Net2Van – How to throw a great event

27 02 2014

I was pretty blown away by Kei / @BoldLove -  I’ve seen a lot of speakers over the last few years, but she really threw it down.  Swearing, hooting and hollering… but it wasn’t all party.  There was a (queue Kei) shitload of great information she laid out that helped people get up to speed.

Again, this event reconfirmed my volunteerism with NetSquared Vancouver – I get so much more than I give.

I typed as quick as I could with my mini bluetooth keyboard as Kei gave us the 411.  I have 3 significant events for my non-profit this year… and am just a bit terrified.  I am the guy that forgets that people like to have dessert when I invite them for dinner.  So for me, this was invaluable, and I’ll be living off what I documented for the year (and hopefully still be employed next year).

Here are my notes, straight outta evernote.  I blame typos and any lack of meaning on Kei’s rapid fire pace (not at all my inability to type or comprehend). ;-)

(and if my notes suck, I curated other people’s impressions -

 Let’s Party – How to create buzz worthy events
  • How to get sponsors and partners
  • How to get influence and VIPS
  • Get Media attention
  • Get your guest talking before during and after
  • 20 tips to event planning
Pro-Tip – Start Early
  • SMART Goals & Objectives – to align expectations with reality
  • You can’t have champaign on a beer budget – Budget needs to align to audience
    • How much event will cost
    • Size
    • Location
    • Date / Time
    • Bar – open vs close
    • Insurance? Permits and Licenses?
    • Need permit for outdoor event
    • Staging, equipment & decor
    • Staff? Security? Volunteers? MC?
    • Party Favours / Swag
    • Marketing?
    • What can you get inkind, what items require cash on hand -
    • Budget Template -
  • Internal / Out-of-pocket
  • Grants *** Civic Theaters have Grant program for non-profits
  • Ticket Sales – sell the experience
Make it Fun!
  • Life size boxing robots
  • Make own LED pins
  • What sort of experience you want to give guests.  What story do you want them to tell their friends & colleagues?
    • Venue
    • Competing Events
    • Dress Code
    • Accessibility
    • Cultural considerations
Contagious – Johan Berger – 6 principles of contagiousness
  1. Social Currency – people care how they are perceived by others.  Does it make guest feel special
  2. Triggers – tie something to the event.  Example was matchboxes, cavalia
  3. Emotion – sharing is caring.  Give them a reason to have an emotion – excitement, anticipation. Example was free tattoos with Sailor Jerry event
  4. Public – how visible is event to general public. More attending, more want to.  Visible behavioural residue.
  5. Practical Value – what problem is it solving.  Informing? Connecting? Inspiring?
  6. Stories – pretty bow that ties it all together.  Example – hand etched steins at Stella Event
No one cares about your event but you.  You have to make them care.
Marketing Mix - It’s called a “mix” because it has to be a combination of PR, Advertising, Inbound, Social Media; you cannot rely on just doing one and expect success.
  • PR / Publicity – what are you training your spokes people to share
  • Visually – how are you sharing
  • Advertising – do you have a budget
  • Inbound strategy.  What are you writing / sharing?
  • Social Media
    • Key to pre-marketing – build before you sell
    • Make your guest feel like insiders
    • Share your PR success
    • Social Proof – can see who is attending on Meetup, facebook events
    • Create native content. Example: The content of your posts must take into account the context of the platform within which you are posting them: Why do people go to that social platform? How do people consume information in that platform? What do they like to do in that platform?
    • “No sale without the story; no knockout without the setup. ” Gary Vaynerchuck
  • People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
  • They are expressing their values when going to your event.
Sponsors and Partners
  • Start with Why > How > What
  • create a Win-Win proposal
    • Why is it a good fit?
    • How will they be perceived?
    • What’s in it for them?
      • Do your research
      • Set up a meeting
      • 5 touchpoints before they get a yes
      • Then at least 7 back and forths before the signature
      • Listen more – ask them questions. How can we add value to them?
What can you leverage when approaching sponsorship
  • Brand building
    • logo recognition
    • advertising
    • social media exposure
  • Business Building
    • Employee Engagement. Example: free block of tickets
    • Onsite activation
    • Exclusive Access
  • Sponsorship Deck:
    • Visual + Understand the sponsor
    • Who you are: Values, achievement, metrics
    • Press and Testimonials
    • Target Demographic
    •  Benefits
    • The Ask – this is where your budget comes in handy
      • Maybe there are some inkind things
    • Write a report to sponsors – tell them how event went – your integrity is on the line
    • Thank them and be creative
Influencers & VIPS (including media)
  • Invite them personally
  • Perks and Benefits before & after the event
    • Send sample product, and more to come if they show up
  • Cultivate a relationship
  • Think story angles – pitch to their beat / speciality
  • Attention-grabbing headline
  • Deadlines – don’t bother when under deadlne
  • Media train your spokesperson
  • Secure coverage before, during and after your event.
  • Lead Time – how much further in advance to you need to get in a particular issue.  Example to be in August, you need to pitch 3 months in advance.
  • Press Kits and one-sheets (so they get names and basic story)
  • Give them best vantage point for best angles for photos
  • Interview space
  • DOn’t be serious in interviews – show you are having fun
  • Program for evening
  • Have an official photographer / videographer
Be prepared for everything – Shit happens
  • Contingency Plan
  • Communicate openly if problem
  • Be the source of information
  • Provide solutions
  • Roll with the punches
  • Mitigate.  Respond, don’t react.
Bonus Tips
  1. Be kind.  Front of house staff to be kind (cough Pat)
  2. Create points of visual interest
  3. Embrace serendipity
  4. Build your tribe – help the tribe to connect to themselves
  5. Don’t wing it
  6. Be impeccable with your word
  7. Treat. Yo. Self.
  8. Pay people fairly.
  9. DO your reserach
  10. To quote Kid President – treat everyone like it’s their birthday
  11. Create space for authenticity
  12. When you give, you get. Focus on delivering value
  13. Don’t lose track of your goal
  14. Plan with end in mind.
  15. Assign tasks & areas of responsibility
  16. Empower your team
  17. Practice grace under pressure
  18. Express gratitude
  19. Act with integrity
  20. Surprise your guests! They are buzz worthy.

A day in the life of a one year old.

3 01 2014


Thinking about information consumption and keeping the good stuff.

11 12 2013

I’ve been thinking about the way I receive and process information.  And I think writing about it will help.

I’m working to conform to the inbox zero, though I fall off that bicycle every now and then.  Right now, the latest problem with my web-consumption is how I interact with things that require some more in-depth reading and research.  I often come across reports or videos or guides or whatever…. stuff.  Good stuff.  Stuff worth going through, but not stuff I always have the time for. So I email it to myself at work.

And then it sits there, for when I have the time to read it.  It sometimes sits there for a while.  A LONG WHILE.

But I do get there.  Maybe.  Perhaps I save a pdf onto a harddrive.  Or my worst sin, copy a URL into a Windows folder, and then make a word “notes” file?  If I am doing a deep topic dig in a short time, I’ve made a notes .doc for a dozen papers and URLs, copy in all the juicy bits, and use endnotes for documenting source.  Dropbox has made this easier across platform and devices, but still is lacking.

I’ve tried other ways to catalog and keep things.  Words like “favorites” are on many webservices – RSS, twitter; watch later on YouTube; give something 5 star on my iTunes library, etc etc etc.  Every one of these things has a “Good stuff” way to flag, but leaves me with two problems

  1. That good stuff is all over the place.  In a browser. In an app.  On a device.  Printed out with highlighter marks on some random pages. I have to go find it, remember where it came from, and hope it doesn’t get retired (Google Reader), die (harddrives), or get upgraded (smartphone).
  2. The other problem is the good stuff sometimes needs to be marked up, and those good stuff bins don’t always allow an easy way to do it.  If I sit through a 20 minute video once, I want to remember exactly what part I need in the future.  If I find a useful stat in a 180 page pdf, I don’t want to search that paper again for it. And I certainly don’t want have to remember what channel I “favourited” it on.

I need a space for my good stuff.  I think Evernote is the solution, here’s a few reasons why.

  • Cross Platform. As an app, it works consistently on all devices – Windows, Android, iOS. I spend time on all three, and I’ve spent way too much time sending stuff from one to the other.  Usually via email.
  • Easy markup with searchability.  Jotting thoughts is easy regardless the media type, which was critical.  But the search-ability is amazing.  Tags help group, but truly amazing is the scanning from a photo you shot. PDF annotations. Notes regarding webpage. I’m playing and learning here, but it looks super robust.
  • Even for that great text resource I didn’t read but looked full of gold? It doesn’t sit in my inbox until “when I have time” and stare at me for days at end.  It’s placed in a proper bin that, even if never read, is scraped for when a future question needs answering and the resource is forgotten.  A “google” of just my good stuff, my own magic crystal of fuzzy memories.
  • Easy to feed, especially using IFTTT recipes for evernote.  Add starred email, share via my Android phone, favorite tweets, read laters in feedly, watch laters in YouTube.. It seems to hook into everything.  I didn’t think about the recipe for Google Calendar notes – but it makes perfect sense. It takes the good stuff out of it’s respective container, and puts it with all my good stuff. Even if for some reason I can’t find a way to elegantly push something into evernote, you can still email into evernote.

I’m optimistic.  I’m trying the 30 day free pro trial of evernote over the holidays.  I have a few weeks to look at stuff, and hoping Evernote easily keeps that goodness together.

Olympic Post a Day: Canada for Gold at Men’s Aerials

26 02 2010

My final live event to attend was the Men’s Aerials – Medal event. This is held at Cypress, and is the only Cypress event where the standing room tickets (which I had) weren’t cancelled, as it’s on a different part of the mountain.

I wanted to do a mountain event as part of the Olympics, but I didn’t want to go all the way to Whistler. Even the trip to Cypress is a long one:
• > 30 min skytrain
• > 15 min seabus (plus the wait for it)
• > 30 min bus ride up to Cypress (plus the wait for it)
• > 30 min walk from bus drop, through security, and into venue.

The waits weren’t long anywhere, but it’s a good two hours in, and two hours out. Because it was a medal event, there were only twelve jumpers, and they each jump twice, so the whole event takes under an hour.

While waiting for the event, we watched Canada Women’s hockey win Gold on the big screen. That ties us for #1 in Gold Medals.

It seemed like a great chance to see Canada win a medal live with 3 of the 12 jumpers being Canadian. And when I found out one of the jumper’s name is Kyle from Calgary, and I was attending the event with my cousin Kyle from Calgary, it seemed like destiny. And after the first set of jumpers, Kyle Nissen was in first, meaning he would be the final jumper.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. He went for a much simpler jump than the others, broke form, and had a rough landing, scoring low in his final jump. Obviously, everyone wanted to see a Gold and we left disappointed. When I got home, I saw interviews with the jumpers, and you could see how heartbroken all three Canadian jumpers were that they didn’t win the Gold at home. Tough for all involved, but congratulations to all the jumpers – it was a great experience. The fact that we didn’t freeze, worked our way into the grandstand, and could check “mountain event” off the “to-do” list, it all worked out quite nicely.

Olympic Post a Day #15: Officially a Blue Jacket

25 02 2010

Yesterday I headed to the volunteer accreditation center, and picked up my blue jacket, outfit, and also some swag it came with. I’m technical support for the Paralympics in Vancouver, and quite excited that I have an opportunity to help make the Games happen.

Volunteer Uniform

• Blue Jacket
• Blue Vest
• 2 x Blue shirts
• Waterproof pants
• Blue Toque
• Stainless steel coffee mug
• Commemorative coin
• Paralympics adaptation kit
• Accreditation badge

My badge is pretty sweet, it’s all access to everywhere – all events, athlete’s village, media centers, etc. This likely as I’m technical support, and who knows where I’ll end up fixing something.

Also in the bag of goodies (it’s gotta be near $500 worth of clothing and gear) was a pass to get a free journal. You have to pay shipping still ($12), but you can customize the cover, including the picture and title. Go to this website, (, and then use the coupon code “JOURNAL2010”.

Olympic Post a Day 14: Going to 3 Hockey Games in 1 Day

24 02 2010

On Tuesday the 23rd, I went to three hockey games. This makes six Olympic hockey games in total. And the middle one was Team Canada, which for me, is something I can cross off my life-to-do list. I’ve taken buddies, brothers and sisters, and of course, my wife.

Instead of blog each game, outcome, etc etc, here are some Olympic hockey tips.

• Come in your country colors. The bigger, brighter, and crazier your get up, the better. Costumes are encouraged!

Swedish Helmets

Swedish Twins

• You can get cheap hockey tickets from scalpers, especially in a game after Team Canada plays. I had my brother-in-law join me last minute for a game, and bought a single seat three rows from the ice for $40 (where as my ticket 3 rows from the back of arena cost $80 + fees). We all went down and sat together.

• The food in GM place is brutal. I’ve done the nachos, hot dog, foot long hot dog, $4 snickers bar, cinnamon stick, pretty much everything they are selling. The only hope is the $5 bag of mini donots – they are quite good – but you certainly can’t eat them all. I recommend heading to the Beijing / Plaza of Nations area for pregame grub.

• You are best to head out with a minute left in a period for the bathroom or beer. You can do both in seconds, instead of 15 minutes.

• Have a buddy grab a table close to stadium to greet you after the game. Having 20,000 people leaving Canada Hockey Place at once looking for food and beer, it’s your only chance to get a table. We had a good setup for my triple header, where friends that weren’t coming to that specific game had the table and we looped back in-between games. Different people met us there during the day, and Dix became our official party site.

• If you have back-to-back games, leave the stadium. Security hasn’t taken me more than 15 minutes, even for the Canada game, and that way you can get real food, cheaper food, cheaper drinks, and just stretch your legs.

From here forward, I’ll be watching games on big screens, pubs and at home – but to be in the stadium, even for smaller countries, is an awesome experience. Go Canada!

Olympic Post a Day: Bad news Team Canada, Good news Canucks fans

22 02 2010

Yesterday’s Team Canada / USA hockey game was a bit of an emotional conflict for me.

Of course, Go Canada and all that jazz. I’m quite crazy about national hockey tournaments, and have watched the World Junior hockey tournament over the Christmas Break ever since I was too young to play in it. I find it to be a faster and more passionate level of hockey.

Ever since being young, I dreamed of seeing Team Canada Men’s Hockey play live. So when the tickets for the Olympics were released in auction style (without a public schedule) my plan of attack was to bid on every single Men’s hockey game, hoping one would be Team Canada. And despite winning 7 games (plus both Aerial events I bid on), none turned out to be Team Canada.

But three of those games were Qualifying Round (all this Tuesday). And because of Canada’s slow start, that’s the route they’ll be taking. Bad for the team, but great for me!

There were other benefits for Canucks fans. Seeing Brodeur’s shaky game vs. USA, and not overly impressive game against the Swiss, the entire town will riot if he starts again. It’s really, only the right thing to do – but Luongo in net. This is his home arena. And while no goalie is perfect, Luongo has provided the Canucks with something that Brodeur hasn’t in his two games: a big, timely save to bail out his team when the game is close. It’s time to pass the torch to the next generation, it is what has made USA and Russia so successful to date.

Finally, I’m sure many Canucks fans, while heart-broken by the loss, felt a small swell of pride on that crazy empty net Kesler goal, diving around the defense man to whack the puck with one hand on his stick into the open net. It was the most impressive empty net goal I’ve ever seen. He in that moment had more desire to win than Team Canada, which he’ll bring back to the Canucks. Moments like that forge leadership.

So in summary, this loss to the USA was good for Vancouver hockey fans for three reasons:
• They obviously need to get their game (especially in their own zone) together. Germany is a good team to do that against.
• Luongo should be in net, that will make an already electric building blow its lid.
• I get my Olympic wish: to see Team Canada on home ice.

**note: likely no post tomorrow, as I have 3 hockey games that day:

12 noon – Switzerland vs Belarus
4:30 – Canada vs Germany
9:00 – Slovakia vs Norway


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