We are in a unique spot, do you binge Netflix all day or do you use this time to grow and build relationships? Steve Sims is a relational expert and he shares the trick to building relationships that work. You must listen to this episode!
Melanie Bradshaw joins us and shares with us, her expertise on relationships and partnerships in our industry. Now is the time to continue to build on those important relationships and the key is transparency!
Tell us about you.
Growing up, my dad was a business owner, so I always kind of pictured myself owning a business or something that way. I started my first business out of my college dorm room in 2003. I had a bad t-shirt order and my roommate, Ryan looked at me, “Hey, we should start a business so nobody else has to go through what you just went through.” I was naive enough as a 19 year old, I was like, “how would we do it?” He goes over to our dorm room door, shuts it, and he pitches me the idea and I’m like, I’m in. That summer we worked hard. Thew next fall we started business, from there, by the time I sold that we had done about 500,000 pieces of apparel.
It opened so many doors. What I liked about running an online custom apparel business was, I built it from the dorm room where people had no idea that I was in 19 or 20 year old kid. They thought I was like a 40 or 50 year old man. What I liked about it was I practiced my skill of customer service or customer care in a way that, I built it so I would never have to meet my customers. I learned the soft skills of phone and email just as it was getting going in 2003, 2004, or 2005. I fit a ton of experience into those few years in college and then just grew.
I love Co-Ed Monkey, still buy shirts now. They have great customer service.
I’ll step back quick and say in 2008, when the economy tanked, every business really struggled. I stepped back and I went into debt. It was bad, and I looked at my business and I hated life. I was a probably 20, $30,000 in debt and had no idea how I was going to pay it back. And I looked at the business and I hated it. I hated waking up in the morning. I hated answering emails. I hated every single thing about my business. I remember I sat at Starbucks, I kinda hit this low point and I call it my Starbucks experience.
In business you’re always told like dream about, you know where you’re going to be someday. I pictured a corner office and all these things and what we would be building. And I realized that amidst all the busy-ness of business in the dreaming, the one thing I forgot to dream about was my customers and what they should expect out of my business. I thought about how much money I would make, everything and I forgot about the customer. So I call it my Starbucks experience because back then the internet at Starbucks was very bad. So I couldn’t answer my email, I couldn’t do anything. And I sat there with a white piece of paper and I just go, if I could build a company for my customer, what should they expect? That changed everything. I started dreaming and before I knew it then that changed everything about my business. I looked at it, there’s either customer service or there’s customer care. Services is reactive, cares is proactive. Once you find the thing that you do different. Once you find thing though, you’re one, two, maybe three things different than your competition. You double down, double down, double down.
How do you stand out? How do you make your events stand out? How do you make your business stand out?
Let’s break it right down to the event thing. I think today’s events, it’s not about putting on events, it’s about curating pieces that people will talk about. I think it’s about somebody that comes to your event. They go to how many events, how many galas, and they see how many MCs and MC is an MC. They’re all funny. The stage is now in the middle or it’s up front. You know like you can only do so many different things, but I think there are the little touches that make people go, how did they think of that? Like when the speaker says, I want you all at your table, I want you to stand up and shuffle around. Now I don’t want you to just to sit at your table anymore. And actually forces networking. It creates touch points, elbow rubbing moments where now you’re forced to meet people you didn’t come with.
It’s like the flowers. You know how many events, especially if you’re talking about weddings, it’s like “who did those flowers? Who did that?” I think as an event planner, I would want people going “who did that?”. I’d want so many “who did that” moments coming out of my event because that’s what makes people go, I want to go back to their event. It’s not just coming up with something new, but it’s more thought and it makes that needle and thread through your brand and every event feel like it’s the same thing.
It makes me start thinking about how do you create the standout moments in all of the elements of a show?
A great thing that is totally under utilized the events space, cause I get to speak at a lot of events, and one thing I started offering to any place I speak at I say, “Hey, I love it coming into your event to do the keynote for you.” I go in there just like every other speaker. I do the speech for 45 or 50 minutes. And now what I like to say is, “Hey, I love the idea though of your people going back to their people and talking about what I talked about. So for you, I want to offer a webinar. You plan it, it’s going to be an hour long. They can invite anybody they want on it. We’re going to talk about what we talked about that day. And the event’s going to keep going.” Everybody gets pumped about that. 25% of them actually do it. These people already move on to the next thing and then they wonder why their event struggles later.
It’s because they’re not doing the little things that separate them from every other brand.
So the question is how do you set yourself apart from being lazy? I think one of the big things you talk about that I really enjoy and maybe you could go deeper on this is how do you make your yourself stand out as an individual?
I think it’s holding yourself to a standard and going, when people hear my name, what do they think about me? Maybe it’s not all what you want, but I think we can strive for that. My team at CloseSimple, that’s my real estate software, we basically created like a pizza tracker for the home closing process. Before this there was nothing. What’s been really fun is we’re instilling culture now in our people and we’re having them read the Gary Keller book, the guy who founded Keller Williams One Thing. Now my entire team has their one thing. Each person has a different one, which is different than in traction, the rocks that they might be doing. This is my one thing for my job, not for company, but for my job that’s going to push the company forward.
It’s clarifying what your one thing is. If you can only accomplish one thing this week that’s going to actually create momentum for you to do other things, what is that? If I’m going to do an event, what’s the one thing I can do leaving this event? Outside of the typical stuff, there should be a checklist. If I’m going to be exceptional and something that people actually want to be a part of, what’s something additional.
What other books do you love?
I think a great book, just one of the best books of all time. If you’re looking for that next idea, how do you stand out? Made to stick. It’s why do some ideas stick and some don’t. It’s unbelievable. Chip and Dan Heath, brilliant guys. If you want to get the book awesome. I love the book, but this is one of the rare audio books that you listen to and are like, it’s better audio than reading.
Super power: I am amazing if I’m at a conference or business, looking what people wear, sizing them up exactly and knowing like where to shift the conversation based on like what they’re wearing. Often it’s going to start with what they’re wearing, it creates the conversation.
Twitter: The Meeting Minds
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.
Google Magic Brad
Twitter: The Meeting Minds
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
Twitter: The Meeting Minds