The Power | Imagining Alternative Future(s)

If I could go back to these moments where I learned how creative and freeing tech could be I would! A brief and hopefully edifying look back at my start in tech and how I lead. The power of imagining different.

What was the situation?

Out of undergrad I was hired to be the experiential product manager for an event tech company called event form the product was called hover this product used RFID are more commonly known as Apple Pay technology to allow guests to engage with apps games and other outputs like ordering your favorite drink.

Our company was a B2B organization that work primarily designed engagement apps for private corporates sponsored events with brands like Unilever Lexus, and Jack Daniels. I was hired after interning for them a few years prior. Costello the CEO, “loved my energy!” And that’s what I brought. That and being a coachable leader, being an athlete.

I was the product manager for Hover, responsible for:

  • making sure that the tech infrastructure was sound (Wi-Fi, electricity, gaffing tape etc.),
  • site operations were prepped,
  • resolve client pain points, activity facilitated custom app design process and manage all specs for each custom build.
  • as an added bonus I was “the algorithm” crunching the data that our apps captured 🤫. I loved experitial tech, crafting a crease between the digital and analog is euphoric, and challenging!

In what ways were you a leader?

I compete. Always have, and I’m coachable; I’m the son of a state champ coach, so I used to feedback. I still have moments where hearing about what I feel are my failures is tough. At the same time, failure laid bare whether, coaching, the data, or by the facial expression of a CEOs, can be the clues to success. I compete to win and I adapt quickly. I was going to need that for this project.

In what ways did you struggle?

My greatest challenge, TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 was not made easier by the fact that I was responsible for a bicoastal project, that required coordinating all of the above remotely for three venues. TechCrunch Disrupt is one of the most anticipated technology conferences of the year. Join us at this iconic startup and thought leadership event in San Francisco September 8-10. 

The challenges came when our tech, the center-piece of our hosting swag, flopped. People found it less interesting than the open bar and we only captured 400 engagement, one for checking into the event with your RFID tattoo and a few game plays.We had promised a digital transformation and in the first night we delivered an open bar with a digital checklist.

I was embarrassed. In the first night I had envisioned setting the tone, and my team was scrambling to make sense, salvage the experience. I was actually in fact finding mode. Pulling the data from each app and asking the bartenders and my team what they saw. All along I’m loading up, we have another night to set up for in a new venue. Another shot.

With 4 hours of sleep and wealth of data at my dispose, I organized a team meeting before loading out. We took an hour, event staff, engineers, and executive team piecing together an new vision for the next two nights that was aggressively enthusiastic. I was both the aggression and enthusiasm.

Instead of stewing in the disappointing aspects of the feedback I recording the info and asked each of teammates to help me bring a new vision forward that I can execute on and bring to life. In the end we decided to take a hack-tivist vibe, creating viral content in the city proceeding the nights events and bringing in brand ambassadors to highlight our tech. I literally dressed as a living emoji/ host bringing energy and monitoring engagement, seeing how we boost audience engagement.

Below is more nostalgia

It links you to a collage of content capturing my crash course as an experiential event tech product manger at Event Farm!

In the end, what was the result, and what was most creative about it?

We had over 1800 engagements between the two nights. We learned how flexible our tech could be as a communications tool and creates a rapid-response workflow built around analytics. We created that in 2014.

I have had the privilege of running events for Tech Crunch, Unilever, and Jack Daniels; all centering transforming brand activation technology into dialectics between host and guest experience.

Read more of The Power Series in the About Section

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