This month we’re shining the spotlight on Steven Weinreb, the Executive Vice President at VaynerMedia: a social-first digital shop that focuses on storytelling across platforms. Steven is our go-to guy when it comes to exploring and securing Keynote speakers and various Talents for our clients’ virtual events and experiences. He’s highly knowledgeable about the industry, strategic, and somehow manages to prioritize all stakeholders’ needs at once; providing a professional, seamless experience end-to-end. We love working with Steven and urge you to reach out to him next time you’re in need of top-tier talent for your next event.
Here’s 10 questions with our November feature, Steven Weinreb.
1. What initially drew you into the events industry?
My career started in the world of sports marketing, which is an industry that lives and breathes on live events! Live events, whether it’s a game or a conference, bring out the energy in people that is hard to replicate in any other way. Live events tap into people’s emotions, oftentimes happiness, and their experience can deeply impact and inspire them. It is that energy and emotion that I love to be a part of!!
2. What’s a day in the life of Steven like?
Pre-COVID or during the pandemic?
My day usually starts with a 6 am wake up from my kids. One of the positives of the pandemic WFH situation is the additional time I get to spend with and see my kids. Pre-COVID, after a little playtime, I usually headed to the office at 8:00 am and at my desk around 8:30 am. During COVID, I’ve been able to enjoy longer mornings including breakfast with my kids, and still start my workday around 8:30.
My workday is filled with a lot of emails and calls (some cold calls, some warm!), building client proposals, networking, and negotiating talent deals. There is very little consistency – which I love – because of the broad range of deals I’m working on at any one time. I typically finish work around 6:30 and get the kids to bed shortly thereafter. I will often pop back onto my computer after dinner to finish up some work, and sometimes if I’m working on an international event, I’m on late-night calls with Australia or Asia.
3. How do you feel your role helps advance your company’s overall goals?
My role is to build our business by deepening relationships with companies and agencies that are actively looking for speakers or talent. I am always looking to strengthen my current relationships while expanding my network, which often, comes through referrals. Additionally, I am continuously looking for new speakers to exclusively represent.
Although the CEO of VaynerSpeakers and myself have over 25 years of collective experience in the industry, we are still a young company (2 years now). We are excited by the footprint we’ve established and look forward to continuing to grow by over delivering for our clients.
4. How do you measure success for the events you manage?
There are a few ways to measure a successful event. Most importantly, in my opinion, success is measured by the feedback from the audience: Did the speaker/talent impact and inspire the audience? Leave a lasting impression, and create a memory? Deliver on the key messaging the organization hoped they’d touch on?
Additionally, it’s super important to me that I make the entire speaker/talent process as seamless as possible for the event planner or my lead contact – from start to finish. Event organizers have to juggle a lot to pull together a successful event. If I can deliver the speaker/talent and take the responsibility off the event planner, I consider that a big success as well.
5. What was your biggest event fail, and how did you overcome it?
Live events are thrilling but can lead to unpredictable situations. We are all humans – including the speakers/talent – and it’s important to remember that.
I’ve learned when things go array, it is best to manage the situation through openness, transparency, and an understanding of the client’s frustration and/or disappointment (rightfully so!).
A few years ago, 48 hours before a client event, the A-list celebrity headliner had to cancel due to an unexpected professional conflict. Leveraging my network of agents and managers, I was able to quickly provide multiple replacements for my client to choose from. The celebrity we swapped over-delivered for the client and turned a frustrating and potentially disastrous situation into an uber-successful event.
6. What is your absolute favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is to work with, engage with, and simply, be around, some of the most influential people around the globe. I’ve had the opportunity to have intimate conversations with some of the most successful CEOs in the world, the greatest athletes in the world, and the most brilliant minds in the world. I work in an environment where I constantly get to learn!
A close second is the places I’ve had the privilege to travel to around the world for events including Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
7. Where do you see the events industry going in the future? Any trends?
Live events will be back but expect to see the hybrid model. One of the positives of the virtual world is the audience reach. We are seeing events triple and even quadruple their typical audience size because of the virtual accessibility.
One trend I expect in the near future is that there will be fewer massive global events but rather smaller regional events. Additionally, I believe the WFH trend will lead to more live events as companies will want to get their teams together once or twice a year and will have budgets to do so with the savings from their reduced office footprint.
8. What’s a tool that’s saving you time in your job?
LinkedIn is my go-to from a ‘networking’ perspective and Airtable is our backend database and tracking system. I’ve worked with a number of systems and find the customization and reporting capabilities of Airtable to be very easy to use.
9. Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by the speakers I work with. Their thoughts, insight, perspective, and overall messages of positivity, gratitude and empathy, motivate me each day! It’s refreshing to work with so many incredibly successful people who are willing to open their mind to help others understand their journey to success and happiness.
10. Any advice for #eventprofs just getting started?
Be curious, be resourceful, be kind and be patient.
Curiosity helps you push boundaries and create something unique.
Resourcefulness provides you with the tools to be different.
Kindness will help lay the groundwork to long-lasting relationships.
Patience helps you recognize that everything is building blocks for your journey. As my client, 3-time Olympian, Dominique Dawes, always says: “Success is the journey not, the destination.”