Event Planning

S.4 Ep.8: How to Standout in the Events Industry

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. 

Cause: Venture 

bill@billsvoboda.com 

closesimple.com 

Insta: Charlesevaneide

EideComCreative

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Twitter: The Meeting Minds

S.2 Episode 15: Should you hire a professional emcee?!

Does having a professional Emcee make a difference for your event?  Is it worth the cost of hiring one?  Charles and Lisa sit down with professional Emcee, Amy McWhirter.  Hear the ways emcee’s make a difference for your event and the tricks they have learned to create engagement!

 

Tell us about you.

 
I started out doing trade shows. I’ve been doing that a long time, then about 4 years ago I started transitioning into doing more corporate events. I absolutely love it, the experience from the corporate trade show world led up to this.  Its the live energy I love so much. It’s a lot more improv and in the moment. Trade shows are usually scripted, we have scrips in the live hosting corporate events but our audience is right there and you are guiding them through.  You gauge the energy level and I get such a thrill out of that. 
 
Here in the twin cities we see a lot of news anchors emcee events. How do you create the connection between you and the clients? How are you introduced?
 
Right off the bat I introduce myself and tell them I will be joining them on the journey. I don’t spend too much time on it, just a couple sentences, it’s really all about them and their event. At the end of the event I do have people coming up and say it was great and engaging and think I work for the company.  That is the goal!
 
What sets the tone for an event?  
 
Meetings ahead of time to plan with the client, figuring out what the messaging is.  The tone can vary between the kinds of audiences. The sales meetings are typically a little more high energy, where as a customer gathering is a little different.
 
How do you build your prices?
 
I build pre-planning into the pricing. I consider it part of rehearsal which is the day before the event and are built together for a day rate. For a corporate meeting for a day it is $4,000-5,000. 
 
In your opinion what makes a great emcee?
 
Energy! Energy is huge, warmth, engaging, charismatic, authentic: those are the things I think make a great host.  
 
My experience with the corporate presenting world goes a long way. I am used to getting immersed in the topic and sounding like an expert. That comes somewhat naturally at this point, part of that is getting familiar with a new client. It goes back to meetings and the content. 
 
How do you balance script vs improv?
 
They have their messaging but I have freedom to make it sound natural and put it in my voice. I either do bullet points or write it out more long form. In the moments there’s a lot of improv. Not changing the messaging but the way it’s delivered, when the people are there vs rehearsing, in the moment it will be different. It just comes alive when the audience is there. You have to be able to read the room and adapt accordingly. 
 
Do you see a lot of companies using employees to emcee and how do you show them the value of hiring a professional?
 
Yes that does happen. If they want to do that, it’s fine.  A professional is a professional for a reason and can handle all those unknowns or unexpected things.  The energy level alone, it’s hard to do that and maintain the energy level. The head of an emcee is in a different place. The employee will have so many other responsibilities and their focus can be pulled during the event. 
 
If I want to interview a few emcees, what kind of things do I need to do to vet them?
 
Do research before even talking to your candidates.  Go to a website for them, look at their testimonials, video clips are huge.  You can see the person in action doing what they do best. Of course talk to them and see how they do one on one and get a personality feel.
 
Do you memorize your script?
 
There are confidence monitors, they are hidden so most people don’t know they are there. I put my notes there.  I carry cards, I rarely need them but they do help especially in an interview or panel on stage. Sometimes the monitor will not be working because a video just played, or they forgot to switch it back. 
 
How do you keep people on time?
 
 Lots of reminders about what’s next and what time to be back for the general session. I point them to the mobile app and reinforce it by having them refer to their app. Things definitely do go long. 
 
What was the most fun moment in your career?
 
I went to host a customer conference in Rome last October. I did not meet the pope!  Honestly a sales meeting I did last month, we had some really fun bits.  We had a trivia game for the sales folks and I wore a crazy rainbow jacket. They played a montage of game shows, including international because we wanted to include all the folks, that was really fun. Then I got to do a song and dance. I am a dancer and I can sing.  And the CEO was so big on me doing a song. “You’re ready for that, you’re going to do that song right?!” It was fun. I put on a top hat and did a little bit from Chorus line, that was super fun!  
 
Has anyone asked you to do anything weird?
 
So far no!  If it really fits with their theme, I will say yes. The wildest I had to get was that colorful jacket. 
 
To get a hold of Amy:
Insta: presenting_amy
 
Instagram: charlesevaneide
eidecomcreative
 
Twitter: TheMeetingMinds

S.2 Episode 14: Shocking Stories of a Storyteller

Does telling a compelling story actually raise more money? Elizabeth Warmka is a master story teller!  She helps to explain how story telling should be weaved into the entire event, from invitations to the moment they get out of their car, to the video played on screen.  These are tips you don’t want to miss.

S.2 Episode 13: Explosive Entertainment Featuring Event Legend Michael Cerbelli

Michael Cerbelli from Cerbelli creative joins us to share his experience and tips!

 

Tell us your story.

 

It all started back in 1977 as a DJ in Brooklyn, New York. I got my first paid gig on my 13th birthday, on September 10th, 1977. I had a half of a mill crate of records and I played for 8 straight hours at a block party. And the reason I know the dates so well because Labor Day weekend was September 3rd, it rained that weekend, they canceled they moved it to the next weekend and they gave me 25 bucks for Djing this party. 25 bucks. I didn’t have enough music for eight hours. So I probably played the same record six times during the course of that eight hours. And the career started from there. And then in the 80s, we met a gentleman from long island, and it may sound cocky, but we revolutionized what the MC Dj perform a market was. We were doing everybody’s events on long island. There was a company EJM entertainment that was us. And there was another company, heart to heart and some smaller companies out there. Either you had EJM or heart to heart. We were blue vest. They would red vests. It was kind of a gang back in the day.

We just owned long island, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, we were doing events for everybody in the eighties and nineties. And what always was my way of looking at things like who are we doing these events for? These are great clients, but I wanted to know more about them. And then I realized we were doing these events for captains of industry, major players in finance, major players in real estate. And they started to bring us into their corporate events too. And it was a gentlemen, that said, you’re going to do my incentive program in Puerto Rico. And I heard nothing about incentive program and heard him say Puerto Rico. And I was like, yeah, okay, let’s go. I think he gave us $5,000 to travel to Puerto Rico and we did an amazing event there and that got me into the corporate realm. Then in 2000 I took EJM, merged with another company in New Jersey, was with them 11 years and we built up another end of the business but really going more for the corporate market, understanding what that was, doing high end social look, high end corporate as well. And then in 2011 I merged with a creative agency in Los Angeles, we just parted our ways. And then in 2016 Cervelli creative started as an entity by itself. So it’s been been an incredible journey for me and I’m very lucky to say who the clients are and what we’ve done.

 

What kind of stuff are you doing these days?

 

Our business is based on high end social and corporate. So the bulk of our business is a true corporate end of the business where we’re doing an incentive program, we’re doing an opening general session. Sometimes we’re producing the whole meeting and sometimes we’re just a lane. And I think that’s something that people in our industry don’t understand. It’s okay to be a lane and that’s where we’re sort of an enigma that we are able to move into these different areas. So we were doing the social end, they brought us into the corporate end and now you’re doing both ends of it. So today, if I’m doing a corporate event for a client that I’ve had for maybe 15 years, 16 years, that were doing these events for, I may be doing the CEO’s 25th anniversary, I may be doing the son’s Bar Mitzvah, the daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. We may be doing their wedding. When you think about that, it’s amazing those bookends.

 

Let’s talk about collaboration and staying in your lane.

 

To what the latter that you just said. It’s staying there, staying there and saying, Oh, I can do it this way. It’s all right to share ideas. So if you look at this, and I think this is a big motto with me, share the wealth. So when that client calls you, let’s look at the corporate arena that may have an in house production company, maybe working with someone that’s doing their floral designs for many years, but now says, I have this incentive program. We need to entertain everybody at nighttime. We need to work together. We need to bring this wow into the event. You have this specialty so when you collaborate the right way, I could book the entertainment, I can bring in the wow, but all of a sudden I let others handle their stuff. Let’s work together with that production company. Let them handle on the back line, let them handle the riders, let them handle that stuff and we managed the process. You’re not taking away from someone that’s worked hard and maybe even been part of the program even longer than you have. Why do you have to step on toes? Let’s work together as a team. Sometimes that first experience may be, who moved my cheese because someone’s like, well, you’ve got someone new who’s over here, but if you prove to them that you want to work together collaboratively, you’ll will work a long time with those people and then what happens for them? They start recommending you.

 

Are you spending time offline with the vendors?

 

Absolutely. We do it all the time. We’ll sit here and then, get on the phone and talk to them about it because this backline rider that they need this special equipment and stuff like that. We didn’t have that last year that was in Italy. All this equipment had to be brought in that we needed for the event. So why does the client need to know all that? They’re handling that and the it, we’ll work directly with them, knew what it was. And then we wound up finding out that we were able to share some of the shipping cases that they were going to be bringing into Italy because they said can you just get it to our warehouse. We’ll put it in our case. Why do you have to pay for this too? So it’s talking, speaking together, working things out together. We all save money. Did it cost the client any more money cause that shipping container, whether it was $1,000 for one item or $1,000 for two items, it was the same cost. So we just shoved our stuff and they’re shipping container because there was room.

 

Speak to some common mistakes you’ve seen over the years.

 

If I’m working with somebody we see someone not sharing information, not coming back to us with detail and you sort of lost. I’m very honored when I hear my team came back from an event, maybe we weren’t that lane and we work with other people that may be on this event. They almost get excited when they see us. They’re like, are you managing this event? No, we’re just doing this today. Oh okay. Cause I don’t have this information. I wish I had more information. What does this event about? And the kind of lost in the process, but it’s because of where it’s coming from. If the head is able to talk to the arm and to the feet to the legs and hands, everybody will work together as a team. Don’t take off more than you could chew. A lot of times everybody’s working on this budget. They don’t have the money, well if they don’t have the money to do what they want to do properly, the process is different. You can’t just do everything, because the client doesn’t have the money. Then you have to be able to explain to your client, this is what we need. If you want this done properly and you want this done properly, we need a team. Lots of times the biggest mistake is someone’s not being a team player and just going into the event and thinking they can handle it by themselves and they’re frantic the day of the event. We have a motto in our office, don’t panic. Here is where we get the detail done and if we’re upset, be upset and say, I wish that was there, but the day of the event, that’s when you don’t panic. That’s where you get everything done correctly. The chandelier falls, go get a broom, sweep it up and go get a lamp. When you see the person that’s freaking out at the event, that means they didn’t plan properly, plan and have a good team. That’s the best way to get through.

 

How do you make an event exceptional?

 

The surprises, the moments make it exceptional. You could have great people, you can have great food and things like that, but that little moment of what everybody enjoyed together as one, is that exceptional moment. Something that they’ve experienced altogether. Not every event has entertainment and things like that, but thinking about that, if there’s something that’s gone on, something that brings it all together, that’s something that meshes it all together. A theme that works with the event, that’s when everybody’s sharing the same experience. You could go to an event and you have people in this corner, and that corner, but when they all come together, share something together, I think that’s what makes it exceptional.

 

How do you create that?

 

We can always go into an event and say, oh, this is great. This is what you should be doing and this is it. This is the easy booking. I can’t wait to book Bruno Mars one day I just want to work with in March, we’re born in Mars is not the answer for everybody, all right? Not Everybody has $1.5 million, $2 million to book Bruno Mars, but at the same time, is there a talent that you could bring in?

If you’re going into a meeting and there’s just a constant talking head on stage and going from meeting to meeting on a multi day event. We were rushed to get food. There wasn’t enough. If you give people these moments to spend time together enjoying each other’s company, then maybe they haven’t seen each other in a year, spend time, network, talk, not rush from meeting to meeting to meeting to food. Give them of those moments, those will be your most successful events out there.

 

Tell us more about the Hot List.

 

So there’s a little story. It was 2001,I was attending a conference and a gentleman got on stage, great speaker. He took out a vase, and he put the vase on the table and he clicked the little switch on it and he took out a remote control and started pressing it and the vase started changing colors. All of us in the audience went what’s that? And he goes, this is led technology. What’s led technology? We never heard such a thing. So at the end of this little conference, I walk up to him and I said, David, you’ve got to tell me I need this. I gotta bring it to New York. Where do I get this vase? He goes, call me. He wouldn’t give me the information. He wouldn’t not share where he got the vase from. Why can’t we share the wealth? Why can’t I say this is a good idea. Use it. Maybe we could share this information. So in 2002 I started something called Michael Cerbelli’s 101 hot event and entertainment ideas in 90 minutes. And I sent 101 ideas in 90 minutes and the audience went bananas. It’s 2002 I got bombarded by my industry almost beat up. How can you share this information? How dare you, you’re giving away all our trade secrets. I said, what am I giving away? I’m sharing the information. We just did the 18th annual and now it’s called the hot list in San Diego this past January. And I’ve done four speaking engagements since January 10 an, we had over 3000 people in the room wanting to get this list that I have front of me and all it is, is the 36 ideas I spoke about and their contact information. And we do this big show. The room is packed. It’s just fun entertainment, band playing on stage. And then the next hour and a half is me rambling and bringing act sound and bringing product out. But it’s sharing information, and I don’t care anymore and none of us should care anymore that we’re telling these people out there who the act is.

There’s not a dollar to me for doing this. There’s no kickback for getting booked. All we tell them, we can do two live shows a year. You got to come out in January and you’ve got to come out in June. January is the special event show and June is MPI, world education congress. I hear from people, I got a phone call three, four years later because they keep the list in their office.

 

Tell us a couple of tips for aspiring planners.

 

Start attending conferences. I was going to class. I believe that you should be networking. I believe that you should becoming part of organizations, know about all aspects. Am I the best technical director there is? Absolutely not. Do I understand most of it? Okay. I understand it. Get out there and network. Go to classes. Don’t just go to an event, a conference partying. Start learning. Attend a conference where maybe it’s not your forte. And when you go to these things, don’t think that someone’s going to just call you and say, Oh, I want to start working with you. I’m working with people that I want to work with and they’re working with people that they want to work with. We’re not working together every single day.



S. 2 Episode 12: Getting Real with an Events Planner

Shadia Tobkin is a wealth of information!  This week Charles sits down with Shadia and they start to dig a bit into her experience while staying really real. This podcast is as entertaining as it is informative and you will definitely want to check it out!

 

  • Never be above the work

    • move tables, stuff gift bags, volunteer, work under someone at your same level

  • Keep it together under all circumstances

  • Always continue to learn and push yourself out of your comfort zone

    • Say yes…. We say NO because of the fear…FEAR OF FAILING

  • You don’t have to be the expert –

    • Know the experts.

  • Be One step ahead

    • Staff check-in (Leads, shirts, instructions, lunch)

    • Visualize the entire staff and attendee flow

  • Preparation equals success: “Chance favors the prepared mind”

    • As simple as putting all of you’re on site contacts in your phone

    • Send info and have calls in advance

    • Print radio check-in lists

    • Rehearsals are as or more important than the actual meeting itself

  • Work smarter not harder

    • When something gets thrown at you, take a beat to think (don’t make rash decisions)

    • Delegation, outsourcing, staff management

    • Manage Staff

  • Partners and connections are everything

    • Surround Yourself with Good people

  • Be Real

    • Confident, kind and relatable

    • People appreciate candid conversation

  • Expectations. Expectations. Expectations.

    • Over communicate to meet expectations

 

Extra:

  • Ask the “obvious” questions

    • Ex: 9/10 times that I ask a question most people also need the answer or people assume the answer or understand the answer in different ways

 

Newbies Advice:

  • Start Talking to anyone who will listen: People know people

  • Set-up 2-3 networking meetings a week

  • Follow and comment on Event Planner Insta Pages

  • Get Experience: Help plan for your friend’s wedding or volunteer at your company to be on the “social” committee

  • Intern or work for an agency

  • Work for a vendor/décor company (lots of exposure to various clients)

  • Don’t over ask too many questions (Ask a couple and figure it out)

  • Show up EARLY! Don’t complain! Be pro-active!