In this episode, LASSO's own heads of sales and marketing Anthony Zhang and Drew Brucker share their insights on how to create a scalable engine that...
Episode 24: Enter the Winners Circle: Advice From the Top AV Professionals
Drew Brucker, VP of Growth at LASSO interviews the 2022 National Crew Appreciation Week winners.
- Advice for anyone curious about joining the live event industry
- Ways for event techs to level up their skills
- The need to advocate for yourself as a tech
- Importance of learning from others...except for their bad habits
- Lack of transparency and standardization in the industry
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Read the Transcript 📚
[00:00:00] Intro: Welcome to Corralling the Chaos podcast, where we talk publicly about the things you're worried about privately. My name is Angela Alea, and I'm your host. This is the event industry podcast for companies and crew where we're gonna dive deep into things like, what does our industry need that it just doesn't have?
[00:00:18] What are the things you wanna know, but you're just too afraid to ask? And what are the biggest opportunities ahead for our. We're gonna go deep and nothing is off limits.
[00:00:37] Drew Brucker: Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Corralling the Chaos. My name is Drew Brucker, VP of Growth at Lasso. Yes. This is not Angela with a deeper voice. I am just making a guest appearance because Angela is on the road, but this is an awesome episode because I get to chat with, five or six of the best AV techs in the industry.
[00:00:59] And they all [00:01:00] have just a vast amount of knowledge they're very thought of by their peers. And so we're gonna dive into each of. Their backgrounds, what they attribute to their success advice that they have for those considering a career path in the industry, and really dig into those things. I'm happy to get things started.
[00:01:17] Why don't we just ask, around the room, how did you find your way to events in general in, in this AV world that we're in?
[00:01:26] Yatashah Backus: I actually started in this industry. I was doing freelance web design and video editing and graphic design, and I was just looking for more work. And I got a last minute call to do graphic, a graphic op spot in a show in 2011.
[00:01:43] And then I didn't even know this industry was so big and one of the companies were like, oh, we're gonna take you. Yeah, this is, you did a really good. We need more people who are IT savvy and things like that. And we're gonna hire you. And so I was [00:02:00] hired in 2012 and I've I didn't realize how big it was and I've been working here since, so about 10 years now.
[00:02:08] Drew Brucker: That's awesome. And Ed, what about you? I'm curious.
[00:02:10] Ed Willock: So I got into it in that cliche way of being a musician first. I've been doing live events since the mid nineties when I was, even a high schooler started playing in bands and then I was pretty ambitious, so I started just putting on concerts.
[00:02:23] I spent a lot of years as a talent buyer and concert promoter. And got tired of paying someone to do sound, so I just bought their gear from. And then started that way, did the concert thing for a real long time, and then moved to corporate in about 2012. I was too punk rock to for corporate, or so I thought.
[00:02:39] And then eventually once I ran into, someone actually threw the music scene whose brother owned an AV company. He's like, like, oh, you should come check this. And then when I saw, how lucrative it could be and that it wasn't that much different and you got better hours and usually better gear and better shape and bigger crews.
[00:02:56] I was like, wow, this is I don't have to work till four in the morning so I can do this corporate [00:03:00] thing. So that's of how I fell into it. I still do music summer festivals, you know, when corporate's a little slow. But that's how I got into it was that being a musician, Then I think a lot of people have fallen into it
[00:03:11] Drew Brucker: that way.
[00:03:11] Yeah. I think that's a very interesting story. And I think you're right. I've heard that sort of similar scenario with the music bridge to get you over that side. Darius why don't you, why don't you tell us a little bit about your, prior experience? What got you into the industry?
[00:03:26] How'd you start? I started
[00:03:27] Darris Taylor: about I'd say 15 years ago and started in Live sound doing live shows numerous shows, numerous artists. I got maybe kinda, burned out and I found out about the corporate world and I guess I just took off with that and that was, I haven't looked back.
[00:03:47] Sometimes I do yearn to go back cuz I don't wanna get rusty from doing a live. But I do 'em from time to time.
[00:03:55] Drew Brucker: That's fantastic. And Frank, why don't we go to you next. Tell us a little bit about how you started. [00:04:00]
[00:04:00] Frank Pestana: Yeah. So I started about 10 years ago. My uncle was working with II and I was in college at the time and I needed some work.
[00:04:07] So I started off by going with him basically shaping shows in New York City and New Jersey showing up to MetLife city field or wherever there was a gig that he was on, standing on the sidelines until I got a, got called in by the the chief to start working. And from there I met a crew that did private event product.
[00:04:27] So I started at the very bottom as a deck pusher and, a cable runner. And I managed to work my way up over the years into the video teching and general teching and broadcasting scene. Started from the very the lowest point learning and earning my earning my teeth on that one and working up from there.
[00:04:45] But since then, it's it's been great. Haven't looked back.
[00:04:49] Drew Brucker: Love it. And obviously last but not least, we got a two timer on the podcast over here. Humble brag. Omar why don't you tell us a little bit about how you started in the industry. You may have already [00:05:00] answered this, but for those that didn't listen to your previous episode, why don't you tell us?
[00:05:04] Omar Colom: I'll, I'm a little different than everybody else here cause my father owns a company called me to stage in South Florida. So I'm second generation into the industry. I was well aware of it growing up. I knew all about it, and I've been doing corporate since I started. So I, I was, I didn't stumble onto it and I was aware of it and I, this is the thing, the job I wanted and where I wanted to go in the industry was in video.
[00:05:23] So I, I came in knowing what the potential was, then the long run. But like Frank was saying, my, my father did, you come in, work the warehouse first, roll the cables, do the things on the sideline, learn little by. , six years later I became the lead of for video, and then I just kept learning from there.
[00:05:37] Drew Brucker: And just to elaborate on that, what, what made you keep pursuing that and make you choose it purposefully to stay in the industry? Obviously, the comfortability around being in it from a young age, you change as a person, right? So what sort of kept bringing you back to know that this is where you wanted to?
[00:05:56] Omar Colom: Yeah, so I think as the industry as a whole, people forget sometimes that [00:06:00] video is the newest kind of frontier as far as the AV world. Audio and lighting's been around for a long time. They pull from the live touring side, they pull from the theater side. Video just really pulls from broadcast, and it wasn't until last, I'd say maybe eight years or so, they started creating gears specifically towards this industry.
[00:06:15] So a lot of things we're seeing nowadays, they weren't here 12 years ago they're all brand new. So it's a, it's a constant learning. And then what Ed me have talked about a lot too offline is like the the signal flow and the nitty gritty stuff of the engineering side is really what fascinates me.
[00:06:27] And I think in video it's the hardest to get that information. So it's always like a constant learning path and constant reeducating myself and reinventing my skillsets and my knowledge. And everybody's taking heads cause that's what they're passionate about. And I just think for video, for me it's like there's such a wild west for this part of it that it's fun to try to figure that out and then keep learning and maintain it.
[00:06:45] At some point it gets a little exhausting. . It was this last year, what, what changed? And it's like always new, reinventing and relearning things. But video just for me has been the most constant puzzle to figure out with never ending
[00:06:55] Drew Brucker: challenges. Yeah. I love that. Ed, do you have anything that you wanna add on to [00:07:00] that?
[00:07:00] Or is your sort of, did the reason that you choose it, is it similar to what Omar just said, or is it different in any
[00:07:07] Ed Willock: way? It's a little bit different. Like I said, I, because I got in as first a performer who. Needed. I created a need or sorry. There was a need that I filled by starting to put on my own shows.
[00:07:19] So that was I've always been a little ambitious and I've worked on all sides of the table. As far as, having been talent, having been the vendor, I had my own company doing sound. I'm a technician. I've been the full-time guy at an AV company that was a senior producer.
[00:07:34] I look at it that way. But yeah, the, the technology, as Omar was saying, it's always changing. I, and I think the reason why I do audio and do video and led and all that stuff is to keep myself really well-rounded. And I think that the people who do that tend to excel. And I'm always trying to learn and, you me and Omar know each other offline for a while.
[00:07:52] And that was one of our goals was trying to help people level up during the pandemic and stuff. That's how I Got into events because I needed to cuz I wanted to advance [00:08:00] what I was doing. And then I just fell in love with it. And I love every aspect of it.
[00:08:03] But the learning, yeah, like Omar said, I'm I think that's part of, one of the interesting things that keeps me involved is cuz I always can learn something. There's always something new. That I can find some new piece of gear, some new method of doing something. When I started learning l e d I was like, oh, this is totally different than projection.
[00:08:19] And I was like all in on it and yeah let's learn it,
[00:08:21] Drew Brucker: It's cool. Yeah. It takes you down a rabbit hole in itself, right? It just, Hey you realize what you don't know, and that becomes very interesting in itself. Obviously the curiosity factor is huge. , continuing to make something interesting over time.
[00:08:33] Es especially if you're around it every day, you've gotta find new challenges within that to go after and follow. Yatashah, Darris, or Frank, do you guys have any insights for you as to what you know, what has made you stay in this industry? I had
[00:08:49] Frank Pestana: been working a corporate desk job after college.
[00:08:51] And I was still doing events at that point. And then going back to the events, I was like, ah, why am I at this desk? I wanna be out there. I want to [00:09:00] be, I wanna be doing something that it, it felt like, something new every day. Learning something new every day, going back to what everyone else was saying, those challenges rather than staring at a spreadsheet I wanted.
[00:09:11] Use some of that engineering skill that I picked up in college rather than sitting and crunching numbers. And then just working with the crews and the guys and the teams that I've been with over all these years has really kept it together. Peter May had nominated me and I've been working with his crew since I started.
[00:09:26] It's just, it becomes a family after a while and something that you just want to be a part of every day when you can. It makes the work worth doing.
[00:09:34] Drew Brucker: Absolutely. , Yatashah, Darris, you have anything you wanna add on to that?
[00:09:39] Darris Taylor: Yes. I pretty much like the different locale every day. It's a different location.
[00:09:43] The challenge of the job, it's never the same challenges. Every gig is different, and that's why I get up every day and try to work. I like the challenge. I love
[00:09:53] Drew Brucker: that. Yeah. I gotta break the monotony a little. .
[00:09:56] Yatashah Backus: Yes. Yeah, I would definitely say the strong point in our [00:10:00] industry.
[00:10:00] I do corporate events. It's the variety, definitely the variety. I came in this industry, I was just doing graphic op stuff and it's inter, it's funny cuz like I actually used to help out my church all the time. Back in high school. So it was like, wow, this is stuff I used to do in high school and now I'm doing it 10 years later.
[00:10:18] And I haven't touched this stuff in a hot minute other than doing lots of computer stuff. And my first year I was like, I was an IT lead. of huge shows because they just needed more people like that. And then I've gone through everything for at least the digital side, like being a server op, being doing streaming and capture and overflow.
[00:10:40] I do a lot of audience response is what I've been hired a lot lately since a lot of people don't want to touch the software cuz it's lots of detail. The, what really hooks the industry is the new challenge. The variety. Yeah. I really love working on a team. Like we have, these shows are [00:11:00] impossibly big sometimes, and if you looked at it from the outside, you'd be like, how would you get all these things set up with all these different unions, all these different companies, all these different people.
[00:11:11] It's just massive and that we all come together and make it happen. It's a very fun social and, , interesting environment. Yeah.
[00:11:20] Drew Brucker: And to pull those things off at the end of the day, obviously with some of the challenges that take place. That's gotta be a great feeling. I wanna segue this conversation a little bit.
[00:11:28] So the reason. You all are here, is because you're great at what you do. And that's not just an opinion of mine or yours. That's something that your peers have said. They've said great things about your work ethic, what you provide, the intangibles, the attributes. And I really want to focus on things that can be actionable for anybody listening.
[00:11:50] And to get your perspective on how they. Guide their career, improve, learn, develop, grow. [00:12:00] So I wanna shift this into more of a, an advice or takeaway perspective. What do you guys think in terms of, your individual disciplines? Why don't we call those out in, let us know if you have any specific advice for those, considering a career path down that route.
[00:12:16] So happy to kick that off with whoever wants to take the first crack.
[00:12:19] Omar Colom: Something for anybody who's coming into the industry right now that I, if anybody disagrees, let me know, but I think everybody here can agree with on this is that one of the benefits that came outta the pandemic is now almost every program out there has a simulator.
[00:12:31] So there's no reason you can't sit home, download that program and learn it. You go back six years ago, there's a bunch of stuff for audio video that unless you had the console in front of you, you couldn't learn it. So it's a, get on the job site and learn it. Now, the, now the option to learn it at home on a computer with actual YouTube videos, which I hate to ever hate to use that as a reference, right?
[00:12:49] But you can watch a YouTube video on a couple different things, let's say for an E two or an Alon, or a media server, or a Grand Ma. All these plethora of products that have a, some kind of similar download, nowaday. That's just a game changer that [00:13:00] wasn't available to us. A couple years ago.
[00:13:01] So the, the way to learn, the way to learn before would be taking your time, which I think you should do too, right? Taking your time to sit down and whoever your preferred partners are and get access to that gear and play with it and do stuff and talk to people about it. Now you can literally go online and learn from a plethora of people and then get the software downloaded and play with it and get instant feedback on what you're doing, what you're learning.
[00:13:22] I think that's a huge advantage if anybody's not even thinking about that. You guys should, if you're on a job. Look at what's being used. Look at what's going on. Go to the webpage, figure out what the program is, figure out what the videos are, who's doing content on it. See if they have a download for you to learn on it.
[00:13:34] Cuz most of the times there is, and a lot of these smaller programs you can even download without outputting anything. But then you can still play with the program, learn inputs, outputs, signal, flow resolution, things like that. There's a plethora of options now that if you just take the time on your own to do it, you can excel much faster than we would've, five years.
[00:13:50] Drew Brucker: Yeah it sounds like, that's a trend in a lot of areas, but the fact that you can find things more proactively and take control of it now in today's day and age is, underpinned in so [00:14:00] many areas and you can actually control your own destiny in. More so than you could even a decade ago where you almost had to be a little bit more opportunistic right place, right time, maybe ambition with a little bit of luck and you got those opportunities.
[00:14:12] Now you can really take control of those things. I think that's a really great point, ed what do you think? .
[00:14:18] Ed Willock: Yeah, no, learn everything you can. That's the thing, there's so many opportunities for learning. If you're willing, there are programs that you can go pay to take classes, but there's also, like Omar said a lot of stuff online, you do have to filter through some of that stuff because it's still the internet and there's tons of wrong information or inaccurate information or outdated information.
[00:14:38] But , at least you have that resource that maybe, like Omar said five, 10 years ago, it would've been much harder to find that stuff. Seeking out a mentor is a, is another thing. If you can, find someone who in the industry that is successful and, willing to take you under their wing, that's that can always be great.
[00:14:53] And I think the pandemic kind of softened a lot of people who before were very guard. Sharing [00:15:00] information that now you know, they are more willing to help pay it forward. And then like resources I gave you, educate are great places where you can you find content online. Yatashah said she was doing it learn it.
[00:15:13] Learn. I, no matter what position you're doing, if you're an audio person, if you're a video person, learn it. Understand AV over ip because we're going that way, we're not there. Audio is very much there yet with things like Dante and video Less in live event that I'm seeing isn't using N D I as much or s st 2110, but we were using that during the pandemic for the virtual events.
[00:15:34] Keep going that path. It's gonna, it's gonna be there one day. Again, learn all you can, but that's one area I would absolutely focus. Especially younger people maybe coming in because they already have a foot in that. They grew up with more of that stuff. And then just remembering that we're a customer service and hospitality industry, you.
[00:15:52] We're a bridge between what's on stage and the people in the audience. So we have to be able to interact with talent, [00:16:00] with clients with the companies that hire us if we're freelancers. You just have to be good with people. I feel like you can be, you can almost. Be not top level tech.
[00:16:10] I don't wanna say mediocre, but you could be like a, not top tier tech, but if you're someone who, that people want to work with and is good with your clients and actually shows that you care and, takes that. That soft skill side of it, then you probably will go further than someone maybe who is a technical wizard, but just can't get that piece of it together.
[00:16:33] Social skills, I know we're all gear, probably gear heads and love to talk about gear, but the social skills is way more important I think if you want to go far more quickly in this industry. So I,
[00:16:44] Drew Brucker: that's a fantastic answer and I think. , it really segues over to you, Tasha, in terms of Ed said it right?
[00:16:50] Tell me a little bit about that and any advice you have for those considering a path in the industry.
[00:16:55] Yatashah Backus: Omar and Ed covered some really important points, which is to always be [00:17:00] open to learn. And what I've learned in this industry even though I have like heavy proficiencies in lots of areas and there's stuff that I'm even like expert level at.
[00:17:11] I always when I work on shows, I always, even if I if someone's doing a job that I've already done before, I'll be like, Hey, show me what you're doing. Because there's a hundred, there's a, yeah, there's hundreds of millions of ways to do what we do, and there's always someone who will bring a new perspective, a new way of tackling these decisions down a new way of delegating tasks and organizing information.
[00:17:35] and even I have gone super heavy, nerdy into my Google Excel spreadsheets. So to be able to communicate information to my team . Don't ever be afraid that if you don't know something, you should be intimidated or that you are dumb. Like it's this entire industry. Every day I walk into it, there's something that someone's oh, didn't you know about this?
[00:17:55] And I was like, no, let me learn about that. Cuz that's some good stuff. And with [00:18:00] technology since I, I do a lot of project managing, but I also do tons with technology. There's always new softwares and they're always making new softwares. , I do audience response and I know I don't know, three or four or five different softwares just for audience response and it, they keep on adding new ones.
[00:18:17] So you have to put your ego aside and always be in that kind of learning environment. And a lot of people, and share your information. If you share information, other people will share it with you. It's funny, people would be like, oh yeah, I don't wanna share because they might take my job.
[00:18:32] But there are so many jobs out there. There's just so many jobs. And after this pandemic, we are hurting so bad for people, especially in it, a lot of our people during the pandemic, because there was such. Huge downtime of no jobs. They had to transition to a job and they don't wanna transition back to the event industry because of that, because they're like, okay, I'm stable.
[00:18:55] I gotta stay here. Yeah, that is, learning is like probably [00:19:00] the biggest thing. The second biggest thing, which I sometimes don't like about our industry, but it's an important thing you have to advocate for yourself. There's so many times I come to show site and there's just there's a crew of a hundred different people, and all these different positions.
[00:19:16] And if you don't come on show site on time or you don't know where you're going or you don't know who your leads are or those kind of information, that can be a really bad first impression. So you have to advocate to get the information you need to do your job. and then double check if you're a lead of an area, double check that you have looked through all your stuff, your gear, your labor workbooks.
[00:19:37] Do they have the internet lines where you're gonna have them for your show? And it's not because like your coworkers aren't trying to work with you. We're doing like, So a lot of people are doing four to five, six shows at a time. In this industry, that's why they put leads in places cuz they're like, okay, you're in charge of it, you're gonna make sure it's gonna run well.
[00:19:57] So it's always being very [00:20:00] proactive. A lot of times on show sites if I'm doing a project managing I do this one room that I've done. 10 years, and it's not a it's just a detailed room. So half, half the beginning of the show, I'm just calling up people to confirm that things are coming because I'm the advocate for my room.
[00:20:18] And they sometimes get swept up and doing their own fires and they're like, oh yeah. We'll get that back to you. Tasha. Thank you for calling me back. . That happens a lot in our industry. Okay.
[00:20:27] Drew Brucker: So I'm hearing Sorry to cut you off. I'm just saying I'm hearing that, taking initiative Yes.
[00:20:33] And not caring right. About ego perception. No insecurities. How common is that as a, detractor in the industry? Is that a common problem?
[00:20:45] Yatashah Backus: It can be a problem with some people. There's some people. . Literally just really gifted in this industry. But if you have a bad attitude or you make it really difficult for other people to work with you, that is, they don't, [00:21:00] they'll use you, but they'll use you when they don't have any other options.
[00:21:03] Yeah. You rather have a week working with someone that you enjoy working with, then regret .
[00:21:10] Ed Willock: I totally
[00:21:11] Drew Brucker: understand that. Darius, what about you?
[00:21:13] Darris Taylor: I said since the industry has changed, post covid. It's pretty easy for a, common person to get into AV or the main thing that will work will be just show up and follow directions and pay attention.
[00:21:26] And another thing also I see a lot of this as well guys are taking a one rolls and never touched a mixer or L one, whatever, they're taking lead. Never touched a console. That's a quick way to crash and burn in this in this industry. Even though that's a quick way to learn, but it's a quick way to, to really hurt
[00:21:47] Drew Brucker: yourself.
[00:21:48] Yeah. Learn learning in the fire and probably not doing everybody around you any favors. Yeah. Yeah. It's not. Frank, last but not least, what advice do you have for those considering a career path?
[00:21:58] Frank Pestana: I would go back to what Dare [00:22:00] says. Showing up is big. If you're just starting off and, maybe you're just doing cables and decks maybe you wanna get into video, maybe you wanna get into audio, you can try to gravitate towards those crews within that production to try to follow around a lead or to even just run cable for a lead.
[00:22:16] You can. That way you could learn how the audio cables are being run or how speakers work or, setting up video walls, even if you're just handing off panels. You could see what they're doing on the backside, or even if you're, running a couple of sts and some DSMs, you might see some some best practices really showing up.
[00:22:34] And, sometimes you might not have that opportunity to do that, but that doesn't mean you should be discouraged either. If. If it's something you wanna stay in and you wanna pursue, start going into those different departments while they're working. Definitely start watching. Pay attention.
[00:22:50] If there's a piece of gear you don't know about, take a quick picture of it, serial number, look it up on your phone while you're working with the crew, and now you got yourself at. Five minute crash course on [00:23:00] that little item, now it's something you won't forget because it's something you did on the job.
[00:23:04] It's really just sticking with it. Paying attention to the people ahead of you always ask for help. Is a big one too. No one wants their show to fail if you don't know what's going on and you ask for help. It's not, they're not gonna cut your head off or anything. The idea is to make the show as good as possible.
[00:23:20] So now, , if you asked that question, they spent two minutes to explain to you. There might have been three other guys who don't know what was going on. They might have been in the same shoes as you. They might have just been just as nervous. A lot of people, when they're starting, they wanna, they try to make, they might make themselves like small so they don't get questioned on things.
[00:23:37] The idea, ask questions pay attention, listen, and if there was something you didn't understand, do your homework afterwards. It's really helpful. just being on your game and trying to better yourself. If you don't wanna learn anything, you're not gonna go very far.
[00:23:51] Drew Brucker: Yeah. It's, it, it's a lot of the little things like you guys are saying, show up on time, be willing to listen, like put, ask questions.
[00:23:57] And I think all of us on this call, maybe we've [00:24:00] had that feeling right, where it's okay, I don't wanna look stupid if I ask this question, but you also. That working on show sites and anybody that you work with, when you see other people asking questions and they're genuinely interested, that says a lot about that person.
[00:24:14] I wanna work with that person because, If they don't know it, they're gonna figure it out. Versus somebody that sort of is going to pretend like they know it and then, I don't know, we're in trouble till the last minute. Or there's, it creates a situation down the road, right? And so I think you know it, it's those small components that.
[00:24:32] Really go a long way, it sounds like.
[00:24:34] Frank Pestana: I would say for video label everything, please label everything . It's really helpful. Make yourself a little input output chart, even if it's on paper. Excel that's a big one too.
[00:24:45] Drew Brucker: Signal flow
[00:24:45] Darris Taylor: is the key. Just knowing signal flow, whatever you're doing. Audio, video lights.
[00:24:51] Everything has a signal floor. That you can do it,
[00:24:53] Yatashah Backus: yeah. I've had a lot of things on show site that like if something broke or something happened, like this happens on show site all the [00:25:00] time. , and the best thing you can do is just speak up and ask questions about it.
[00:25:03] And fastly you be like, Hey, this isn't working. And people won't, people will ask later what happens so that it cannot happen again? But their first focus is, okay, how can we fix this and get things going again? Because it's about the show going on. It's not about ego. It's not about who did what. It's just like, how can we make this so that we.
[00:25:22] Have a great show.
[00:25:23] Ed Willock: If I can add to something Yatashah and Frank touched on earlier like with the attitude and showing up, not just not knowing stuff, but there are plenty of people I've seen on show sites that kind of will cut corners and that is, don't get into bad habits. So learn from people, but don't learn and pick up their bad habits.
[00:25:42] I've been on a number of show sites where the one saying that we have for those kind of people who maybe are cutting corners or they just, they're looking at their watch trying to get out of there. As they're more interested in the income than the outcome, and don't be that person.
[00:25:57] I think something Darius just said was, we're all there to make a better show. [00:26:00] I think Frank touched on that too. But there are some people who are just there to put in their time and do the couple things they have to do and those bad habits. If you're new to this industry, that's what you don't want to do.
[00:26:10] I think everyone on this panel is gets that, and that goes back to some of that customer service hospitality thing I was talking about earlier is, the people who are always working in are at the higher levels and than the leads. They understand that you're not seeing any of them cut corners.
[00:26:24] Just think about who you're modeling after if you're new to this industry. And try not to pick up the bad habits, and think about the overall show. That's what we're there for. We're there to support a bigger thing. So you're we're all pieces of that.
[00:26:37] And if we're not working towards successful end goal than. What are we really doing?
[00:26:42] Drew Brucker: Absolutely. And so this is great advice. Not only because it's things to do, it's things not to do, right? Like you, there are things to learn and there are things like what Ed just mentioned, where if you've picked up bad habits, you need to unlearn.
[00:26:56] So it's not just about adding, it's about subtracting. And [00:27:00] I'm just curious, with the way that the industry has shifted with the pandemic, And how events have ramped back up, this reset button has been pressed. I view this as a time that, we really have more control and we've seen some of the things that we want to change about the industry.
[00:27:16] I'm curious from your guys' perspective, you're in control. You can change one thing about the industry,
[00:27:22] Ed Willock: what is it? I'll jump in let, give everybody a minute to, to think of it. What, because I have somewhat strong feelings of it. I feel like our industry suffers from a lack of transparency and standardization around things like rates, roles and responsibilities.
[00:27:40] And that's between like freelancers, navy companies and even the AV companies. In the end clients, If everybody was upfront about what, what is going on? We're gonna get to an end, a better end product, so these days, I think Yatashah talked about it, that right now there's not enough people y staffing these events.
[00:27:59] And as you [00:28:00] mentioned, drew, like it's a reset. We're in a position, to say, Hey, look, I haven't raised my rate in a few years supply and demand, I it, this is what it's gonna be. But having those conversations and, being willing to have those conversations on all sides of the table.
[00:28:13] Again, I come from a varied background, so it's like I get it, but not everybody does. And I think if people are willing to come to the table and have those conversations and. and really understand, I think what Daria said, guys who have never, or people who have never been at a console and they're taking a one roles, like you're not living up to your end of the bargain.
[00:28:33] You haven't put in the work, you don't have the knowledge. Now I understand everyone should have a chance to level up. We talked about education and learning, but on the show site, at the client's expense is not the best. To do that. So like transparency and standardization are on all sides. Like what is expected of a person if they're taking a certain role, what should they, expect they paid.
[00:28:54] I, I think people are being a lot more open about what their rates are with [00:29:00] other freelancers through the pandemic and then lasso. You guys do a great job of putting out that guide that kind of shows regionally what rates are and whatnot. So that's definitely, I think, a. But I think we can go further with with that sort
[00:29:14] Drew Brucker: of thing.
[00:29:14] I think that's a terrific point. So it sounds like the structure, and we need to speak the same language because depending on what region you're in, what state, legal laws are in place. Your experience, what kind of live event it is who grew up learning from the people around you.
[00:29:31] There are different definitions of all these things. The. Rates, the experiences with the companies. So I think that is a huge systemic problem that to your point, ed, as an industry, we need to find a way to fix or at least make progress with Omar. I'm curious on your take, because you've really got this education background too, and helping folks train, do you have a similar thought to Ed?
[00:29:55] Is Is that sort of the one thing that you wish were different in the industry, or do you have a completely different. . [00:30:00]
[00:30:00] Omar Colom: No I agree with Ed and I think Ed hit on the nail. There, I don't wanna get too far off, but one of the things that I think hurts us as an industry, in addition to what Ed is saying is there's no real presence of us in.
[00:30:12] On the legal side. And I feel because what you were saying a little bit earlier about people leaving the industry, the, I don't wanna say the standards are dropping, but the, that knowledge of transferring to the next generation to maintain what was already built out is going away.
[00:30:24] And no one's kind of categorizing that. And like I was saying, there, there are these unspoken, unofficial rules that we're all following because the industry brought this up in the last 20. , the, our predecessors who are retiring now or they got out in between have created for us to benefit from.
[00:30:39] And the new guys coming in aren't aware of these and are not learning them, and they're making, these new rules up that's hurting the industry. And un unfortunately, they're, one of the things that I would like to do, obviously down the road with AV educators to, is to build that. Not to now to talk about it, but, one of the things that Adam, you talked about repeatedly is create.
[00:30:54] Who backs us up and it's then we'll back it up. We'll create it with people, have 'em sign off on it and back it up. And [00:31:00] to go even deeper than that, to show that what I'm committed to is, I, and I, fortunately for a personal reason, stepped away, but I was one of the founders of the live Events coalition, which gives a voice to the industry.
[00:31:09] In the government side. So all those things that came out for p ppp loans that came out for freelancers, that was part of the push for the L A C and the team that we put together that's running on a to right now. And there, there still have goals going forward to bring more awareness to the e I N side because if you have ever sought an LLC and you have to.
[00:31:24] You have to find an A one audio engineer or video engineer. They're not common. You're either a broadcast studio or you're a cinematographer for sports. Like those subcategories don't exist yet. And when you look further down the road to that stuff, the, historically it's been decades since they've updated that.
[00:31:40] So there's a lot of positions that are created that, that don't exist. So it's hard for a guy to say, Hey, go get your llc. and call yourself a station like that doesn't exist anywhere legally. So we are working on, or the l c is working on putting those into place so that we do have a presence.
[00:31:52] So the next time something happens like this, so the next time people need something, there is a way to get to that. But again, I think Ed Head hit it on the nail and it's [00:32:00] really just. Continues to maintain and improve on what the generation before us left us so that everybody coming in can benefit the way we did and not start going backwards because we lost all these people.
[00:32:09] And I call we lost these libraries cuz they retired and they had that older mentality, or they don't wanna share too much. And I think that hurts the people coming in and, we're building on the shoulders of nobody essentially. So bringing that back and bringing into the awareness and getting people to come together on certain points just to keep that momentum going forward so that we as industry professionals understand this and that the people coming in understand, Hey, here's the baseline of where you are.
[00:32:30] This is what it takes to get to that next level. Obviously the good thing about our industry is we were talking about the chats here a little bit. This isn't a figure till you make an industry. This is like you put in the work. People recognize that and they will. , they will go accordingly to that.
[00:32:40] They will treat you and promote you and give you that, that freedom. If you are honest with them and say something, they will step up to the plate and promote that honesty and give you the opportunity to move up versus you faking it and then blacklisted from the client, not moving forward anymore.
[00:32:54] There is standards that we follow that unfortunately people use to their advantage and say no, no word, it doesn't say that [00:33:00] anywhere legally. And it's then let's create that because that's an issue.
[00:33:02] Drew Brucker: Yeah. Great. Frank would love to hear your opinion. You have this magic wand you could change something about the industry.
[00:33:09] What were you wished would different?
[00:33:12] Frank Pestana: I guess going back to what Omar said starting off it was always if you decline a show, you might not get called back. and it was always, you can't ever say no to a show. And you know that, that's when you're starting out, that becomes a big hurdle, especially when they're booking you back to back and things like that.
[00:33:31] And now you're exhausted and it's, it gets stressful because you think that, you might be at risk or you might not get any jobs or good positions because. , God forbid you had to go, to the doctor or do any normal human being thing on your day that you weren't previously booked on.
[00:33:51] But outside of that, it's not as big a problem now since the pandemic. But learn a little bit outside your field. A lot of people like to specialize and they don't step outside of their [00:34:00] box. I feel that a lot of shows can fall apart because, a video guy isn't helping an audio guy, they're not crossing departments, and they're not trying to make sure that everything is working on all ends.
[00:34:11] So I, I think that being open to helping others and like learning a little bit more outside of your range. You don't have to know everything, but be useful to the rest of the crew. It, it's a whole team effort. It, there's no reason to just do your job and then sit back, and push buttons.
[00:34:27] A as a sometimes turns out to
[00:34:29] Drew Brucker: be. Yeah. That's a, that's an interesting perspective too, right? Like it. I would, I grew up with something similar where, when you're young, you're starting out, you feel obligated to say yes, and you make the sacrifices and you eat the dirt, right? Because you don't wanna have that affect you in the future.
[00:34:43] And so I think that's a terrific point, right? Like now that necessarily doesn't have to be the case, or you can even take a little bit more control of that and don't have to let that sort of be a burden on your shoulders. Terrace, let's go to you and then we'll finish it up with Yatashah. What I would like
[00:34:58] Darris Taylor: to see different is, [00:35:00] Maybe a rating system implemented into the industry where everyone has a specific rating.
[00:35:07] It will help the client, I believe, as well as staffing coordination. And I think gigs will go more smoothly. Everyone has a on par with their ratings instead of just, you have a lot of nos or, people that don't really know what's going on, and I think that slows up the floor of, to show and puts us, in, in the time constraints.
[00:35:28] Drew Brucker: Yeah. Some sort of like uber rating, right? Yeah. Where, unbiased feedback, you know what you're getting, right? Yeah. And pretty much at the end of the day, you're accountable for your own rating. Yeah. I'm sure there'll be times where you disagree with the rating, of course, but like at the end of the day, That's who you are pleasing, right?
[00:35:44] So if you're not getting the rating you want, you have to self-assess. Yatashah, what about you?
[00:35:48] Yatashah Backus: Picking off of what Frank said. My, my biggest concern right now in this industry is since we have such a huge, well of people that we are trying to get back and we're trying to restaff like a home, [00:36:00] a whole section of people.
[00:36:02] We used to have burnout really is like the biggest thing that's hitting our industry. And before I used to I was more Chicago based when I started and so I, I would just travel in for work. You. Like a commute into downtown Chicago and go to McCormick Place, or go to the hotel that they were having me out.
[00:36:21] Now I'm traveling just constantly and before I was afraid to say no to jobs, which did not help me at all. And also I was just like, oh my gosh. When I remember when I started in this industry, I was not making, before the industry, I was really hurting for a nice livable wage. And then this industry got me there.
[00:36:40] I feel that making sure that you, sometimes these show hours, they're just incredibly long. And when you come home, even if you are commuting and you're in the same town as you're like working in, you come home and you're exhausted cuz you just worked an easily 12 hour day when a show's actually going.
[00:36:56] So I think people are realizing it's not worth the [00:37:00] burnout to I've been doing it myself where I pace myself like only so many shows a month. And also that I have gaps and times in not doing back to back. I did three shows back to back and I was like, I am too old for this. I can't do this anymore.
[00:37:13] All I'm gonna do is be cranky and my, probably one of my strongest suits is my, , peppiness and my, good client interface and I'm just an e. Ball. So if I can't be happy while doing my job, that's really gonna hurt how well I can keep the team's energy up and keep, good client relations.
[00:37:33] So I think making sure that you balance that and also the industry is finally realizing. , you can't, we can't be burning people out. Cause people were like, I'll just quit. And they're like, oh, we really need you to stay, so okay, we're gonna try to work with you to try to do that. So I think that's the biggest shift that I'm seeing changed and I think needs more because people need to be at home with their families sometimes and they need time off to sleep and time off to do like doctor visits.
[00:37:59] I've had so [00:38:00] many times I've canceled doctor visits and it's a really cool and fun industry. . Having that work-life balance is key.
[00:38:09] Drew Brucker: Yeah. And I'm just speculating here, but it seems like just any other industry, right when Covid happened and you're spending more time at home, and then especially for.
[00:38:19] for you all who are traveling, right? And you're spending more time than you've spent at home or with your families than you have in probably a while where it's a little bit out of the norm. Cuz live events came to this halt. It does make you question things right? And you taste it and you're just like what was I doing right?
[00:38:34] Like, why was I putting myself through this when I don't necessarily have to? And maybe that isn't the best thing for me mentally as well. And so it, it is a. Sort of flag to raise and call out because I think people are second gassing and thinking about those things harder than they ever have before. Look, I think this has been a terrific episode.
[00:38:53] You guys are the best of the best and we appreciate you coming on. So I would love for each of you to [00:39:00] just say we're the best place to find you is if we've got any crew that's listening that would love to ask you questions or pick your brain or just keep in touch with you. Where can they.
[00:39:09] Ed Willock: The best place to find me would be on my LinkedIn page. LinkedIn Ed Willock, if you search, you'll find me. And I keep that pretty updated with like, all the certifications that I take and, so you can get a pretty good idea of what I can do, what I know, what gear I'm. Up to date on just by checking that out.
[00:39:27] I actually don't even keep a resume updated anymore cuz I just forward people to my LinkedIn. So that's the best place to, to find me. Or you can email me ed willock gmail.com. You could,
[00:39:37] Omar Colom: , you could find me anywhere. Just type in AV Educate and Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, whatever you want.
[00:39:41] Reach out to me. I'm pretty much on all platforms. You can actually add I'm on my phone twenty four seven and I just respond to anybody on any platform you reach out to me on. I'm pretty reachable. Just look up again, avh. K and you'll find me. Even if you're
[00:39:52] Drew Brucker: not looking for Omar, you'll find. So I think that's the long and short
[00:39:57] Frank Pestana: of it.
[00:39:57] Yeah, I would say my LinkedIn Frank [00:40:00] Pasta just make sure it's me and not my father's LinkedIn page. We share the same name. Otherwise fv firstname.lastname@example.org is my working
[00:40:09] Drew Brucker: email. I think. We'll throw these in the show notes too, just so you guys don't hit up Frank's dad.
[00:40:13] Yatashah Backus: I would say probably LinkedIn is the easiest way to contact me.
[00:40:20] I there no one's. If you spell my name correctly with the H at the end, there is no one else with that name on the internet, so I have no anonymity, so that's pretty easy to find me. I would definitely use LinkedIn. You could email me at my first email@example.com too. If you want to, I would do LinkedIn just so that I know you're legit.
[00:40:39] , that's an easy way to trace back. . Yeah. And I, and if people want teaching and stuff like that, I love teaching. I absolutely adore it. So if people are looking for like it help or training or references or especially other women who are looking for, like someone else in the industry, [00:41:00] cuz I, I believe you should get as many mentors as you can.
[00:41:02] You can always hit me up. I'm one of those people that people call and I'll help you. With whatever I can.
[00:41:11] Drew Brucker: Awesome. We'll link to, we'll link to all those in the show notes, just so any listeners out there, you guys wanna pick the brains of the best. They'll be in there. Guys, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, share your stories and obviously give, some really awesome advice and takeaways for anybody listening.
[00:41:29] This has been a great episode of Corralling the Chaos. My name is Drew Brucker and you can listen to us anytime on Spotify, Apple, etc. You can ask any questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, and we'll see you again soon.