Paying Your Dues: How I Became America’s Go-To Guy for Corporate Trivia Events
Corporate trivia team building events
What I do is special – a niche within a niche. Not only do I produce corporate entertainment events using live trivia, but I additionally do company team building events. This specialty puts me in a rather unique place. I’m not a bar trivia vendor, nor do I pretend to be a Jack-of-all-trades who can deliver any number of office group bonding activities and exercises.
Trivia events are my thing – that’s what I do well.
As such, I really don’t have a peer group in the traditional sense; there’s no association I can join for my specialty, no annual conferences I can attend – if so, it’d be pretty much just me there.
There are plenty of vendors out there who have a zillion different offerings, ranging from scavenger hunts to escape rooms to build-a-bear, and I have no doubt they’d be willing to produce your company trivia party as well – but of course, how proficient can they really be in any one thing, if they do EVERYTHING? Similarly, you’ve got bar trivia companies all over the place these days, who in addition to supplying your local watering hole with a local host and some canned questions, would be happy to put on a private event for your company – but of what level quality and professionalism?
When I set out to establish the country’s go-to vendor for corporate trivia events, I first made sure that I was qualified to do so. I had to pay my dues – and here’s how I did it.
Alas, there is no direct academic path to this career I’ve chosen. You can’t major in corporate event entertainment, team building or game show design. Truth be told, I didn’t set out to do this sort of work anyway; I more or less meandered into it, not sure what I wanted to do for much of my life prior to taking this step (for more on the journey which brought me here, follow this link).
That said, I did have enough interest in related areas to provide me with as solid a formal education as one could possibly have for this type of work:
Bachelor’s in Psychology – My undergraduate degree from Tufts University provided me with a solid foundation in the study of human beings: cognition, memory, personality development, socialization, nature vs. nurture, behavior modification, biochemical stuff in the brain – all of it. This was an early study in what makes people “tick” – a vital component to understanding motivation, team dynamics, and how people work together.
Master’s in Music & Entertainment Business – A couple of years out of college, I enrolled in NYU for a specialized two-year arts management degree. Taking courses full time at the Stern School of Business and Steinhardt School of Education, I didn’t really have a goal at the time other to do SOMETHING in the music or entertainment worlds. The coursework included core MBA classes, as well as focused study in entertainment event production, artist management, legal aspects of the industry, marketing, publicity and more. I interned with a major concert production company, as well as NYC’s renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center performance spaces. Very few people have the opportunity for such intensive study in the entertainment & live events world, and I still use the skills I learned during this program every day.
Graduate Certificate in Organizational Management – About five years after finishing my master’s, I found myself back in school – this time for a graduate certificate at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA). The 18-month program explored all aspects of managing and leading organizations: strategic planning, team dynamics, identifying problem areas, giving/receiving feedback, conducting difficult conversations, collaboration, communication and much more. It really tied together all I had learned through my previous two degrees, and helped to shape me for what was to come when I formed my own trivia team building company in NYC.
Trivia Hosting Chops
If I wanted to be the country’s best provider of trivia events for corporate groups, it would have to start with me being the best trivia night host out there. I didn’t set out to do this, however – it just sort of happened. I started hosting a bar trivia night at The Gael Pub on Manhattan’s Upper East Side back in 2006 – it was more of a lark, but surprised me by becoming VERY popular in just a few short months. Before I knew it, the event was being listed every week in Time Out New York and other outlets declaring it the “Best Pub Quiz Night in New York,” with between 100-125 people consistently in attendance each week. People were literally sitting on the floor, if you can believe that!
Fast forward a couple of years, and I had been asked to host a second weekly pub quiz at Social Bar & Grill in Midtown West, as well as a bi-monthly gig at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. That works out to 2-3 trivia nights every WEEK I was hosting, or 10 a month – a pace I kept up for about 5-6 straight years. When I launched TrivWorks as a side project in 2009, I threw in a handful of private & corporate trivia nights in New York City and the surrounding areas each month as well. By the time I was ready to take TrivWorks full-time in 2011, I had personally emceed over 800 public & private events.
Trivia Writing Chops
Going hand in hand with emcee abilities is being able to produce quality quiz content. Since those early days over 10 years ago, I have always written my own trivia. Week in, week out I was churning out 50 new questions, mostly pop culture and general knowledge. Because I was in front of audiences so much testing out new material, I was able to learn over the course of many years what kinds of stuff people respond well to, and what they don’t. When I formed my partnership in 2011 with Pat Kiernan, NY1 anchor and former host of VH1’s game show The World Series of Pop Culture, my writing game was upped even more, to truly make it professional (click here for further reading on that).
I’ve always worked in the events world – be it producing concerts, public relations events, or political campaign rallies. While I was hosting all those bar trivia nights, I still held down a full-time job working in events at the 92nd Street Y, a New York cultural & community center. As Director of Adult Education Programs – a position I held for six years – I was responsible for planning & producing over 500 annual events, classes, lectures, outings and more.
Client Service Experience
Hand-in-hand with event experience came exposure to outstanding client service. I really learned the art of interacting with paying clients when I worked for large Manhattan PR agencies as an account executive, where certain habits are taught and strictly reinforced from day 1: respond quickly, anticipate needs, bring solutions, respect the client’s time and more. This tutelage continued when I started working with 92Y, and had to deal with many thousands more “clients” than I’d ever worked with in the past. As such, making the transition to corporate events was a piece of cake – but I had to go through a LOT of training to get there.
Being the best means more than just saying it, or even thinking it – you have to be able to back it up with the experience, expertise and wisdom only obtained through extremely hard work, and by paying your dues. As such, I am honored to service so many prestigious clients large and small from coast to coast, and to have established partnerships with the greatest emcee talent available anywhere to host our events. To that end, I take great pride in saying that when it comes to trivia team building and corporate event entertainment anywhere in America, TrivWorks is indeed the best!
Learn more about great team building events by visiting my blog.
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