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Stride 2 Freedom Speaker Series: Creating Team Culture Experiences in a Virtual World

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“Kennedy Events began with one goal in mind — to produce high-level corporate events with just as much strategy as style…now, we are going virtual,” noted Paige Buck on her LinkedIn page. Notice when you are clear on your “why,” what and how you deliver on that promise has a lot of latitude.

In this week’s episode of the Stride 2 Freedom podcast, we spoke with Paige Buck, Partner and Chief Strategy Officer of Kennedy Events. I wanted to bring Paige on today’s episode not only because of her ability to transform the event space, but also her extreme optimism in the face of uncertainty. Owning and operating an event planning company in San Francisco during a pandemic has definitely been something that Paige has had to adapt to.

Kennedy Events creates experiences for businesses that want to drive better internal culture, or host summits and conferences.  Kennedy Events also works with nonprofits to raise funds from donors.  We get a chance to look inside of Paige’s transition from preparing to have the best year ever, to facing an existential crisis.  We learn about the decisions that she and her partner, Maggie Kennedy, took to stem losses and create the space to reinvent themselves.  You will be impressed by Paige’s optimism, but also her tenacity to persevere. Today, more companies than ever are feeling the impact of Kennedy Events, as they orchestrate everything from holiday parties to conferences in a well executed, virtual world. You’re gonna want to listen to this one. 

 

Who should I interview next? Please let me know by clicking here.

 

In this Freedom Speaker Series episode with Paige Buck, you will learn:

  • How companies can benefit from investing in culture in a remote workforce world
  • The many types of solutions and technologies that are helping people connect
  • The importance of stepping away and clearing your head before making big decisions
  • The power of action and running experiments to learn

Listen Now
 

We are fortunate to have Paige available to spend time with us on this edition of Stride 2 Freedom. If there is a speaker you’d like us to interview, click here and let us know. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Show Notes and Links From Episode:

Paige Buck LinkedIn

Kennedy Events

Paige’s Current Binge Worthy TV Shows:

LoveCraft Country

The Queen’s Gambit

Fargo

Paige’s Event Industry Platform Suggestions:

Confetti

Hopin

6Connex

Intrado

Episode Transcript:

Russell Benaroya: Hey everyone, welcome to The Stride 2 Freedom Podcast. My name is Russell Benaroya, and I’m the co-founder of Stride Services, a virtual back office, bookkeeping, and accounting firm serving hundreds of clients around the United States.

This podcast is designed to help small business owners focus on growth and innovation. In other words, focus on those things that inspired you to start your business in the first place. We call it your genius zone. We do our job on this podcast when business owners feel like they have the trust and confidence to build the right team of partners around them that will help them grow. Thanks for joining. Let’s go.

Hey everyone, welcome to The Stride 2 Freedom Podcast today. I’m Russell Benaroya and this is something like Episode Number 30, which is really amazing. It’s been such a great journey to have you all along for this ride. It’s been so much learning and so much fun.

I am excited for today because one of my most favorite people is joining me, the infamous Paige Buck. Hey, Paige?

Paige Buck: Hey, Russell.

Russell Benaroya: That was quite an intro.

Paige Buck: You say that to all your podcast guests?

Russell Benaroya: Yeah. Paige is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Kennedy Events, one of the premier event planning companies in San Francisco. I know what you must be thinking, like, events… San Francisco… COVID. Yeah, me too.

This is really where it gets interesting and why we’re so excited to have Paige on. She’ll, by the way, share with you all about what Kennedy Events does and we’ll get into that. I wanted her to join us to not only share about the business and how they’re helping clients manage and maintain their corporate cultures during this period of time, but also, how she and her partner, Maggie Braff, shifted the business to stay alive during this pandemic. This should be a pretty good ride. Let’s jump in. What do you say?

Paige Buck: Yeah. Thanks, Russell.

Russell Benaroya: Hey, Paige, I remember, maybe it was a couple of months ago, where you disconnected for a week or a week and a half. You unplugged. Maybe you went somewhere and you just got out of the madness that was making it hard to step back and reflect on, “Okay, what are we going to do?” Did I get that right? Do you remember doing that? And could you share that experience of time away and how you then came back into the world?

Paige Buck: Yeah. I’m so glad you reminded me of it because I’m like, “Did I get to go somewhere?” All this time in our community, California Bay Area has been incredibly stringent about COVID protocols. So we haven’t been anywhere. We haven’t done anything. We haven’t seen anybody. But my husband and I managed to go completely offline to a cabin in the woods in Sierraville, which is an hour north of Tahoe. Absolutely, stunningly beautiful, and such an amazing restorative time for us.

I meditated on a rock in the middle of a creek every morning and we hiked to a lake, kayaked across the lake, hiked up a mountain to another lake, swam in that lake. It is helpful to remember because it will pop into my head two or three days a week, but I can carry that. You need a special experience at any time, but it’s even more so now.

It was important because I felt like all I’ve been doing is trying to buoy up my business and my clients through this time and I needed a break. Pre-COVID times, my partner and I used to go away once a quarter and try to do something a little bit restorative.

We would say retreat and people would be like, “They’re going on a spa retreat.” You don’t understand. This is like being locked in a room with posters on the walls for three days. That is necessary and we really haven’t been able to do that in the same way.

Russell Benaroya: Do you remember coming back from that trip in Sierraville more grounded or calmer or maybe taking your circumstance a little less seriously? Do you remember how you returned?

Paige Buck: Yeah. It definitely reminds me of the indirect effects of meditation or mindfulness too. You can also direct correlation or even inverse to, “I was offline and now I am whole again.” Or refreshed. Or, “I’ve gained perspective.” It’s not as literal as that, it’s much more ethereal and evocative. Like, “I am more grounded. I’m speaking more slowly.” Like the Serenity Prayer, a lot of this is out of my control, and I can focus more on the essentials and what is in my control. There are really only two or three levers I can push or pull to change the world around me.

Russell Benaroya: You are such an optimist. I see you as someone that views the world in a way that anything is possible. How have you stayed so motivated and positive in what has seemed like a pretty tough time in the event space? Again, my exposure to you is limited to my conversations with you. For all I know, you’re a complete disaster but when we talk, you’re awesome.

Paige Buck: First of all, I’ll tell on myself a little bit. Within the last week, my husband said to me at the end of the day like, “Okay, thanks.” I had come in from my office, which is separated from our house and he was like, “I got to get this off my chest, you are a slob. You come in here in between meetings and you finish a bag of chips and leave the chips on the counter, and you left your iPad on the coffee table.” I was able to not get immediately defensive and not be like, “Well, you do…” I said, “Am I always like this? And he’s like, “Kind of, yeah.”

I was able to take that and it is actually really enlightening. I’m like, “I am a bit of a slob, and this has definitely exacerbated during COVID.” I’m definitely leaving things where they lie as I move through the world. I’m not a huge mess, but I’m a bit of a slob.

It was really eye-opening because I was like, “I don’t want to be a slob.” This is not the way I apply myself to my business or my client relationships or growing my team, so I can make a different choice. If he hadn’t had the courage to say that and I hadn’t had the courage to not blow up or get defensive in response, I would not have discovered this about myself.

The way I present is not always as buttoned up and put together as you might think. Then the optimism side, I will definitely say it is both a character feature and flaw to be eternally optimistic or fundamentally positive. It can be a little wearing and you don’t want to be ignoring the hard truths.

Russell Benaroya: Great segue. Let’s talk about Kennedy Events. Tell us about what Kennedy Events does, why it exists, how it grew, and how it has shifted.

Paige Buck: As you said at the top; events, COVID, argh. We feel the same way. Live events are on pause for real and if they’re not where you are, they should be. When I hear stories about things being essentially normal in Kentucky, I just don’t even know what to make of that.

Pre-COVID, live events for us were all over the country. We’ve built our business and our client relationships have until now been almost entirely referral based. Chief Marketing Officer of company A leaves and brings us with them and now we have two clients and we have wonderful relationships with both.

That grew organically for years and years before we started worrying about things like SEO and building a big lead pipeline. Events took us to every major city in the US, into the UK, and 2021 was going to open up Asia for us. But now it looks entirely virtual, entirely in these little head and shoulders boxes.

We’ve done a tremendous job of educating ourselves and separating the wheat from the chaff in the virtual platform world. The metaphor I use is that we’re tour guides on a new virtual path. Everybody knows that this is a new land. None of us have been here before. We’ve only gotten a glimpse of it.

Our clients rely on us as tour guides because they know how well-traveled we are. We know what to bring, we know what to leave behind. Even though this is a completely new land, you know we’re going to help you actually get through the forest and get up above to the summit and be able to see things clearly.

Russell Benaroya: Share with me the types of events and the scale and scope of events that you would do pre-COVID. Who’s your target customer or client? Then share with me the types of events that you’re doing in COVID and the scope and scale and types of clients you’re working with.

Paige Buck: We had two major types of clients pre-COVID and now, that persists. In the corporate world, life sciences, tech, and media would hire us to produce anywhere from 200 to 2,000-person conferences, educational events. They’re called everything from a summit, to a conference to, to an all day.

Then they would also often bring us on for their all-hands. When their team needs to go off-site and do a combination of celebrating and learning and goal setting for the year, they’d rely on us to help design that experience and all of the logistics and project management that goes into it.

Another client type for us was the nonprofit fundraiser. Large nonprofits who are trying to raise funds from major donors and corporate sponsors would hire us for their gala or their breakfast or their awards event with an auctioneer perhaps.

It’s funny, the second one was actually quicker to translate into virtual than the first. I think conferences quickly started happening. In March and April, anybody who was having an event that was fast approaching in the spring managed to bring it online. They had no choice but to do it.

At the same time, there was so much fear, uncertainty, and doubt driving things that a lot of people canceled, deferred, delayed, or completely revised their expectations for what they could do with a conference or a learning event, a client education event.

Russell Benaroya: Tell me about what’s going on now. How are you orchestrating events for clients?

Paige Buck: The same types of events and then another altogether. Corporate events have come back. I feel like people have moved through the stages of grief to acceptance. We’ve accepted virtual events are here to stay; this is the world we’re in. Our clients finally have, too.

Now there’s increased incredible demand since the early fall for companies like ours who have the tools and the resources. We’re doing everything from helping you understand how to take what was live virtual. What will work and what won’t, what you’ve got to throw away, and what the new playbook looks like. That’s selecting a platform, selecting a format, distilling your content down to its essentials, breaking things up into smaller chunks.

What used to be a one-day all-day event, a big blowout party at the end is now three days with yoga, some pre-recorded content, and some live engagement. Helping them navigate and set that and wrap their arms around it is a really big part of our role.

Then another really big thing is helping them understand how complex the back end audiovisual component of that is. I think we’ve all now been on enough Zooms that we’re like, “Can’t you just throw people all into the container together and run with it?” And it’s like, “It’s a little more complicated than that.” You need just as much technical support to make that run better than a Zoom meeting. To make it run and not have your speaker be like, “You’re on mute, Dave.”

Russell Benaroya: Somebody told me an angel gets his wings or her wings every time somebody says you’re on mute. It’s amazing.

Paige Buck: Yes. I really do need to get the T-shirt because that is the slogan for 2020. You’re on mute.

Russell Benaroya: Yeah, that’s hilarious.

Paige Buck: You’re still on mute. So navigating that, helping them wrap their arms around it. Just like with the live events world, we manage the entire project from start to finish. So building up the timeline, the milestones, taking your team through the rehearsals, and managing the vendors and the budgets for those vendors that need to pull the strings behind the scenes to make the event successful.

Russell Benaroya: How have you acquired the expertise around this? Are there any really cool applications or platforms that you’ve come across where you would give us a little bit of hint as listeners? Like, “You guys should check out this. You guys think Zooms are great but there’s applications XYZ that have been proven to be quite effective.”

Paige Buck: It’s hard because there’s no one way to skin a cat. Nobody wants to skin a cat anyway. I don’t know why I used that idiom.

Russell Benaroya: We’re going to do a little research on exactly where that came from because that’s wrong.

Paige Buck: Very unfortunate. The platforms fall into a number of categories. There are platforms that are meant to mimic the conference experience where you’re coming in and you can see an agenda, you can see the other people, you can jump into the main stage, and you can visit booths for sponsors.

The leading companies in those are Hopin and Visible. Or really robust almost three-dimensional avatar experiences in companies called Intrado and 6Connex and there are others. For every one I list, there are two or three dozen others behind them who may be just as great but haven’t found market share attraction yet or worked out all of the kinks.

Then there are fun, unique, one-off platforms that do specialty things. Shindig is a tool that lets you come into like a Zoom environment where you’re seeing 25 people at once. But then I can find you, Russell, and we can hook up and now we just see the two of us. We can have a live conversation as soon as we’re in our little pod together.

Then we can invite Becky and Maggie to come in, too, and the four of us can talk amongst ourselves. Like standing in the back of the room at a cocktail party, we can sort of pay attention to what’s going on in the presentation. But mostly, we’re there to find one another and socialize.

Russell Benaroya: That’s awesome.

Paige Buck: Yeah, it’s great because that gives a lot of attendee choice. Whether you want to hang out with one person or 15 people, you can find your people in the Shindig experience.

There are some that do that in an avatar environment where you literally make a little two-dimensional Minecrafty character for yourself and then you dance or you can wander around. Then there are experiences that are built around different sorts of connections; polling, chatting, features, that sort of thing.

So it’s all over the map. The big takeaway that I would share is you can do a lot with Zoom or Zoom webinar if you have the technical support and expertise backing you up. That’s a delightful surprise to a lot of people because there’s a barrier to entry. There’s both a price point for these platforms, but there’s also a barrier to entry depending on how proficient your attendees are.

Russell Benaroya: Yeah, for sure. There’s definitely some tour guide, hand-holding to just make it effective for people.

Paige Buck: Absolutely. Another thing that we have done and this was a big lift for us, you’ve asked how we learned. There were six to eight weeks there where we didn’t have anything better to do.

Internally, we launched a virtual project and it outlined a curriculum for ourselves. What do we need to learn? Who’s going to go do it? How fast are we going to learn it? How are we going to cross-teach one another and really do our homework?

Then we launched an external project of holiday packages in the run-up to the end of this year and beyond. We now have built a website and an experience, again built in Zoom, where people can have a two-hour holiday party with their employees, be they 50 or 500 or more, that feels fun, meaningful, unique, creates connection. It doesn’t feel like a Whac-A-mole where you’re meeting people the whole time and it doesn’t feel like another boring, all-hands meeting.

Russell Benaroya: Yeah, love it. How often do you get to be a pioneer in a new industry? You were forced to become a pioneer. You’re going to look back and you’re going to say, “I remember when we were forced to figure this out.”

Paige Buck: Totally. You said that hopeless optimism. On good days that’s what I think, “Wow. How fun to figure this out.”

Russell Benaroya: How cool.

Paige Buck: How fun that half of my week is now taken up with calls about these holiday packages where I get to learn about other company’s culture and what’s working for them and what’s resonating. They’ve done nothing virtually and they’re desperate. Or they’ve done tons of things and they’re bored and fatigued and frustrated. That’s been a real gift. And on bad days, I’m like, “Oh my god. We’re booking magicians.”

Russell Benaroya: Yeah, I totally get it. Well, it’s a good segue in my next question which is, you’re someone who I know has a thirst for learning and you’re curious. I’m curious, what are you hoping to learn in this phase and ongoing? What are you curious about?

Paige Buck: Thank you for that because I try and I feel like I get better at being honest with myself about my curiosity. I used to be one of those people who had to pretend she knew everything all the time.

Russell Benaroya: That’s stressful.

Paige Buck: It’s exhausting. The thirst for knowledge was driven by, “I better go figure that out so that I don’t look like a fool,” when nobody thinks of me as a fool. Now, it’s much more like, “I don’t know.” “I don’t know, Russell. Help me. Teach me.”

Things that I’ve already learned and are learning are things like how to forecast my business financially. It’s times like this when I like to be like, “I was a theater major. Granted, I got a liberal arts education, but I do not have an MBA and I stopped taking math classes as soon as they let me.”

Now, I am like, “I know how to build out a proforma that will help me forecast the next six months of my sales growth.” That’s amazing. Those are words that I didn’t understand 18 months ago.

Just today we were having a conversation about how all of this fear and uncertainty is increasing our sales lead times. We were talking to one of several decision-makers which is new. We used to be talking to the decision-maker and then up the chain there’s more concern. We don’t know what we’re describing. Everyone has seen a live event; not everybody has seen a virtual event. And if they have, it might not have been a good experience.

You can sell the chief marketing officer or the head of sales on a three-day, three-hour each summit that’s going to help them retain their customers and help them bring in new prospects and educate them on their software. Then up to the chain, there’s fear about committing budget to this, committing resources. Do we, Kennedy Events, really know what we’re talking about? How are we going to see them through this?

I’m curious about behavioral science. I’m curious about new sales and marketing processes. We are having to completely reinvent how we do that internally and it is fun to ask the questions. Just this morning, I wrote that down. I’m like,  “Go ask Sherwin, go ask Russell, go ask a couple of people. Be resourceful.”

Russell Benaroya: A theater major that can build a proforma. That’s a double threat. That is awesome.

Paige Buck: It’s good because I wasn’t any good at dancing.

Russell Benaroya: I imagine there is a lot of tremendous talent out there right now in the events space. People that were furloughed or whose companies weren’t able to adapt like yours. Is that an opportunity for you? How are you approaching that?

Paige Buck: It could be and I hope it will be without wanting to be a poacher. I’m hoping that as things open up again, we’ll be able to build and grow some really amazing talent.

One of the challenges is right now the skills we need in extra hands on deck. We always kept a very deep bench of freelancers and people that we could bring with us on-site who weren’t part of our core team. We need different skills now than we did. Our team is going, “Should we bring this person on?” “Should we bring that person on with this person?” I’m like, “I don’t think so.”

We are drawing on all of our technical directors, our show callers, stage managers, speaker managers, those people are in high demand right now and we’re lucky that we already had some great relationships and people on our team with those skills.

I’m not quite sure what the job description is for an amazing digital facilitator and moderator. Maybe we’ll get there. Right now, our team has taught themselves and we’re really good at it and when we need more people, I will have to define that. That’s a new thing.

What are the transferable skills? They’re not necessarily the amazing project manager or event producer that we would have drawn on before.

Russell Benaroya: Very good point. I can definitely see that having somebody who is a great MC, knows how to work the digital crowd, can fill in those awkward moments, can be entertaining and funny and engaging; they are at a premium. That’s a game-changing experience.

Paige Buck: Yes, there’s that and then there’s the behind the scenes. Those will probably be people who were inside sales and customer service who are used to monitoring 15 chat windows. Keep this person happy. Keep this person happy. Notice that this is happening over here and move that dialogue along. Those would probably be really good people.

I like staying curious. It would be good for me to see what a customer service playbook like that looks like at Amazon or at Drift.

Russell Benaroya: Yeah, super good point. If I’m a company of 10 or 20 or 50 people, would Kennedy Events still be relevant for me for this holiday party? Where do you start?

Paige Buck: Yeah. There’s a base price for it to be a fit and an engagement. That base price is around $25,000. A lot of these holiday parties come in with a per person, “We’ve only ever spent $100.” My math is all San Francisco math. I’m like, “$100 a person won’t get you much of a holiday party in normal times. What were you doing with that money?” If it was just a catered lunch in the office with some decorations, I get it.

At that size, there’s a couple of really fun resources I can point people to. There are two URLs that I really love. One is a company called Confetti, whose website is www.withconfetti.com. They have a lot of fun plug and play experiences.

You could have, say, an animal handler from the Staten Island Zoo show up on a meeting or a gathering and take you through like, “This is a koala. This is how many toes he has on his front paws. Look at him eating.” Talk about the animal, go through two or three different cycles of that.

It’s an easy place to book a fun entertainer or book an escape room that’s designed for a corporate team experience—a digital escape room—which I still haven’t experienced. Have you?

Russell Benaroya: No, that sounds cool.

Paige Buck: I know. I want to. You can book those things really easily. Another similar site for finding fun experiences like that is called Merrymiant. Then you know, I’m a huge fan of Avital, who was my sister in your accelerator and has built this amazing mixology experience.

We’ve collaborated with her for the holiday package, but she’s just out there killing it with really unique mixology and food experiences. She just keeps building on it and building on it. A lot of fun with a smaller group.

Russell Benaroya: I love all of those suggestions. Avital was a guest on a podcast several weeks ago and so we got a chance to learn from her. I agree. It’s a tremendous story. We did a mixology class at Stride and it was fantastic.

Paige Buck: Yeah, so you’ve had the experience. Avital is one of those people who pivoted before anybody else. By the time all of us were sick of the word pivot, she’d already done it. That is a word that I never want to see again and so it’s glad that when you get that shift because that is what it feels like.

It’s a shift. It is actually now an expansion, which is really interesting. Some of the big things we’ll have to get curious about in January or February is, what of all of this are we keeping. Once life starts to happen again, there are so many questions out there in our industry about the challenges of live now, the challenges of hybrid, which looks like a combination of live and virtual.

I’ve been urging people to think about that as two or three. It’s a live event. It’s a virtual event, and then it’s a few times when those groups come together. It’s not one cohesive thing and it would be incredibly challenging to make it one cohesive thing.

Russell Benaroya: You have a business partner, and in times of stress and uncertainty, it also tends to test the relationship a bit or how you communicate and navigate together as a team. I’m curious how that has tested your relationship with Maggie and what you’ve learned about yourself and your partnership and the durability of it or the importance of it?

Paige Buck: Well, one, it is durable and we’re tenacious. It’s felt easy. It has always felt this way from the get-go. I think we are both really different people, but also with a hugely overlapping skill set and orientation to the world.

I’m so grateful that one of the things that we did 18 months ago was to get crystal clear on our core values—longer ago than that, almost three years ago, I guess. We’ve leaned on it heavily through this time.

It’s how we’ve coached our team weave through some tough choices. We’ve let some people go and yet everybody is emotionally and physically thriving right now. She and I went from quarterly getaways to plot out the quarter and plot out the future, and look back and see how we’re doing to we’re probably just ready to make a shift again.

We were having daily check-ins with each other. Some days that was a 10-minute what do I need to know? What are you focused on? Okay, off you go. Sometimes that was a deeper dive into a particular challenge. We’re just now on enough of an upward trajectory that we probably need to pull back to weekly.

I think we’ve been nimble and flexible with one another. We’ve been generous with one another. I can’t say enough good things about it and I cannot imagine for a minute doing this without a partner.  I would just still be in bed with the covers pulled over my head.

Russell Benaroya: Well, you’ve got a special relationship with Maggie. That’s great. Every time we talk, you’re typically in that same position with that bookcase behind you. I’m curious if there is a book behind you that you like, have read, and would be worth recommending.

Paige Buck: I want fiction and nonfiction. It’s going to take a second here. So many good choices and there are some that aren’t on here. I’ve been in a book club for the last 8 or 10 weeks. We meet once a week, and we’ve been tackling anti-racist ohms. We’ve just finished Caste which a lot of people are talking about, but Isabel Wilkerson.

I am not a huge nonfiction reader, but this book is both eye-opening and it’s beautiful. She writes nonfiction like it’s literature. It’s just beautiful stories and connections drawn throughout. I just can’t recommend that one enough.

My favorite business book is probably Traction. I’m constantly taking notes. I also have and I’m midway through Essentialism, which I understand is going to change my life.

Russell Benaroya: Yes, Essentialism is good. It helps you say no.

Paige Buck: Even reading the first couple of pages, I was able to be like, “Do I need to be doing this?” “Should I be thinking about this?” “Should I be working on this?” Maggie and I had just grown the business so that we were truly working on it and not in it. Now we’re in the thick of it again and I have to find a way to find that balance again.

Russell Benaroya: No, it’s great. We’ll include those books in the show notes now. Okay, so you’re spending a lot of time reading, but let’s be honest. Are you binge-watching anything right now?

Paige Buck: I love The Queen’s Gambit. I’ll have finished it by tomorrow probably. I wish that I had not seen any of the previous seasons of Fargo because that would be an awesome thing to binge-watch right now. As it is, I’m watching it as the episodes come out and when it’s over, I’m so bummed out. Have you seen neither of these shows?

Russell Benaroya: No, neither of them.

Paige Buck: Fargo this season is Chris Rock and Tim Olyphant and other amazing actors. It’s set in Kansas City in the 50s and it’s unbelievable. Then I also just could not get enough of… an HBO Show with the most amazing cast of mostly black actors and actresses. It’s like a combination of sci-fi and horror. It’s amazing.

Russell Benaroya: I don’t know, but we’ll include it in the notes.

Paige Buck: I’ll tell you afterward.

Russell Benaroya: It always happens. I love it.

Paige Buck: If you haven’t seen *fill in the blank here*. We’ll just post it.

Russell Benaroya: Yeah, see that one.

Paige Buck:  See that one. Yeah.

Russell Benaroya: Okay. I love it. Paige, is there anything I didn’t ask you about that you want to share either about you or Kennedy Events?

Paige Buck: I think the big thing that is hard that I’m learning is how to help people overcome their fear. I feel like fear is really present for all of us. Fear of the future, fear of the moment, fear of when will I get to see people I love again, and when will I get to hug them. I think we end up misapplying it.

I pick my anxiety about one thing and put it all on the current situation. I wish I had better tools for helping myself with that, but I really want to help others with that. I think we as a team try to bring a lot of empathy to our work. I’m just constantly building the tools to do that. To overcome that, to deliver a better event, to take the pressure off of themselves, and to in turn deliver for their clients.

Russell Benaroya: I like that message. We also send a similar message which is, there’s nothing wrong with fear. Thankfully, we have fear as human beings. It’s great that we have fear and we have an opportunity. We can turn that into courage or we can be scared and that can be debilitating.

Fear itself can be really welcoming. It can shift us like it shifted you to do something pretty amazing and take a risk that you didn’t know where it was going to lead. It certainly opened up learning and then you keep going.

Paige Buck: If I could add to that. I think the thing I like is a phrase I heard the other day which was, “Whatever it is, whatever you’re feeling, it’s already here. So why don’t you let it in?”

Rather than, “I’m scared, I don’t even know of what, and I can’t face it,” It’s, “This fear. What is it? Where is it? How can I name it? Can I dig underneath it?” And then can I use looking at that wholly to find the courage. Like, “Oh, that actually isn’t as scary as I thought it was. Let me go read about that. Let me go ask some friends. Let me confront it.”

Russell Benaroya: Yeah, let it in. I like it. Paige, thank you so much for joining us today on this edition of Stride 2 Freedom. I love interviewing people with grit and the will to persevere in the face of adversity, which you and Maggie have done and continue to do.

I also wanted to share the work that you do at Kennedy Events and promote that work. Thank you for also sharing about other companies that may be more accommodating to smaller organizations because there are outlets out there for them. Certainly, in this time, I want to encourage all business owners to take advantage of the opportunities to improve and impact the culture in a remote workforce environment because it is challenging. The world moves on. Entertainment still matters. Fun still matters.

Paige Buck: Fun matters.  Connection matters

Russell Benaroya: Connection matters.

Paige Buck: You need an experience in your living room that you can’t have because you can’t go to a Broadway play or you can’t go to movies and get to share that with your colleagues. I can’t say it enough, whether you’re a team of 5 or 50. It is a lot of fun but it’s worth the effort to figure out how to do something together.

Russell Benaroya: Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and thanks, everyone, for listening today. Talk to you next week on the next edition of Stride 2 Freedom. Thanks, everybody. Bye.

Paige Buck: Thanks, Russell.

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