I’ve written several pieces about “taking a risk,” but one very important aspect is “taking a risk on people.” In better words, “give people a chance” whenever you can do so.
When I look back at a very long career in the event industry, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve done just that. As a result, I’ve launched some careers for people who have become successful and productive members of the events community. They have added creativity and expertise to the industry and gone on to educate others who then follow in their footsteps. I have asked a few of them to remind me of how we started out, and I joyfully share with you what happened when I took a chance on people I didn’t know but about whom I just had a good feeling.
I invite you to pay it forward in your own world and do the same. The results can be remarkable.
Fred Tallaksen, Choreographer
To be totally honest, I was wearing a bad wig and doing a Fred and Ginger dance routine at a corporate event when I first met Andrea. (My Ginger had a bad wig, too.) We had a good laugh but developed an immediate friendship. I had just moved to Los Angeles from Manhattan in 1992, and didn’t know many people. I was still a performer and just starting to think about possibly choreographing the corporate gigs I had been dancing in for years. Not only did Andrea encourage me and give me the confidence to step up and be a choreographer… but she also helped me start my own entertainment company and guided me through my first few years of business all the way up to today… hiring me, teaching me, supporting me, and sharing much of the important inside information about the special events world that takes a lifetime to gather. I still apply all that knowledge to this day, 26 years later. And at the end of the day, we’re still laughing about lots of things and enjoying a close friendship which I cherish more than work or money in the long run!
It’s hard to believe 31 years have passed. Andrea took a chance on us based on our Rose Parade background, and the rest is history. We will always be eternally grateful! Andrea and her team continue to be a champion, inspiration, and vital voice for the events industry.
Andrea and I first met some 30 years ago through a mutual friend, Don Gilmartin. Don and I had been working together for several years, and he wanted to introduce me to a dynamic woman doing amazing, cutting-edge work in our industry. I can still remember the day I met her. She asked piercing questions, and I quickly knew that I had to up my game to keep up with her. I must have said the right things, because she took a chance on a guy just starting out in the industry, with nothing but ideas and hopefully a good vision. She gave me a little show that became two more, and eventually she became one of my best clients, and a true friend.
It’s an age-old conundrum. How can you work if no one knows who you are? And how can anyone know who you are if you don’t get a chance to show them?
I found myself in the same situation over 22 years ago. The Special Event Show was coming to my town, and I wanted in. I had an idea for a new band that didn’t exist on the East Coast. With the help of some local friends, I found the name of the executive producer of the Gala Night and approached her with my idea. She was an icon in the industry, a soon-to-be Lifetime Achievement Award winner. I wasn’t in her league. But still, she gave me her blessing, and I went to work producing the act. The evening was a smash success, and that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. It started as mentor/pupil, moved to client/vendor and over the years, it’s grown into so much more. Just a few years ago, I was honored with the same award that my mentor won so many years before. And, she was in the audience when it happened.
I’ve tried to live up to the bar she sets in her business, and I’ve tried to mirror the mentoring and teaching that she does with giving back of my own. That’s what it’s all about. Paying it forward. Looking toward the bigger picture. Growing an industry. I’m glad I met Andrea Michaels. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could find their own Andrea? What a great industry we would have!