Zach Nadler knows his way around the keynote world! He joined us to talk all about booking speakers and how to navigate the process. If you work with talent, you will want to check this episode out!
Esports, what is it and why do we keep hearing about it? Rebecca Longawa is known to be an expert when it comes to Esports. She sits down and shares with us the in’s and out’s!
Tell us how you got to where you are.
I am one of 9 children. The middle child, born and raised on Cape Cod. We were the ultimate party family most of the time. My mother loved to entertain. I learned how to cook with either my mom or my grandmother from age 12 on. I catered my first wedding when I was 15 years old. My grandmother took me in her Cadillac, we loaded the front, back, trunk, and loaded my mother’s station wagon. It was a wedding for 125 people, a little more casual but still I got my start at 15 years old catering weddings. I catered parties through summers and I dove into the world of cooking. I wrote my first cookbook in 1994 and published it in New York City. I went down to the city and never left since 94. I started early and it’s in my blood, it’s something I love. Have been through tough times and boom times. I was a big event planner for Wall Street. It was the world of waste. Then ironically I was a participant in the big climate march. You’ve never seen so many plastic water bottles left on the ground. That was my turning point, when I started inward point. A zero waste event business.
We basically developed an analytics and metrics to measure the carbon footprints of every event. How do you create a zero waste event?
How much extra work is it to do zero waste?
There is a fair amount of extra work. At the end of the day lets do something right and change the world in a positive way! Why get out of bed everyday if you can’t make a positive change. SO yes we are adding an extra layer. It’s not that difficult to call your rental companies and talk about social and environmental impact. Get them thinking. Climate change is real and we can be a part of saving the planet.
Let’s say someone is new, what is one thing they could do that is impactful?
Here’s the irony, of course I am the king now of sustainable events. But I am most famous for freeing up 200,000 plastic water bottles. I was not responsible for that. I’d eliminate plastic from events. That’s not hard, one baby step.
Listen to podcast to hear the FYRE FESTIVAL STORY.
Event Pet Peeves: Poor Service: The customer is always right.
Superpower: Willingness to do anything.
We need to think about what are our own superpowers. What can we do to change this event industry to engage this time right now of quarantine and social distancing? Your going to see a lot of cool stuff come out.
Advice to newbies.
Fail take the risks. Be humble. Get in there get your hands dirty, was them a lot too 😉 but be willing to do whatever it takes. That is going to be the secret ingredient.
Twitter: The Meeting Minds
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.
Twitter: The Meeting Minds
Have you ever thought to add a comedic flair to your event? After listening, you may consider adding someone like Scott Bloom who can contextualize jokes for your audience!
How did you get into the events world?
Well, I remember specific story when I was in second grade it was at camp, I remember a kid, actually turning to me going, you know, you’re really funny. I have kids now and they went through the ages, and you can tell when someone’s funny, even at a young age. Most comedians use it as some way when they’re growing up to sort of defuse things or select things. So I started off early. Always been a fan of comedy. I started improv group in college. I didn’t know what I was doing. I saw Second city tour and I’m like, I’d like to do that. I started hosting cabaret nights and I got an improv group together that we founded, and then went to New York City. My trajectory, I was supposed to work for my dad and be a businessman and do sales and was doing that during the summers in college, then I had to at some point, say to him, I think I want to become a comedian and actor.I did the open mikes. I started stand up when it was really booming in the late eighties early nineties, developed a standup career, started touring as a headliner. I started doing a little TV, and at one point they needed a comedian to host an actual game show at an event, and they thought, Oh, a comedian would be good on his feet and be able to ad lib. After that 1st one, the event world kind of works like that. Everyone started building me as the expert in hosting game shows, I had only done one, but I built my own press and so I started writing and developing producing these game shows and hosting him. I moved into just hosting full on meetings and because my business background it was sort of natural fit. My my humor was always sort of clean, and I realized the key to doing humor at these meetings was to make the the material about them and make it business oriented. So most my comedy sort of parodies stuff that in their world,
Let’s talk about the use of comedy in the corporate theater environment and, how do you go about crafting that?
For the first probably 20 years of doing this, I don’t think I ever used the word comedian. I rarely do now I refer to myself as a comedic keynote speaker. Humor seems to flow better in that world than the word comedy, because people have impressions that it’s gonna be like a standup club. The humor that developed for this sort of relates to things they deal with every day. I might do a bit on the excessive use of acronyms, where they use all these different acronyms. I have a funny piece about that where I go into a litany and part of my work and something that separates me from others is that people talk about customizing their their stuff, and that usually means just dropping in a phrase. But I’ll memorize 25 or 30 of their acronyms, and it works. At one point I’ll say something, once I found out this gig was ago, I knew I’d have to brush up on my Let’s say IBM ABC’s ASAP and FYI and this is no BS, these acronyms really tested my IQ, the whole process almost sent me to AA and I go through this sort of litany but before I set that up I’ve just gone through 30 of their acronyms. It lets them know that I took the time to learn about their acronyms. A lot of them can’t believe that I’ve actually either put the time or that I was able to memorize it. It’s really about letting them know that I’m here to take care of you,and I tell my clients that they’ll see in the process to the point of where I’m getting as much information, over the years I’ve learned how to absorb things pretty quickly. A lot of comedy is about about relationships. It’s almost sometimes at an unconscious level. When they feel relaxed that’s when people are able to laugh, I think it’s so important to have that element at a meeting just to diffuse all that stress.
How do you go about understanding the fit and tailoring the content?
Yeah, I know specific questions to ask. I’ll ask questions that directly give me that information so I can sort of fill it in. With comedy, you do have to try it out every so often, and I don’t you know, it’s funny as a comedian. Eventually, sort of get a sense of what’s gonna work, what’s not. But you want it you want to kill every time you wanted to be 100% effective. So you know, 80% of what I might be doing might already been written. I’m able to customize another 25% with their material. I’ll know it’s gonna work, and it appears from the audience point of view. I just came up with this, just, you know, just for them.
Twitter: The Meeting Minds