How to Specialize Without Being Pigeonholed

I recently returned from my honeymoon, during which time I had the chance to do some relaxed reading- however, instead of my usual diet of books about social media, collaboration & business development, I was able to enjoy some fiction, as well as other lighter stuff.

One of the books I got to was Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, the new autobiography by former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar. Even though this was perhaps as far a diversion as I’ve allowed myself in a long time, like most entrepreneurs I can’t really shut off my mind when on vacation, and therefore found myself gleaning business lessons from this rock star.


I found myself quickly intrigued by Hagar- not just for partying and political feuds with Eddie Van Halen, but by his passions. The guy is a big-time musician, for sure, yet he also has several successful entrepreneurial ventures under his belt- namely his famous Cabo Wabo brand of tequila, and a cantina chain of the same name. I was stunned to learn that with the music business being what it is today, Sammy goes so far as to say he can only afford to live his passion for making music by ensuring the success of his other businesses.


I instantly saw a parallel with myself within the events world, as both a planner and a supplier. Specializing in a certain area – be it corporate event entertainment, party planning, employee team building or live trivia – means defining yourself as such. Doing this is good because it sets you apart from the herd, but it also risks pigeonholing you as an expert in that area alone. If for some reason your particular area of business expertise slows down – or, like the record industry, evaporates completely – you may find yourself suddenly without a market, regardless of how good you are, or how versatile your skill set actually is.

To stay flexible in an unstable economy, we event planners and suppliers should be more like Sammy Hagar: identify multiple areas of expertise to develop and succeed in, to fall back on in case the unknown happens- which, in today’s fast-paced, volatile world, it inevitably will. Stay with your passion, of course, but keep building your skill set – and reputation – in other areas.


For me, this has meant developing skills not only as a trivia event producer, but as an event planner, corporate team building facilitator, experience creator, emcee and, most recently, a blogger. What are some other areas of expertise you can start learning & defining yourself as, to ensure the future success of your business?

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