 

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