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11 | Chardia Christophe-Garcia, Forbes: Curating an Audience and Taking It Slow

  • August 21, 2019
  • 39:03

Chardia Christophe-Garcia (Marketing Director, Forbes) shares how Forbes is leveraging in-person events to further their editorial brand, which promotional channels work best, why sometimes it pays to take it slow in your career, and the importance of knowing that not everyone is going to like you—and why that shouldn’t hold you back.

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Top Takeaways

1

MIXING OLD SCHOOL WITH NEW: At ForbesLIVE, Chardia’s team looks to their audience to decide the most effective promotional channel for each event. For example, the audience for the Under 30 Summit responds well to social channels like Instagram. However, despite varying channels, ForbesLIVE still sees great traction with email marketing. “I think it's really important to mix old school with new, and email marketing still works for us.”

2

TAKING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED: Chardia began her events career in an executive assistant role and jumped into roles involving accounting, events, marketing, data, and working in a mailroom. Her experiences solidified her passion for marketing and, after completing her master’s degree, she managed events at American Express Publishing before getting recruited for her current role at Forbes. The lesson she learned was, “sometimes you have to crawl before you walk. And not only do you get respected by doing it that way, you actually start learning what you don't know.

3

SETTING THE TONE: Chardia thrives in a fast-paced marketing and events environment. She has learned to strike a work-life balance that brings out the best version of herself while holding her work to a high standard. “You have to set the tone of how you want to navigate your life...and understand that it’s okay to take a day off, and it’s okay to say, “Hey, I need a minute to recharge and know that that’s not going to be the end-all be-all.”

ABOUT Chardia Christophe-Garcia

Chardia Christophe-Garcia has over 10 years of experience in media marketing—at brands like Time, New Bay Media, and American Express—Chardia has achieved a comprehensive understanding of the industry. During her time at Forbes so far, Chardia has pioneered new promotional channels and assisted the brand in expanding their event portfolio.

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:

Welcome to IN-PERSON. Today we are joined by Chardia Christophe-Garcia, the Marketing Director at ForbesLive. Chardia, thank you so much for being here with us today.

CHARDIA:

Thank you so much for having me.

BRANDON:

All right, so I'm really excited to speak with you about all the different events that you're currently running with ForbesLive. There are a lot of them. They're very different in terms of content and audience that you're speaking to, and there's also a really huge event that I'm interested to learn a little bit more about the Forbes Under 30 Summit, so stoked to dive into that a little bit as well. But for starters, could you tell us a little bit about the Forbes brand?

CHARDIA:

Sure. Forbes is a great company. It's a media company, but we have a bunch of different legs to the division, so we have BrandVoice, we have Forbes Insights and ForbesLive is what I focus on primarily. We have a bunch of different business units that work towards reaching a consumer base, whether it be through targeted ads, whether it be through sponsorship activations, whether it be through live events, editorial reach. So there's a bunch of different areas that Forbes touches on. I can speak best to ForbesLive obviously because that's my team. But what I like about Forbes as a brand is there's one unifying goal and that's to be able to tell the stories that people want to hear from an editorial standpoint, and really reach young entrepreneurs where it matters and champion them to be the best versions of themselves they can be.

I'm still learning day-to-day about all the ins and outs. Sometimes you get to stick in your one little bubble and you don't always get to venture into some of the other areas. But we have our monthly town meetings and we get to get an insight into what all the different business units are working on. And it's always really cool. But ForbesLive is probably what I could speak to the most. BrandVoice and Insights, they're all doing amazing things on their own, but you'd probably have to talk to them about getting all the details. Yeah, that's good.

BRANDON:

To give us a little bit more context, could you tell us about ForbesLive and what your role is there?

CHARDIA:

Sure. Forbes essentially has a lot of different business units and a lot of different business lines. ForbesLive is kind of the event leg of Forbes, so we handle tentpole events. Those are our larger events that could be anywhere from 300, 500, a couple thousand people. And then we have another leg of that, that's custom events, and those are more sponsor driven. So if a sponsor wants to reach a certain audience, they can come with us and partner to produce an event that is much smaller. And those are the two areas that we focus on.

So the team comprises of a few different areas. We have obviously the sales leg that handles all the sponsorship activations. We have the programming team that focuses on putting together the agenda with editorial. We have logistics, so those are the people that are on the ground planning the event and dealing with FNB and site visits and all that good stuff. And then we have audience development, which is my team and it's our job to get butts in seats. So a lot of it is marketing and project management and working with different stakeholders and editorial, to make sure that the attendee has the best experience and we're communicating anything like highlights on the agenda, new speakers, panels, experiences, all that good stuff to the attendee to get them to register.

BRANDON:

From an audience generation perspective, what would you say the biggest differences are between the tentpole events and the custom events?

CHARDIA:

I think the custom events are a lot more grassroots. I work with Lex Angle and he takes the lead on the custom events while I take the lead on tentpole. And I mean, there'll be times where Lex is literally sending personal emails through his Outlook, dedicated outreach, one-on-one. Really personal communications to the attendees to the point where they know him by first name in many cases. And I think that when you're dealing with a much smaller audience, you have to do that because the client is very specific about what they want and who they want in the room. And in order to get that, you do need to do a mix of maybe some bigger blasts, but a lot more personal outreach.

Whereas with the tentpole events, because we're trying to get a lot bigger numbers, we probably will hit a wider list, still targeted, but we do a lot more bigger blasts than I'm really personal one offs.

BRANDON:

Got it. And just to briefly discuss it, when it comes to promoting these types of events, what tactics do you typically lean on?

CHARDIA:

We rely heavily on email marketing still. I know when we were at the Empower Conference, I spoke about that. And a lot of people think it's really old school, but I think it's really important to mix old school with new, and email marketing still works for us. It still gets messages inside and inbox, and people are still, especially if they are attached to the brand, they're still opening up. So we find that we do offer... For many events, we may do social media marketing campaigns, we may do ads in the newsletter, we may do ads on the site, and by far email marketing still seems to perform the best for us.

Now, it also depends on which event. Sometimes when we're doing stuff for our Under 30 Summit, that audience gravitates a lot more to social. So they will respond more to a promotion on Instagram. But if we're dealing with an event for CIO's, for example, not as much. So it's one of those things where you have to know your audience and what method works best. But for us, we found that email marketing still is effective. And we've taken it even further back, we've also recently discussed trying to do some more direct mail pieces because it's one of those things where digital is getting so bombarded that no one's getting actual mail anymore. I mean, it gets to the point where when I get a package I'm like, "Oh, somebody sent me something." So we are playing with that idea as well to bring some of those old school methods back and mix it with the digital and see how those perform. But yeah, it's been good so far.

BRANDON:

Okay. And when it comes to direct mail, have there been any sort of ideas that you've been throwing around the office?

CHARDIA:

Yeah, yeah. We've talked about it more so for the high-level events, for example, CMO Summit or CIO Summit where even though it's a brand and it's a big event, it's a much more targeted audience where we only want a very high-level person in the room. So we talked about doing really customized invitations, stylize something that really is a wow right out the gate. And we haven't actually done it yet, but it's definitely something we're considering. And obviously, we don't necessarily have budget to do it for like the Under 30 Summit, where it's 10,000 people that we're trying to attract. But if you're talking about something more custom that's like in the hundreds, it's a good test to try it out. So TBD, we'll let you know if it works.

BRANDON:

Awesome. Let's take a step back. I know that you worked in a number of different roles in marketing and beyond before you ended up in your current role at Forbes. So my question is, what led you to where you are today?

CHARDIA:

Sure. Right out of college, I went to SUNY Albany. I'm New Yorker, born and raised. And when I graduated, I was interested in two things. I was really interested in magazines and I was really interested in interior design. That was when Trading Spaces and HGTV and all those shows were at its peak. So originally I was leaning towards the design route, but then I was an English major, business minor, and I started looking at my portfolio and I was like, "I have nothing that can get me to that space." I'm like, "I don't really want to go back to school. I just got my degree." So I was like, out of the two, I think media and marketing and publishing was a lot more in line with my skillset.

So I was fortunate enough to get an executive assistant job at a company called NewBay Media, and they're now owned by Future plc, and it was awesome. It was an EA role, but it was a company that was still looking to grow and with the right personality, I was able to jump in where I fit in. Anywhere, any opportunity, any department. I was working in accounting, I was working on events, I was working in marketing, I was working on the back in the data, I was working in the mail room. So it was a bunch of different things that I just got a chance to be exposed to, and it was a really awesome opportunity that really made me decide that I wanted to pursue marketing full time.

So I went back to get my master's degree and I did that in marketing, well, communications. And once that happened I knew I needed to leave and expand my wings a little bit. And from there I went to American Express Publishing, the time they owned Food & Wine, and Travel & Leisure, and Departures. I took a job that was a little... Although the brands were great, it was in the billing and renewal department, and-

BRANDON:

Super fun.

CHARDIA:

... it was super fun. It was a great opportunity for me, but it wasn't speaking to the creative side of what I liked to do. So I was there for a little bit and I got an opportunity to work in a different area of the company, working on their affinity club memberships. So, for example, if you like Food & Wine magazine, they had a club that you could subscribe to and if you pay a fee, you get access to specialty wines and specialty cheeses and discounts on events. So I started doing club marketing and it just piqued my interest even more and I recognized that I thought events was where my heart was, and I did some event marketing and more event planning at NewBay.

As I started getting deeper in my career, I realized the events was where I wanted to go. So I got a job back at NewBay after Time Inc. And I ended up working and running their event marketing for probably close to 25 events. We were really small team, so I was managing the email marketing, their social media marketing, organic and paid. I was managing all the newsletter outreach, project managing the entire thing across the board for multiple different events. So that was really where I got thrown into the event marketing landscape and I was there for about four years and I loved it. And then Forbes kind of scooped me up and they said, "Hey, we want to talk." So it's been really a great experience and I definitely feel like this marries my passion for events and marketing. So it checks both boxes.

BRANDON:

I love that story so much. I mean, it's very clear that early on you had an idea of where you wanted to work, and even if you couldn't get exactly where you wanted to go, you started off in that EA role. You started working with all these different teams, learning all the different aspects of media and to some extent.

CHARDIA:

Yeah. I think a lot of times this generation, and many people, even in my own generation, they take that for granted. We're moving away from the time where people stay at jobs for a million years. It's just not what we do. But I think that part of the problem is sometimes kids come out of college and they feel like, "Well, I have a degree and I deserve to be working in marketing and I'm smart. That's my goal. No, I don't want to take a mail room job. No, I don't want to take an assistant job." And they don't realize that sometimes you have to crawl before you walk. And not only do you get respected by doing it that way, you actually start learning what you don't know.

I always like to tell any... I tell my cousins, I tell any of my young professionals that I mentor, that you have to take it slow and you'll get there. And you can take risks, but be advised that it doesn't always have to be a straight line.

BRANDON:

Yeah. And having that open mindset and-

CHARDIA:

Exactly.

BRANDON:

... really being receptive to new opportunities.

CHARDIA:

Correct.

BRANDON:

Very cool. Okay, to hop back to ForbesLive, there are many events that your team is involved with. Could you just give us a brief overview of how ForbesLive helps Forbes achieve business outcomes?

CHARDIA:

I think more and more we're seeing that the event landscape isn't going anywhere. People want experiences. They want to have that one-to-one connection and networking. People just can't get that anywhere else outside of events. The events' opportunity gives you a chance to really have one-on-one time with people that you may not get access to otherwise. And you'll also get access to your peers in the same space. So there's times where you might be, let's say you're a CMO of a company and you're struggling on a major business need, and you're able to come to the CMO Summit and actually interact with somebody that's on level.

One of the good things that Forbes does is that we really try to curate the audience. Most of our events are not open to the public. You have to apply to attend. And what that does is it allows us to curate a room full of people that are like-minded. And so people feel a lot more comfortable answering questions or asking questions in a non-judgment zone, and with people that can actually give them real answers. So you have people leaving our events with not just like, "Oh, I've gone to another event, and it was cool, but I didn't make a connection." You have people meeting people from major organizations and game changers that could actually affect their business in a positive way. Because of that, I think that more and more companies are starting to use events to help not only spread their brand message, but also sponsors want to reach those audiences as well. So you have two sides, you have the delegate revenue side, and you have the sponsorship revenue side.

So if you're a brand, and you want to reach the under 30 audience, and we're doing all these major initiatives in Detroit, you may want to consider being a sponsor because that might be something that could benefit you. So from a business standpoint, Forbes is winning on both sides if we get both of those aligned.

BRANDON:

Awesome. We sort of spoke briefly about how Forbes is using events to not only spread their brand, but also be engaging sponsors and engaging an audience. I would love to briefly run through just a few of the events that you're currently involved with, and you're involved with many. And I'd like to ask you to share just a quick overview of what that event is, and then also I take away for our listeners either on the event promotion side, how you're speaking to particular audiences via particular channels, or anything else that you think was sort of fun or interesting takeaway from the process so far. Sound fun?

CHARDIA:

Sounds fun.

BRANDON:

All right. First off, 2019 Forbes Under 30 Global Women's Summit.

CHARDIA:

Sure. That event was super interesting. We had done the Under 30 Global Summit in years past and it was always coed. And I think with the time being what it is and the power of she, there was just a real focus that we wanted to place on women empowerment and this event allowed us to do so. It wasn't that men couldn't come completely, but they had to qualify to reach out and explain how they planned on moving forward the female initiative, how they planned on enhancing a woman's place in the workplace and throughout. So it really was like we wanted women who wanted a safe space to grow and learn and have a sense of community, and then the male allies who were championing that effort. So it taught us a few things.

One thing it taught us that was an eye opener was just that we needed to clean up our lists a little bit. We didn't have gender tags for every single person in our database. So that makes it hard when you want to do a female only event. You can't just blast an entire database of people. It just doesn't work like that. So we really had to take a step back and figure out different ways to get that information. And for the list members, because this is a list member event, we heard a lot of really great feedback from people that felt like they were able to really talk freely in an open safe space, and communicate with their peers and people who just got it. So it was a first for us, we had never done a global women's summit like this. It was in Israel. So some of the experiences were just phenomenal, and I think people walked away feeling like this was a once in a lifetime experience that they would never forget. So it made us feel really proud to be a part of something like that.

BRANDON:

Okay. So then you also have the 2019 Forbes Women's Summit.

CHARDIA:

Yes. And it's interesting. Although both are women's summit, this event was right in New York at Chelsea Piers. And that event is awesome. We garnered such amazing speakers. We had Eva Longoria, we had Jennifer Garner. These were the whole roster of speakers. Moira Forbes, this is her baby. This is an event that she puts a lot of time and energy into curating and she really wants it to be perfect. And you can see from the moment you get on site, from all the work that the team does to make this a special unique experience. Even when I was talking to the attendees there, they were all in awe about the quality of attendee, the quality of speaker. To have that level of star power in one room and people were stopping to talk. So you could be on the way to the bathroom and you might actually bump into someone that is famous. It's just like those little unique experiences.

And then the level of camaraderie that was happening at the event. On top of panel conversations, we also worked with sponsors to have really fun interactive activations. So there was a coffee machine that had custom image of some of the speakers. We had one that was like Serena Williams. Just cool things like that that just enhanced the experience.

In the past I'd worked at companies where we would have these types of events and whatever the sponsor wanted to do, they just did. And I think with Forbes, we really try to guide the sponsor experience so that they're creating meaningful activations that can actually build the event, so that when people are walking, they're creating... you have a set of Instagramable moments. And I think our team is really doing a good job of that and women's summit was a great, great example of that. We had more people than we had had in the past, which was awesome. And the conversation just kept going and you could see it by all the shares that we got all over the place with all these different media outlets. It was just a really good time and people left feeling really empowered.

BRANDON:

For sure. Okay. 2019 Forbes Opportunities Zone Summit.

CHARDIA:

Yeah. That event was a new one for us as well. This event was based a lot around new legislation that came through where... And I'm sure I'm going to be botching this in some way. But essentially, it gives corporations or people that have access to wealth to be able to invest in a community that is of need. Newark, New Jersey for example, counts as an opportunity zone. And once you get branded as an opportunities zone, that means that through this new piece of legislature you're able to get funding. So if a celebrity, maybe is from Newark and wants to devote a lot of energy and time and work with the community board to make stuff happen on a bigger scale, they're able to do that and get resources and get a tax write off because of it. I would encourage anyone to really read up on it because it's still very new and it's still moving.

But it was one event that I have to say that I was so proud to be a part of, just listening through all the different stories from all the different panelists about how some of these neighborhoods, they're filled with so much love and joy and people that just want more opportunities, and they want to be able to see their town lifted up in some way. So to have a place where people have that access and have that money can put resources into a community and help it grow. It's just a great thing. And there's a lot of controversy surrounding the idea because like anything else, gentrification is a thing and we don't want people to be displaced, but that's part of this legislation where it's not to displace people. It's supposed to be to uplift the current neighborhood and just build it out in a way that keeps families there but opening doors for more opportunities for growth.

BRANDON:

That's so cool. And so this summit focused on that, specifically had lots content around that.

CHARDIA:

Yeah. And we had, Charlemagne was on, a T.I. came and spoke. So, it spoke to the power of the Forbes brand, but also the power of the content. And these guys, their panel was just amazing to listen to. I don't think anybody walked out without feeling inspired in some capacity. And the staff included, we all were just like, "Yay, this is awesome." It was really great experience, yeah.

BRANDON:

Okay. The final one in this quick overview is the 2019 Forbes AgTech Summit.

CHARDIA:

I love this event. Before this year, I hadn't actually attended. I had marketed it, but I'd never actually went. This was my first year going. The event was held in Salinas, California. And I think it was really a way to talk about Ag and technology and how the two worlds merge. And even for someone... I grew up in the Bronx, so I don't see farms. I just never grew up around that. So to be able to be on these farms and actually see and hear from these experts that are really talking through how this product is picked, and the difference between a regular egg that you might have at the grocery store and something that's farm raised. Just things that you just don't even think about when you're a consumer in the city. You just buy whatever's in the grocery store.

And I have to say, we had a sponsor, I think Driscoll's that have these strawberries and it was so freaking good. I hadn't had strawberries that good and I don't know why because I've been talking about these strawberries since I left the conference. But they literally were... They tasted so much better. And it just spoke to the importance of agriculture and technology, and why it's important to have fresh products and fresh produce, and how you don't want all these pesticides on your products. And educating the average consumer too on what you should purchase and what you shouldn't and how technology plays a big part in that.

My favorite part of the summit outside of the amazing content and speakers was the food. Our event manager, Lindsay, did such a great job in putting together such a great menu. And I think you have to, because you're dealing with people that are used to fresh food. But there was a pokey station and there was amazing fresh cheeses and meats and fruit. And I think it made the event even more special because people were, even during their breaks getting experiences that really fed all their senses. And it left me walking away saying, we really need to find a way to incorporate food as a sensory factor in every event that we do because I think it really added a great element to the events.

So we definitely are constantly looking for new ways. I think the event landscape is very populated, so we're competing with everybody and everybody that's trying to put on an event. But I think our team is constantly looking for new ways to take it to the next step. So AgTech was definitely one of my favorites.

BRANDON:

Okay, great. So a bunch of different types of events. It just amazes me like the amount of flexibility, the amount of adaptation that's required for these different segments and reaching out to them and getting them all fired up. I mean, as you mentioned, you're working with a big team, different members are specializing in different aspects, but even just from a promotional perspective and driving those registrations in that audience for it.

CHARDIA:

I mean, honestly it's actually a small team. I think that's probably one of the biggest misconceptions. Is that Forbes is a million people and we have all these teams that do everything. ForbesLive, these individuals that I work with, they're probably some of the hardest working people that I've had to work with. It's sometimes a lot of late nights and missed opportunities with families and friends, but everybody cares a lot about what they're doing and the product that we're putting out, and we recognize that there's room for improvement. But on audience development, it's four of us managing all of the audience for every single event that Forbes does. In programming, there's like three people.

We like to say that we're very scrappy and we just roll up our sleeves and get it done. No job is too small. So it's really a testament to the team that we make it happen.

BRANDON:

Great. And I think the perfect example of this is what is arguably your biggest event of the year, the Under 30 Summit. I think this event is particularly cool. I think it relates to the opportunities zones that we were discussing earlier. I know that you are working with different members from an audience generation standpoint as well and it's huge. You mentioned it had over 10,000–

CHARDIA:

We're trying to get–

BRANDON:

Shooting for 10,000 attendees.

CHARDIA:

Yeah, we're trying to get 10,000 attendees.

This event is awesome. We've been doing it in Boston for the past couple of years and this year we have a partnership with the City of Detroit and it's really important for us to get everyone involved. So it's something that every single person in this company touches in some capacity. When I say all hands on deck, this event... I think my first day I heard about this summit. It's just one of those events that it is our largest one that we produce, and it's almost like sub events within the event as well, so it really requires a heavy attention to detail. It requires a lot of project management and it requires us just working together to get it done. Mary Margaret, we actually just hired her on our team because we recognize that when we're working on all these different events at once, that we really needed someone dedicated to Under 30 Detroit specifically.

So she's been great. She's been the main person overseeing all of it, but every person on the team is working on it in some capacity. So we might get asked to pull a list or help with an email, or just anything. It's kind of like we definitely do the most in terms of marketing for this event, we have probably the biggest budget devoted to this event, rightfully so. Even our social campaigns. I'm sure if you've gone on our website once, I'm sure you've been targeted.

BRANDON:

Oh, I have.

CHARDIA:

I'm sure you've seen one of those ads pop up, but we're really excited about it. We locked Serena Williams recently, and our roster is constantly growing with CEOs in major organizations. So we're really excited about this one this year. All of our team members are working together to make it happen.

There's going to be a food festival and there's going major panel conversations with key players. We also have, it's like park concert. It's like the best of both worlds and quite frankly it's really, really affordable for the amount of days that we have at this summit. So I recommend anybody to just go online and check out pricing. Shameless plug. Honestly, even the conferences that... Sidney and I just went to a conference and it was over $1,000 for, I think it was about two to three days. And this is significantly less than that, and it's way more involved and way more in depth. And, one of the major points here is it's for people that are young professionals. You don't have to be under 30, people always ask that. But it is for young professionals to build their tribe and foster their community.

And we have a predominant bunch of our attendee pool is from the under 30 list, which is again, these are some of the brightest young minds in the world. So they're coming to network and make friends and these kids are so down to earth, they're so relatable, but they're super smart. And I think even from a general attendee standpoint, wanting to just jump in and be a part of that, you're able to walk away with major movers and shakers in your database of friends. And everyone's looking to make connections there. So I think it's an awesome experience. It's unlike any event I've ever worked on in my entire career, and I think this year is going to be even better than last.

BRANDON:

Very cool. Okay. I want to shift the conversation to you. I'm curious, you worked at a bunch of different companies under some great leaders, and been at Forbes for sometime. You're also just seem to be pretty knowledgeable about the marketing and event space in general. Who's an influential marketing or events executive that you think is a leader in the field or has been an influence to you?

CHARDIA:

I can say... I'm going to answer that in a two-part answer.

BRANDON:

Let's do it.

CHARDIA:

One, I would actually say that instead of focusing it on the big players in this space, what I've been inspired most from is the young players that are like on YouTube, and they're out here. These young content creators. I've been in awe just watching how they have managed to navigate and do what big brands have been struggling to do forever. And that's create content that matters, create followers that are truly engaged in what they're selling. And as a brand, that's the goal. You don't want to have to sell to anyone, but you want people to organically be interested in what it is that you have to say and to buy into what you're saying.

And there's a whole team of young people out there right now that are masters on YouTube. That have no big budgets behind them, they don't have access to all these marketing teams and social media strategists. They're just regular kids that know what it is that they want to sell and the message that they want to put out there. They're collecting this mass audience and they're doing it better than some of us who've been in the industry for years. So I think I get inspired by that and I'm always trying to look at what they're doing because they have their eye on the ball. Like they know exactly how to reach their target, and I think we can learn a lot... Especially some people that have been in the industry for a long time, we can all learn a lot from these young professionals that are out there just saying, "Hey, I want to do makeup and this is my pain point. And I think it's probably a lot of other people's pain point and this is how I'm going to go about sharing my message and my story." Just that honesty and that level of transparency and being able to relate to your audience in that kind of way, I get inspired by that a lot when I see these guys doing it.

So definitely it's more the grassroots efforts that I'm seeing that are winning that really inspire me. I think outside of that, on a more personal level, just my parents. My family is from Guyana. My mom and dad both came here, and they didn't have much resources or help or anything like that. And I think that they've taught me that if I want to get ahead, I have to work hard, and I have to put all my energy and resources into being the best version of myself I can be, and I would be nowhere without them. So I think that they have definitely played such a significant role when you talk about sacrifice, when you talk about really having to maybe miss some birthdays or dinners. And they never missed a birthday, just for correction. They're going to kill me. They would be like, "We never missed your birthday."

But sometimes you have to miss things. Like you might miss concerts or things like that because you have to stay at work late. And me watching my mom work all throughout my career and even as a kid, it really instilled in me the importance of going to work, importance of working hard and sacrifice, and the fact that, "Yeah, dad wants to come to everything, but maybe he has to work late because we need to make sure that the lights are on, and we need to make sure that you're fed." And understanding that at a young age was super critical to me because I just like it from a young age taught me the value of hard work and the value of sacrifice. And I think they are by far my biggest inspiration for sure.

BRANDON:

Wow. I love it. Okay. So if you could go back earlier in your career and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

CHARDIA:

I think I would tell my younger self that not everybody's going to like you. And that's okay. I think that when you're coming up, you want so badly to be liked by everyone. And even when people say they don't care and they don't care what people think, they do care. And you too want to be seen as an expert and you do want to get ahead, but you have to also understand that even sometimes your boss may not recognize how great you are. You know what I'm saying? And it's important for you to know that and for you to surround yourself with people who lift you up in that way, so you don't get stifled because someone else's version of who they think you are isn't who you become.

So I look back on certain situations and sexism exists, racism exists. There's a lot of situations. I remember interviewing for a role and being told that I should be in sales because I was pretty. And a woman said that to me. There's a lot of different things that you go through in your career that will start making you doubt your seat at the table. And I think it's really important that if you're young that, although I want you to be humble, and I want you to not be afraid to start at the bottom, understand that you can have aspirations, and you can keep going and don't let anybody, even if they're senior, more senior than you, make you feel like you can't get to that next step. Because if you work hard, you can literally achieve anything you want to.

BRANDON:

So important to hear. I guess the final question I have for you is, amidst all of this, amidst all of the hustle and bustle that you're in, how do you sort of take a step back, like take a breather and get refreshed?

CHARDIA:

That's a great question. It's funny. When I started this job and even before that... Anybody who knows me, knows I'm a workaholic. I am very passionate about my job. And if you ask my husband, he'll say I talk about it way too much. But it's hard to find the balance sometimes. Last year, I was actually in the process of planning my wedding, and it was during the same time that we had our Forbes Under 30 Summit, and I know that I was prioritizing work over my personal life. And this is your wedding. It's like the most important day in your life. But I couldn't break myself away. And what that taught me, after a few tears and breakdowns was, "Chardia, get yourself together." Like you have to prioritize what matters. If I die tomorrow, I'm not going to say, "Well, I planned that great event." You want make sure that you're prioritizing your family, your friends, the people that matter.

And one of the initiatives that I put in place this year was I wanted to make sure that process, and we are working smarter and not harder. So with the help my right hand Sidney, we were able to put together processes in place and really streamline efforts to make sure that we were managing up better, to make sure that we were building a system better. We were working with companies like Bizzabo to help us through the process, and instead of spending hours on Excel reports, seeing if that's something that a tech company could do for us. And so that it's an easy pool.

So there're certain things that we felt was really necessary in the beginning of this year to set the stage for the rest of the year. And we're still working through a lot of the ins and outs. But I can say significantly by far that this year has been way better than the year past. And it's because of those processes that we put in place and valuing that balance.

I think Michelle Obama had said something like, "There is no such thing as work-life balance." Something has to give, and that's the truth. So you have to kind of sit down with yourself and say, "Okay, my work is important, but my family is more important. My friends and my relationships are more important. So how can I be the best version of myself in the office but also devote the time that my family needs and make that the priority first and foremost?" Because everything you're doing is for them.

I think some of the things that I've challenged myself to do once we put that process in place is relying on your team. So instead of... It's hard for type A personalities to relinquish duties, but having a good team in place, it helps you decide, "Okay, I know that I trained her to do X, Y and Z, and she can handle it. And I don't need to check on her every five seconds because I trained her and I know she can handle it. And if she needs me, she knows how to reach me." And being able to empower your younger team to be able to rise up, and we've been seeing that all throughout. So it's been really, really great to do that. And taking mental notes if you're in days off if you need, and traveling, and just remembering what you're doing this all for. So it's been great. Honestly, this has been a really, really good year for me, so I hope it continues.

BRANDON:

Lovely. I think that's something that a lot of our listeners can identify with as well, especially in marketing, and in events, where you have such high pressure, you have these deadlines that-

CHARDIA:

Absolutely.

BRANDON:

... you need to hit. You can always be doing something more to get those registration numbers up and to-

CHARDIA:

No. Can I just say that we... There was a colleague of mine that I worked with at NewBay, his name is Tony Savona. Shout out to Tony.

BRANDON:

Shout out.

CHARDIA:

I remember we would be so overworked and overwhelmed and I remember going into his office and we would vent And I would say... He said to me, he said, "You know, there used to be a time where you would throw more time on something and it would get better. So if you were behind on a project, you would come in early or you would stay late and that would be the solve. And you did that for a couple of weeks and then you caught up and you were good to go." But the reality is, in events, that's just not the case. There's always going to be more to do. And I'm sure events is not the only industry that's like this, but I'm just speaking from my experience.

So because of that, it's not about staying late and coming in early. The work is going to still be there and there's always going to be more work because there's always areas to improve. So you have to set the tone of how you want to navigate your life and figure out how can I be the best version and still hold my work up to the standard that I need it to be, but also time and understand that it's okay to take a day off, and it's okay say, "Hey, I need a minute to recharge and know that that's not going to be the end-all be-all." You know?

BRANDON:

Definitely. All right. Well, I think that's our time for today, but thank you so much for joining us Chardia.

CHARDIA:

No, this is great. Thank you, Brandon.

BRANDON:

It's so cool to hear not only about the stuff that you're doing at ForbesLive, which is very, very cool, but also, I think especially your perspectives on work-life balance and navigating a career. It's just really, really valuable.

CHARDIA:

Awesome. Thanks Brandon. This is great.