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Episode 96 / April 8, 2024

Going behind the scenes of White House events with Deesha Dyer

Say hello to Deesha Dyer, former White House Social Secretary, who shares the intricacies and pressures of planning high-profile events alongside insights into inclusion, community impact, and more.

In this engaging episode of Event Experience, host Rachel Moore sits down with Deesha Dyer, the former White House Social Secretary and current president Hook & Fasten Consulting, to delve into the intricacies of planning high-profile events at the White House. 

Dyer shares her journey from being an event geek to orchestrating one of the most notable events of the Obama administration: the visit of Pope Francis. The conversation provides a rare glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of managing events on the world stage, including managing a diverse team of professionals and the logistics of welcoming international dignitaries. 

As president of Hook & Fasten Consulting, Dyer focuses on creating authentic partnerships, achieving meaningful community impact, and championing inclusivity. 

Here’s what you’ll hear about in this conversation:

  • The creativity and strategic thinking involved in planning high-profile events, including showcasing diversity and connecting with wider audiences 
  • The unique pressures of working in the White House — from wardrobe malfunctions to meeting expectations of dignitaries and the public 
  • The importance of community involvement in events and the potential to make a meaningful impact

Mentioned in this episode

Transcript

[00:01:08] Rachel Moore: Welcome to Event Experience by Bizzabo, the podcast where we bring the best and brightest Event Experience Leaders together to share stories, tips, and lessons learned from creating some of the world’s biggest events.

I’m Rachel Moore, your podcast host. 

When your event takes place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you’re on a whole new level as an event professional. Our guest is former White House Social Secretary Deesha Dyer, and she’s about to guide us through what it was like to plan the visit by Pope Francis to the White House during the Obama administration. From music choices to wardrobe changes, the world stage is set for a truly unique Event Experience. 

[00:01:08] Rachel Moore: Today, across from me on microphones for this podcast by Bizzabo, Event Experience, I am speaking to someone who previously held the role of social secretary for the White House during the Obama administration. Yes, everyone pause and go ooh and ah, because that’s pretty amazing. Chief of staff for the Ford Foundation.

[00:01:26] She serves on several boards, including the Humane Society for the United States, Mindful Schools and BeGirl.Org. And today she is the president of Hook & Fasten Consulting. I am speaking with Deesha Dyer on this podcast. Deesha, thank you for joining us today. 

[00:01:42] Deesha Dyer: Thank you so much for having me. And I am super excited to dig in.

[00:01:46] I’m such an event geek, so I’m excited. 

[00:01:48] Rachel Moore: I think our whole listenership are event geeks. I really just gave a super brief overview. Can you tell us a bit more what your current role as president of Hook and Fasten Consulting? What all does your world entail on a daily basis? 

Creating impactful partnerships in events

[00:02:01] Deesha Dyer: Definitely. So my role right now, I’m the founder and president of Hook and Fasten, as you mentioned. It’s a company that basically focuses on partnerships, authentic partnerships, messaging events between companies and organizations that are on the ground.

[00:02:17] And so it kind of combines both worlds of like, you know, White House world, Ford Foundation world, but also the world that I had before the White House, which is like a community organizer. We do a lot of things that take whatever the product is or the industry or the sector of the company or corporation and we find a parallel to a community organization that’s doing that same work or that needs or uses that product.

[00:02:44] For instance, an infant formula company that makes infant formula. I then go ahead and say, Well, how can we get this to local organizations, people at or under the poverty line? How can we craft events to lift up this awareness? Also distribute formula and some other things. And so I do that on a myriad of scales.

[00:03:05] So that’s basically, you know, what Hook and Fasten does on a daily basis is just creating partnerships, you know, as a business owner looking for new business. 

[00:03:13] Rachel Moore: Well, and the name is perfect then, Hook and Fasten, because it does, you’re like, you’re bringing two things together, merging them in the middle, if you will, and really using your wealth of experience in the background to do that.

[00:03:25] Just sounds like a dream job. It’s like when people ask you, like, hey, if you won the lottery and you could do whatever you wanted, and you can have that kind of impact, I mean, I’m sure that’s resonating with a lot of our listeners like, Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing what you’re doing. I’m sure that’s got to be really fulfilling for you and for all the people.

[00:03:40] Deesha Dyer: A hundred percent. I mean, it is. It is one of these things where I get to really put the power back in the community. Where we say, Okay. This company has this product, you know, but what do you need? How would you like it distributed? How can we support you?

[00:03:57] And so we listened to the community, we bring them into conversations. So as a company, we’re not assuming that we know what people need. Like, there’s no way I know what, you know, what helps us people need. That’s not where I am. And, you know, so I can’t assume, but being able to say, let’s bring in some people from the community, pay them for their time, reward them, and craft something that can benefit.

[00:04:18] I think it’s just, it’s a dream. And then the event part of it, being able to just do events where you bring people together and have fun and not always focus on their problems or the situations is totally my thing. So yeah. 

[00:04:30] Rachel Moore: All right, we’re going to segue into some get to know you questions. What are your go to on the ground event day shoes, the ones that get you through the whole day?

[00:04:39] Deesha Dyer: It depends on the event. So, I wear my Hokas, like, all preparing, build, run throughs, walk throughs, unless it’s like a press thing where we have pictures, but, like, I wear them up until the event time, and then I switch usually to Clarks. I have a couple pair of Clarks that I actually put an extra Dr. Scholl’s insole in them. And so I usually wear like Clark’s flats, always flats. Um, I have them in different pairs, basically like brown, white, black, and red, so I can just switch it with any outfit. If it requires some kind of heels, I usually do like a Steve Madden or something that’s just like a generic shoe because I’m going to wear it into the ground.

[00:05:20] I try not to do heels at all. Unless it’s again, an event that has, you know, open press or an event that like somebody is taking pictures. Then I kind of do that if it’s like a very decadent event that it’s a proper thing to do. But I would say my Hokas up until the point that I need to change into the Clarks.

[00:05:38] Rachel Moore: Excellent. I love it. Yeah. Uh, this has been such a great question too. So hopefully people are going at me like, Ooh, I’ve got my new recommendation for my event day shoe. 

[00:05:48] Deesha Dyer: Yes. And I’m about to go back and get some recommendations from other people too. I’m always open and interested in that.

[00:05:53] Rachel Moore: Exactly. That’s the key thing. What are you listening to or watching or reading these days that you can’t put down? 

[00:06:00] Deesha Dyer: What I will say about listening to it, I listen to a lot of 90s hip hop, like, I’m completely stuck in the 90s. Yeah, I was a hip hop writer, a journalist for hip hop for a number of years.

[00:06:10] And so I’m kind of stuck in that era just because it reminds me of such a simpler time. But I’m also obsessed with the Dave Matthews band, so I’m definitely like a nineties kid that like still goes to concerts and whatnot. So I listened to Dave Matthews nonstop, Beyonce, I like Taylor Swift.

[00:06:26] Like I think anything that gets me hype. I love pop music, but I listened to a lot of acid jazz too and house music and anything I can dance to. So I would say that what I’m watching is -I’m happy my husband’s not listening because he’s like, don’t be telling people that- I watch a lot of British TV, and I love a game show called Taskmaster, and part of it is like, they create these, you know, environments for people to do these jokes and tasks and fun things, and I’m more into like, the details of like, you know, how they get the balloon up there, like, I’m totally picking it apart, you know, like, As far as like the set design and stuff like that, but I love Taskmaster, Abbott Elementary, any documentaries I love.

[00:07:11] And then honestly, Rachel, I took a break from reading after writing this book. And so I read a lot of articles, um, a lot of feel good stuff that just makes me feel good in the world that’s, so chaotic and, you know, try to limit my social media, but definitely try to read like, you know, just articles that make me feel good as in who I am and affirm me.

[00:07:30] So I would say, yeah, 

[00:07:32] Rachel Moore: No, that’s great. And then, um, speaking of that, is there any particular social post or a piece of media or even a hot take about events that you found interesting lately? 

[00:07:41] Deesha Dyer: Wow. I forget where I read it, but I read it about the high cost of these curated retreats, um, these women retreats, and it was a very interesting take because it was about these retreats that are marketed towards women to see their wellness retreats and they have like a dinner and they have like all these, you know, things left and right and how expensive they’ve gotten and how like everybody does them like, the Caribbean and these places. It was an interesting hot take on how like people are getting bamboozled for all this money. And I thought that was interesting. It’s part of me was like, yeah, these things are expensive. Like I can’t afford them to go. But then part of me is also like, I don’t think people understand that everything that they see at an event or at a dinner or whatever is paid for, like down to salt and pepper shakers, or down to like napkins. Like I think these beautiful curated things that are on Instagram, people don’t know the price tag, and I think that they’re just like, oh, it’s just a napkin, or it’s just a spoon, and you’re like, No, no, no, no, no. That dishware cost a lot of money, you know, like, you know, and if it’s like got flowers, that’s extra dollar, you know, so it wasn’t an argument, but it was like going back and forth between what people think stuff costs.

[00:08:56] Yeah. And what it actually cost. Mm hmm. So yeah, it was interesting. 

[00:08:59] Rachel Moore: The thing we’re going to do today, we zero in on one particular event activation.

[00:09:03] I mentioned at the start that you previously held the role of social secretary for the White House during the Obama administration. And we’re going to zero in on one particular event that you pulled off, and I’m laying this up for you to tell us about it because I think everybody’s going to be like, excuse me, when they hear. We’re about to talk about you planning a particular visit by a globally known person to the globally known venue of the White House.

[00:09:29] So what are we about to talk about here? 

Learning lessons from Pope Francis’s visit to the White House

[00:09:32] Deesha Dyer: We are about to talk about the visit of Pope Francis to the White House in 2015. And I will say that when I got the role of social secretary, this was already on the calendar. And I said to the previous social secretary, I was like, Can you not stay through like, like you’re leaving me with this.

[00:09:52] And he’s like, uh huh, like kind of like, God bless goodbye. And I was like, wait, wait, wait. And so that is what we’re going to talk about, which ended up being one of my all time favorite events for a number of reasons. 

[00:10:03] Rachel Moore: By the way, this is all going to be in a book that I know you are going to be releasing.

[00:10:08] I’m going to read an excerpt from this because again, our event professionals out there, they, I think from small to large, or even very large, are used to working with a wealth of different teams. But I wanted to read this excerpt out of your book relating to this particular event. This is your writing, and this is amazing. 

[00:10:25] I had a team of six in the social office that took on individual responsibilities for the visit while checking in with me on the details. In addition to us, there was the U. S. Secret Service which led all protection details. The U. S. State Department, which served as our protocol and diplomacy experts.

[00:10:39] The White House Visitor’s Office, which worked on crowd maintenance, entry, and control. The White House Military Office, which handled the pageantry and procedures for events. The White House Communications Agency, focusing on the official microphones, speakers, and overall sound. The National Security Council, helping us with the national security and policy direction.

[00:10:57] And the Executive Residence, which included the chefs, butlers, housekeepers, florists, calligraphers, and others. These various White House departments across the east and west wings served in support with guest lists, staffing, and more. The most sophisticated and diplomatic chaos I’d ever seen, and I was somehow in charge of it all.

[00:11:17] Deesha Dyer: Wow. Even when you read it back, I’m like, Oh my goodness. 

[00:11:22] Rachel Moore: Because our event professionals are such puppet masters anyway. But yeah, this is on that scale. I have to say too, how you talk about the real feelings of you as a person creating an event on that visible of a stage. Can you talk a little bit about that too? Just like how, what that was like for you? 

[00:11:41] Deesha Dyer: You know, Rachel, I can’t even believe that I survived that. I remember thinking.

[00:11:47] Number one, I’m not Catholic, you know, number two, what do they do? Like, do I need to bow? Because all of those greetings and protocol things, state department’s there to help us. But also I need to make sure I know them in case the president, first lady asked me or one of our other officials at the White House.

[00:12:03] And so for me as a person, it was very hard for me to digest that I was in charge. I kept kind of being like, well, there’s clearly somebody else, you know, and 

[00:12:14] Deesha Dyer: I think that as event professionals, I think that when it comes to something that big, you look at somebody else, you’re in this with me, it’s me and you, right, we have equal power and they’re like, no, you’re in charge.

[00:12:24] And the things I couldn’t control, like the weather, you know, like it was outside, we had 12, 000 people. And everybody’s like, Deesha you looking at the weather? And I’m like, How am I the only person that makes a weather call? You know, which I know of that professionals like are probably all triggered right now because it’s like, you know, you got this big outdoor amazing event you’ve worked on and it’s like clouds and you’re like, Oh my gosh.

[00:12:46] And so I felt like I prayed a lot that day for many reasons, but I don’t know. I was like, clearly God’s going to listen today, right? Like this is the Pope, right? So like, clearly you want this to go well, God, you know, like, and I think that for me, I had to lean heavily on other people. And I think as event professionals we do, like, Whether it is the catering company or whether it’s the set and design team.

[00:13:11] And I think I had to learn to do that in order to get by, or I would have never made it never. 

[00:13:18] Rachel Moore: Absolutely. as we just mentioned, you were dealing with so many teams and orchestrating so many teams, but you are the pinnacle person at the top who’s going to make the call, a lot of weight on your shoulders there.

[00:13:29] Ad Break Intro: We’ll be right back with more Event Experience after the break.

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[00:14:16] Ad Break Outro: We’re back with more Event Experience to discuss how the Pope and a president might make your metrics matter a bit differently. 

[00:14:26] Rachel Moore: Everybody listening to this podcast, we’re all putting on events for different reasons, right? So is it revenue driven or whether it’s kind of more brand or official government business during which someone seems like let’s dig into that.

[00:14:37] What were the goals around this visit? You know, where you’ve got Pope Francis entourage coming in and having this whole thing. Speak to us a little bit about that because it’s from the government or political side versus saying, hey, this is strictly business, but how is it different? What were those goals?

[00:14:54] Deesha Dyer: Yeah, definitely. The goals really for us was to welcome Pope Francis as well as the American people who wanted to be there for him. The people that brought rosaries, people that really wanted to pay their respects. Right. And so I think the goal for us was to provide this welcoming environment in which he felt this was his first stop in America on that tour.

[00:15:16] But he felt like we were, you know, united in bringing him here. I think that for us, it was also the goal of showing the diversity across our nation. Not having it be just, you know, those who like, are Catholic or love the Pope or, you know, looked a certain way. It was like, we want to bring everybody into this and show the Pope the diversity of America, show him the artistry.

[00:15:38] We had the, you know, a gospel choir that was there from a Catholic church. You know, like just show him who we were, I think. And then also let him know how much we support the papalcy and all that. And so I think that for us, that was really the goal was really, it wasn’t just about him. It was also about the American people or even some people came from across, you know, from Canada and Mexico.

[00:15:59] And a lot of people came from all over to kind of just witness him. And that was very special. I mean, it’s not like it’s something that happens once a year, you know, it’s not something that happens once every five years to be able to do that was, you know, an extreme honor, but you know, a scary one that I think was our goal really was the welcoming.

[00:16:17] It was almost the same for every other event that we have, except we had somebody who was holy.

Adapting to challenges: A dress dilemma

[00:16:22] Rachel Moore: I want to dig into a little bit too, because this was the nightmare scenario, by the way. Can you tell us about the hole in the armpit of the dress?

[00:16:30] Deesha Dyer: Oh my gracious, Rachel, that dress. So when you say it, even I’m like, Ooh, like I have a little twitch, like listeners obviously can’t see, but like my shoulder’s definitely twitching.

[00:16:40] I had a dress that was very proper for welcoming a Pope. You have to make sure your arms are covered, down to your knees are covered. And plus, you know, I think just like any event professional, we want to be respectful to the culture or to the protocols of the time, right?

[00:16:56] Like, that’s like the last thing we need is a fashion faux pas. So I had this dress on that fit very well when I bought it, did not fit for a lot of different reasons on the day of, and I was running down the stairs. I was cleaning chairs because it was the morning dew, the chairs were wet. And so I was cleaning them.

[00:17:15] I was just trying to do something with my energy. And I heard a rip in the armpit of the dress. And I was, I mean, mortified. I was like, Oh my goodness. Even though I know that I could only see it. You know, as an event professional, you don’t know when you’re going to have to stretch your arm, move something or whatever, and I just started feeling a breeze and I was like, Oh my gosh, it’s like actual air, like there’s a big hole there, like, and so thankfully we have an amazing team in the residence staff who are housekeepers and seamstresses and everything else, and I actually went to them to ask for a sewing kit so I could take it off, sew it up and delicately put it back on. And they were like, there isn’t time for that. And the dress may rip again. So let us sew it. And so I lifted my armpit up and they stitched that dress. Um, I mean, in less than five minutes, I’ve had a very tight stitch that is still there because the dress, I still wear the dress.

[00:18:13] So that stitch is still there. So yeah.

[00:18:16] Rachel Moore: You have a battle scar to think about, like, Oh, that happened.

[00:18:20] Deesha Dyer: Yes. And I had no backup dress. You know what I mean? Like, I didn’t, I think that I should have had a backup. I had different backup dresses there, but not one to fit that occasion. Right. You know, so yeah.

[00:18:29] Rachel Moore: Well, and that was another thing too. Some of us might have those preconceptions again, like I bet I could guess what it would be like to be the White House social secretary and have to handle an event of this magnitude, but you’re really painting the picture for what it was really like, and this was so relatable, at one point, Because someone perceived like, Hey, I don’t think you have the right dress for this occasion.

[00:18:49] You had to run to a local department store and you were thinking about budget. This was not like someone was paying for you to wear something. You had to go buy it yourself. And you were thinking of that. I mean, it’s such a real dilemma for our event professionals to be in. Cause there’s just not this like whopping endless budget to make things happen.

[00:19:08] You’re like, well, I’ve got to go be practical and make sure that you’re part of the event, pretty much, right?

[00:19:15] Deesha Dyer: Yes. Yes, definitely.You know, you say you’re White House, and I think people think that, like, we all are making ridiculous amounts of money, or you have these fancy clothes, in which I didn’t. What you’re speaking of is a China state dinner, and I had a dress on that, like, It was fine, but I had walked out the bathroom getting ready and my back was out, but I was wearing a shawl.

[00:19:34] I wasn’t going to walk around, you know, and um, someone saw it, kind of noted that it didn’t seem appropriate for me to wear that for the state dinner. It was my first state dinner, which is a huge event in D. C., and so I ran to Macy’s and I got a new dress. But I made sure that the dress had the price tag that you could hide it and I returned it It was a Ralph Lauren.

[00:19:55] I think it was $300 and I remember being like I don’t have $300 and not only that but I was like very peeved because I was like if I’m doing my job and Nobody’s going to see me, but there’s no reason to see me. They see, you know, Mrs. Obama, the first lady in her dress. Like no one’s talking about my dress, which is fine.

[00:20:14] That’s what I like. I’m okay with that, which is why I’m behind the scenes. Like I like watching the show. It was, down to shoes. I know a lot of event folks to the shoes, like the jewelry, just making sure that I was correct, but I didn’t have endless amounts of money, but you have to kind of figure it out on the fly, which I did, which I still, it’s the same week as the pope. It’s all unbelievable.

[00:20:35] Rachel Moore: Wow. Oh my goodness. Well, and speaking of choices, I want to dig into one part of the event that I believe this was your choice to do. Whenever we do zero in on a particular event there’s usually some special aspect to the event that the event planner said, Hey, we decided to do this and here’s how it went. Can you talk a bit about your choice to have an all black gospel choir perform “Total Praise” for the Pope and the audience at large that was part of that event?

Breaking down the importance of inclusivity and diversity in events

[00:21:04] Deesha Dyer: Definitely. And so the interesting thing was, is I was trying to do this event as easy and simple as possible.

[00:21:10] Cause I was like, I don’t want to mess anything up. So I wasn’t even thinking about music. I thought we’d have our Marine Band, who was amazing service men and women who play instruments. I was like, great. We’ll have the Marine band. And we had a meeting and Mrs. Obama’s like, What’s our music? And I was like, Oh, we’re confirming.

[00:21:29] I had no one. I was like, we’re confirming. So it was super last minute. And we had gotten a bunch of inquiries from very prestigious choirs and glee clubs and artists about performing at the ceremony cause it was so big. And I said to myself, this is a chance for the world to see number one black Catholics, which are a lot of times not seen, a lot of people don’t know black people are also Catholic.

[00:21:55] And this is also a chance for me to get a neighborhood church who is around DC. And this church is basically made up of, you know, men and women who are a lot of older parishioners. And so I called them and I said, you know, do you have a choir right now?

[00:22:10] Like, yeah, I’m like, when do you rehearse? And it just happened to be the next day. And I was like, can I come by? And I went by. I asked him to sing a Total Praise, which is by Richard Smallwood. It’s a song that was very popular in my family, but also a lot of black families. And they sang it beautifully and they ended up coming for the Pope.

[00:22:28] Deesha Dyer: And it was important for the world, for me and the Pope to see a black choir singing Total Praise. I wanted people at home where people watching to be like, I recognize that song. I wanted to make sure that it spoke to people that were watching who maybe had not seen themselves in that environment or, you know, in churches or anything else.

[00:22:48] And so that was a special moment for me, a very special moment for me.

[00:22:52] Rachel Moore: I love the realism of how it came together, but it did come together under your jurisdiction. We mentioned what were the goals and again, this being a different animal than say like, Oh, I’m doing a big business conference where there’s lead generation and revenue.

[00:23:06] This was more about government, political personas, relationships between countries and religions. Whenever event professionals put on an event, they want to look at the metrics afterward. You’ve got kind of a different set of metrics when you’re talking about this, because I think even one was just seeing what the New York Times is writing about this before and after.

[00:23:26] Can you talk a little bit about how did you gauge the success of this event? How did you know you pulled it off?

[00:23:34] Deesha Dyer: Yeah, Rachel, I’m going to keep it honest. Like, I think definitely, you know, what the New York Times or those things would say, because we were this obviously large venue. We had a popular pope, popular president, the world’s watching.

[00:23:46] Deesha Dyer: And for me, everything we did could end up on the front paper. So we were always very careful. So I think that a review from what people, you know, would say was a big deal. Social media, it was big then, but I wasn’t paying attention to it. But I will tell you that the way that I measured events was a little different in the sense that we didn’t have any streakers.

[00:24:07] We didn’t have any protests and everyone stayed standing. Like we didn’t have any medical issues and that nobody like embarrassed themselves. The Pope didn’t slip. The president didn’t slip. The first lady didn’t slip. And I think that’s how I measured events. I think that event particularly because there have been protests and streakers in the past at different visits. I was like a hawk. I mean, our plan was like breaking the lawn up a certain square and like, you got this square, you got a person moved a little bit to the left. I’m like, get on it. Like, get on it. Where are they going? Visit the bathroom, you know, have somebody escort them.

[00:24:44] So that’s how I gauge success, I think, with this, is that we had all those people without medical incident, without protest streakers, nobody falling. There definitely was mistakes, don’t get me wrong, as there always is, but only we see those things. That’s how I measure success, really, was like, great, no one’s running across the lawn with a message on their chest, which is great.

[00:25:03] Rachel Moore: It really does boil down to how was the event perceived and, we just mentioned in the list of folks that you were working with, where there was a whole sector of folks who were dealing with the audio, the tech and stuff, how you know an event is going okay if nothing’s going wrong, if the tech, I don’t notice it. And so that’s a lot like what you were going for right there.

[00:25:23] Deesha Dyer: A hundred percent. That’s exactly it. And, and now that you say that it’s interesting. So I’m just like. That is true. Like when the tech is going well, like I don’t even look over there and I look at the booth.

[00:25:34] I don’t look at the risers. That’s actually very true. But yeah, yeah.

[00:25:38] Rachel Moore: Well, and, you did have a moment you weren’t expecting when President Obama called you over.

[00:25:43] Once the event was kind of at its completion, can you just briefly talk to us about how that felt?

[00:25:48] Deesha Dyer: Yes. So remember the dress rips. So even though it was sewed back up, I was afraid to like move, right? President Obama and Mrs. Obama and the Pope and his interpreter were all around the book signing. And, you know, as event folks, we are out there, out the shot. We’re not seen. We’re out the shot. So I’m just watching it from across the room and I’m like, Oh, this is great and going well and smiling and the president started calling me over and then he was introducing me to the Pope, Pope Francis, his Holy father, and I’m just stunned because even though I was a senior official, because I’m the social secretary, I’m not in the photo lines cause I’m running the photo line, running the greets, you know? So I didn’t, you know, didn’t have a plan on meeting him in that professional capacity.

[00:26:37] And the president said, you know, I want you to meet Deesha. She’s the one that’s in charge of all this for you today. And he extended his hand. I feel like, you know, a little messy. You know how we have our phones and our clipboard schedules and our radios and our, you know, walkie talkies and so I took everything off, handed it to somebody who was like, Oh my gosh, this is happening for you.

[00:26:58] And I was like, Oh my gosh. And the Pope handed me a little coin that he had and shook my hand and he smiled and I didn’t realize that the White House photographer Pete Souza had taken a picture. And so he took a picture and I was not even like realizing that there’s a picture taken which I got a couple months later actually and it was the perfect picture of it of that moment. And of course the first thing I did was zero in on my armpit, like, can you tell, you know, can you tell, like, thank God my arm was so, like, I was still self conscious about extending, but it was a moment that meant so much because I didn’t expect that, I didn’t plan on it, I never asked for stuff like that, you know, it was not my place, and, you know, I’ve got this memory forever, and everybody in the photo is smiling, which is like, The Pope was smiling, the interpreter smiling, and I’m just like, what is happening?

[00:27:50] You know? So yeah, that was really, really sweet.

[00:28:04] Rachel Moore: It’s no surprise that Deesha has more than one piece of advice for how eventprofs can SkillUp their event experience!

[00:27:53] Deesha Dyer: I think that the first piece of advice I would give is like, think about what your natural talent is and your natural love. Like for me, it was like music and hip hop. And so, for the events I did, I always tried to think of like how I can infuse some of the things I love into my work, right? If I was like, Oh, what if we had a DJ here? Or like, what if we had put a big wall and everyone does like a little graffiti mural, like around education or some kind of subject. And so I think that to keep that spark alive in, you know, how you feel about event planning and how you feel about doing these, bringing communities together and all this, no matter if it’s paid, if it’s whatever it’s for, remember the things that you love naturally and bring those into the space.

They will be welcomed. You don’t have to do everything a blueprint robotic way. Like experiment, like this is your canvas to experiment. And most of the experiments that happen in events turn out super dope, right? And then all of a sudden you’ll see everybody doing it. You’re like, wait. Didn’t I do that?

And then I’d say the second thing is, you know, watching your mental and physical health. I think that, especially physical health, you know, we think of ourselves last all of the time. And so sometimes we don’t eat or we’re just grabbing chips here and there. And I’ve been there . But just remember that you have one body and one heart and one mind and you need to rest some time. So maybe that is letting your deputy or your second, your co-principal, whoever run an event while you just like do strategy on it. And you do like the curation of it. But watch that from your feet to your stretching, to your taking time off, like to your being, having boundaries with your clients.

Like, unless it’s event day, obviously, like, you know, day-of, build day. But remember that.

And a bonus third is just bring the community in, welcome people in. We have that special skill and people are craving community and gatherings right now, and so, capitalize off of that, and also, remember that as you’re doing your thing, that you’re not just an event planner, you’re bringing people together for these feelings that they’re going to take home with them, and I think that that’s the power of what we do.

[00:30:16] Rachel Moore: Thanks again to Deesha Dyer for joining us on Event Experience, and thank YOU for listening. 

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You can find transcripts of each episode and key takeaways on bizzabo.com/podcasts.

On behalf of the team, thank you. We’ll gather again soon for a new episode of Event Experience.

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