S.3 Episode 6: Beam in your Keynote: Using Holograms to up your Event Game!

You can have someone present without being at your event: Holograms.  Ashley C talks all about holograms and how they are changing the events industry. Listen to the expert in the market who has created the patents for this engaging experience!

Ashley Crowder, Co-Founder and CEO of VNTANA

Tell us holographs?

We are all about putting the digital into the real world.  If any of you have kids or have played Pokemon Go that is one version of mixed reality.  Your phone can act as a third eye. You also have headsets you can wear that put the digital in the real world. With these only the person with the device can see. At VNTANA we built hardware to do holographic projections. Everyone in the room can the see and interact with the digital together.  We do keynote presentations, true live.  I can beam myself next time, I’ll be in LA and my hologram will be here.

You are doing movie magic but for real. She told us before, we patented all of this ourselves.  How did you develop this?

We are a tech company, a team of engineers.  My background is engineering, we have about 15 patents on hardware and software to do this. In the beginning we were using projectors but we switched  to LED because it’s brighter.  Now we can do things in bright environments. 

What is the use for this?

About 7 years ago we found a key use cases people love.

1.Someone can’t be there we can beam them in live, or pre record their hologram.  We just did a hologram of Kobe Bryant.

2.Lots of leveraging endorsement deals.  For Adidas we did holograms of Stella McCartney.  

3.Other interactive experiences to show off products and understand product preferences. 

How do you beam in live?

We need dedicated fiber, really good dedicated internet on both sides.5G is coming and we are working with a few different telecom  providers to show it off on the 5G network. 

What about stages?  Are you beaming in keynotes?

Yes we do a number of keynote presentations.  That is a lot of our life-size holograms. 

You use holograms to show off dead celebrities?

We provide the hardware but we let other people do the “digital resurrection”. We can help people, we have partners who specialize in digital recreation, it get’s expensive.  You can’t use old footage it’s CGI. You need to create a photo realistic model of that person and you animate it. We prefer to stick with the living and products!

Have you met and worked with famous people?

Yes leveraging endorsement deals.  These brands pay so much money to use their likeness. 

Where do you see the technology going?

It’s super exciting, using it as a new medium. Even if the person is there, if they are launching a product the hologram can show up on stage next to them.  We are excited about being able to push he boundaries with the creative and content side. 

You are a speaker tomorrow what are you talking about?

How you can use mixed reality to influence the attendee journey at an event. Why do you want to do it?  What is the purpose of the tech?  Then figure out what you want to do. Rob Thomas, we did a great hologram karaoke for his tour it was really successful because it was a holistic approach.  He talked about it on his radio show. They published it and you got to sing karaoke with the hologram. I always say don’t put technology in the corner. 

With these experiences people are willing to give their information freely because it’s a fun experience. 

How much does this cost?

The cost depends on the size of the hologram.  Is if life-size or a small kiosk display and content.  Does the content need to be created for it?  We have done a lot with our software to automate the process. In general you can start between 10 – 20,000 range and go up. Realistically people say, this is doable. 

Superpower: Super focused on things I want to do.

Cause you Love: Girls Who Code

Insta: vntanalive

Insta: Charlesevaneide


Twitter:The Meeting Minds

S. 3 Episode 4: Swag, Gifts, and Apparel: Quality Over Quantity

On this episode of Meeting Minds; Charles and Paige chat with Zach Sussman about merchandise trends in the event industry. Swag (stuff we all get) that people actually want is crucial. Find out what merchandise is likely to resonate and not become waste!

S.2 Episode 18: Being Intentional to Make your Events Amazing

No beige food at your event!?  Tahira is the guest this week and she shares all things she’s learned during her time in the events industry.  Grab your notebook, you will definitely want to write some of this down!

The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence

How did you end up in the events business?

I was a hairstylist and I loved doing that job. I started working at salons when I was 13, at 26 I had crazy surgery on both of my arms and I couldn’t cut hair again. 

I saw a tiny ad about an event diploma.  I entered the industry the way no one does, which is getting a  diploma in event management Then I got a great job with PCO (professional convention organization company).

Then I was a creative director and I was tired and got really interested in event technology and did that for a bit with quick mobile. Through all of this I wrote a book. I had been blogging and writing for quite some time.  I thought I should collect what I think is important about in events in one place. I called it Intentional Event Design, I think we need to be purposeful and thoughtful and people centric. It’s about how do we rethink seating and food and beverage and build it into our events from the beginning. 

If you create meaningful interactions between people those are the things people remember and take away. Where do you start in all of that?

I start by figuring out the purpose of the event. Theres a thing around starting with why, and it does matter.  Create an empathy map and think about the people attending. Both in our case, we do programs that are hosted, and we are really reliant on our sponsors.  

You said people centric and purpose driven is how you do events, tell me about your approach.

It starts with empathy mapping, dig into the different people that will come.  Who is your audience? It’s looking at it from different perspectives, if I come as a participant, a sponsor, an exhibitor, a supplier partner, and extrovert, introvert: how can I create spaces that tie into the emotional needs of the people attending.  And how do I create the education and topics that are relevant for this group of participants at this time.  You start to build out your events in that way.  Allow them to connect and be comfortable.  

We think of typical networking events at a bar, a room music is too loud to talk over so you’re yelling at people.  It’s impossible to be in if you have hearing issues.  You don’t get food that nourishes you and its primarily alcoholic offerings and those aren’t good for everybody.  My thing around food is no beige food. You start off your day with a bagel and an hour and half later you have crashed and want more food. You are looking for that energy.  You go to lunch and get pasta and a bun.  Now you’re weighted down, no one wants to be the after lunch speaker. We just started to give people color. 

What other things do you do that are purpose driven and people centric?

I try to create quiet spaces for people. Think about nursing mothers, prayer, things that you will want to set aside a room for. 

Use technology smartly. We are past the age of paper things and into mobile apps. Get things to people in a timely fashion. 

How do you work with a venue that only has union run snacks that are not good?

We have to start it in the beginning. It has to be a part of our RFP.  You have to have healthy menus. 

Contact Tahira: 

Instagram: Tahiracreates

Instagram: charlesevaneide


Twitter: TheMeetingMinds

S.2 Episode 8: 3 Must Know Tips for Events

This week Charles sits down and talks about three things that he has found to be really important from his time in the events world.  He talks about hiring a planner, hiring A/V and production, as well as maintaining your relationships with clients.  Use these points to up your events game!

So today we are going to be talking about things like tips for hiring planners, talking about A/V and production. I really want to dive deep on that one. Then we’re going to talk about a few tricks I have to make your relationship with your team, your executive leadership team, or even your client a little bit better than maybe it is today.


So first we’re going to dive into talking about my tips for hiring a planner. We’re currently in the process of hiring a planner ourselves, but for years I have personally worked with planners and I have to say the right planner is absolutely an asset to your team. Whether this is somebody that’s internal or this is somebody that is being hired by a production or being hired by the client. A planner is absolutely a godsend in the right context. I have to tell you whether they’re managing just the budget or all the way up to like onsite details, you really cannot replace the need or the position of a planner with anything else. This person is a key component and I think it’s important to keep in mind there are a few things we need to look at when we hire planners.


I had a friend of mine, Amy Zaroff in last week and we were talking about planning, we were talking about all of this stuff around what makes a great vision for an event. And then also what makes a great planner. But I want to reiterate to you guys a couple things that I really learned and one of them was you want someone to be kind of a rule breaker. And not in the negative sense. But you want somebody who is willing to think outside the box. Somebody who’s going, yes, I know that’s how we’ve done it for 10 years or yes, I know that’s how the industry does it, but is that good for us? Is that good for our event? You want this person to question the status quo.


The other thing is when you’re looking for a planner, you want to have someone who is very detail oriented. A while back we did an episode with a gal talking about, she is a spreadsheet Ninja and I thought, man, what a cool thing to claim for yourself to be the spreadsheet Ninja. A lot of times in events our world lives and dies by these spreadsheets. And so somebody who can really manage and track detail with spreadsheets is absolutely a must. It is absolutely a skill that you cannot, um, you know, go without.


The other really important thing is as you guys probably know, we need to have people that are able to make a decision without clearing it from above. So a great planner is going to be given enough authority to make an onsite decision that needs to get executed right now, hey, we’re thinking about adding additional seating in the back in this area. Is that okay? Well, I don’t know. Let me call the manager of this person who get ahold of this assistant to the CEO. And you really want somebody who can be autonomous that can make those decisions on the spot and can actually be impactful. Another really key component here is someone who has realistic ability to give the people and vendors they’ve hired the autonomy as well. And the reason I say that is have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had so many people doing so many different things, but you have this one person overseeing them and this one person wants to be in control of all of it. So everyone literally has to ask this person for permission or their thoughts or their opinion on everything. I recommend finding someone who is, willing to give autonomy to the people they have delegated stuff too. So if they’ve hired a production company like us, we have a good enough relationship where they trust our decisions. If there are budgetary items that are going to be added, you obviously need clearance for those types of things. But in general, someone who feels comfortable giving that authority away just as they have been given that authority. I have to say another qualification or characteristics I look for is assertiveness. Now some of you listen to this and you go assertiveness. I don’t want to be pushy. The truth is that assertiveness and pushiness are two different things. Being assertive is absolutely crucial in the events world, especially if you’re in a position where you are making decisions and you’re guiding other people, and I’m not saying be assertive, like be a blowhard or be a jerk, I’m saying be assertive. Look for somebody who is assertive. This is if you’re hiring or if you’re the planner yourself, being more assertive actually plays well to the overall picture. Now obviously don’t step outside your role or don’t have someone, don’t hire someone who’s going to constantly step on everybody else’s toes. But having someone who is assertive in the planning position is absolutely critical. Somebody who’s decisive and assertive and all these other things. So those are the kind of the things that I’ve been looking for and those are the things that I have seen are successful in the planning world.


Also experience for those of you guys who are listening, who don’t have a lot of experience planning events, I guess for those of you who have been doing it for say less than two years, or if you’ve done less than say, 50 events, I would recommend hooking up with an organization that can give you more experience. I’m not saying work for free for them, but don’t expect them to pay you top dollar when you don’t have the experience yet. Right. Use it as an opportunity to gain more experience and while you’re there, add the value that you can add.


So let’s talk about tips for hiring A/V and production. This is like a giant, hairy beast that’s sitting in my office. Everyday I walk in and we meet with some client or prospective client and we talk about production. I always break it down into basically three different types of production companies. Now granted I am in one of these boxes and I am more biased to one of these boxes because that’s the box I’m in. It doesn’t mean anyone is good or bad, they’re just different. But as a client, I think it’s important you are able to differentiate the differences between these different things.


So number one is a producer. A lot of times they say they’re a production company, but really they’re a very talented producer who knows how to orchestrate all of the necessary production elements. So this is someone who maybe has been in the business a long time and they say, you know, I don’t want to carry the overhead of equipment or a staff, but I have companies I can call on that have all of those things. A producer generally will put together their team and bring their team in to execute a show. Sometimes they tell you this is how they’re doing it. And other times they just say, no, I’m a production company. And they contract it. It’s not good or bad, it’s just one way of doing it. I think as the client, it’s important that you’re able to know what’s going on when you hire someone. The one thing I will tell you is that producers have a need to make an income. And a lot of times they’re making an income on all of the different elements that they are bringing in.


So then the second type of production company that I’ve noticed is out there is kind of your lower smaller event production companies, companies that they’re really tooled to say, do you know, 800 people and below the equipment that they own is less expensive equipment. It’s not really your industrial grade equipment. It’s something you could order through guitar center if you wanted to. It’s something that you could go online and just order straight from full compass or These organizations do a decent job doing smaller meetings. If you’re a corporation having a luncheon for a hundred people, you’re not going to hire a creative event company to come put together like a pitch and the whole thing, right? You just need a few speakers on sticks and maybe a stage wash. Well, in that instance, you’re in a good spot when you hire one of these smaller production companies. One thing I’ve noticed those that a lot of times the quality of equipment they have is not so good. I’m not saying always, but a lot of times the equipment’s older, it’s beat up, it’s been rented and used for all kinds of different things. Just make sure that when you’re vetting a production organization that you know the company is, is in line with the size and scale of work you’re doing. So if you’re a meeting planner and you’re just planning a lunch in for one to 200 people in a, you know, a small hotel ballroom and it’s not a big deal, one of these smaller groups might be really good for you. If you’re an organization putting on a large multi day conference for 3000 people, you’re not going to hire one of these smaller companies. They don’t own any of the things and they’re really not set up to even execute or do this. One thing I’ll warn you about, sometimes they will have had a small piece in a big show and then when they find you with your big show, they say, yeah, we did that show. When in reality they didn’t, I’m not saying they’re being shady, but they did do that show, right? Just they did a part of that show and a lot of organizations that are trying to grow will not necessarily turn down business that’s too big for them. So it’s really important for you as the client to be able to differentiate is this organization, is this the size of this production company, the right company for what we’re doing? If you’re doing 70,000 people in a stadium, you’re not going to hire the same group that every day is sending out two speakers on sticks to do meetings at a tiny little hotel luncheon. Two different types of organizations.


[14:29] So then I would say there’s the third, which is what we are. And that is a full service, full scale production company where you’re basically a place that we create the creative ideas and concepts for the staging, the look, the creative, right? And then you’ve got the execution arm. Then we go and we actually pull it off. One thing I’ll tell you is that when you get into these larger scale events, no one company has every single piece of equipment for a 70,000 person show or a 50,000 person show or a 20,000 person show. This industry is comprised of little pockets of experts. So no matter how big or small the production is, after a certain point, there’s multiple organizations. I’m very open about the fact that we have other suppliers that we lean on when we have a certain demand for a certain size and scope. But our internal team manages all of that, and so we ourselves own equipment. We then bring in outside partners to help us execute things that are just of a scale we’re not doing. And every single production company of this size is doing the very same thing. When you need crowd barricades. Like for a big concert, let’s say Kenny Chesney’s coming in town and you need crowd barricades. Well, I know of a couple places in town that own crowd barricades, but for me it would make no sense for me to create the design and then also own crowd barricades. It’s two totally different little pockets of need. Just like owning a stage in a trailer, the stages on wheels, those big like concert stages, that’s a very niche product. These are all different production tools that all of us larger companies, we rely on each other to execute. We all own our own equipment, but we’re all obviously working with each other.


What I will tell you is that people like to sit around and talk about their equipment. I warn you about this because you can have the best equipment in the world and I really believe we have some of the best equipment in the world. But what does that even matter? If you don’t have a great idea, a great concept, you’re not thinking about the audience, you’re not designing it to really look and feel the way the client needs it to look and feel. It doesn’t matter. You can have the best gear in the world. The other side of that coin is there’s a lot of organizations that have been around a long time and they’re trying to squeeze every last penny out of old equipment. So it is important to know how good and how new the equipment is, but at the same time, that is not the whole game. As the client I’m talking to you, I would, I would remind you not to get tied up in the equipment, but to talk more along the creative lines. The equipment can be changed out. The budget is a crucial component.


When you move into talking about budget, here’s what I’ll tell you. You can buy a car for $500 and you can buy a car for $2 million.They’re both cars. But what’s the difference? Well, I guess if you made a list of things you could clearly and easily understand that there’s a major difference between a Bugatti and a Geo Metro. There’s a total difference.The same goes with production. There’s a huge difference between organizations that spend a lot of time hand holding with a creative and have very nice equipment to organizations that have been around. It’s beat up old equipment and it’s coming off of concerts that are you know, they’d been on the road for a long time. There’s a total difference. And here’s what I’ll tell you. Your budget will drive that. So oftentimes when we buy things, and this is a counter intuitive thing, this is like one of the most important things. I’m going to drive home in this segment today.


Naturally, when you buy something, this coffee Mug, if I buy one coffee mug and I want my logo on it, they’re going to charge me say $30. For this one, if I buy a dozen of them, it might come down to say $10 a Mug, but if I buy 10,000 of these mugs, they may be a dollar a mug or less. As you buy more of something in the natural world, the costs go down.


In the production world, it’s actually the opposite. And I know this sounds crazy to you guys, but it’s the opposite. When you get to a certain point and your moving your event into an arena or into a stadium, the cost of audio, visual production per person starts to exponentially grow. And the reason is, if you could imagine the amount of, um, you’re going to a convention center, it’s flat, right? It’s very easy to rig from the ceiling and serve audio and video to the floor. You move into an arena or a stadium and now you’re getting into unusual structures, unusual rigging, unusual shape of audience and delay. The technology has to be much bigger. And to do a stadium or an arena properly, I would say that great bright projection is great, but really I recommend LED wall when you get to those sizes, like for example here at us bank stadium, US Bank stadium, you can’t even really do projection in there because the ceiling, the roof is like a clear roof and light is bleeding in at all hours of the day. Well LED wall is significantly more expensive and when you get into those massive sizes, I mean you’re talking about truck loads of LED wall just to serve the audience. So as you go up in size of audience, there’s a point in which it shifts and starts to exponentially increase the cost to you per person for the audio visual and, and possibly the venue as well. So that’s a really crucial point I want to make and a lot of customers there going well if I have more people it should be less money per person at a certain point that actually changes. So that’s a really crucial thing for you to know. Again, traditional flat spaces, ballrooms, convention centers, you know, it’s a little different, but when you get into those really big venues, there’s a serious difference in how to do it, including the equipment needed to pull it off.


Okay. So another big thing to talk about, people talk about the inhouse A?V Versus bringing a production company with you. And people go, well, why don’t I just use the in house a v right? And here’s what I want to speak to. If you’re putting it up against, say, one of those smaller production companies, the tier two, the inhouse may be a great fit, right? It doesn’t maybe make sense to bring in an outside partner for 200 people or a hundred people for a lunch. It might make sense to let the inhouse A/V Do it. But if you’re traveling from city to city or even going to the same city each year and you want a consistent product for your audience, you cannot go with inhouse A/V. The inhouse is there, in my opinion, to serve as a liaison to their rigging, their power, their internet, things like that. But when you really get into say 700 or more people for more than one day, you do not want to rely on the inhouse. A/V, the inhouse, A/V is an inconsistent product at best. And I hate saying that, but every time I see them it’s different. The people are different and you’d go to the same venue. It’s different people.


I was at a gala the other night and it was done by the inhouse A/V. We weren’t producing it. And I looked back at the tech desk and I saw the people running the program. It was, it was 1300 people in the room. Mind you and I was astonished. These guys were wearing hoodies and sweatshirts. It looked like we pulled them out of like between dumpsters in the back of the hotel alleyway. And that to me, especially at a black tie gala, fully unacceptable. You should never ever show up in a Hoodie or a sweatshirt if you’re working on the team for a black tie gala. Sure when everyone’s gone and you’re tearing down, fine put your hoodie on. But during the show you better be wearing a suit jacket. It’s stuff like that customer service stuff. It’s the quality of the people in the consistency of the people. And then of course you look up in the ceiling, the inhouse, and they’re still using conventional lighting fixtures from 1994 trying to squeeze every last dollar cause they’re a publicly traded company and they’re trying to squeeze every last dollar out of that equipment. From a business perspective, I get it right. Those guys, they do what they have to do. But at the end of the day, if you want a really quality experience for your audience, that is not the way to go. The other thing is when you’re traveling city to city, we have a couple of clients that they change cities every year. What I’ve learned is that having a consistent team and product from city to city allows the organization to worry less about the variable of production and worry more about the things that you know should be worried about when you’re at a new site. But really your production team, if you’ve been working with them for years and they come from city to city or they go to the same city with the every year, that should be the last of your concerns.


Now when you hire a new company, I’m just going to warn you there’s going to be some pain. It doesn’t matter how good they are or how great and organized you are the more disorganized you are, the worst the first year will be. But I will tell you, and I’ve said this to customers over and over again, I believe in loyalty and I would never want my customers to put my work that we do for them out to bid. There’s a level of trust. There’s a level of respect, there’s a level of loyalty. I say the same thing about you and your production company. If you feel like you trust them and you want to stay loyal to them, don’t put them through putting it out to bid every year. It is a painful, expensive process that nobody ever really wins on. So if you find a great company and you’ve been working with them, stick with them. I’m telling you, you’re going to save time. You’re going to save money, you’re gonna save headaches. And honestly, with something as important as the run of your show, do you really want them to feel like you don’t trust them? I would debate that you want to have a very intimate level of trust with your production company. And if you don’t have a talk with them, give them an opportunity to fix it. I have a couple of great clients and honestly like any great relationship, they’ve come to me and they’ve said, hey, I need to talk to you about some things that are just not quite the way I want them to be or are causing problems.If your company that you’re maybe struggling with to have, you know, conversations with are open to the feedback and then they do something about it, keep them. I’m telling you what, in our industry it is very uncommon to have a high level of customer service and then an adaptability.


So that brings me to the next thing, which is a little more for the planners, working with vendors and working with not just production but in general. I believe that in order to have a healthy relationship today, think about your relationships today. If you look through your phone, you have probably been texting with them, right? I would recommend that the veil be moved away and you get on a texting basis with your vendors and your customer.


We all have vendors and we all have customers. Get on a text messaging basis with them, make them feel comfortable enough that they can have an open line of communication with you about things.It’s an important part of life. I mean I’m on a texting basis with all of my clients. If it’s not a client I manage, my sales team is definitely on a texting basis with them.


So those are the types of things to keep an open dialogue. I think texting is key. Also with your clients, send a birthday card to them, show them that you give a crap, send thank you notes. This is one of those things I always like, I’m blown away by because we all get mail every day and we all go to the mailbox and when we see a handwritten note, you know you open that thing first, right? Come on. Getting handwritten mail is special. Well, so if you know that it’s so special and you get it and you like it, my question to you is why don’t you ever send it? So, I mean we have a very, very serious like protocol here that when we meet with somebody, we send them a thank you card. They took their time to meet with us. It’s little stuff like that that your competitors or the people that you’re kind of up against, whether you’re an independent or you’re inside a company even like let’s say you’re a planner and your work inside of a large organization and you met with your executive leadership team and they gave you some idea into their vision. Why wouldn’t you write that leader a thank you note saying, thank you so much for spending time with me today. Even if they’re in your own company. Like thank you so much for spending time with me today to share with me the vision. Now obviously if you’re like a company, that’d be kind of weird cause they’re like down the hall. But like let’s say you’re in a large organization and you meet with them and they’d come in and you have this big meeting. Why wouldn’t you send them a thank you note for spending time sharing with you their vision. It also would give you more visibility and probably opportunity to bring ideas to the table because now you have a voice, a voice that’s on handwritten paper.


So these are just a few of the things that I like to do. Obviously you don’t want to cross that line where people feel like you’re bothering them. You want to show people that you actually care. It’s funny because I really believe if everybody did what they say they would do, nobody would ever be out of a job. Think about that. But the reality is like most people say one thing and they either don’t do it or they do something else. And I would recommend in this industry, especially when you say you’re going to do something, you darn well better do it. Because if you don’t, I’m telling you what, you’ve got a reputation and that reputation can be ruined very quickly. And I think that’s why we’ve had a lot of success. We’ve really taken to heart doing what we say and saying what we do.

Episode 13: Using Sleep to have a Better on site Experience

On this episode of Meeting Minds, sleep expert Sarah Moe teaches about the importance of sleep and sleep habits and how it affects our productivity.



You have some tips for us don’t you?  I feel like we sleep better in the fall.

That’s actually quite common. A lot of people do find that once it does start to cool  off and they open the windows at night they are sleeping a lot better. The science behind that is because the recommended sleeping temperature for your bedroom is 65 degrees.  The reason the national sleep foundation recommends this is because our bodies are naturally going to attempt to drop to that temperature in the first place.  So if you are able to speed that process along it’s that much easier and causes less interruptions in your ability to initiate sleep. 

Try it for a few days, you will be surprised.  It is difficult for most of us to wake up because our REM sleep happens at the end of our sleep cycle. REM sleep stand for Rapid Eye Movement and that’s the stage where we dream.  Because of that we have a natural paralyzation that happens where we are paralyzed so we can’t act out our dreams. I don’t know if you’ve ever woken up and you feel like you can’t move it’s because of those hormones. It’s called sleep paralysis and it’s very common.  It’s also why it’s difficult to get out of bed, if you’re groggy and slow to move you were probably in REM sleep.

I love that part when you’re about to fall asleep and you feel like you’re falling and you jump.

That’s very common as well.

It’s common for us in the events world to put sleep off. Talk to us about how that can affect our performance.

It’s common across all fields, it’s an American mindset, I will put off sleep to be more productive. It’s actually incredibly counter productive.  If you were able to achieve the sleep that you were supposed to have every aspect of your next day would be more positive. Our sleep impacts everything we do our ability to make proper judgements, our moods, our physical health. Everything is impacted by how you sleep the night before. When you are going to sacrifice your sleep to get more done just know that if you did take that time to get the sleep you were supposed to have then everything you were going to do the next day is going to be better.  

There’s so many things that have happened in the history of our culture that have been disastrous based on poor sleep. We were talking earlier about the Challenger (The Shuttle) I remember when I was younger hearing how devastating it was.  It was something that could have been prevented. After they did the investigation after the crash they found that it was a faulty o-ring and there was a leak and it caused the explosion.  The crew that was in responsible for checking the o-ring was found to have been going on two hours of sleep the night before. So when they found that in the investigation they realized that was something that was poor lack of judgement on their part based off of sleep deprivation.

When we think about going into our jobs or workspaces, especially in the event planning world, when you have these large things you are working with, to be on your game with a good night of sleep will be helpful for everybody.

We are hanging heavy things over peoples heads every day!  Thousands of pounds are being raised up.

Imagine if that person who was responsible for that construct was sleep deprived. The three main things that they look for that will decline after sleep deprivation sets in is:

1. Cognitive abilities

2. Reaction time

3. Decision making process

What is it that happens when you sleep that refreshes you?

There are four stages of sleep and each stage does something different. We’re now learning the role that sleep plays in memory.  We’ve always known that you can’t have a good memory if you don’t have great sleep.  But now we are learning the science behind it including the different parts of the brain involved even the different brain waves that will consolidate memories. They are proving that when we are learning something our brains are in record mode we are taking in this information, it basically sits there. When we sleep it becomes storage. Our brains in stage two sleep will decide if what you processed that day will be stored into longterm or short-term memory. If we’re not having consolidated sleep we’re not able to store those memories and have them accessible the next day.

In college I read that sleep is more important than studying all night, so I would go to bed early rather than staying up all night studying.  I would do just fine on my tests.

These poor college students who are pulling all nighters, reading this information, and thinking they are going to be able to retain it the next day and be tested on it, it’s the complete opposite. They would be so much better off learning through out the day, getting a good night sleep being able to consolidate those memories, and then go about the next day.  

In the events business a lot of techs are expected to work long shifts, what is the recommended shift?

The average American adult needs 8 hours of sleep, we’ve all heard this. Even now they are saying 7-8 is sufficient. The majority of us are admitting to getting 6 1/2.  It doesn’t seem like it’s that much of a difference but that extra half hour does make a huge difference for your abilities of the next day. 

That being said, the average person sleeping 8 hours a night will have that be 1/3 of their lives leaving the other 16 for wakefulness. There are a lot of other things that need to happen during wakefulness like commuting to work, taking care of family, social life, all these hours that add up.  16 hours is not only too long of a shift to work, but it’s too long for actual wakefulness. At that point 16 hours is where your body starts to break down and it is to the point of being comparable to alcohol. So after 16 hours your sleep deprivation is going to leave you being impaired the same way to alcohol.

Is it fair to say that the mind needs offline time or rest?

Absolutely, meditation is a huge helpful tip right now, not to replace your sleep but to have a healthy bedtime routine. That’s been proven over years. When you think of the chaos in our lives it’s not just with work, it’s with family with social. It’s important for you to have time to yourself to think about what’s important in your lives, if you want to continue to be busy. Sleep is a huge part of that to help you process your thoughts and feelings.

What is happening that’s causing all this good stuff in your body when you sleep well?

The cool thing about sleep is that it’s a system that requires all other systems.  You can’t even achieve sleep without ever other part of your body being involved. I think thats fascinating, when you want to wiggle your toe you don’t need your other systems as such. Everything is incorporated in sleep cardiology, respiratory, neurology it’s all one big crazy neat puzzle. 

Even to initiate sleep it takes a lot of little systems together at the exact time so you can get to sleep. It is still unknown, because sleep medicine is so young when you think of the other fields. We’ve really only gotten the research in the last 30 years so we still have a long ways to go but we’ve learned so much to be able to save lives

What are you saying about sleep saving lives?

Despite having the lack of physiological research our elders knew what they were talking about when they say, “drink some chicken noodle soup and go to bed”. One of the first things that happens when we do become sleep deprived is that our immune systems drop. It is easier for you to get sick when you haven’t been sleeping well.  That’s because we are not able to fight off simple bacteria that we would be able to on a normal day. That being said, they’ve also classified shift work as a carcinogen, which is something that is likely to cause cancer.  After a night of less than 5 hours of sleep, your cancer fighting cells reduce by 70% in your body.

How important is it that an event organizer makes sure that the tech’s get enough sleep?

It’s extremely important, especially from the realm of safety. There’s so many minor avoidable mistakes that happen due to sleep deprivation or fatigue. That being said, it is great to be aware of your team and their needs. If there is a day that’s longer than the others, of course that’s acceptable, but just to be aware that the next day needs to be different so you can make up that sleep and improve your ability to perform. 

There are so many physiological implications.  Even just heartburn and obesity.  That’s a vicious cycle with interrupted sleep.  A lot of people will start with a sleep disorder and because of that become obese. Or they will be obese and develop a sleep disorder. Its a vicious cycle. Leptin and ghrelin, two hormones regulated during sleep, play a part in appetite control and burning calories. If you have interrupted sleep or a sleep disorder, and you are obese and trying to lose weight, if you are not sleeping well and have the proper regulation of those hormones you’re already starting the next day behind.

Is it a thing where most people don’t know they are not sleeping well?

Most people who have a sleep disorder are unaware. The people who suffer the most are the bed partners. They are the ones who realize something is wrong usually the reason people will come in for treatment for a sleep disorder. 

What are symptoms people should look for?

Fatigue is the number one symptom. Fatigue is like pain. If you break your arm there’s a signal, pain is saying something is wrong. Fatigue is saying something is wrong with your sleep. Unfortunately majority of us have adapted to a tired lifestyle where we think we are supposed to be tired all the time. My first piece of advice would be to practice good sleep hygiene which is what we call sleep habits. Once you get to a point where you focus on removing the negative influencers on your sleep and focus on getting 8 hours of sleep a night, then you still feel fatigued its probable you have a sleep disorder. Over 30 % of the population has a sleep disorder and there are over 115 sleep disorders.  The main one though is sleep apnea where you stop breathing at night. It’s estimated over 20 million Americans are undiagnosed sleep apnea. 

Are there things that can help you get into a better sleep cycle?

Yes.  The two main negative influencers are caffeine intake and blue light. Caffiene is really prevalent in our culture this is not a judgment.  Caffeine is important given our busy lifestyles.  It is important to know how it works so you are not abusing it as you use it. Caffeine is an adenocine blocker, adenocine is a hormone that makes you feel physically fatigued, makes your eyes feel tired.  Caffeine blocks the release of adenocine, when you have caffeinated beverages in your system and you try to go to sleep that when you end up in that phase where my mind is racing and I can’t go to sleep. You’re body wants to fall sleep but the presence of that caffeinated beverage will not allow it. 

The average caffeinated beverage has 100 mg of caffeine and caffeine has what’s called a half life. It takes 5 hours for half of that to get out of your system, then 5 hours later the other half will exit your system. If you do drink caffeinated beverages try to stop by 2 pm so it can exit your system. 

The second one is blue light, it is huge, number one negative influencers on our sleep. Blue light is the fastest frequency of light.  It’s not only telling us to be awake but also when we are sleeping.  Spontaneous arousal’s that may be caused by blue light, and can be avoided by not using your digital device before bed. Avoid it for an hour, the national sleep foundation says 2, but I’m a realist.

What about night shift on the new phones?

They are slightly impactful but do not do what they claim to do.

What about sugar before bed I heard it makes you wake up to use the restroom?

That’s one of the few things that will cause you to wake up to use the restroom. A lot of people think they are waking up to use the restroom when in reality they are waking up for another reason and realizing they could use the restroom and then they go.

Other negative influencers?

Sleep disorders.  Most people don’t think they have one because we adapt.  We think we are supposed to be tired because of busy lifestyles.  But again with over 115 of them a lot of us do suffer from them. With bed partners being the ones who suffer most people don’t think this is something I should go talk to my doctor about. Another big part of the problem there, a majority of our Doctors in med school are practicing about 2 1/2 hours of sleep education.  There’s no mandatory education on sleep.

You mentioned a sleep study now what is that?

I worked overnights in school doing sleep studies and diagnosing sleep disorders. Patients come in and we put a bunch of wires on them and watch them sleep and see what’s going on.  From what we can monitor which is brainwaves, respiratory, your heart, all your systems and how they work together and if there is a sleep disorder present.  We treat it and send you on your way. 

So does being a tech where you are staying up all night and watching other people sleep what does that do for you?

It’s called hypocrisy. We sacrificed our sleep for yours.  I used to ride the bus home because driving home in that state was so dangerous.  I used to fall asleep on the bus all the time.  

Tell me about someone who wants to consider a sleep study. 

Most insurance covers and now is a great time of the year to do it.  Most people met their deductibles and now have the rest of the year to different medical procedures. IF you are tired I highly suggest getting a referral from your primary physician and say I’m tired, I’d like to get a sleep study.  They will refer you to an accredited lab in your network.  You get to go spend a night with an awesome tech and wake up with some answers.

What are things you can do in your routine to get ready, even if it’s not your home?

Yes sleep disorders are prevalent, but for most of us having good sleep habits and a routine will help us to sleep so much better.  Stop drinking caffeine at two and stop looking at blue light an hour prior to bed.  I also wear an eyemask to bed. Every time I pull down my mask I can physically feel my body say oh it’s time for bed.  We are so trainable.  It takes 28 days to form a habit but with sleep it’s so much sooner because your body craves sleep so much, it’s adaptable when it comes to sleep habits. I always suggest doing one physical habit that will train your body it’s time for bed. 

A nice glass of wine, alcohol is a sedative.  But it suppresses REM sleep, so do not have more than the recommended 1.  Don’t use excessive alcohol to fall asleep but have a night cap.  

They are leaning that a lot of people are having a hard time falling sleep because of worry.  They did a study where they listed five things they wanted to do the next day and five things they were grateful for. In that order first remove the worry then be grateful.  The ability to fall asleep was exponentially higher for them.

It’s good to keep a sleep journal keep it by your bedside.  A lot of time its good to write down your dreams, they can be very telling and you don’t have dream recall unless you wake up out of that specific dream. We have around 5 different REM cycles. 

Tell me about zzz-quill.

I am a fan of sleep aids. That is if you have done a sleep study and ruled out a sleep disorder, have good sleep hygiene then yes take a sleep aid. The long – term ramifications of sleep deprivation are so much more negative than actually taking a sleep aid. 

Are there other foods that are not good and ones that are good for sleep?

Cherries are one of the only natural sources of melatonin. Melatonin is very frequently mis-used unfortunately because of pharmaceutical companies mislabel them. I don’t know if you’ve ever used them, the way it was marketed was as a natural substance and you can take a natural thing but the melatonin you are taking was created in a lab. You are supposed to talk it 2 hours prior to sleep but most bottles say a half hour.  People think it’s going to be this magic sleep aid when in reality melatonin is used in circadian rhythm regulation, which is our bodies time clock.  If you take it two hours before you are setting your body up for when it’s time to sleep and not adjusting the shift to much by taking it a half hour before.  

It’s good to go out in sunlight in the morning to boost natural melatonin production. So when you wake up and you are able to go outside for ten minutes that’s really helpful. 

What other things would you like people to know before wrapping up?

It is really important to be aware of it. I’m not going to sit here and say sleep is the most important thing and you have to go to bed at the same time overnight. If you are suffering everyday, just know there are steps you can take to feel better. We live in the age of information you can google anything.  If you are tired there is something you can do about it.


Meeting Minds by EideCom