BizBash Live
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SOUTH FLORIDA, MAY 16, 2018, FORT LAUDERDALE CONVENTION 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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Washington Arias
Washington Arias

President and C.E.O.
Everlast Productions

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

Miami Heat 2010 welcome party (“Yes. We. Did.”). I got the call with less than 24 hours to produce an epic event for Miami. We announced the Big Three (LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh) in a way that had never been done before in the NBA. We went big, and it paid off. The Heat went on to win NBA championships in 2012 and 2013, and we got the call to produce the celebration events along with the ring ceremonies. In our business, you go big or you go home.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

I got to rig and set up the stage for Ozzfest in 1998, with bands like Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Tool, Motörhead, and System of a Down, just to name a few. But if that wasn't cool enough, the coolest moment was the day of rehearsal when I got to put both of my favorite pastimes together, playing soccer backstage with the crew and bands, while bands took turns in rehearsal rocking out.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Learn your craft! Get educated, get out to industry trade shows, volunteer on big shows, get a production mentor. Add value to the industry and your clients.

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Sarah Caro
Sarah Caro

Co-Owner and Vice President
Mugsy PR

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

The most memorable event I’ve ever worked on is the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show—the largest boat show in the world. As a publicist representing a huge boat show, there were a lot of late nights and early mornings with the media. Coordinating media interviews on 200-plus-foot mega yachts is an experience I’ll never forget. I worked with both the mega yacht owners and crew, in addition to national and international media, to coordinate media tours onboard some of the largest luxury vessels in the world. Being one of only a handful of people personally allowed on these extravagant mega yachts is something I’ll always remember.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

One thing I’ve learned about events that really made me love working on them is how to roll with the punches. There’s always something that can—and usually will—go wrong, and being able to think quickly and solve problems is an important attribute to have that I learned while working on events. I’ve always been more of a planner than a think-on-your-feet person, and working on so many events helped me hone the skill of quick problem solving at events. At every event, I find a new skill I’ve learned along the way.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

There’s no such thing as over-planning when it comes to events. Think of everything and run through every possible scenario in your head and make a strategic plan. At the same time, be flexible. So many things (good or bad) can happen on the day of your event, and while I’m someone that likes to have a plan in place and be prepared, you have to be able to be flexible at the same time. Panicking doesn’t help. Just take a deep breath, talk to your team, and figure out a solution.

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Cristy Clavijo-Kish
Cristy Clavijo-Kish

Chief Development Officer
Hispanicize Media Group

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Chuck Elias
Chuck Elias

C.E.O. and Co-Founder
Eventbots by Sciensio

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Jenna Issott
Jenna Issott

Owner, LMG
C.E.O., Entertainment Technology Partners

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

Super Bowl XLVI, Half Time Show featuring Madonna

What was the AHA Moment that made you love events?

At 17 years old, I was working in the control room at the Olympic games in Los Angeles. It was then I realized how much live events are filled with amazing spectacles of emotion and audience reactions. The ability to partake in creating that level of excitement and energy and generating those AHA moments became my passion.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Figure out if you are a technical person or a creative person. By determining where you fit into the industry, you can harness your passion, and enjoy focusing all your energy on that area.

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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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Shareef Malnik
Shareef Malnik

Chairman
InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish Ball

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Nathan Mendenhall
Nathan Mendenhall

Director of Social Media
THAT Agency

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Gladys Mezrahi
Gladys Mezrahi

President
Indigo Events

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

When I was 15 years old in high school, I negotiated a whole year’s grade with an event. I had to raise the funds for the basketball and volleyball courts, or I would have been left behind and forced to repeat the year.

What was the AHA Moment that made you love events?

My son's bar mitzvah, when we overcame all the challenges, including hosting 1,500 guests with no kitchen, to pull off a fantastic event.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Passion, dedication, and persistence.

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Nicole Peck
Nicole Peck

Executive Vice President
BizBash

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Alex Plaxen
Alex Plaxen

President/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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Renee Radabaugh
Renee Radabaugh

President and C.E.O.
Paragon Events, Inc. and Cultural Explorations Cuba

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Barry Rinehart
Barry Rinehart

Executive Creative Director
Multi Image Group

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

Microsoft Global Sales Meeting in the Superdome, New Orleans. I had just started a boutique creative firm with a friend in Seattle, and we came up with a unique strategy to compete against all the other global agencies vying for that job, and we won the opportunity. At that time in my career, it was the largest venue and scope of work I had ever had to develop creative for. It was a true challenge to craft a wide spectrum of multisensory micro-moments that were as emotionally powerful as the macro-moments that had to play out over three days in that ginormous venue. It was a huge success and heralded as the best event Microsoft had hosted to date.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

My ‘aha moment’ came when I had the realization of what I really did for a living. I am a professional memory maker who is engaged to strategically create biological/neuronal connections by releasing neurotransmitters in humans’ brains and bodies. This epiphany completely changed the way I thought about and how I approached designing experiences.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Every detail matters. Every audience touchpoint is an opportunity. It’s not about creating a “cool event.” Your job is to help attendees to fall in love with and enter into a meaningful relationship with the brand you’re representing. Approach each moment (pre-event, event, and post-event) as if it’s an opportunity to create an intimate connection and you’ll find it transform your career. This business is all about LOVE.

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Joe Schwinger
Joe Schwinger

C.E.O.
MeetingPlay

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

We were involved in a new product launch with a client in the beverage industry. There’s a lot of development time and effort that goes into bringing these new products to market, and the event was being held in an open venue, so there was concern around the product getting out to the general public. Our client had the unique challenge of launching a product without showcasing the actual product. To solve this, we used augmented reality combined with gamification. We deconstructed the beverage recipe, offering event attendees the opportunity to see each recipe item through augmented reality. Only attendees with the event app were able to see these recipe items. Once all recipe items were collected, the new beverage product was unlocked in the app. This portion of the event ended in a private room where samples of the beverage were made available. This process kept people involved and in suspense leading up to the final reveal.

What was the AHA Moment that made you love events?

Event content used to be administrator driven. You planned your event and then pushed the content down to your attendees. Times have changed, and attendees expect more. They crave interaction and expect an authentic and personalized experience.

Seeing the impact that event gamification could have on changing behaviors was a big moment for me. Event gamification can shift energy at an event and answer both the needs of the event planner who has goals to reach and the event attendee who wants to own more of their event experience.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Be aware of event trends. Your attendees will always expect more, different, and better, and it’s important that your events don’t become stale. But you shouldn’t use technology just to use technology. Technology should be used to enhance the meeting experience and create a meaningful and purposeful impact. Always start with your meeting goals and then layer in technology that will help you meet those goals.

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Ashley Shapiro
Ashley Shapiro

Sponsorship and Ticketing Director
Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival

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

The most memorable event I worked on was my first event—the inaugural Fun and Fit as a Family at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. After a two-year internship, the festival founder and director, Lee Schrager, told me that he wanted to produce an event for families based around healthy eating and fitness. He tasked me with making it happen. It was a real challenge since I was 23 years old and had very little actual event production experience, but I partnered with someone who was a veteran of the business, and together we knocked it out of the park. We had Good Morning America film a segment on the first day of the event following Rachael Ray around the venue showing off the fitness activities and healthy food samples. Fun and Fit just celebrated its 11th year this past February.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

After the last piece of equipment was loaded out of my very first event (the first year of Fun and Fit as a Family), I was hooked on producing events. I was able to see a vision turn into reality and make so many people happy, and that gave me a sense of accomplishment that I had never felt in anything else I had done before.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

You have to have a passion for it. If you don’t love it, find something else. If you do love it…eat, sleep and breathe your event until every aspect is as you have envisioned it.

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Zoraida Suarez
Zoraida Suarez

Director of Special Events, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
Supplier Activation Director, Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival

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

A few years ago, Southern Glazer’s hosted a family picnic for its employees at Jungle Island, a local animal theme park. We transformed the park into a full pirate adventure for our guests, from a scavenger hunt to secret cannon blasts and buried treasures—it was interactive for adults and kids. While the event itself was incredible, the most memorable part was the overnight setup. It was truly a surreal experience to be in the park overnight. These are the types of moments you have when you get to appreciate the access and experiences that event production can offer you.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

My aha moment happened during my internship with the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival. I remember diving into the wine and spirits industry, googling every product and supplier that was pouring at the Grand Tasting Village and trying to soak up as much information as I could. When the festival weekend was almost over, I looked around at the massiveness of the site (with a few thousand consumers in the space) and realized that I had found something unique. Seeing the event come together from the logistical side opened my eyes to a new industry, and I haven’t looked back since!

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Get involved in your community. Research events in and outside of your specialty. Be open to collaborating with other event pros to gain experience, share insights, and network. Document your projects—not only from the guest experience side, but from the logistics side, too.

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Emily Taffel
Emily Taffel

Founder and Co-Owner
Mugsy PR

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

The most memorable event I worked on was a birthday party for a baby elephant. I had the chance to be part of the PR team for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. To promote the birth of a new pachyderm, we teamed with the culinary school at Johnson & Wales University to create a massive birthday cake made of only ingredients an elephant could eat, and we presented the baby with it at a V.I.P. birthday event. To top it off, our V.I.P.s were from a local underserved youth organization. They were able to attend the circus with their entire family, enjoy the birthday pre-event, and even watch as one of the older elephants created a painting (yes, elephants can hold paintbrushes in their trunks!), which was part of a raffle that evening at the main show with the proceeds going to the youth center. It was an amazing experience and one that made me fall in love with events.

What was the aha moment that made you love events?

I have always been in love with the theater, and, to me, the event industry is an extension of that. Everyone has their role, their stage directions, and a million moving pieces fall into place to create one big masterpiece. The first time I walked into an event warehouse, I was about 7 years old, and it was like Willy Wonka’s Factory for me—I was awestruck, and it hasn’t changed since.

Any advice for up-and-coming event pros?

Get ready to do things you never imagined, stress more than you’ve ever stressed (no one wants to ruin someone’s big day!), pull off successes that feel like feats of superhero strength—and do it all again the next day. If you can do that all with a smile on your face—you’ve picked the right career!

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