What a Trivia Team Building Professional Is – And Isn’t

As a live trivia professional specializing in corporate entertainment & team building activities in New York City, I’m admittedly in a niche just about all to myself. Nobody’s heard of my job before, and I find myself explaining just exactly what it is I do on a daily basis.

People don’t know what to make of it when they first hear “owns a trivia company” or “full-time trivia professional,” and they tend to make a lot of assumptions: that I’m a human Google trivia wunderkind, that I work primarily in bars, that I’m a game show host. And I don’t blame them – how could I? It’s a really, really unique job, one that I created for myself! There’s no Trivia Professionals Union or quizmaster conferences out there. It’s pretty much just me.

So, are people’s assumptions that far off? Yes, and no.

First off, I’m not a trivia expert – never have been, never will be. In fact, I’m actually terrible at trivia. What I DO have expertise and experience in is planning and producing live events – specifically entertainment and team building events, and even more specifically those which are centered around trivia. Creating fun and memorable experiences is my passion, and it’s how I approach every aspect of my work – from researching & writing customized trivia questions, to working with venues and hosting trivia events, right up to crowning the winners. It’s my full-time job, what I do best – and I love it.

Now, let’s talk for a second about image. If you think the phrase “team building” gets a bad rap (and for good reason – so many “team building” activities are cheesy, ineffective or just lame), what comes to mind when I say “professional trivia host?” If you’re like me, the first thing you think of is a guy in a spiffy bright-colored suit with perfect hair, a big plastic smile, and a phony announcer’s voice. Which is really weird if you think about it, since I don’t think these kind of stereotypical “TV game show hosts” have actually been on TV for quite some time; Alex Trebek, Steve Harvey, Pat Kiernan, Drew Carey – maybe I’m wrong, but they don’t really strike me as the Guy Smiley types. However, try Googling “game show hosts” and see what pops up.

That’s not me.

I don’t feel I need to “play the role” of a game show host to successfully emcee a trivia team building or entertainment event. When I get up in front of a corporate audience, you’re likely to find me wearing a suit (usually sans tie, if I can swing it), and adding as much personality and humor as I can swing without overdoing it. I also shun the spotlight if I can, prefering the audience to face one another in teams around tables while I announce questions over the mic, rather than looking squarely at me onstage – after all, the event is about them getting to know each other better, right? No need to keep the attention on me for 2 hours.

As far as venue, I cut my teeth in the world of trivia team building by hosting bar trivia in NYC. For many years, I was hosting at two different Manhattan venues a week, and occasionally out in Brooklyn as well – all told, I was averaging 8-10 bar trivia nights a month.

That’s a lot of pub quiz.

These days, most of the events I do are for corporate groups, held in a variety of settings. I do indeed host many of these events at bars and restaurants, but now when I do it’s either upstairs in the private event space, or the entire venue has been closed off for us – so no random drunken hecklers, blaring football games or other and fun distractions (I do actually still host a weekly informal pub quiz at Social Bar & Lounge in Manhattan, although these events are really so I can test out new material and maintain my “hosting chops”). We also set up a lot of events in private spaces such as hotels or conference centers, and even right there at our clients’ offices, bringing in our own audio projection equipment. When we hold our big public events with Pat Kiernan such as our upcoming “90s vs 00s” Pop Culture Challenge,” these are held in professional performance spaces like The Bell House in Brooklyn, or Highline Ballroom in Manhattan.

It’s quite a unique job indeed I’ve carved out for myself here, one which I really enjoy and am quite proud of. It still sounds weird to me, too – every now and then, I’ll ask my wife, “A trivia professional? I own a trivia company? This is seriously my JOB? Really??”

Yes. Really! And I couldn’t be happier.

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