“Why don’t you meet me at my hotel?”
I think a lot of people have experienced that question trying to arrange a meeting with Andrea Michaels.
I think I have met Andrea in more places all over the world than in Los Angeles, where she and her agency, Extraordinary Events, are based.
It must have been around `09 when I first met Andrea in person. My boss back then described her as a pretty lady, super important U.S. client, and just a great person I needed to meet. When I asked him which job she wanted to discuss, he rolled his eyes and told me to just take good care of her.
Of course, it has been one of those days where it was on my list to Google the agency and check out the person on LinkedIn before meeting her. However, it was 2009, and my blackberry back then wasn’t quite there yet. I also had been on the road all day before entering the hotel lobby of the Swiss hotel in Berlin, a solid 5-star property, with great meeting spaces.
In addition, it I felt completely underdressed meeting a client I have never met before to discuss a project. But what can I say? Obviously there was no time to get changed; although, there was an H&M right next door to the hotel. Too late. Anyways.
Looking back, I think it was meant to be. Most of my worries were blown away when Andrea walked out of the elevators wearing a casual v-neck t-shirt and a pair of denims and ordering a water.
She started the conversation with: “What is your story? How come you started working at Satis&fy? I wanna know it all., What made you want to work in the event industry?” At first, I was a little surprised about all these questions. It wasn’t what I expected at all, But what can I say? If the client asks you questions, you answers.Talking about me and my story was an easy one, I thought.
Long story short, we ended up chatting for over three hours. I told her my story, she told me her story, and besides that we also talked about the upcoming job and what she needed to see in the quote. We went over what was important to her and to her client and how we should tackle it.
It fascinated me how much she knew about her client and how she processed the information and translated it to the event she was planning for them. So emphatic, so clever, so different, just so extraordinary as I had never explored it before. She got so much information from just listening to the client, having the client tell her story, and her experiences before coming up with solutions and a proposal.
That day Andrea opened my eyes and made me look at events and clients in a different way. She explained me that she always tries to become a fan of the brand, to understand everything about the product and the people working there, to understand their ambitions, their stories and their fears. She tries to build a close relationship with the client, the company, and their product and their customers to understand exactly what they are all about.
We talked a lot about Gala dinners and automotive incentives and what she does differently and what makes her so successful. What makes her so successful is her passion, her willingness to find the niche, to know expectations and being able to exceed them and just not assuming what the client would like. Rather than telling the client what he or she should want by giving examples, she listens and reassures.
I had learned many of these techniques before, but Andrea had the talent to sum it all up for me, almost giving me a little inspirational speech and one-on-one training without coming across like a teacher, but more of a story teller that I could listen to for hours and not get bored at all.
We ordered snacks in-between, and I totally forgot the time, missed my workout session, and had a ticket returning to my car, but it was totally worth it. I spent the rest of the evening putting the internal briefing for the event together and also trying to capture my takeaways from our conversation that afternoon. It turned out that her inspiration became a very significant guiding principle for me leading the project management team in Berlin.
Since then we have always been in contact, the conversations have never gotten less inspiring, and Andrea has been a great mentor to me throughout my career. No matter if it is her blog, her book, or just being able to spend time with her on event panels, there is always something I take home with me. I call it the “Andrea quote” of the day.
When I got to see her last weekend in Los Angeles, and she told me that she is currently looking for a great salesperson to work closely with her and to communicate the art and the spirit with which Extraordinary Events approaches clients and projects, I wished I could have said: Why don’t I do it for you?
Clearly it’s not right timing for me with having my #lebookproject and #littlelucy arriving soon, but what’s with you?
Are you interested in working in events, being inspired by a great leaderwho has been an honored pioneer in the event industry and is still going strong? Do you like living on the west coast but are willing to travel the world? Do you want to work with a super talented team, actually talk to your clients and not just email them? Do you want to find different approaches to winning a pitch other than just submitting numbers?
Don’t think twice. Check out Extraordinary Events online or just do a super crazy thing and talk to Andrea. Yes, you can call her. And you know what? She would probably really appreciate your call. It’s the little things that make it extraordinary!