Anh Nguyen is the Head of Customer Success at twine.
Prior to joining twine, Anh founded Spark Event Management, an award-winning, full-service event management firm and the Spark Event Collective, a network of independent planners collaborating to deliver event experiences.
Anh is a seasoned business event professional who possesses over 15 years of event design, production, and management experience. She has managed a vast array of events and is known for her keen eye for detail while being able to lead, inspire and manage large, global teams.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Anh successfully lead 50 leading event professionals to coordinate the Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) Goes Virtual initiative and was recently named a Meetings Today 2020 Trendsetter.
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Hello and welcome to another episode of the pixelated podcast I am your host Patrick rife excited to welcome all of you back again for a another chapter interview in our, in our series and then pixelated podcast season two series where we've been focused on having conversations with other event professionals throughout the the event, profit diaspora, if you will, if you're just tuning in the theme for this year has been really about interviews with other professionals that work in very specific niches throughout kind of the event professional world. And and today is going to be no different than that. So I'm super excited to welcome and knowing from twine, I believe it's I think if it is we are trying but I think that that's that's all part of the goal as well. But and welcome to the pixelated podcast.Anh Nguyen:
Awesome. Thanks for having me here. It's It is a pleasure to be here. Yeah, we are twine is our Twitter handle. So good. Good. Recall there.Patrick Rife:
You know, I was chatting with will Qur'an from endless events. And with him I kept being like, we are endless. And he's like, Yeah, you know, like, it's actually not, but like, I totally understand why we are endless resonates inside of your brain.Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, exactly. We are our Twitter handles, aren't we?Patrick Rife:
Yes, yes. Yes, we are, to some degree, for sure. Well, so. And again, thank you for being our guests I have been following along with your your journey kind of through working with twine via Twitter. So you're one of the people that I've kind of been been following through the last few years over on Twitter. So it's awesome to get a chance to chat with you. And I've thought about reaching out for for some months and kind of, you know, for one reason or another, I just didn't, but it's been kind of cool to finally circle back and get a chance to to talk with you after having the initial idea, I think was kind of when you when you started to work with them. And now here we are all these months later, and you've kind of changed your roles inside of the space. But, you know, before we get ahead of ourselves, why don't you let everyone know that's listening kind of a little bit of your background, a little bit of your bio, you know, like how you got to be where you are and what you're doing now.Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, for sure. I'm curious, which which tweet finally pushed you over the edge to ask me to join you. But you'll have to try to recall that for me. Yeah, I own and started started and own an event planning company here in Canada called spark event management that is about to celebrate our 12th year of being in business. So that's exciting for us. And through that space. Obviously, I've made a lot of connections in the event planning industry and during the pandemic. My work with Spark connected me to a group of people that started a movement called Event profs break shift. So that was a way for us to get together to test all the new virtual event technology that was coming at event planners at the beginning of the pandemic and twine Lawrence Coburn my, my boss now was one of the first well he was the first brave enough soul to put his hand up and say, yeah, why don't you get 150 event planners on my platform and tell me what works, what doesn't what breaks what you know, so for the company at the time, it was a great way to get some market research right from their target persona. And for us, it's a more fun way to test event tech than to sit through a demo and, you know, listen to someone talk about all the great features, but not actually get to get their hands dirty using the tech so I've ever cross break shit, which I started with to to my industry friends, Sean Chang and Miguel nibs, he that's how I got connected to Lawrence. And then from there, Lawrence and I stayed in touch. And when the time came about that twine was ready to really sell into the event planning space and get to know their target buyer. They offered me a role in community engagement. So basically engaging with the community that was already part of and sort of representing that persona and that voice inside the company, which is a trend that I have seen event and more event tech companies adopt of having, you know, the person you're trying to sell to have a seat at the table is really valuable perspective as you're developing technology. So then it has since evolved to as you know, the virtual event world is very cyclical, right. So if the pandemic is raging strong then But then virtual events rise in terms of have numbers and frequency and now that you know the pandemic has subsided slightly, we're more a little bit back to in person. So we started realizing that it was very tumultuous building software based, serving a space that was a little bit unpredictable given what was happening with the pandemic. So where we were seeing success, though, was internal events. So companies that were distributed or remote, working, looking for ways to connect their teams, the remote and distributed teams. So we've we've really laser focused in on kind of that use case for us of remote and distributed workforces using twine as a way to connect with each other, we still have lots of event planners that use us for virtual events and that kind of stuff. But we we started really laser focusing on remote work and how technology could be used to bridge those those gaps and create those connections that used to happen in the office. So my role has evolved slightly into working more with our customers on the customer success side in designing and implementing technology twine, specifically into their internal events. And our focus has shifted quite a bit into the how event planners and employee experience folks are designing ways through their teams to connect. So it's been quite an evolution, I think lots of people's career have careers have evolved with the pandemic, in lots of different ways. And my mind just taken an interesting journey through the work we're doing at twine.Patrick Rife:
That's awesome, that it's I find there's this underpinning theme of HR that is has has supported a lot of ideas that I didn't expect over the last 12 or 14 months. And I think that in our history, there, there's always been a use case that has been there, there's been a time even for us with with HR departments, but the that need that they have that is this new need to figure out some kind of continuity or connectivity that they can create, whether it is through their in person like warehouses where they're trying to create some sense of normalcy again, or it's connecting to that portion of their workforce that isn't being brought back in. And it's it's tricky and and they're all kind of trying to figure out how to do it with the terror of worrying about having to not do it well and rehire in the current environment and how much more challenging that is. So there's this, there's this real need, right to like, kind of figure it out and, and that it's really worth investing whatever it's going to take to kind of figure it out. So that's been some of the underpinnings that we've experienced, I would say it was, it was most strong this this spring and early summer. But this, this whole sensibility around these, you know, like, we tend to think of ourselves as producing products that are, I don't know, you just always think about public events, right? You think about whether it's like from a marketing angle, or whether it's from an entertainment angle, you think about that being like these, like large public events. But the reality was that we had these companies that were coming in, and they were like, large, multinational companies. And they were trying to figure out, like how to have a high like some kind of hybrid solution. They found themselves coming out of the pandemic with, like, not really good solutions in place for a hybrid audience that they had to figure out how to entertain, but then also how to manage it effectively. And we found ourselves in this spot where they were looking for ways to basically create photo experiences for their C suite in Los Los Angeles. And they're like manufacturing wings in like Taiwan, and Japan and all of these other places. But a way to tie all those things back together. And the thing leading the charge was, you know, like it wasn't consumer facing at all like it was it was these internal practices that everyone was looking to strengthen really quickly.Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, yeah. And I think that's an interesting observation. Because prior to the pandemic, HR was responsible for, you know, the weekly potluck or the Christmas party, or you get $50 or $100, to go throw like a pizza party in the park. And then after the pandemic happened, and people started moving and working from home, working remotely working from anywhere, it became very evident that you needed to invest a lot more in building those connections. And yeah, making sure your manufacturing department out in Asia does get a chance to meet with your leadership in North America. And how do you do that without flying everyone's in the same place? That kind of problem became a real sea level problem where we're now organizations were investing budget and time and it was a trend We identified really early that event planners can play a big role in because we're, we're trained to design experiences, we're trained to connect people we're trained to, you know, figure out how to connect hybrid audiences. And all of a sudden, we have the skill set that can be really utilized by the these big companies that never had to worry about that before, right? Because you would just run into people in the office or, you know, you it would be in the hallways, or when you're in the boardroom together. And now that those serendipitous in person connections aren't happening anymore, you have to get really intentional about curating them. So yeah, it is a little bit of a detour from sort of traditional event planning that I was doing at my company. But it certainly still utilizes a lot of the same skill set that I've always had to lean lean into as an event planner.Patrick Rife:
Yeah, yeah. So I have, there's so many ways that I want to go and I'm going to try and do a little bit of service to each of them, because I think that we would lose out but they're not necessarily linear. So I'll probably just have to pick a path and then walk back up it. So one thing that I want to touch on like I really want to get into, I really want to get into twine, because I want to talk about when you started and where you are now because I think that's interesting. I want to talk about, like the perspective when you started in the perspective now because I know that it's I know that it's changed because I make technology in the event space as well and 14 months ago was way different than it is right now in almost totally and completely. But before we go there, I'd love to just talk a little bit about entrepreneurship and and juggling your company. And this new opportunity and how like, probably when it first showed up, it was like things were still ambiguous as they have been a couple of years. And it seemed like it made a lot of sense. But I would imagine that as things have started to pick back up that it has become maybe not challenging, but definitely demanding of delegation and understanding where your center is and how you're approaching that. And I think that like the there's probably some pretty interesting stuff there from a from a, you know, self revelatory. And the perspective, right, you're asking a lot of yourself, you've done, you know, like, I've run a company for 10 years, so I can respect running a company for 12 years. And I also understand the size of what twine is. So they're not, they're not just like, you know, like one little thing, you can stick in a pocket. So I don't know, anything, anything to kind of share about what that's been like for you?Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, that's a great question. So not a lot of people know about this. But there was a small period of time where, right after the pandemic, I was like, I'm ready to just do my business kind of part time, really scale it back and take on a job that is more stable. So I have a four year old daughter now at the time she was too. So layer that on top of running a business and all this. So I actually went and worked outside of the industry for about three or four months, and an air filtration company. So believe it or not, that did that didn't make my Twitter headlines often. But I did that for a little bit to seek out exactly what you're talking about that kind of more stability, it was less stressful of a job, it was different, but like nine to five and an office, and then you could still sort of have your side hustle and your child and all of this stuff. And that's where I was when Lawrence found me. And when he was like, What are you doing right now? And I'm like, Oh, I'm selling air filters. He's like, What are you talking about? Like, that's not really like where your passion lies, and is it really utilizing. So I never meant to go and work at a tech startup and be running a small event planning company during the pandemic either, right. And even on the event planning side, it's evolved a little bit differently, but it is a lot. So So and Lawrence and the team at twine have have been fully supportive of the fact that I sort of have the side hustle, that's not a side hustle. But they really leverage that experience that I have, keeping my finger on the pulse of what's happening in the event world as we build and develop our software. Having said that, it did force me to evolve the event planning company into more of a collective so it spun off a business model where essentially I don't do any more day to day planning of events, but we leverage a brand that we've built. So the the work still comes in and then it gets sort of farmed out to different independent planners. And so delegation is huge, right? We we struggle with that. And I've learned a lot over the last couple of years of, you know, people aren't always going to do things the way you wanted them done. And you're entrusting them with a brand and they're going to do things kind of their own way. And how do you work with them and how do you find a balance between Yeah, they have some good ideas because they've not always done it the same way. is you and be open to the things that they're bringing to the table versus, and like countering that with protecting a brand and a reputation and a style that you've been curating and building for over a decade. That's been a real personal professional challenge, right? I'm lucky to have business partners and and a community of planners that have bought into the model that are working their way through it with us. But yeah, essentially, I sort of worked for two startups. And balance of that is hard. And twine is certainly kind of the 40 plus hour a week job that keeps me full time employed. And then I do really have to lean on others to keep the keep the stuff and the lights that spark running lights on. And yeah, it's not easy. Any event planner will be able to tell you that, like delegation, and not being a control freak is really hard to let go sometimes, yeah, but there's also been benefits of that, right, like being able to learn new ideas and see how other people do things and feel the idea of building something that has impact on other people's lives, not just yours, that's really cool. But some days, it's a lot and some days, and then layer on, you know, having a four year old on top of that, and it can make for long weeks and long days. But communicating and asking for help and leaning on your community and all of those places to help when you can't, when you can't do it all is something I've learned for sure. And I learned that early on. I think I think you get yourself into a lot of trouble. If you can't ask for help and think that you have to do it all and be superwoman, you sort of end up just letting more people down than if you just raise your hand and ask for help. And you need it.Patrick Rife:
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, well, well put booklet. And, and, and respect for, you know, parenting through the, through the quagmire as well, you know, I have, I have a five, eight and 10 year old. So I, I empathize with all of the challenges that that are inherent in along those lines. But kudos to selling air filters for a period of time, and you're like, I think that I think that that's like, not not being cute or clever. Like, I think that that's awesome, I think that there's so much value in popping out of your constant circumstances. Like, frankly, like as frequently as you can pull it off, you know, he can't do something like that, with like, some striking regularity. But at the same time, you know, like, spending four months being the person driving the lawnmower down the median strip on the highway, you know, like there could, there could be worse things than that, right? Not only Yeah, completely different perspective, a whole bunch of time to think but also, like, a lot of respect comes from realizing what you had before, like grass is always greener. And sometimes it's worth checking out the other side. And just for the validation that the site that you're on is pretty great, right?Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, and clean air matters. I've learned a lot about HEPA filters, I learned a lot about part parts per million and, and what a cool line of business to work in during a pandemic where the virus is airborne, right? Like, I learned quite a bit, just just in the time that I was there about a whole different world and, and then there, there's always ways to overlap things. So one of the one of the pieces that came out of that was like a connection I made between venue suppliers in our industry and air filtration, right. So like talking about creating safe spaces to come back to after the pandemic, and what kind of air filtration you're using. And that's actually a big important thing that venues are dealing with now. And you know, when you go to a poorly ventilated building, that's on people's minds, right. So there's always ways to connect your worlds and always interesting serendipitous, you know, meetings that you can have that bring it all together. But yeah, it's always good to, to get as much exposure to different things as you can.Patrick Rife:
Yeah, the smart saleswoman can't help but recognize, you're like, oh, this couldn't be better. Opportunity. You're like a little bit, like, sheepish about it, because it feels so mercenary, but at the same time, you know, like you, your brain, like I'm the same way, right? Your brain has been trained to recognize all these things that happen, you're like, well, that's kind of a hold back. But also, like, if we look at it, from this perspective, it's, you're not wrong, like so. You could honestly like we wanted to, for the people that are that listen to this podcast, because they're the entrepreneurial, like the super, you know, like hashtag hustle people that are out there that are listening, right? But like, honestly speaking, you could take your past experience and that one single insight from those four months, and you could go start a company, right? Like, right, that is focused on educating Event professionals and venues about air quality and best practice, right? Like, I mean, the free twitter download, just check that like, comment here. And I'll DM it to you. Like it writes itself. Because when you get to that layer in your career where you understand how whatever and I don't mean to sound, I'm, I am not a Twitter bro I am very, I fail exquisitely at Twitter. So I'm not that person. But you once you've been there long enough you write, you start to understand like how, like an offer gets leveraged inside of an ecosystem, right? Like what that first transactional piece would be to get people interested. And then quite frankly, like, once they're on the list, once they're opted in, it's just about educating through the nuances of that like specific thing, right. And the meteor it is right, the air filters meet venues, the better it is, because there's definitely people, every person that owns a venue is more likely than not going to at least read that piece of information to educate themselves by and if they're, if they need that piece of information to educate themselves. They need other things that follow behind that, right.Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, and I don't I mean, I don't use Twitter as a real marketing or, you know, audience building channel, I use it more as like personal therapy, half the things as you know, that I post about it or about parenting a toddler, my my random problems that I'm having, like, I lost my left air pod, and I don't know what to do now. But yeah, but the you're right, like content marketing, I think is working so effectively right now, because it kind of cuts through all of the noise, right. And in and of itself, the you're right, there's like a whole array of people that are taking it to your Twitter bros as you call them, where it's like, every week, here's like a 10 thread, hack on how to do whatever. And it's like, okay, but done properly, like useful content will cut through a lot of that noise, right. And being a consistent subject matter on something, whether it's air filters, and venues or event planning, or voting booths, whatever it might be. It's working, it works, right? It's trusted, it's a trusted way to build connection and audience. And like anything that works, someone's always going to take it to an extreme and ruin it. But that the core of it what it is, it's like, I trust you because you're knowledgeable about this specific topic that I care about. And yeah, exactly. So it's certainly doable. I'm not going to foray into airfilter expertise anytime soon. But it's always in the back of my head right. Now, whenever I go into a building, I'm always scoping out the like, air filtration system. But yeah, it's certainly doable. And I think if if someone's listening that has an idea, it's like, consistently prove that you're an expert in that topic that you have things to say that matter and be consistent about posting and engaging. And that's how these people are building their audiences. Right. So yeah, that's a great, great insight.Patrick Rife:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I'm not I don't have I don't have a wonderful strategy when it comes to any of those places where people like effortlessly build social funnels. But for me, the interest is really just about when you get to that level in your in your career as an entrepreneur and you start to just recognize all of those opera opportunities that like should you need to you could identify pretty quickly something that is that has extreme value that you could build something around whether it's, you know, email marketing, or whether it's building a, you know, a Twitter thing or, or going on Tik Tok and educating people about air filters. It's, it's a special moment when you finally when you get to that place where you can like, look at something and understand the mechanics that would need to exist around it for it to be a real idea. So, so moving on. Let's talk a little bit about twine about being we aren't as wine. I am. I think it would be interesting to hear what the mission statement was when you came on, like what the goal was, like, what, what they were, they were hoping you could help them accomplish. And then, you know, like, I know that there's been like a title change, but and that's wonderful. Congratulations for the promotion. But you and I know that that is only representative of like 1000 Little changes that happened over the course of that thing, right as you became steeped in what they were doing. And, and they became steeped in how you were thinking and you guys write about that synergy, right as you get built in with your team and all of a sudden you guys are doing things that are greater than either of the two of you independently. So I think it would be wonderful to hear about that because I think that it's very fascinating to think about, you know, I was making event technology prepend Eric, I haven't been able to work on my technology a lot in a long time. But a lot of money flowed into event technology during the pandemic. And then I think on the other side of it here, you know, like, we ended up with a lot of no code, website builders, and some stuff that's, you know, was striking out at trying to be something truly unique. But I also think that there's a lot that just didn't get factored in. And there's still so much opportunity that's out there, because we built for a virtual environment when we were ultimately going to land in a hybrid environment. And, and, you know, like, it's all been so kind of neat jerky, as you know, like things were opening, and then they're not opening and then they are opening. And, you know, like for us, it kept us off of our footing, because it's hard to plan when the rules keep changing. So I said a lot. So let's instead just like take all that back and say, What did they ask you to print? Come on and do when you first first came to time, like what was the what was the idea? And now a word from our sponsors.Nicolas China:
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Yeah, great, great question. And sort of given the connections in the community that I had built being an event planner, twine wasn't the first technology company platform software to approach me about this similar type role. But what it really was about twine that persuaded me was who our leadership is. So more specifically, Lawrence Coburn, who had created, built grew Double Dutch, which was like one of the first event mobile apps of the time back then, and sold it to Cvent. And he has a long standing reputation in the industry of being sort of, you know, brilliant when it comes to event technology. So so that was a big reason for me joining twine, because like most event planners at the time, I was skeptical of all of these technology platforms that came out, you know, April of 2020, seeing where the next best thing that's gonna solve all your problems and save your life just didn't really seem realistic, right? So what they asked me to originally come on and do was a role in community engagement. So what that entailed was talking to the community that I was already a part of listening to what problems planners were having, bringing that back and helping them develop software to solve those problems. We met the time our our major problem was how do we connect people virtually who used to run into each other at the coffee break station or at the elevator in the hotel lobby. So twine is all about conversations that connect people. We believe that if you sit down and you have a quote unquote, face to face cameras on conversation with someone, you can change the way you think about something, you can build connection, you can change the path of your career or your education. A conversation that is really well curated, can change your life, right and twine was all about how to recreate that online now that we could no longer do it in person. But similar to what you experience, building software in a space that was so volatile for the last two years. With the with the pendulum of like all in person, all virtual now we're going back all in person. It became hard to predict and hard to build lasting software. So the trend that we really latched on to was the persistent trend of remote work. So like I said, we what we noticed was that most of our successful deployments and clients were the ones where they were using us to connect their internal team because people weren't going back into the office. People liked working from home. And so when we identified that trend, we started designing our our software and our experience As to cater after that audience. And what I was spending more and more time doing was sitting with our clients thinking through event design and thinking through how we could leverage this piece of technology to build intentional connection and conversation for remote teams. And so it eventually just evolved into me, working so directly with our clients on that, that it moved into kind of more of that customer success realm, because now our customers weren't just event planners, we had people, leaders, HR teams, like you. And I've talked about employee experience, folks. So that's how it evolved. And I think, at the core of it, it's still is about events, if we think about an event is, anytime you design a space or a container, that people come into connect, whether it's in a ballroom or on a computer, it's still event design, right. And so our mission really hasn't changed that much our vision of bringing the world closer together one conversation at a time, that hasn't really changed. It's just more of the audience in the form we're doing it in. And what has been really rewarding is to be able to layer that on top of a trend that's changing the way we work, right. So the way humans work has changed, fundamentally changed forever, I think so the idea that when I was 20, and looking for a job, it had to be in the 30 kilometer radius of where I lived, because I had to go into the office, right. And now we have engineers and teammates that work for us that travel the globe, and we're dialed in from a different place every week. And that's how I think work will continue to evolve. So it's been super rewarding to build technology that is event focused, it's it's built on connection, it's built on conversation. But then it's also solving a really interesting problem in the world that is just brand new, this is a brand new problem that we're just as a as a human race trying to figure out and trying to calibrate around. So it's been really challenging. I mean, it's very far from what I was doing pre pandemic, which was literally planning mostly in person events. And it's taught me a lot, and then later on never having worked in software before everything you learn doing that as well. Yeah, it has, it has evolved a lot. But it's been sort of like a very logical progression of what I've been doing, I think.Patrick Rife:
Yeah. So you know, like, you know, being being, you know, like, a set of ears, right, for the company being being a listener. What are what are some of the things like, what are your customers problems now that are revolving like, like one of the things that you've noticed, like, you've been in this position for what a year and a half year and 10 months, something along those lines long enough that right, like the the anxieties and the things that people are worried about, and they're asking, and they're, and when I say anxieties and worried about I should say the things that they're having to plan around that are unique in that are changing, right? Because the the landscape is evolving constantly. And then from a buyer's perspective, right, you've got like, the people that ostrich the whole virtual movement, and are just coming back to it now and No, nothing at all, like literally nothing at all. And then there are folks that tried it a little bit there folks that like tried it a lot. And then of course, tried it a lot and cut it all off. Like there are all of these different permutations. But I think what we've learned is that the there's always these manifests anxieties that are happening, right? Where all of a sudden, it's like out of nowhere, everybody is asking one very specific question. You're like Ash, like, Where's this coming from? Like, all of a sudden, there's this interest in whether it's like an HR Initiative, or whether it's some other worry? Is there you know, are there are there tonalities of right now that you're seeing that are different than what they were kind of in the heyday of the pandemic?Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, I think, a couple of trends, whether it's Yeah, an HR internal event, or someone running a conference, it's all about how we build connection digitally. Right. And twine is only one part of that. So if we take mine and your relationship, for example, we've never met in person, right? This is the first time we're actually on a on a call together. But we've interacted online, we've sort of built a rapport so that when you asked me to do this, it wasn't like a complete random ask you and I have built a relationship completely online. And and that happened organically through a social media platform, right. But what planners and event owners and HR leaders are looking to do is is how do they curate those connections, whether it's within their company or within their event or within their association? Because they are recognizing that bringing 1000 people together in a ballroom once a year. or for a two hour cocktail reception is not going to work anymore for building substantial connection and networks. And people want to now have global reach with their network, they want to be able to connect with people from all over the place. And one of the things we fundamentally believe is, you know, technology can help do that. So what are the odds that you're going to enter into a ballroom, let's say a 500 people during a networking hour and make a brilliant connection, pretty good, right? Like most of us have had that experience. But now imagine if I said, it doesn't actually have to be confined to this ballroom, you don't have to travel to Indianapolis, or wherever it is, once a year to do this, you can do this year round all the time, with a with an audience, that's like 10 times the size of that ballroom, right? The odds are that there's just going to be better connections that can form there. So so people are just trying to figure out how to tap into that. digitally. So what what we think is like technology can help with that. So technology that's really well designed technology that takes into account how humans want to connect and how they want to converse. Can can do that. And the people who don't believe that virtual is virtual, or hybrid, or some digital component is here to stay, I think are a little short sighted, right, like the group of 500 lawyers that had a great event in 2019, and just want to come back and meet with the same group of lawyers Three years later, they'll do it. And it'll be fun when they get together in person. But if they don't tap into the sort of evolution that's happening with how humans connect, yeah, it won't be long until that association is dead. Right? And there'll be asking themselves, why don't we have any young members? And why don't we have any new people wanting to engage with our brand and our association? Because this is how the world is connecting? Yeah,Patrick Rife:
and our ambitious members, in that three year absence are going to have found these other communities that have raised themselves up to be 365. opportunities. And so like, that's what like, I was dumbfounded coming out of, out of out of COVID. That, going into it, you know, so we've always had meager resources, but you know, like, a, an all time community. I mean, these aren't revelations that came just because of COVID. Right, like, for the last 1012 years, if you're, if you're a digitally, I mean, this is the difference between spending time growing your Facebook page or building your email list, right? Like, one of them can be taken away at will one of them you own, and they are not the same thing at all. And from a business value perspective, they're, they're not even remotely close to one another in terms of value, right? Like, owning your ecosystem in your audience. And granting access to your ecosystem in your audience are night and day differences. So from my perspective, I thought that these orbs would, you know, like, they were forced virtual, right, there was no choice around that, right, like all of their current stuff was cut off. But anyone that went virtual, like you weren't bringing 100% of your IRL audience to your virtual world, like you are lucky if you're bringing 14 to 18% of them. And then the other thing, you are building a brand new audience, right. And that whole audiences relationship to you is through the digital ecosystems. So there is no onus for you to ever give them an in real life experience. Right? That's not how they think of you from a contextual perspective. So you know, like, knowing that these you know, whether you're in a whatever, a heart cancer nonprofit in Kansas City, right? At the end of the day, like if your work is about research, funding research for for curing heart cancer, then everyone that cares about heart cancer across the globe is all of a sudden completely irrelevant to you. And it doesn't matter that they are in Kansas City or not. So while you can have those kinds of you know, whatever marquee or tentpole events occasionally, in your actual immediate ecosystem that you're you're based out of the value becomes how do you turn and how do you command this community to continue to learn together to continue to connect right to continue to be resources for one another? Because then all of a sudden, you're moving beyond having to ask for something constantly and instead, like you've created a circus, right, and you're the ringleader, and in that ringleader role, you're able to connect all this be the conduit for all of this connectivity right for helping everyone grow as more of like a unified whole right as opposed to Bing it, it stops being so one directional and it creates this omni directional opportunity. Sorry, I'm like totally going off but you you like this has been my kind of go fall the whole way is that it would have seen that people would have seen it coming this opportunity to really plan their post wherever we were going to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. And my fear was that it would end up being a bit the way that it is. But it sorry, I'm not even sure like how to write what but it's that it's that that thing that you're describing, right like that is the way that I feel like that was the opportunity that was available to all these organizations is to pioneer this third rail of, of what community actually means to them.Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, but what's interesting is that event planners, and I think I have lots of beliefs as to why this is, but really deep rooted. It's not very clear what the value of our role has been right, where we've not done a very good job as an industry of advocating for our roles as event planners. So then, when things like this happen, everything gets thrown at you. So now you're an event planner, you're in charge of social media, you're now the community management person, you're now in charge of our, you know, 365 engagement strategy. And that's a lot to put on one person or one team. And so we're forced sort of on Tar Heels into like a very reactive state. And I feel like our industry has been reacting for ever, right? We don't, we don't have standards of this is what it means when you hire an event planner, this is a skill set that they have. So for example, like if you hire a lawyer, you would also never be like, Oh, well, you're already like in my legal documents. Why don't you also just like do my accounting, because lawyers and accountants have done a very good job as a profession of clearly delineating what are our skills? Where do we excel? What's our expertise, and that's what you're paying for. We've done a really poor job at that as an industry. So then all of a sudden, the pandemic happens. And it's like, well, I don't know what an event planner does. I don't know what a virtual event producer does. I don't know what a production manager is. I don't know what the differences are. So you just do it. All.Patrick Rife:
Right. So under your job description now.Anh Nguyen:
Yeah. And so of course, our reaction is is reactionary, right, we can't get proactive. We can't strategize post pandemic, because we're just trying to survive the world as it currently is. So, yeah, it it's, it stems from a lot of work that we we need somebody out there doing.Patrick Rife:
That's, that's fascinating. I mean, like when you think, right, like lawyers are literally the and like, their whole system is devised to prevent scope creep. And if it even smells like it's going to happen, it's a line item, and you've just spent another $1,000. Meanwhile. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But but on the other side of the curtain in the like, event, professional world, right. It's like, oh, like, that's just another like, just another bullet point for John to like, manage. And we see that playing out, right, and this expectation, that, that get that going hybrid, right, that and should be able to not only like, take, have her budget slashed by 60%. But also, now you're producing a virtual ended in person event with the same budget and the same resources, when, in fact, right. To completely, like, whatever this is, for the for those that know, it's laughable. And for those that don't know, they don't even know what we're talking about. But this is like a very real conversation that's happening right now, right? There are all of these teams of event professionals, whether it's in orgs, or whether it's in, you know, like for profit companies that are being expected to in a period of time where inflation is like, rocking ever, right where your semi trailer that used to cost seven grand now cost $35,000 to move from point A to point B, that you're also supposed to figure out how to duplicate your output. And the technologies needed to run it, like all of the things is. It's it is it's it's extreme. And I think that this is the spirit and around when I said like, this season two has been about and season one was about talking constantly because everything was changing constantly. Season two has been about talking to professionals and hearing what your point of view is because I agree with you that in the events world in general, there tends to and because it's so dynamic, because it's so diverse and kind of complicated, that having these standardized rules, they just don't really exist, right because it's Though fluid, and that's why scope creep is so possible, right? And then and also because like, a lot of times we're getting our budgets at the very end, right? And then we've got to like sprang into action. And it makes it I mean, you said it, you said reactionary, right, as opposed to being planned and methodical. So often, we have to be reactionary and getting things done. And it has us on our heels and you don't, you know, like, you can't slow down to renegotiate and be like, no, no, no, like that scope creep, because part of it is that you don't have time and you have to execute. And part of it is that you're like, a little bit scared of losing the gig or losing the opportunity. And it it, you know, it, it ends up being a bit of a crabs in a barrel situation.Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, totally. There's a huge, we could learn a lot from a services industry like interior design, right? Where, if you hire an interior design, the first thing they ask you is like, how much budget do you have? This is like what you can buy. And if you want to buy something more than this, you don't have any expectations that the cost isn't going to change. Right, but because because of our time limited nature of our work, we have to deliver something on a certain day. I think it drives a lot of what you're seeing right now. So it's not the people. I mean, I hate the narratives about like event planners are just lazy, and they want to go back to what they know when they hate technology. It's not really that it's just we don't have space to think about that and do all of that and strategize about it at a level that we would like to because it's also putting putting fires out and reactionary and and that's, I think, a symptom of the ecosystem. We work in more than the the attitude of planners.Patrick Rife:
Yeah, I agree with you. 100%. The ecosystem is it's high pressure, it demands immediate response. It demands excellency, often it demands it on on on dwindling budgets and scope creep. And yet what event professionals produce and accomplish is really remarkable. And, and they there's more credit than that. How do you go?Anh Nguyen:
That's tweet material forPatrick Rife:
tomorrow, we tweet material for sure. So as I expected, the greatest conversation, and I've got a million more questions, but we don't have time for it. So Fine. We'll save it for episode two. Seriously, thank you so much for your time. This has been a an enthralling conversation. It's definitely made my afternoon. I want to make sure before we let you go, let anybody out there that is listening, know where to follow along so they can find out all of your expert parenting tips, as well as if they're interested in finding out more about twine. Or about Spark or whatever the case may be. Now's your chance, let us know where do we follow along?Anh Nguyen:
Yeah, you're honestly your best bet. And and Patrick was tongue in cheek when he said parenting tips because if you do follow me on Twitter, they're not excellent carriers and tips. But Twitter is the best place to probably find me I'm at 80 and g y e n, which is my last name. And twine is just that we are twine or twine dot NYC. So any of those places, you'll be able to track us down and I talked about twine, I talked about Spark. I talk about my daughter, I talk about my last air pods, all sorts of stuff on Twitter. And that's where I spend most of my time. So yeah, feel free to find me there and it was a pleasure being here. Thanks for having me, Patrick.Patrick Rife:
Definitely. Thank you for being here. Okay, guys, as promised another exceptional interview on the pixelated podcast. If you aren't yet make sure you hit the subscribe button that just ensures that you get notified each time we publish a new interview and also give me 30 seconds give me a five star review a few kind words your reviews help more people looking to be inspired by these awesome interviews find us so we would greatly appreciate it. Without further ado, I'm Patrick rife. This is the pixelated podcast. Until next time, peace