Guest Mentor Kevin White – Head Honcho of the Live Event Space
By Ines Lotfi | Jul 15, 2019 | Blog
Boston-based Kevin White is a gun in the live events space. He owns an experiential marketing agency, which focuses mainly on developing and implementing live experiences – with, for, and alongside corporations.
After, to quote his own words, “getting shoved out of a company” and being asked repeatedly when he’d finally start his own businesses, Kevin took the leap and decided to just go for it.
And just like all starting business owners, it was largely about taking stabs in the dark.
“You will not know everything. Stop worrying about it. Stop worrying about perfection, just start building and start going.”
And with this as his modus operandi, Kevin’s company now produces some enormous events in the United States. He does this with a core team of 4-5 people, which he’s scaled to over 200 for some projects.
Having produced a 2-hour show from creative to execution, one of Kevin’s company’s biggest achievements has been the USA Games of the Special Olympics during their 50th Anniversary, showed on ESPN. 4000 athletes, 30,000 people in the audiences, and 700,000 people watching on television.
“We developed the storylines and scripts, we did all the special effects and the technical. They said ‘go’ at 2.30 in the afternoon in Seattle and for 2,5 hours we had a show that had to run in front of that many people and on television.”
That first hire…
For the first year, Kevin and his business went into survival mode. But after establishing where he wanted to go with the company and which role he wanted to play, he was ready to get the first person involved. And according to Kevin, that first hire should not be someone exactly like you.
“That first person needs to be the most important role outside of what you should be doing. You are the most important employee right now. You know your story, you know your skills, you know where your vision is, and you know where it’s going. So you have to pick: what am I going to be doing?
For me, that was producing. So my first hire was a salesperson, so I could get up and start scaling.”
But the first hire didn’t go as smoothly as Kevin expected.
“I think I didn’t spend enough time vetting. I missed an opportunity to see him in action, and I also missed a few red flags. Probably missed the chance to ask my peers how to go about hiring someone. Because I thought ‘well, this is my first official act as boss, I have to know what I’m doing, I’m just going to do it.’
I didn’t make enough use of my brain power, my brain trust, and the people I could rely on.”
“You’re never perfect. You’ll lose a client for a reason completely out of your control that you’ve got nothing to do with.”
After getting his vision right and his core team of 4-5 people in place, Kevin quickly discovered the reality of fending for himself as a business owner. But he learned a few valuable lessons.
“You’re never perfect. You’ll lose a client for a reason completely out of your control that you’ve got nothing to do with. And so, you can’t just be in constant growth.”
Kevin’s business took a big hit when 3 or 4 major clients all got bought out or merged and took their services in-house.
“We were chugging along with not much to worry about… And then we had – boom, boom, boom – the bottom drop out on us at three successive times…This is when we realised we needed to have a far greater pro-active approach to client acquisition.”
The importance of processes …
Once recovered, and with a healthy client portfolio in place, Kevin knew he needed processes, especially given the short lead time on some of the requested projects.
“We used to have brainstorming sessions on top questions we would get. We would spend an hour a week just developing insane ideas.
So every time someone asked us to come up with something, it wasn’t reinventing the wheel. We could essentially, within 24 hours, have a list of amazing ideas ready to go and just them to them. That would buy us another 48 hours, because they’re now going to look at all that and it gives us time to develop a little more of what we’ve heard.”
Kevin White’s Mastermind mentoring…
This month, we’ll be pulling Kevin in as one of the guest mentors. He’ll be hosting a mastermind call on July 17th – don’t forget to attend if you’re a Masterminder!