BizBash Live

NEW YORK, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2017, JAVITS CENTER
BizBash Idea Fest

Speakers

David Adler
David Adler

C.E.O. and founder
BizBash

What was your most memorable event you have ever worked on?

My favorite event ever was the celebration we did at the State Department to recognize the completion of the Patrons of Diplomacy program, raising $21 Million to endow the American History art collection in the Diplomatic Receptions Rooms. Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and Madeline Albright presided over a room of 200 guests who dined on a famous meal from the days of Benjamin Franklin—who actually showed up to speak about the meal (a reenactor, of course). Each guest took a photo in the private office of the secretary surrounded by all the attending secretaries of state. The room, designed by Bryan Rafanelli, was exquisite, with feelings similar to a state dinner. We also celebrated the ribbon cutting of the Secretaries of State Balcony that featured a granite wall with the Chairs of the Patrons of Diplomacy featured under the secretaries of state and myself. The pomp of the evening and the recognition for chairing the program was one of the best nights of my life.

What was the AHA moment that made you love events?

Back in the 70s, I was at the premier of the first Star Trek movie. I was actually the first person to get into the reception following the premiere at the newly opened Air and Space Museum in Washington. The band played the theme song for Star Trek as I walked into the room, which boasted a model of the Enterprise. It felt like I was being transported into a new world. It was at that moment that I understood how events are magical, how the combination of sights, sounds, and smells have the power to give you that event high, even without any alcohol.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?
  1. Volunteer for any and every type of event
  2. Understand both digital and face-to-face marketing
  3. Learn everything by using our resources—the BizBash Daily, BizBash.com, GatherGeeks Podcast
  4. Practice Managed Serendipity: be at the right place with the right people
  5. Have a positive mental attitude

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Preston Bailey
Preston Bailey

Renowned Designer, Author, and Speaker

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Ron Ben-Israel
Ron Ben-Israel

Chef and Owner
Ron Ben-Israel Cakes

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Bob Caldwell
Bob Caldwell

Founding Partner
Eventbots (by Sciensio)

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

We delivered our technology to a charity fund-raiser where we had more than 80 percent attendee engagement and increased donation volume and velocity by 21 percent. It felt really good to make a difference.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

Hosting an event in London for the payments industry (credit cards). At that event, private companies, law enforcement, and N.G.O.s all were discussing how to make the world safer and better. Speakers at the event sparked conversations between otherwise strangers, who then collaborated to develop solutions that still keep us all safe today. This only could have happened at a fully immersive experiential event.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Pay attention to details. The entirety of an event can turn on the tiniest detail. Did you spell everyone’s name right? Did you have options for those with dietary needs? Did you make all the information easy to find and understand?

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Liz Castelli
Liz Castelli

Chief Operating Officer
TINSEL Experiential Design

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

Usually events that involve hanging and rigging things from the ceiling stay fresh in my mind, but recently, we used nearly 4,000 bananas to build a showstopping bar centerpiece for a “Havana Nights”-themed party on Ellis Island. That’s an accomplishment I never expected to celebrate, but it was one of my favorite out-of-the-box design elements that we’ve created. (And please note: All bananas were donated to a food kitchen post-event, so no produce was harmed in the making of this installation.)

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

When we got to a place where we felt confident designing whatever we could dream up rather than designing according to what “should” be done is when I really started having a lot of fun with what we do.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Be as thoughtful, dedicated, and disciplined with your processes as you are with your creative craft. Having tight structures in place allows you and your team to be freer with the design process because you don’t have to spend the additional mental energy on actually getting things done.

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Yoli Chisholm
Yoli Chisholm

Founder and C.M.O.
STEAMRole.com

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Colleen Kennedy Cohen
Colleen Kennedy Cohen

Director of Events
Goop Inc.

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Adette Contreras
Adette Contreras

Chief Creative Officer
TINSEL Experiential Design

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

I come from a graphic and web design background, so I’m always inspired when digital elements can be incorporated into the environmental design. Last year, we produced a “Dinner in the Clouds” for LeSportsac, where the entire space was covered in reflective surfaces and a massive canopy of balloons. To continue the visual trick of stepping into a cloud, we designed an animated projection loop of the sky. Looking to upcoming holiday parties, we are incorporating some really innovative projection-mapping and virtual reality elements. I always appreciate how digital tools can add an extra layer of experiential magic.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

As much as I love seeing events come to life, I’m most excited about what happens afterward. I love the idea of the “artifact”—or the video and photographic content that captures the atmosphere. How do guests share the experience with people who weren’t necessarily at the party? How do we, as vendors, tell the story of what we produced? How do certain images become iconic or viral in the digital space?

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Embrace the things you’re good at, and build a team around you to take care of the rest. And be religious about your budgets, profit margins, and projections. That’s the only way to take your business from a challenging hobby to a sustainable business.

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Deborah Curtis
Deborah Curtis

Vice President, Global Experiential Marketing and Partnerships
American Express

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

It’s like saying, which child is your favorite? They all are memorable in different ways. But certainly, there’s no question that seeing the magic of what we create at US Open Tennis, year after year, is always an extraordinarily moving experience for me.

What was the AHA Moment that made you love events?

Before this role I worked in a myriad of marketing roles – from content to product development – but this role’s AHA Moment is the power of the direct human response on people’s faces based on your efforts. That direct feedback is like no other, and fuels my passion for the job.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Just remember when the work gets demanding (many nights and weekends), the partnership gets complex, the customer demands grow…you work in the happiness business. What we do adds to people’s lives. We are very lucky, so don’t take it for granted.

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Albie Hueston
Albie Hueston

Creative Director for Experiential
Refinery29

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

Of course, 29Rooms. That is too easy, though, so I would have to say doing Opening Ceremony’s 10-year anniversary party at Webster Hall was pretty epic. My favorite moment from that night was trying to get Lil’ Kim on stage (who was already three hours late). Her makeup artist went missing, so I had to help put on her false eyelashes. Thank goodness for my steady hand!

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

In my early 20s, I planned warehouse raves in East London, and I would get such an adrenaline rush right before doors opened. In that single moment, to be standing in the middle of this beautiful, vacuous space, there was a real sense of serenity before we would let the crowds in and the space would just come alive. That is what made me love events—how people always power the experience.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Be truthful in everything you do.

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Lauren Kay
Lauren Kay

Deputy Editor
The Knot

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Beth Kormanik
Beth Kormanik

Editor-in-Chief
BizBash

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

My own wedding. I planned it prior to joining BizBash and often think about how it would be different if I had known then what I know now about events. Still, it was a joyous and lovely day, and I can always go crazy with a vow renewal.

What was the AHA Moment that made you love events?

The Super Bowl belongs to the event industry as much as the sports industry (and perhaps even more). My first time in a Super Bowl host city during the big game was in 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida. The energy transformed the city, and attending events from the then-huge Sports Illustrated party to the game itself was a thrill.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Read BizBash! We aim to serve beginning, mid-career, and veteran event professionals with stories that offer ideas, information, and more. Our collection of checklists are especially targeted for up-and-comers and cover topics from venue contracts, event run-throughs, and Wi-Fi needs at events.

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Christian Lachel
Christian Lachel

Executive Creative Director
BRC Imagination Arts

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

The Shanghai World Expo in 2010. It remains one of the largest global events in history, welcoming more than 73 million people in six months.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

The first World Expo that I worked on in Aichi, Japan, in 2005. Watching the audience come through our pavilion and leave with joyous smiles meant everything to our team. It’s the most rewarding part of any project, creating an emotional connection, and I was hooked.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Follow your bliss. If you do that, you’ll always love what you do and opportunities will happen.

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Kelly Markus
Kelly Markus

Vice President for Experiential
Refinery29

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

My most memorable for redefining my career path was the Crown Point Festival—a multimedia event in N.Y.C. When folks said they didn't believe there was an audience for people who also loved film, music, and live performance, we proved them wrong. Each night on stage, we went seamlessly between plays and films, and then climaxed into an immersive music performance. Overall, we featured more than 400 artists and gained sponsors who bought into the vision.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

My conscious choice to get back into events happened while working in the film business. I realized how much I missed the audience in the presence of the action. There is nothing like being live, in real time, knowing you have to get it right. That interplay between what happens with another human being is what makes the most visceral memories.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Dare to believe the impossible. When there is a challenging budget, remember that creativity doesn't cost anything. Get into the details—both in budget (help you afford the things you must have) and in programming (that's what makes it special). Be prepared to work hard—but if you do, you will make a family of colleagues in the industry for life.

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Patty Padilla
Patty Padilla

Founder
196 Strategies

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Nicole Peck
Nicole Peck

Executive Vice President
BizBash

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Alex Plaxen
Alex Plaxen

President and Founder
Little Bird Told Media

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

When I was in grad school, I worked with Capital Concerts on its Memorial Day and Fourth of July concerts on the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C. Getting the opportunity to work with veterans and their families made those concerts some of the most rewarding and memorable events I’ve worked on.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

I was a member of a youth group in high school. My freshman year, I attended my first regional conference, and I remember sitting in the audience thinking, “one day I want to plan this conference.” My senior year, I was president of the region, and I was finally getting to plan that conference. My family decided to go on its first cruise vacation ever, and it overlapped with the dates of my conference. I had to make a choice. I chose the conference!

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Volunteer at the local chapter level with industry associations. Giving back to the industry is one of the best ways to build your network.

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Sam Sherman
Sam Sherman

Vice President, Planning & Production
FIRST

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

My first B-to-B event, which actually left me scarred for life. After spending hours on theme and decor concepts and designs with my colleagues, we spent a week shopping for and fabricating all the elements. Not only did I sleep in the office one night, I got into a fender bender while running errands, which left me with a scar on my arm. Every single second of the camaraderie, hilarity, learning, and joy of seeing it all come together was worth the cost of replacing that bumper.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

See above. In the moments after I crashed my car, all I could think about was getting back to the office and building that next centerpiece. I was hooked!

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Never burn a bridge—The supplier you work with today, could be a client tomorrow. And a client could be a referral to your next job. The culture matters—where you work is just as important as the work itself; you will spend hours and hours in the trenches with your colleagues, so do the work you love with people you truly like and admire at a place where you fit the culture and the culture fits you.

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Erica Taylor
Erica Taylor

Chief Marketing Officer
TINSEL Experiential Design

What was the most memorable event you’ve worked on?

Normally, my answer is the sexy, moody, dark masquerade ball we threw last year with stilt-walkers, opera singers, and vamping women in Victorian garb—it really hit on all my event love languages. But more recently, we’ve been jumping into the conference planning space with our sweet spot being the “un-conference”—shaking up traditional formats. We planned and produced a successful weeklong summit for the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities organization. It was a huge undertaking that pushed us into unfamiliar event territories, but after that one, we feel like we can do anything.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

I’m proud to be at the point where we speak events fluently and nothing scares us. When we started, there were so many unknowns that really intimidated us to the point that we would shy away from certain projects that felt too big or foreign. Now, we are fully confident that our team can rock anything that comes our way. I love being able to approach new event projects with a “bring-it-on” attitude.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Surround yourself with like-minded people. It’s so important to have peers and mentors who will continue to inspire and encourage you to become a better version of yourself. Find people who will genuinely celebrate your successes and commit to helping you grow as an event pro—keep them close!

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Josh Wood
Josh Wood

C.E.O. and Founder
Josh Wood Productions

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