My Rules: Oscar Ball Producer Cheryl Cecchetto on Leading a Strong Event Team

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Photo: Greg Grudt for BizBash

As owner and president of Sequoia Productions in Los Angeles, Cheryl Cecchetto oversees the Emmys’ and Oscars’ Governors Balls, and corporate functions for brands like Dove, Hallmark, LG, and Revlon. Cecchetto will be the keynote speaker at the Los Angeles BizBash IdeaFest on June 13.

1. Know Your Client
Take the time to understand your clients—their taste and style. Don’t rush into production. Interpret and clearly understand what the mission statement is for the event, then collaborate to embark in the right direction.

2. Focus on Pre-Production
I can’t stress pre-production enough. Document everything. Absolutely nothing should be left solely to someone’s memory or only one notebook. Should you hand off your coordination binder to any professional event producer, they should be able to get right to work.

3. Empower Your Team
My father always said, “Surround yourself with people who are much more educated and experienced in their area of expertise than you are.” A great vendor is one whose passion for success is as strong as yours. Appreciate everyone loudly and frequently.

4. Streamline the Experience
Ensure that your client and guests’ experience is easy and seamless. Leave nothing to chance. Incorporate traffic controllers/hosts, reserved areas, directional signage, and every other opportunity to provide guests with all the information and guidance they might need. Detailed service puts your guests at ease so they are free to enjoy themselves and the experience you have created.

5. Create a Transcendent Experience
I’m very interested in transporting guests via all of the senses. It may be the music of a riveting performer who highlights one guest’s experience, or a wonderful wine that enchants another. If they arrive in one state and leave in another, you’ve done your job.

6. Strengthen Relationships Through Excellent Service
I’ve always believed that if you give your guests and clients 120 percent, they will consistently feel extremely pampered and nurtured, and they will develop a deep trust in your work and expertise. They can’t possibly be aware of all the details you’ve handled, but they can’t miss the result.

7. Take Risks
Develop fresh, bold ideas that have not yet been seen in the event world. In Los Angeles, clients and guests usually attend many functions, and they may think they have seen it all. It’s my job to surprise them with the fact that they have not.

8.  Be a Visionary
There’s never a problem, only a solution. If I feel that the energy from anyone is “the glass is half-empty,” I know we won’t click. My ideas are so outrageous, I need a team and vendors who are willing to say, “O.K., Cheryl, this one’s really crazy but let’s give it a shot.”

9.  Do What You Hate Before Noon
Do what you hate first. If there’s a job at hand that you are loath to begin, invariably that is the job that most needs your attention. Handle what you’re avoiding early, so by noon you can have fun with elements you love.

10.  Cast Your Team
Cast the staff in an area each person loves the most. A dear friend and teacher said, “Find out what you love, and do that like gangbusters.” I have staff that do not want to be the front people. They want to be the team players behind the scenes. On the other hand, we have staff who love dealing with the entertainers and the show side of things, because they are entertainers at heart. I know I’ve put together an ideal team who complement each other.

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