Leadership

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.

Insta: Charlesevaneide

EideComCreative

meetingmindspodcast

Twitter: The Meeting Minds

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

Insta: Dustin Westling 

Insta: Charlesevaneide

EideComCreative

meetingmindspodcast

Twitter: The Meeting Minds

S.3 Episode 19: Mantra’s of a Keynote Speaker

Keith Mercurio is one of these guests we wish we would have had more time with! Coming from a background of plumbing, leading him to working in events, to now being a key note speaker, Keith comes with so much knowledge. Listen as he shares some amazing principles you will want to adopt!

Tell us about your background and what brought you to where you are.

Well, my journey’s a pretty unorthodox one for sure. I’m a plumber. That was my background. I was a plumber by trade. I dropped out of college and went into the trades working for my next door neighbor and we joined this organization years ago, this group called Nexstar and they were a business development organization for the plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical world. I’m sitting there, I’m a plumber, I’m a dropout, I don’t know where my life is necessarily headed. And I’m sitting in this event and this trainer comes on and he just, within five minutes of seeing it, I said I’m going to do that someday. That started my journey towards creating my own story, my own success within that industry, but ultimately with the goal that I wanted to be a trainer. I started going down that road and a few years after that I got hired by this group, became their first trainer and then eventually became their director of training. That’s how this whole thing, this whole journey you got underway.

You’re always pushing yourself to boundaries I’ve never even thought of. What is your method to all of that? 

This is one of my goals. My wife even included an in her vows for me. She said, I love that at the age of 36 I’m 37 now that one of your most serious goals is to land a back flip on skis. People don’t decide they’re going to do that usually in their late thirties but for me it’s something I’ve just always wanted to do and I have these things that I like just always want it to be great at. I like being good at stuff. I like being great itself. That’ll come out in the course of us talking about event planning and keynoting because I’m obsessive. So part of that though is to go on these little quests. So I took the month of August off. I haven’t done anything other than pursue three goals. One was to catch as many fish as I could. Went bass fishing for a week. Then I went and took horsemanship lessons for a week. So learning to to groundwork horses, get more comfortable with horses. Again, something I just want to be great at. And then the third was I went to Olympic park, Utah to learn how to do a back flip on skis at their park, which involved trampoline training and then launching off their jumps into the end of the pool.The humbling part was I’d posted a video of how many unsuccessful front and back flips occurred on that trampoline before.

You’re like, “I’m a human too, now I grow.”

That’s pure content by the way, because both of those have actual stories that are parts of previous keynotes that were involved with one, horseback riding incident when I fell off the horse, broke my arm. And then this whole thing with another injury that occurred from back flipping on my honeymoon off of a rope swing in Maui. So these are like, these that we’re building content here. And the thing I always like, nobody, nobody wants is going to relate to somebody who looks good all the time. As a keynote speaker, if your stories are always about your successes, it’s exhausting. Like the audiences doesn’t get an opportunity to get on board with you. Like that’s not real life. That’s not how humanity works. But we have such a desire to be this, you know, perfect, polished version on stage. My keynote speaking went to another level when I got, this was the phrase from a coach of mine said, you need to get authentic with how inauthentic you are. And, and I used to pretend my little bits of humility were little gestures to try to make it look like I was actually humble, but they weren’t really humble. So once I got clear with, Oh yeah, I am totally, you know, full of it. This is a very human characteristic. We know we’re not supposed to be arrogant. So then we try to be humble, but it’s not really humble. Now I have to force myself. I hate looking bad. I hate it. 

So in speaking, when, when we’re telling a story that involves ourselves, especially the one that has an ultimate success or some form of a triumph, even if it’s just a moral victory, there’s something called the dip. And the dip is the moment in the story that the audience all gets to relate to you. So the dip is the down cycle in the story’s trajectory where you’re at a bottom, you’re at a place where you know you’re struggling, you’re frustrated, you want to give up, whatever that is. And that’s where everybody gets to become part of that ride in the story. So therefore, whenever you do share that ultimate triumph, you haven’t left people behind.The point of it isn’t to walk out of there looking good, it’s for them to walk out of there seeing a future that that’s inspiring to them.

How do you make an incredible event experience?

Part of making sure that I am growing and this is to constantly attend events. So I put myself through a lot of training. I put myself through events and I go and watch. The thing that I see over and over again in events is that they are typically they’re incongruent. So you’ll have a bunch of speakers, you’ll have a theme, you’ll have whatever but they don’t hold together. So one speakers content doesn’t compliment another speakers content doesn’t get tied back by the MC doesn’t fit the slide show at the break. There’s a lack of congruency because oftentimes I think event teams are over here and then the talent is over here, and you know that whoever’s trying to be in charge of the event isn’t necessarily working on the ins and outs. For a great event to us in, in my career, what that meant was that it was thematic and it was congruent from start to finish, from the invitation to the way it looked online, the way we spoke about it to the theme and to each speaker having complimentary content to the event and an emcee who understood how to tie that content together and bridge from one speaker to the next. Those were all the keys that really make an event different. Now you can get into all the little details that I think are wonderful and I’m obsessive. I get super excited about that stuff. But that overall is what I see most events missing, that at least we tried to make a constant goal of ours, that the audience, whether they knew it or not, was going through an experience that was congruent from start to finish.

How do you approach creating an event and timeline?

A couple of different techniques, and I’m trying to think of your audience because in a lot of our events we had a captive group, we are a business development organization. We had 600 companies that were members of ours, so we were able to sort of farm information of what was needed. I think the key was we didn’t limit our event planning to our event team. We would reach out to our coaches, we’d reach out what do we need, what do we want to see, what’s been lacking, what’s been missing, what’s exciting? What are you struggling with? And ask important questions rather than just assuming that we knew what people would want in an event now.

We were lucky that we’d built enough credibility at that point that people just trusted yeah, we’ve got to go. Even if we didn’t have a big name, they knew it was going to be incredible because they don’t need to have heard of the people to know that if we picked them, there was a reason. So you do have to balance that to a degree. But if you’re going for the big name, how can you then compliment that big name? Like what specific content of theirs can you ask them to deliver? And then how can you tie that into the event?

So what we want is in an event, it’s going to be congruent, it’s going to be thematic, the speakers will compliment each other, but we also want things to become actionable for our audience members so that they don’t just leave their goal and that was a great event. They also leave there with actual steps to implement and create the changes that they presumably attended the event with the the ideal of achieving. 

If I want to talk to these speakers that I’m going to be booking, how do I make sure they are going to stay on our theme?

That was probably my favorite part. Over the years we have had the opportunity to speak to, you know, John Maxwell and Les Brown and Emmett Smith some huge names, icons in the industry, but we insisted on it. We always get one hour phone call set up as part of our contract with the speaker. The speaker themselves. We absolutely believe that was a non negotiable for us because, we found that they were so impressed with the level of excellence with which we were approaching the event that typically these people who had achieved what they’ve achieved, they respect that. We had to study their content, we had to know whether it’s their books, their previous talks, you know, we would study them so that we could bring a couple specific areas that we would ask them to maybe focus on. We would want to share a little background because what you’ll find, and again this is the keynote side of things. When I’m going to an audience, Not only am I going to interview the people that are hiring me, but I’m going to ask if I can get five to 10 potential audience member contacts and actually interview them before I go into the event. All it takes is a half a dozen, not even three to six subtle references that are unique and specific to the audience that’s there for them to feel like this guy, this event was made for me. We are members, we’re called members, and when John Maxwell remembered to call them members and not clients, it makes sense. He says clients and they go, this guy doesn’t know who we are. 

Do you have a mantra you live by?

Of course I have to develop mantras to as a speaker, right? One that really applies to what we’re up to here in this world is just say yes. Just say yes and then the caveat to that is and then do it with alacrity. Alacrity is a great word, I’m going to insist on using it because the definition is a joyful enthusiasm. 

So this came about in my personal life, my wife then my fiance, the Royal wedding was happening and she asked me, do you want to wake up tomorrow and watched the Royal wedding? Everything inside of me said, absolutely not. I mean, there was at no level, at no point in my life, no way can I comprehend why I would no. I mean, the answer like is a strong no. By living by this theme, as it was imparted upon me, I said yes. Absolutely. So the next day, I think it was like a four o’clock wake up. There’s no intrigue for me over there, but it was important to her. So I said yes. But then you don’t say yes and then do it and be like, Oh, do you really want to do this thing right? That’s gonna take all the joy out of the experience. So I woke up, I was painfully hung over, by the way, I was probably out with you Charlie. And we wake up and she’s not even up yet. I go outside, I put on a suit, I cook eggs, tea, pour champagne, and then go wake her up.

The point is this was taught to me, okay this, I didn’t come up with this, I didn’t invent this. It was taught to me and I had to channel it to do something I didn’t want to do and do it well.If that is an event planning, I don’t know what is.In in the world of moving the tables, it’s having just gotten there, you look and you, you realize that the format that you had set up wasn’t gonna work and now you’ve got to change stuff and it’s like, just say yes with alacrity, with alacrity. You need to bring that joy because if you think your audience doesn’t feel the energy of the people producing the show, you’re out of your mind. I love people that are like, Oh, I’m good at hiding it. No, you’re not. Nobody’s ever been. So pretending like we can hide it is crazy. Actually taking actionable steps to shift your state into a positive state that’s a different story.

As far as mantras are concerned, our entire event team, our speakers, everybody on our staff every one of them was tasked with developing a pre event mantra. Mine, I’ve said it hundreds and hundreds of time, but it’s something in the realm of like, I am a vehicle for learning but not the source. I am kind patient and completely committed to seeing and holding these men and women to their absolute best. These men and women are brilliant, courageous, and in the perfect place in their lives for our paths to intersect. They’re awesome. I’m awesome. Today’s the day. Now’s the time. And this was my pre event mantra before every audience I met. If I see people that way and choose to see people that way, no matter how they walk in the room, I’ve already decided who they are. I’m not going to let their energy dictate my energy.

What about pet peeves? 

Well I would say, the number one pet peeve I have when working with people is the desire to be right rather than get it right. This is people’s desire to look good. Natural reaction is I’m going to defend myself to make sure that I look good here and that I wasn’t wrong, rather than just being like, okay, cool. What do we have to do to make this right? Our whole culture has been built around being right as much as we can be right. That’s a horrible trait to take into professional development cause professional development is about finding all the ways in which you’re wrong and growing from them. In event planning, when I’m met with that defense, that’s my number one pet peeve that I experience. 

What is your superpower?

My capacity to understand people like to really get people to really hear them. A cause I care to and B, because I’ve practiced a long time, I’ve studied the hell out of it. 

You do keynote speaking tell me about your approach and the type of stuff that you’re really gifted at. 

The keynote work that I do it’s all gonna be about if beliefs don’t shift, nothing changes. People are always sayingHey, come in, we want to know what to do. We want to know what to do. People go to training that they want actionable items. They want to know what to do.

I always ask people, if I were to ask you how you would go about getting healthy, you would tell me what? Your answers would be, Go to the gym and change your diet. Then I asked the audience to say, now how many of you knew that? And they all raised their hand. And I say, and how many of you knew that and still wish you were in better health? An entire audience raises their hand. Clearly people’s desire to find out what it is they need to do to make changes, that’s kind of a misguided effort in both speaking and in training. If we can actually explore underneath the surface at the belief shift that’s necessary to sustain a change and give you the technique of how we shift beliefs, not just actions, then we create new actions, then we create new results in our life.

So what I do in a keynote is I go beneath the surface in a way that I believe I have the capacity to relate to every single person in that audience. If one person does leave, not feeling like I related to them, then that sticks with, that’s a pet peeve. That’s my number one pet peeve is not connecting with anybody in an audience, let alone an audience. So in a keynote, whether it’s one hour or three days of training, whatever people desire and what they want, we’re going to capture every member of that audience and leave them in a wow experience for their future, whatever that looks like. It’s going to be realistic. It’s not going to be corny. 

keithmercurio.com.

kmerc24@gmail.com.

Insta: Charlesevaneide

EideComCreative

meetingmindspodcast

Twitter:The Meeting Minds

S.3 Episode 14: 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. 

Insta: Katepatay

Insta: Charlesevaneide

EideComCreative

meetingmindspodcast

Twitter:The Meeting Minds

S.3 Episode 5: Leadership Will Love You

This week’s episode Charles shares his experience of his early days in the events world.  He learned how to use it as an opportunity to grow as well as bridge the gap between leadership and the audience.