Our May #Eventprof of the Month is Antwone Stigall, a fellow business owner in the event industry who runs his eponymous firm Antwone Stigall & Co.
I first met Antwone through a Splash (aka Splashthat) user group community call that he organized at the very beginning of the pandemic. It was mostly B2B Event Marketers in the tech industry and was such a valuable call to hear what everyone was doing with their in-person programs, moving to virtual, etc. But what really struck me was Antwone’s personality – so generous with information, so warm and inviting, and so just… fun!
In a time that seemed pretty scary, he was able to get the group to open up, smile, and share information that helped us all move forward. And isn’t that what business events are all about?
He ran the call in a way that was so magnetizing that I was like, I need to know him! We had a one on one call, and I came to find out he went to University of Memphis – anyone who knows me knows I’ve got a serious love for Memphis due to my husband growing up there, along with most of my best friends, including fellow Dynamo Mackenzie. I knew I liked this guy!
Since then Antwone has been extremely active in the industry, speaking at Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) and many other events particularly on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion in the Meetings and Events industry.
I know you’ll enjoy getting to know Antwone just like I have by reading his interview below. I especially loved his answer to the question about his biggest event fail – it wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I needed to hear.
Here are 10 questions with our May feature, Antwone Stigall
1. What initially drew you into the events industry?
I was executing events before I knew what I was actually doing. Started with my mother never giving me the birthday party I always wanted, so I took matters into my own hands, and the rest was history. I started helping with planning teacher appreciation events, schoolwide events, prom, graduation and eventually got into the bigger things. Most people don’t know that I was actually a Professional Dancer before becoming an #Eventprof, performing Ballet, Hip Hop, Contemporary, and African Dance.
2. What’s a day in the life of Antwone like?
Every day is different. There are some events on my calendar that don’t happen ie Meditate, EXERCISE, etc – I’ll eventually get to those! But my day can go from Strategy Calls to design sprints to speaking at a virtual event or answering fun Q&As like this. Every day is an adventure, but it always involves me playing around with my puppy “Prince.”
3. How do you feel your role helps advance your company’s overall goals?
My role focuses on Strategy and future building. Lately I have focused on developing new protocols that can pandemic proof our events so that there’s business continuity from every angle. One of my favorite things about my role is that I am creating ways to engage a new generation of event participants, making events more fun and definitely breaking some “rules” and “ traditions.”
4. How many events do you work on per year? What’s the mix?
Are we talking Pre Pandemic or During the Pandemic LOL!?! In a typical year my team is working on a mixture of events from business meetings to business retreats, virtual roundtables to virtual conferences for thousands, Facebook/Instagram Lives to Clubhouse Shows. It truly runs the gamut. So we are easily into the hundreds before the end of Q2 2021.
5. How do you measure success for the events you manage?
I measure success from a lot of different angles: client’s goals achieved, impact made, revenue driven, communities supported, inclusiveness of the event. Success comes in so many different forms that it’s tough to measure these days, but the one that we can’t put on paper are the smiles we see as people are leaving events and the stories that are told as a result of attending.
6. What was your biggest event fail, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest event failure was not recognizing who was in the room and missing out on incredible opportunities because I wasn’t PRESENT. I’ve overcome that by understanding the lesson and always allowing myself to be PRESENT in what’s happening and with who’s around me.
7. What is your absolute favorite part of your job?
My absolute favorite part is traveling and being able to experience the culture in various places I get to visit. One of my personal core values is ALWAYS LEARN, and being in so many different beautiful places allows me to do just that. Learn about the people, the food, the traditions, the history, etc.
8. Where do you see the events industry going in the future? Any trends?
It really depends on the event type, but I definitely think that events will now start to get smaller in size, shorter in length, and the in-person audience will be much more curated than what we’ve seen in the past. Hybrid will be the foundational standard for all events if we continue to stay smart about pandemic proofing our experiences. I also can see a world where hotels and venues get smarter with their meeting room technologies to keep the show going.
9. Do you have a favorite book or podcast you would recommend to fellow event professionals?
My favorite book is Eat, Drink, and Succeed by Laura Schwartz. Her book truly taught me the power of networking and it’s a very good read. My favorite podcast is definitely GatherGeeks by BizBash.
10. Any advice for #eventprofs just getting started?
Before you truly decide to enter this amazing industry, take the time to figure out what you want to do and build a path to get there. There are differences between an Event Designer vs an Event Planner vs an Event Strategist, etc. Yes, we all can do a little bit of it all, but when you truly discover what your THING is in the industry – that’s when you start to flourish and things start happening. Next, always find the JOY in what you do – there’ll be some challenging days ahead, but when you can bring joy in the situation, the heart continues to be fulfilled. Lastly, get a network of mentors that can offer relationships that serve you in different ways. You’ll need it.