Episode 23: Best of 2022: Corralling the Chaos' Top 5 Moments

Jess Cook, Head of Content at LASSO takes a look back at five of our most thought-provoking episodes and guests.

Episodes Highlighted: 

Episode 10 - Nancy Schaffer, of the Live Events Coalition.

Episode 4 - Mel Baglio, Director of Operations at AV Chicago.

Episode 12 - Omar Colom, Director of Education at Evolve Technology.

Episode 18 - Tom Stimson, President of the Stimson Group and consultant for the AV and events industry.

Episode 2  - Clay Sifford, Founder and CEO of LASSO.


Listen 🎧

Read the Transcript 📚

[00:00:00] Jess Cook: Hi, and welcome back to Corralling the Chaos. I'm Jess Cook, head of content at Lasso, and this week's episode is a little different. We've rounded up our five favorite moments from the show this year and put them together into one insight packed episode for you. First up, we have a clip from Nancy Schaffer of the Live Events Coalition.

[00:00:20] Jess Cook: Nancy shares why it's important people understand what it really takes to produce a live event and why the industry needs strong advocates. So let's jump in.

[00:00:29] Angela Alea: There's, there's so many things that fall under the word event. It doesn't have to be a huge corporate conference. It doesn't have to be the Oscars, right. It can be so many different things and it touches every single human being on some level. And yet we're not on anyone's radar. We didn't get any dollars.

[00:00:46] Angela Alea: We were the first to shut down the last to come back and yet no one was talking about it. And if it wasn't for our industries, I think fighter mentality to your point, they're back against the wall. It [00:01:00] just, it forced the resilience and the strengths to come out in our industry. And my hope is with what you guys are doing.

[00:01:08] Angela Alea: And I'm so thankful someone had the courage. To take the initiative to put us on the map. And it's hard because it, it is an uphill battle when you're trying to lobby and trying to educate people on a really misunderstood industry. Mm-hmm and so I think that's so fantastic, but why are we so misunderstood?

[00:01:28] Angela Alea: Why aren't we on the radar? Why is it taking this this long? I mean, we're mature industry yet. No one knows really what we do.

[00:01:34] Nancy Shaffer: It's a really good question. And it's an easy one to answer. First of all, I love that you say that we had courage. I'm not sure if we had courage or we had insanity, but we had a need and we knew that it had to be done and there was no other option.

[00:01:49] Nancy Shaffer: So I don't think that we were courageous in it. We just knew something had to happen. And, and this very wise, amazing group of people decided that they would do that. [00:02:00] The reason. Our industry is misunderstood or not understood. And one of the things that we did when we first started was we started a, an educational campaign.

[00:02:14] Nancy Shaffer: That basically was wish you were there or wish we were there, which was, you wanna go back to a concert, guess what? There's an entire industry that it takes to support that concert. We wanna go back to work. You wanna go to a wedding? Great. We want you to go to that wedding and we want you to have a really good time, but it doesn't just happen.

[00:02:35] Nancy Shaffer: Yeah. So our industry is an industry that has been created by people whose job it is. To stay behind the curtain. Yeah. So our job we did really, really, really well too well that there's not an understanding of what it takes. People understand what it takes to build a building. People actually understand what it takes to go to a restaurant [00:03:00] and get a meal.

[00:03:00] Nancy Shaffer: Yeah. It's very clear. It's very easy to understand it. Our elected officials have no idea what it takes to do. They do now. And they do now because of who we are and what we've done. But we spent the first year educating, not only the consumer and our clients, but our elected officials who won in particular whose name I will not state, unless Wayne wants to.

[00:03:33] Nancy Shaffer: Literally said to Dwayne. No, no, no. I took care of your industry. That was the shuttered venues grant. And we're like, well, we really appreciate that, but that was maybe 8% of the industry. Yeah. So there's no real understanding of what we do. And I think I alluded to this when you and I talk the first time, when you go to an event, I don't care what it is.

[00:03:53] Nancy Shaffer: I don't care if it's a concert, a wedding, uh, bar mitzvah, a conference, a run, [00:04:00] any of the. When you arrive, it's ready for you. It's done. It's looks pretty. Your registration is there. Somebody's there to greet you with a cocktail. Your seat is where you want your seat to be. The stage is set. There's no understanding of what it took to get there.

[00:04:22] Nancy Shaffer: Right? And when you leave, it's still exactly the way it was. If it's a sporting event or a concert, there's a lot of traction on the. but other than that, it hasn't really changed. It's been exactly what it looks like somewhat when you arrived. So there's a magic that the event industry creates that we did so well, it put us in a position where people didn't understand.

[00:04:56] Nancy Shaffer: What it took to produce.

[00:04:57] Jess Cook: I love this next moment from Mel [00:05:00] Bago, director of Operations at AV Chicago. Here MAL is explaining how a shortage of crew and an increase in demand for live events has led to gaps in training and investment in crew, and what we can do to fix it.

[00:05:12] Angela Alea: We have companies who say. We'll treat them professionally when they act professional. And then we've got the crew that's saying I'll be professional if you treat me like a professional. And so it's like the chicken or egg problem. And so I think we would all agree. It's gonna take us all to foster this idea of mutual respect and mutual professionalism.

[00:05:34] Angela Alea: So I guess my first question for either one of you, or both of you is why is there a lack of professionalism? Something

[00:05:41] Melissa Baglio: I've seen in the last couple of years, even during COVID times is that a lot of companies have had to scale down. And when we're scaling down to accommodate less shows, there's a lot less people to take on a lot of the responsibilities and taking care of the freelancers, the contractors in these crew.

[00:05:59] Melissa Baglio: And I feel [00:06:00] like a lot of the times. There just leads gaps of like how we're onboarding people, how we're showing clients and crew that they are a valued employee and that we respect them and that we wanna put forth an effort to keep them engaged. And I think that's something that's really fallen off in the last couple of years.

[00:06:18] Melissa Baglio: Not that companies aren't working toward professionalism and, having respect, giving respect and receiving it back. But a lot of these companies are like, we just need to get these shows done last minute and I need everyone. Drop everything that they're doing and just start doing whatever they're being told by these companies.

[00:06:33] Melissa Baglio: And a lot of us have been having to take a kind of a step back to say how do we get back to that? How do we start reinvesting in our crew? How do we bring them back on and invest in them so that they want to work with us and that they feel respected so that they give the respect? We say that in the warehouse, like how do we expect crew to treat.

[00:06:52] Melissa Baglio: Our gear with respect. If we're sending them dirty, muddy cable ramps and broken gear. So it goes both ways, that whole [00:07:00] give respect to get respect. I understand that, but it's about like the whole thing. If you show that you care that people will return. Care as well. And I feel like that's something that, as shows are coming in last minute and people are having higher demands with lighter labor forces.

[00:07:16] Melissa Baglio: It's really forcing people to look and see, who's actually caring about these people. Who's actually trying to invest in them and bring back, positivity. And that's a really big thing that I think companies should be looking at. How can you provide that care to show them. Do care and that it's good to work for your company because, we respect you.

[00:07:35] Melissa Baglio: Here are the things that we do to keep you guys

[00:07:38] Jess Cook: Next up is Omar Colom, director of Education at Evolv Technology and a regular on our show here. Omar brings up an important point about the importance of live events, education, and how we can attract new talent to the industry.

[00:07:52] Angela Alea: There's a lot of people that are, are really hungry to do that, and they're looking for the opportunities and, and according to you, there's a plethora of them out there, which is really [00:08:00] encouraging, which is what I wanted people to hear. There's a lot of different paths to take to train and a lot of opportunities out there.

[00:08:06] Angela Alea: You just gotta go be intentional and, and research it and just go do it. Don't ever think it. Yeah. Um, well, how can we attract more people to our industry? Oh

[00:08:14] Omar Colo: man, that's, that's always the hard one, right? How do attract more people? So I, ideally in my, in my. We need to be more active on what we're doing on the, I, I'll say marketing, cuz that makes sense, but more active on the outreach side of things.

[00:08:28] Omar Colo: And unfortunately, we're again in an industry that, that isn't well known, right? We're not lawyers, we're not bankers, we're not accountants, we're not, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. We're. The director of this company or the director of that? Like what does that do? Oh, we do video. Oh, so you're a videographer?

[00:08:43] Omar Colo: Uh, no, that's, that's film in, in cinema. Oh, well you do, I do L led D Walls, uh, like concert stuff. Oh. But that's live. I don't really do, I'm rental and staging, like it's, we're in this weird market, so it's hard for us to do that, but I think, well, it's really cool During the Pandemic is the live Events Coalition came out and they started [00:09:00] doing some outreach stuff.

[00:09:02] Omar Colo: On social media. There has been a public noticing of us right now. People are aware that there's this industry that's a livable wage right. To, to work in. That's to do the things that you guys get to enjoy, right? Like these things aren't just built here all, all year round.

[00:09:17] Omar Colo: No. Every, every venue you go to, every arena you go to, right? There's tons of videos about this now is a blank campus and we get to come in it and we get to do all kinds of cool stuff inside of it. And I. Before that people just thought this stuff was there all the time, and it's not really the case. So we need to expose the next generation to that kind of workflow and that mentality of you can be independent contractor, a freelancer, a small business doing this.

[00:09:44] Omar Colo: And here's like ways you can make it happen for yourself. I think right now with, with everything changing in the industry as a whole, with with at home work being more acceptable, freelancers being more acceptable, independent contrast being more acceptable by the, by the government as far as businesses and taxes go, that is [00:10:00] one step.

[00:10:00] Omar Colo: The second step is to say, Hey, there's this industry here that you guys love to watch. Here's how you can make money and live in this industry and do this, this stuff. Not just be a part of it and be a consumer, but be, be proactive and then. I think, What's that kind of, which we're, we're doing that now, right?

[00:10:15] Omar Colo: We're with the XR stages and the VR stuff, we're, you're starting to see more behind the scenes content where fantasy stuff being publicly posted and on TikTok and Twitch and Instagram. We're starting to see that more. I think the next step is to say, Hey, would you like to do this for a living? Here's what you could make.

[00:10:29] Omar Colo: Here's what, Here's possibilities and like lastly, you guys have a great report you guys put out every year about that, Like those little things and like going to, let's say a school, a, a high school or college and saying, Hey, here's some stuff that I do. Here's the presentation. Now, unfortunately I've tried to do this.

[00:10:42] Omar Colo: Schools are very like, We don't know what industry you're in. It doesn't make sense. And we also don't offer, we don't offer anything that covers that. So, no. And it's like, okay, I get it. Do you have production theater in these classes? Well, we have this, but we have to shut it down and we have this, And you know, you're saying you're not theater.

[00:10:57] Omar Colo: Like, well, we could still do the presentation there. Like there's still, there's a whole market for [00:11:00] theater, which is they read from us all the time. Right? So it's like we're in this weird niche where we have to make people comfortable with letting us talk about stuff that, that, and showing that. Right.

[00:11:11] Omar Colo: And maybe. This is where, I don't know. So maybe we have to get more data scientists involved in the industry, get more numbers out there, get more of those things out there. You know, uh, Blackstone recently bought out, you know, all the, you know, the psav, the big, the big boys, psco and then vr, stuff like that.

[00:11:24] Omar Colo: So maybe getting them, them to get with us and say, Hey, How can we use some of your numbers that you guys are putting together to benefit the industry as a whole? So we can, we can talk more about this stuff and, and put it more out into public and make it more of a mainstream position at this, you know, uh, you know, like we said in theater ninjas, right?

[00:11:41] Omar Colo: All ninjas. Cause we wear a black all the time, but make it more of a mainstream noticing thing. And I think as, as parents too, we need to talk about it. You know, I take my kid all the time, can, I'll call her on FaceTime and I'll like, Hey, took out my show. And she, she loves seeing this stuff. Hopefully when she gets told she wants to do it, Yeah.

[00:11:55] Omar Colo: But if she doesn't, it's cool. But you gotta see like as I build in and do things, and I think, you know, [00:12:00] we as individuals need deal more often if, if an industry of a hundred thousand plus, I mean, we're probably way than that. We're probably in the millions, right? If we all did this and shared, yeah, 12

[00:12:09] Angela Alea: million, actually 12 million, 12 million people,

[00:12:11] Omar Colo: 12 million people in this industry.

[00:12:12] Omar Colo: It's crazy if, if all of us did this on a daily basis, just post about our stuff without, without. We would make, we would definitely be noticed. Right. Oh man, this is definitely noticeable. Right. And I think there are people doing that. There's some fun stuff on TikTok and Instagram that I've seen for people that are, that are trying to get out there and do some fun content, interesting things.

[00:12:30] Omar Colo: Um, I think a lot of us are just, we're on the technical side. We're not on the creative side too much. Yeah. Uh, and it's where we, we miss out. But the ones that are kind of both on the technical and the creator side, they're, they're doing content and some of it's really cool to watch. Some of it is, Hey, I appreciate the information,

[00:12:46] Jess Cook: Next we're going to hear from Tom Stimson, president of the Stimson Group, and a consultant for the AV and events industry. In this clip, Tom is sharing his thoughts on patterns and trends in the industry, and advice for how to lead your clients.[00:13:00]

[00:13:00] Angela Alea: Well, speaking of patterns and trends, you kind of talked about that a minute ago. What are some of the patterns and trends that you're seeing that make you nervous, and then which ones are you excited about?

[00:13:11] Tom Stimson: Well, none of it makes me nervous. I am, I am cautiously watching the tendency for people to go back. , you know, history has a lot of gravitational force. There's, man, things were so much better in 2019. Well, actually no, they weren't. If we objectively look at your business, they weren't better. It was just more comfortable.

[00:13:34] Tom Stimson: So there's a tendency of, well, when can we get back to doing it this way? And that's dangerous because I've, as I've said before, Best things that's ever happened to our industry has been the pandemic. Yeah. And that it forced us to think differently about how our businesses create value and what the profit formula is, and going backwards to some of the old ways of doing things, of having, you know, too many employees [00:14:00] because it's easier than trying to find a freelancer, that does not solve your last minute problem, by the way.

[00:14:04] Tom Stimson: Mm-hmm. last minute jobs are not fixed by having more employees. Yep. Um, it, it, it makes no difference at all. Owning more gear than you actually need, because, well, it made my EBIDA look better. Well, no, it actually didn't. Yeah. Because you, the CAP X pulls down your ebida mm-hmm. . So having a better understanding of what's going on with all of these things was gonna help people, but the lure of the past is strong because it's comfortable.

[00:14:31] Tom Stimson: So that worries me. Yeah. Um, the, the other thing that worries me is, Part of the lure of the past is what our customers want. So while I want my clients to stay in the present and look forward their customers, some of them want them. Want their suppliers to go backwards too. Would you go back to the, would you go back to the big discount?

[00:14:53] Tom Stimson: Hey, can I get this at the 2018 price? Why is this more expensive? You know? And [00:15:00] they're, they're trying to pull some of their suppliers backwards. And that's a bigger fear for me because many of, many of us are afraid of clients. Yeah. We're afraid of losing business when in fact that customer who's asking you to not make money, As a favor to them is not a good client.

[00:15:19] Tom Stimson: Yeah, yeah. Let's go find better clients. So if we get, if we get hung up on. Clients who are not going to treat us fairly and are not going to help you intentionally get where you need to be if they're not on your side. You need to go find better clients,

[00:15:36] Angela Alea: find better clients, and also, you know, do a better job leading.

[00:15:40] Angela Alea: That's what clients are hiring us to do, right, is to be the expert, to keep them from making mistakes and don't be afraid to, to lead your client in the right way versus. Right there we are again, being reactive. The client says A B, so we give them a B versus, Hey, have you thought about C because a, b might, might be the wrong path for you and [00:16:00] here's why.

[00:16:00] Angela Alea: And don't be afraid to lead them to do that.

[00:16:03] Jess Cook: Finally, we have our very own Clay Siford founder and c e o of Lasso. Clay founded Lasso thinking he was solving one specific problem, but realized along the way that it was actually solving bigger issues for the events industry at large. Let's give it a listen.

[00:16:19] Clay Sifford: I think one of the critical things that we did not know, and this is just me personally, just with my blinders on, I thought that we were solving a scheduling problem.

[00:16:27] Clay Sifford: Right. We wanted to know who was available when they were available. What could they do? How can I get them on an event? Stuff like that? Well, the problem. That I didn't realize when we first started was that it's really an HR issue. Because at the end of the day, we're dealing with people and, one of the biggest challenges that we had is really understanding what all of our costs were, part of the company that I, that I ran at the time and found it.

[00:16:56] Clay Sifford: We had independent third party audits, at the end of every year. [00:17:00] And, we had employees in over, I think it was like over 43 states. or people that were working in over 43 states. Let me just say that they were not employees at the time. And they said, well, listen, you know, you're, kind of have a lot of employees now and, or people that are working, sorry.

[00:17:16] Clay Sifford: Um, You know, are you telling 'em, are you controlling the work? And I'm like, well, what do you mean by that? And they said, well, you know, there's like this 20 question list or, should they be employees or not, or should they be independent contractors? And, we were independent contracting everyone.

[00:17:32] Clay Sifford: And I thought it was really just too difficult to keep up with. And I didn't really understand the risk associated with it. And so they said, well, do. Give them the tools. And I said, yes, do you set their schedule? And I said, yes. And, they said, well, do you track, when they work?

[00:17:49] Clay Sifford: And I said, yes, do you give them scripts? Of course. Do you reimburse them for re you know, receipts or expenses? Absolutely. Congratulations. You have employees, right? Yeah. So guess [00:18:00] what? So we found out that there's something called the source control, and that is really, I. and so, I said, well,

[00:18:06] Clay Sifford: okay. Okay. I guess maybe I gotta add these people. Sure. Well, because you're gonna say that you're gonna add them doesn't mean anything, but what it does do is it fundamentally changes your business model. Yeah. Because you've got all these unintended costs. Now it are part of an employment, right.

[00:18:24] Clay Sifford: A, a relationship that you've gotta deal. and then, it's not just like, Hey, you're gonna go work for 10 hours and a hundred dollars an hour. And you'll, you know, send me an invoice whenever you get it and I'll pay it in 30 days. Right. That's different. But the problem is, is that you have all these different states that we're all working in and doing things in, but have different rules and different thresholds.

[00:18:47] Clay Sifford: And we had no idea. Ultimately, what we're trying to find is the right person at the right place at the right time, at the right skill, at the right price. Yep. Well, if you don't take all that other stuff into consideration in each of these different [00:19:00] states, you'll never have that. And that data is not static.

[00:19:05] Clay Sifford: It's dynamic and it's always changing, which is another thing I had no clue about. And so, I knew that I was like, well, gosh, well, how do I solve that? And, you know, fortunately for me, I met. and you did have that experience. And so I really think that we set out for solving the issue and I still think we, we solved the issue.

[00:19:27] Clay Sifford: I think it's just all the ingredients that came up, you know, to come up with that solution were things that we just hadn't or me personally just had never really thought about. When you look back and say is with our, third party audit that we had, it was really simple decision. They said, okay, well, look, you're gonna have, you need to run the risk of about paying eight, about 8 million in penalty and interest in the event that you get audited and lose.

[00:19:51] Clay Sifford: And so I didn't sleep, you know, I didn't sleep that night and I thought, well, gosh, that's awful

[00:19:57] Angela Alea: eight, million's a big price tag. I don't care who you are.

[00:19:59] Clay Sifford: Well, [00:20:00] right. Well, I mean 8 million, but think about it this way. There was no, there's no value in that. I got nothing. You know, you as an owner, Gets nothing out of that.

[00:20:09] Clay Sifford: All you're doing is taking on massive amounts of liability for nothing. Yep. Right. And so to me, fortunately, they said, well, you can pay a fraction of the amount and just do a safe Harbor. And I mean, I couldn't do that fast enough because I wanted to make sure that from a liability standpoint, we were.

[00:20:28] Clay Sifford: Um, and so I think that kind of in thinking through like the unintended consequences, um, you know, and it was really difficult because we thought we were gonna lose the majority of our employees because that was not how they worked. They were not used to that. And back then, well, not back then.

[00:20:43] Clay Sifford: You're right. Yeah. Nobody did it. Right. And so we were trying to kind of change something that no one had ever changed. Yeah. And we felt like we didn't even have the tools. But at least we had some things, and we had the spine to make sure that like this, we are gonna do this one way or the other come hell, our high water.[00:21:00]

[00:21:00] Clay Sifford: And we did it. And then, which was, you know, good. But then, I think that's kind of where the tools that lasso provided really came in because it gave us the ability to do it efficiently in a way that we would've never been able to do. And that was really the catalyst for change. And if you look today across the entire industry, it's completely changed.

[00:21:23] Jess Cook: Well, that's a wrap from us on 2022 from everyone here at Lasso. Thank you so much for listening in. We'll be back in 2023 with all new episodes of Coring the Chaos. Happy holidays and we'll see you in the new year. Bye!


Similar posts

Get the latest in your inbox

Find industry insights, tools, and tactics for event and entertainment production companies, event staff and security, and crew members. Subscribe today to stay in the loop!