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SURVIVE & THRIVE IN THE INDUSTRY ARENAS: By Allen Johnson, CFE


I often speak at college classes with students, and a frequent ques- tion is how to get to where I am. With almost 40 years in the venue industry, it is not a simple answer, but here is what I tell them. First, having a degree today is more valuable than ever. It does not mean it is the only way, but it gives those who do a leg up, and if you have an advanced degree, even more so. I encourage extra areas of - tions, public speaking, accounting, technology, psychology, negotiation skills, contract law, and risk management. These areas will come into  the future. A candidate who has done multiple internships or volunteer work will also have an advantage over those who have not. I highly recommend interning with a minor league baseball team, because there are so many, and you will have ample opportunities to learn and work in all aspects of the team operation. The joke is that  Other good options are sporting teams, college athletic departments, music agencies, promoters, clubs, and almost any other venue opera- tion.


Another suggestion is to attend networking opportunities, such as


IAVM chapter meetings, conferences, meet ups, holiday gatherings and volunteer opportunities playground builds or food deliveries that many teams and other organizations host. In his book The Power of Who: You Already Know Everyone You Need to Know, Bob Beaudine recommends expanding your circle and utilizing those already in your network. IAVM has many other opportunities to participate, including Venue Management School, Venue Management School Graduate Institute, and the Senior Executive Symposium. Once you have your foot in the door, some of the same advice


above applies on how to move up. I would add learning all the areas of the venue - not just where you landed. In other words, if you are in  booking do. Ask if you can job swap or shadow. One thing we can do a better job with is cross training our team in all aspects of the industry. In private sector corporations, you will    training and advancement process. We have a tendency to pigeonhole - cause we think it will hurt our operation. However, it will enhance the operation by giving our team members a chance to learn all areas. If it is not possible to trade, then get to know what your coworkers do by talking with them and asking them questions. Remember: most people love to talk about themselves and what they do. Your next stop after entry level is to middle management. As with entry level positions, the suggestions are still the same for middle managers, but pursue additional opportunities. If you have not had the chance to attend IAVM’s educational programs, now is the time to push for that, including seeking out scholarships and consider self-funding. Another source is to consider taking classes at your local college in areas you have not yet experienced. It is a wise investment in your career, because it will prepare you for future advancement and show your managers that you are serious about your profession. I also encourage you to stay up to speed on new technologies and trends in -


ing every six months or less. A timely example is the shift from Mys- pace to Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Snapchat to … Once you have become a senior manager or director, surround


yourself with the best people possible - especially those who have  a team atmosphere and nurture them to be their best. Remember: you have to pay them, but as most studies show, that is not the only motivator and sometimes is not even the most important. Show them appreciation and gratitude. The most important things you can say are “Thank you” and “Great Job.” Make good business decisions and determine what is best for the short term and the long term. One thing I have learned over the years is the decisions I make that


 is your new best deal, so make them wisely. Live by the Platinum Rule: treat people how they want to be treated. It is stronger and harder than the Golden Rule of treating people like you want to be treated. By this time, you should have strong negotiation skills but if not,


improve on those. One of the best books in that area is Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton. By now your network should be large with several peers, and you are comfortable calling for advice and counsel. Also remember that the nearby venue you may consider a competitor is also a colleague that you may need some day. While this profession continues to change and evolve every day, some things remain the same. It is up to YOU to continually change and grow. Lastly, if you ever have the opportunity to work on a reno- vation or construction project, here are 10 things I learned working on almost a billion dollars’ worth of development.


10 Things I’ve Learned: 1. Value engineering or VE means you are getting less - or nothing. 2. Although the portfolio of the architects, engineers, CM’s, or con- sultants may list big projects, you may not get the person who worked on that project. 3. Hire your owner’s rep wisely - they will be worth every penny and will save you money and will get you the most out of your project. 4. Always make sure liquidated damages compensate for actual delay costs. 5. Always have “Key Man” clauses for the most important people on the project. 6. Remember it is always cheaper to move a line on a drawing than a  7. All great projects start with a “charrette” including all the key stake- holders.


8. Make sure everyone knows what is important to you and commits to protect those items.  9. In today’s world, you cannot have too many cooking concession stands or points-of-sale. 10. There’s no such thing as too much technology or Wi-Fi capacity. FM


Allen Johnson, CFE, is executive director for Orlando Venues in Orlando, Florida. IAVM 31


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