Melinda

Decor, Design, and Entrepreneurship

Halfway through season 3, done with the ILEA Live episodes, and new music: we drop an episode on a Wednesday and bring in a special guest.  Elizabeth Partyka is no newbie in the events space. She owned a business for many many years before joining the quest team. Listen to hear her story!

What is Quest events?

A decor and scenic company based out of Dallas Texas. We have 26 locations nationwide. We have a lot of stuff. We have one in Canada as well. 

What do you do?

We started out as a pipe and drape company, in the last several years we’ve moved into offering a wide variety of scenic options. 

You have a unique story, why don’t you tell us that?

I had my own decor company for 15 years, we did ceiling draping, chandeliers, lighting. A year ago quest approached me they needed a sales manager because they opened here recently. They acquired my business and now I’m moving more into the A/V world outside of weddings. I have been able to move into more large scale events. 

How did you build your company into what it was?

It grew organically, in my early 20’s. I worked at a local rental company since I was 15 went to college.  My friends were getting married, I did their weddings, a few proms asked if I could help and it grew organically. 

What do you guys do now?

We are the premiere provider in scenic stuff. If people aren’t familiar, when you look at a stage set, the back drops, we have different tiles, fabrics. Basically anything you need for a gala, conference. 

What trends are you seeing?

A lot more customization. All of our products you can brand and put pictures on them.  You can have branding everywhere. 

What conversations should people be having for their event?

Start with a realistic budget or planners looking to say I have xyz dollars, or this is the look I’m trying to achieve what can you offer me and what will it cost. How do you engage the audience? How much branding do you want?  A lot of our clients request renderings, we can go in and plug in our products, lighting, seating. It’s a great way to help new planners or sell it to the client. 

Pet Peeves: Touching and Moving stuff around

Super Power: Always listening. In one conversation and can listen to another

Elizabeth@questevents.com

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Own Your Event For The Owners In The Room

Caitlin, the VP of Global Marketing joins us to talk about creating an event for those who own part of the business.

How did you start your career and end up here?

Middle of the career, I grew an agency from 6 to 50 people that was a lot of fun. I learned that I really love marketing for industries I care about and personally invested in. When the time was right I transitioned to the corporate side of things, enter snap fitness. I am a personal fitness fanatic so it is a perfect fit. When I entered the corporate side of things it was a bit different. On the agency side you are looking at more singular tasks, now we are looking at an entire global brand and making sure our franchise’s are having a great experience. It’s been a lot of fun and one of the fastest brand turn arounds.  Snap is in 27 countries and hopefully a couple more as of September!

How do you put on an event like yours and what are you considering when you are bringing the owners into one event?

It’s a big thing to wrap your mind around. The first thing we consider is what will bring value to them?  What will help them grow their business’? The business and fitness industry are changing!

How do you decide what will bring value to them?

A lot of it is based on industry trend, we start looking ahead and making predictions on what will be relevant this year. A lot is also analyzing numbers, and looking at where in trends can we identify areas of the business side of things that needs to be elevated a bit?

When filling the main stage, how do you decide what will bring value?

A lot is revenue based. We look at the structure of Snap Fitness club and how they bring in revenue on a daily basis. For us it’s a lot of personal training. How can we do more of that and how can we do that better?

What are they coming expecting?

They want to leave the event two days later with their brains busting at the seam with actionable items they can bring back to the club and implement the next week. 

For the networking portion how do you encourage them to start talking?

We are all turning into mini wedding planners and plotting the tables and strategically placing people with different business strengths. During these breakout sessions and workshops we have times planned where you collaborate together. 

When you started you really had to start with a drawing board, how did you do that, what inspired you?

Part of it was my own knowledge of the fitness industry, a little bit of it was data, more recently we did a big research project with corroborated the data points we had. We hired a firm recently but prior it was internal. 

Superpower: No sleep, I operate on 4 hours a day

Advice: Do your research and ask for feedback, don’t make assumptions

Find her on social: Caitlin Natasha

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Develop your Personal Brand Without the Label, Bossy

Kate Patay from ILEA Live shares about how she helps brands and individuals create and refine their personal brand. 

Tell us about you.

I do brand and image strategy now. I spent almost 20 years in special events, I switched to the dark side, I was a vendor for almost 7 years. Then about three years ago I branched off on my own. I was getting enough requests on that side of things. It made sense, I love it. I love what I do everyday.

What are you doing?

Working with a combination of event professionals, hotels, casinos, different companies in the industry and working with doing a brand audit and how are you authentically you. How do you stand out in a world that is so noisy theres so much out there. How do you stand out amongst them all. We figure out who you are and amplify that for you.

What can I do to have a better brand image?

Biggest takeaways I say, first be authentic. If you’re trying to be something your not it will show and it will be exhausting. Be a sponge learn everything and don’t say no to opportunities, yes you have to have boundaries and say no to things, but be open to learning things that could further your career and show you a different side of it. If you’re more well rounded and understand the moving parts of what you do, that’s going to help you long term. 

How do I show authenticity without saying “I’m being different and I want you to know.” ?

Pinpointing, everyone has something unique, that’s special about them finding that and owning it. If you’re with the wrong clients how do you find the right ones?

There’s a difference between amplifying qualities you have and being lazy, “that’s how I am.”  How do you work on those things?

I look a lot at EQ. It’s who you are inherently, you can always work on your EQ, you can’t fix your IQ. You can work on your emotional well being and how you present. You can see where your weaknesses are and consistently work on those. You can see where you’re great and where you’re not. Hire to your weaknesses every time.

How does branding and imaging come to the forefront in the live events world?

Everyone you work with, that’s a reflection of you and your brand. They need to understand who you are and what that end goal is for the clients. They represent you in a great way. Make sure you’re creating great brand ambassadors and people talking about you on your behalf. I will never sit down and sell myself but 50 people at this conference will do it for me.

How do people be more confident?

It’s two fold. Theres and internal and external confidence. The internal confidence is you need to know your stuff. It’s not fake it till you make it, truly know what you’re talking about and if you don’t figure it out. Get to know your material and know it inside and out. On the external side you need to be comfortable in your skin. I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but we do. That’s life. That’s what really happens people judge you within a tenth of a second of meeting you. Be comfortable make sure it fits, it’s pressed, you’re not tugging at everything or thinking this isn’t my favorite look.

What are you’re pet peeves.

Not being on time. I will lock the door and watch you stand. 

I really don’t like noise, if I can hear someone eating, chewing, or doing something.

Any closing advice for those starting their career?

Find some incredible people, come to these conferences and find amazing mentors willing to share this experience. I wish I would have found my people earlier in my career. You don’t have to stumble through it alone. Find people you look up to and try and emulate that,

Super power: I can use a double negative in any situation to make it sound good. 

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Believe it or Not, Everyone is a Sales Person!

Karen Gordon of Goodshuffle shares some information gold this week!  With a super power of empathy, she shares some helpful tips for those starting out in the events world.  

You have to tell us about your career.

I started in tech sales and decided I never wanted to work in sales and technology again, and now I find myself heading up sales for a tech company. I decided to leave because I wanted to get into events, I quit that job and started to do events for Living Social. They had a huge presence out of DC. I worked in their adventures division. They tapped me for a new division, they opened a live event venue. 7 stories, a speakeasy basement bar, test kitchen. We’d be running 7 different events in one night. I moved over into a creative sales role.  I worked in the live event space for a long time, did logistics, sales, creative, budgeting. That sadly closed down, we were ahead of our time. I went on and worked at several different startups in the DC area. 

What is Goodshuffle?

It’s bringing powerful modern technology to the event world. We are in an on demand society, there are a lot of last minute changes and decisions that get made. And you know all the inventory you have to manage, and a last minute change could mean changing a contract last minute, letting a warehouse know… all of that can be a huge disaster. We are on a mission to solve that. Goodshuffle Pro is software for these companies so you can have photo driven proposals, that are interactive, you can make last minute changes, pay online. 

What is your role?

My title is VP of Growth. I’m in charge of everything related to business development. Goodshuffle is pretty small still, half a dozen full time within our office. We work with tons of part time and contractors, but we are still small. It’s crazy, I was the first employee, there were three of us and we didn’t launch the GS Pro software until January of last year and we are in 42 states, Canada, and Mexico already.

You were tasked at ILEA Live to talk about powerful language tell us about that.

We talked about branding and finding your voice. Everyone has different versions of powerful language. I encourage everyone to do branding exercises. We were talking about how powerful language can help your sales style.  Listen for specific examples!

Sounds like this is applicable in many situations.

One of the things I said is some of you may not think you are sales people but everyone is a sales person. 

What advice do you have for people new in the events industry?

In the events industry there are a lot of paths you can take. A lot of people who I talk to that are successful, it’s because they saw other opportunities and pivoted. Even myself, I didn’t stay in core events but used it to be in event technology. 

People get really eager to get to the top in any role. That is especially true in events. I was talking to a guy who thinks he wants to be in events and he was complaining and I said it doesn’t matter if you get to the very top, most people if you’re a good boss you’re also rolling up your sleeves and moving things across the floor. You really need to love it. 

Super power: Empathy, understanding people very quickly

Pro.goodshuffle.com

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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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