TrivWorks in SoCal: What I’ve Learned After a Year Working with Remote Teams

Southern.California.trivia.companies.jpgSouthern California trivia companies

One year ago – Independence Day 2016, to be precise – my wife and I embarked on the boldest journey imaginable, and by far the riskiest move of my life. After fifteen years of living and working in New York City, we “declared independence” from the East coast, and relocated to Long Beach, CA. There were several reasons for this expedition, including to be closer to my wife’s family, better weather, and to provide a more optimal environment for our two young children to grow up in. From a business standpoint, however, such a drastic move was appealing to me because it would provide a unique opportunity for growth.

I viewed this growth as occurring in two distinct ways. First, by being located on the West coast, I would be able to service an entirely new market with Southern California team building events. Yes, in theory when I was living in Brooklyn I could bring TrivWorks anywhere in the nation. However, being a SoCal trivia company would mean I could readily provide our unique group bonding activities to one of the most densely-populated regions of America, while also having easy access to anywhere in the Western portion of the country via the Long Beach, Los Angeles & Orange County airports.

Excited as I was by this prospect, however, I was immensely concerned with flip side of the coin: if I was going to be in California and wanted to keep things going on the East Coast, I would have to find people to run these corporate trivia events for me.

Since founding this team building and corporate event entertainment company in 2009 right up until last year, I was basically running the entire operation myself. This meant not only administering all of the marketing, sales, online and ancillary operations, but personally prepping and appearing at all of our events as the producer and emcee. Yes, our “Special Talent” emcees NY1’s Pat Kiernan, magician Ryan Oakes, comedian Christian Finnegan and the talented musical improv troupe Broadway’s Next Hit Musical were out hosting our trivia gigs as well – however, even if I wasn’t actually hosting these events, I was physically present at them, to make sure they ran smoothly and both the client and the emcees were happy. Until last year, I could probably have counted on one hand the number of TrivWorks gigs I wasn’t personally at – and even those it was for some reason beyond my control, most likely another event booked on the same night.

Well, guess what? If I was going to move to California, this meant I couldn’t be at any more gigs on the East coast, unless I felt like spending my life on cross-country flights. No, if I was going to set this up right and continue operating back East, I would have to find people whom I trusted to be…well, to be ME.

Any entrepreneur will tell you that the hardest part of growth is letting go; to delegate critical work functions he or she has been doing themselves since the beginning, and confidently entrust others to execute them with the same level of quality and care as they themselves would. That’s what’s required to “level up,” and in my case, it meant finding professional emcees for trivia events, as well as seasoned event producers whom I felt comfortable with. I spent the better part of the year prior to our move doing just that: searching tirelessly for the right people.

I have to tell you, when I boarded that plane from JFK to Long Beach a year ago, I honestly didn’t know what would happen. Would my business tank? Would the brand which I had painstakingly built from nothing at all, which I had devoted so much time and energy and resource to daily for seven year, completely nosedive without me being physically “on the ground?” As frankly as I can put it, I just didn’t know. I was going on faith, but did not know (click here for another post referencing my frame of mind during that time).

However, as I’ve written about many times over the past year, I did indeed find the right people, and I am proud to say that our East coast business has never been better! However, what I haven’t really gone into much detail about here on my blog is just what it meant for me to “let go,” and to trust that the operation would continue going in the right direction.

Especially at the beginning, during those first couple of summer months when I was a newly-transplanted Californian, I was a nervous wreck. I knew I’d still be the one marketing and selling and prepping my East coast gigs, but the fact that I wouldn’t be present made me so, so anxious. Would these emcees be able to deliver? Would the producers be able to…produce? During the most stressful times when I was really tearing my hair out, my wife would put both of her hands on my shoulders, look me straight in the eye, and say, “David – it’s going to be FINE. You’ve hired fantastic people, and wouldn’t have trusted them with your business if you didn’t believe they would do a great job.”

And like everything else, she was of course right.

During the post-gig recap calls with my East coast clients, the feedback was always glowing; they had an absolute blast, and LOVED the emcees! When I’d speak with my staff, we’d walk through everything in detail, and even I had to admit that despite my anticipation of disaster, everything was in fact going off without a hitch.

For one of the biggest gigs of that summer, I had NY1’s Pat Kiernan emceeing a trivia event for 200 employees of a major Fortune 500 company in Manhattan. I’d been working with Pat for about five years by that point, and had been at each and every one of the dozens of collaborative events we’ve produced together. As such, I was basically giving myself an ulcer stressing out about the fact that I wouldn’t be at this one, and wanted it to go perfectly; I put my poor event producer though such hassle going through the setup and timeline over and over, then doing it 100 more times in my head. During my final check-in call with Pat on his way to the gig, he could sense my apprehension and foreboding. “David,” he said warmly, in that soothing voice New Yorkers have grown to love over the past two decades, “we got this.”

I let out a sigh, crossed my finger, and of course he was right, too – it was a huge success.

Today, a year later, I no longer feel any of the fear or dread I did last July. I I have learned to have complete trust that my events will always go well, even without me being there. I have absolute confidence in the fantastic people whom I am working with back East, and have not a moment’s hesitation between booking the gig, and checking in after it’s done. It is such a liberating feeling, as I can now truly be in two places at the same time, bringing my brand to bi-coastal audiences without sacrificing an ounce of quality, or diminishing the experience.

This past year has forced me to grow personally and professionally in ways I never would have had we stayed back East, and I am so glad that we took this giant leap!

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