Case Study: A Team Building Professional Builds His Own Team

Team.Bonding.Long.Beach.California.jpgTeam Bonding Long Beach California

It’s been a month of changes for me – big changes. As people who read this blog and keep tabs on TrivWorks know, July is when I ventured out of Brooklyn to start up our new West Coast office, producing trivia team building activities and offering up corporate event entertainment in Long Beach, California, as well as Los Angeles, San Diego, and everywhere in between. With my wife and our two young children here as well, we’ve been getting used to our new life here in the Golden State, and it’s been quite a big change indeed! (Click here to read more).

It’s so strange. I’ve been producing and hosting trivia for company parties and the public for ten years, something like 800 or 900 events by my last count. I may not have been the emcee for every gig, however I’ve been present for just about all of them – before, I could probably count on one hand the number of gigs I’d run where I wasn’t physically present. They say the biggest challenge a successful entrepreneur faces is managing growth, and specifically “handing over the reins” to others. This company is my baby, this special “thing I do” uniquely unlike any other team activity in SoCal, the Big Apple or anywhere.

And yet, look at what’s happened in the past month. You want to know how many gigs TrivWorks produced on the East Coast in July? SEVEN.

Yes, that’s correct – seven trivia gigs. Two were summer intern entertainment events, two were summer office parties, two were traditional team building activities, and one was to culminate a day-long “all-hands” meeting. Five of them were in Manhattan, one was in New Jersey, and one was in South Carolina. And two of them were on the same exact night.

And I wasn’t there for ANY of them.

To me, this is a big, big deal, and represents a major step in me “releasing” what I’ve built out into the world. I felt a little bit like a dad dropping his kid off at college, but still, it was very strange, almost surreal. Without exaggeration, I’ve spent every day since starting this company back in 2009 building my brand: strategizing, promoting, selling, collaborating, establishing partnerships, running events, tinkering, toying, dreaming. Beyond my family, it truly is my entire life; it’s something I’ve created from literally nothing, my sole source of income, and is just an inextricable part of who I am.

And now, after seven years, I’m finally putting it into the hands of others.

The key is of course finding the right people. Once we determined a year ago that we were indeed going to take this step and service Southern California clients with an office strategically located in Long Beach, I set out to finding the right team to put in place in NYC. A huge part of this meant finding professional event emcees whom I could trust to represent my brand, which I have worked so hard and for so long building. To me, this meant identifying and hiring the best. No actors from Craig’s List looking to make a few extra bucks, no pub quiz hosts with zero experience outside the bar; no, I wanted ONLY people with tremendous corporate experience and a high degree of professionalism,  whom I – and my clients – could trust in front of ANY audience, be it employees, customers, or loyal brand enthusiasts.

The challenge, of course, is that because what I do is so niche, there aren’t exactly a lot of people out there with a specific background in “professional trivia event hosting.” I knew I needed to expand my horizons, and trust this experience I’ve championed in the hands of other types of professionals. Knowing the role of “quizmaster” as well as I do now, I knew in my gut that this meant improv comics.

I set out to find these uniquely-skilled performers, but not just any – no, they had to have the aforementioned requisite experience, but also there had to be a certain degree of chemistry with both me and my brand. I’ve long sought to deliver a group bonding activity which is built around a positive shared experience: generating laughs, rather than proving how smart you are; something a bit edgy, not cheesy;  professional, yet still charming. The hosts I work with need to share that vision as well.

It took the better part of this past year, but I have indeed found them. Combined with the “Special Talent” hosts I’ve established collaborations with over the years – NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan, comedian Christian Finnegan, magician Ryan Oakes and the musical improv comedy troupe Broadway’s Next Hit Musical – I now work alongside truly fantastic people, whom I have absolute confidence in representing my brand to audiences of all type.

In addition to hosts, I’ve also identified other folks “on the ground” to make our events happen, including professional stage managers, producers, graders and more. They each represent me and my brand at gigs, and they each have my full and unflinching trust to do so. I feel extremely fortunate to have met and built relationships with such a solid group of qualified professionals and performers, whom I not only can rely on to represent me implicitly, but who genuinely enjoy and appreciate the chance to work with me as well.

And so yes, it’s a whole new ballgame now. I’m on the ground in California, working hard to expand our operation here – and yet, we are still going stronger than ever back East, with undoubtedly the best people eager to give it their all and make our clients happy. It’s been an adjustment for sure, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m also slowly warming to the fact that things can and in fact WILL go perfectly, even if I’m not there, because I’ve got the right team in place.

And for that, I feel so very blessed.

Learn more about having us produce an event for your company, either here in Long Beach, back in NYC, or anywhere in between!

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