Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What's the Big Idea!

I have had the pleasure to be exposed first hand to Ian’s creative genius and also his amazing capacity to sell the big idea. I am grateful that he shared some insights along with his infamous sense of humor and wordsmithing. –Andrea Michaels

-By Ian Seeberg
 It's fair to say those in the production end of corporate events have highly specialized skill sets. Who else routinely takes the most prosaic of corporate messaging, funnels it through state of the art technologies and ... SHAZAM!!  ... out it comes, projected onto screens as something visually exciting and memorable? Who else fills hotel ballrooms around the world with catchy event themes and bold logos with matching luggage tags or crafts media pieces capable of kick starting the emotional engine of audiences? Who envisions mega-watt entrances for CEOs to descend god-like to the stage? Reveals product lines with processionals of caparisoned elephants pulling.... 

Well ... you get the idea. We conceive of cool motivational stuff that also manages to be remarkably relevant to business. Death-defying feats of corporate showmanship that, in my humble opinion, qualify us as nothing less than incredibly creative peeps! Superior beings endowed with industrial-strength cleverness!  Communication visionaries capable of leaping national sales meeting in a single bound!

So then, with all that inimitable creativity and stagecraft up our sleeves,  why do so many of our absolutely awesome, total genius, 'A' material, 'big ideas' never see the light of day? Budgetary considerations aside, why do so many brilliant concepts lose out to a video starring the guy down in accounting?   

If you've ever thrown caution to the wind, pitched the "...holographic, 3D dancing homage to supply chains!" proposal and the other end of the conference table appeared lost at sea, you know the answer.  The void between our creative inventiveness and the ability of some clients to grasp creative invention can seem as vast a distance as here to the Crab Nebula.

Seeing things conceptually is something many simply are not trained to do. Much like me believing all annual reports are written in Southern Latvian. And, even acknowledging our innate ability to bring powerful corporate magic to life, the prospect of conjuring up something different, no matter its potential for greatness, still leaves many executives feeling they're suddenly working without a net. 

We shouldn't stop proposing innovative, groundbreaking shows but we should think about how to reach a happy middle ground in order to actually sell them. Or presenting them in such a way that we are teaching our client how to be more creative and innovative. Having been fortunate enough to create full book, stage musicals, comedic corporate films and large-scale spectaculars, I know it can be done. Here's a few lessons I learned.       

Try Not to Scare Anyone

Clients inviting us to 'think out of the box' is something of a mixed blessing. Sensing creative freedom, our brains immediately soar away to transformational moments "... and then suddenly, an alien spacecraft lands in the audience bringing spectacular sales results back from the future!"  While in truth, the client may be envisioning something a bit less radical like putting the Power Point graphics into italics.

Companies don't easily transition from zero to two-hundred miles an hour. Temper the big idea. Creative baby steps. Little by little, show after show, adding a few small elements each time foments a comfort level of trust.

Anticipate the Unexpected   

Early in my career I was hired to compose a prestigious film score, but the client wasn't loving the script concept. To keep the job alive, I came up with  a scenario which the producer asked me to present to the board of directors. My first pitch! I ditched the jeans and cowboy boots for a three- piece suit, a necktie with a knot the size of a matzo ball and made the presentation. They liked it so much the producer suggested I write and direct, at which point I was asked to step out of the room. The CEO was concerned I wasn't creative enough for the job. Oh, he absolutely is, the producer assured him.  "Well, then," said the CEO, " why the hell is he wearing a suit?"

Bo Diddley wisely said, " You cain't judge a book by lookin' at the cover," but Bo  wasn't a CEO. Pay attention to the details. In a pitch very little goes unnoticed. 

Lead the Parade

Be the Pied Piper - their trusted guide to the unknown. Clients need to believe you clearly see this one-of-a-kind theatrical journey from beginning to end.  And, if that journey envisions a show that builds emotional connections with the audience, reaches them on a human level, then conveying that inspirational quotient is a critical component. Dig deep, pitch from the heart and remember, whatever big idea you're selling, make sure it's better than words of wisdom from the guy down in accounting!

Dubbed "the king of corporate theatre" by The Wall Street Journal, award-winning, creative director/ writer/ composer, Ian Seeberg has created hundreds of corporate events, Broadway and Las Vegas casino shows, theme park attractions, feature films and a movie of the week. Author of the novel, The Buzzer and So To Speak, a comprehensive guide for public speaking, Ian currently writes the humorous commentary blog, "Is it Just Me...?"   

Contact Ian at screenrhythm@earthlink.net. Visit www.ianseeberg.com and http://www.isitjustme.biz.

To learn more about Extraordinary Events, visit www.extraordinaryevents.net.      

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Power of "What's New?"

-By Flo Miniscloux
The world is constantly introducing new things – new inventions, new technologies, new ideologies, new trends, new movements. And as they say, we must “adapt or die”… It’s safe to assume Nokia wouldn’t be a household name today if it still relied on its original pulp-and-paper product. (Unless someone could invent a pulp-and-paper cell phone!)

So how can we possibly keep up with all that’s new?

A lot relies on looking beyond yourself to those around you and beyond.

Extraordinary Events (EE) started a weekly meeting called “Triple T,” and it has lived on to be one of the most beneficial meetings imaginable.

TTT stands for Think Tank Tuesdays. It’s a time where all EE team members gather to exchange and discuss things about which they’ve seen or heard not just in the events industry, but throughout the world. What are people seeing and doing that is exciting? What is going viral and what’s not?

For instance, I went to Australia last March and came back with an overflow of incredible ideas from a series of festivals I was lucky enough to attend (thank you Novatech!) One of these ideas was Extreme Hairstyling, which consists of shaping people’s hair into all sorts of crazy creations using dye, wire, and various objects (i.e. dolls, pencils and ornaments). Pretty insane!  

The team loved this idea when we discussed it in TTT, but how would we ever find a group of people that would be willing to get their hair shellaced, colored and tangled up with objects? 

We began by looking at where it started … sunny, colorful Barcelona, Spain!  That led to brainstorming similar U.S. cities … like sunny San Diego: home of the world famous ComicCon. The perfect audience! These people love to dress up in crazy costumes. 

Then we decided that in corporate America, no one would want to sponsor this without direct benefit. So we thought about adding a booth-luring component: if guests had a ticket and got scanned (aka invited to a booth), then they could get their hair done for free. “Do you dare with your hair?”

And finally, we added the cherry on top with: ‘And why not customize the props in the hair to match the sponsoring brand?’

It all happened from one of use seeing something on the other side of the globe, and then all the team members discussing, What if…? What about…? Can we…? Is there…?

By staying connected to the world, we can better stay connected to our clients, and even be one step of ahead of them. The events industry has evolved substantially in the past 25 years. When our founder, Andrea Michaels, launched EE in 1988, she had a land-line, a fax machine and a typewriter. Today, a cell phone or computer can communicate everything. Can you imagine what the next quarter century will bring? We can no longer engage people with pretty d├ęcor and performances alone. Reality is, they’ve already seen it. So, what now? It’s all about engagement – engaging participants to do something they’ve never experienced before. 

Point being: Listen and share. You will get nowhere if you try to do it all on your own.

Flo Miniscloux, recognized as the 2013 “Rising Star” by Event Solutions magazine, is the Director of Production Services for Extraordinary Events. You may reach Flo via fminiscloux@extraordinaryevents.net. To learn more about Extraordinary Events, visit www.extraordinaryevents.net.