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12 | Karl Vontz, Rubicon Project: Dog Parks, Vikings, Award Shows, and Representation

  • August 28, 2019
  • 35:18

Karl Vontz (VP of Brand Experience at Rubicon Project) discusses the quirky expertise of awards shows, speaking to the aspirations of your audience, and what it takes to push for diversity and representation in events.

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Top Takeaways

1

FALLING INTO EVENTS: Karl serendipitously fell into events expecting it would be a short-lived excursion. However, after spending time understanding what he really wanted in a career—traveling and meeting new people—he realized events were the perfect fit. “And when I looked at what it is to produce events and trade shows and festivals and all that kind of stuff, it ticked so many of the boxes that it surprised me.”

2

CREATING FOR YOUR AUDIENCE'S ASPIRATIONS: Karl learned a great deal during his time producing award shows. For example, during the CLIO Healthcare Awards, Karl realized healthcare professionals, who generally live in a conservative and buttoned-up world, yearn for events typical of creative agencies that capture a fun, quirky, and more innovative and casual feel. “What I’ve learned throughout my career is don’t produce an event for your audience. Produce the event for your audience’s aspirations. Produce it for who they want to be.”

3

FIGHTING FOR DIVERSITY: Introducing more female representation in jury committees for award shows and recruiting more female speakers for summits and conferences are important goals for Karl. At the CLIO Awards, he introduced more women in non-executive level roles to participate as jurors. This allowed for more balanced jury committees without compromising on the caliber of professional experience or insights. “If you don't acknowledge the difference, if you don't take note of what your current situation is and how far you need to go, you can't measure whether you're making success or not.”

ABOUT Karl Vontz

Karl has a long history of working in events and festivals from the Shorty Awards to the Lions Festival and Clio Awards—among others. He’s worked with leading brands like The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and Adweek. In 2012, he was named the Most Innovative Event Pro by BizBash Media.

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:

Hi there, Karl, thanks for joining the show today.

KARL:

Thanks for having me.

BRANDON:

Awesome. So I'd like to start off today's conversation with a really important question, something that's really close to my heart and I understand that something that's close to yours as well. Dog parks.

KARL:

Yes.

BRANDON:

Could you... what do you think of them?

KARL:

Well, I have a dog park in my community that is, it's a really great place to go socialize to meet your neighbors and hang out. But it is quite the controversial place. That there's, if the dogs don't get into fights, the neighbors tend to get into fights. And I think one of the biggest controversial things is whether or not you rescue a dog, which mine is not rescued. So if anybody ever asked me where I got my dog, I always just tell them that it's a rescue because I don't know what it is like in the rest of the country, but in Los Angeles, if you get a dog from a breeder, there's this social stigma to it, that people just think it's terrible if you don't go rescue a dog, but the only problem is in LA, the only dogs that you find at the rescue are pit bulls or chihuahuas. And I didn't want a pit bull or a chihuahua. So.

BRANDON:

So what did you end up with?

KARL:

I got an Australian shepherd. And the funny part about it is that the coat on the dog is called a blue merle. And if you don't know what an Australian shepherd is, most people think it's a mutt. So if they think it's a mix, I just let them believe it.

BRANDON:

Wow.

KARL:

They'll usually ask a question like, "Oh, what, what, what mix is your dog? Do you know?" And I'll just say, "Yeah, I don't know." And just leave it at that.

BRANDON:

Okay. Well I guess with that big question out of the way, we should probably talk about the things that we're really here to talk about, which is the fact that you are the VP of brand experience at Rubicon Project. And this is a leading technology company, automating the buying and selling of advertising for businesses like Spotify, Reuters, Business Insider, and Financial Times. So to set the stage for the rest of our conversation today, Karl, could you share a little bit more about Rubicon Project and your role at the company there?

KARL:

Yeah, I mean this is a really difficult one and this is a question that I get asked by a lot of people, especially if I'm talking to friends and family. Trying to explain what Rubicon Project is is kind of difficult, but I think the easiest way to do it is, this is kind of like the iTunes for digital advertising. So on one side you have all the agencies that want to buy digital advertising and on the other side you have all the publishers, like Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, things like that. And the previous way in which we did business is that somebody from the Wall Street Journal would go call on every single agency and sell a package to them. It could be something as simple as you're going to premiere movie on Labor Day and they want to do a homepage takeover. You have to do a deal directly with the Wall Street Journal.

The way program advertising work is done is it's all automated now. So we are the technology that connects the agency to the publisher so that all this stuff can be done digitally. That's probably the easiest way to say it. In reality it's very complicated and we consider ourselves an exchange very similar to the New York Stock Exchange. And there are a hundred different ways to buy and sell advertising. But if you just think of it as iTunes for digital advertising, it's the easiest way to think about it.

BRANDON:

So it sounds like you are able to assist organizations with getting ads at a pretty large scale. How did this compare to something like say Google ads?

KARL:

It's pretty similar in the fact that we partnered with Google and using Rubicon is one of the ways that you can transact in buying and selling advertising. And it's the same thing that you would do with Google. So it's funny because in some ways Google is a competitor to ours, to our company, and in other ways they are one of our partners.

BRANDON:

Got it. Okay. So as VP brand experience there, how are you assisting Rubicon Project in their mission?

KARL:

Yeah, so I think for my garbled explanation of what Rubicon is, I think you get the idea. This is a really complicated industry. We need to do an amazing amount of face to face, because we're constantly explaining to our clients what's new, what's different, what does this mean to them, how can they benefit from it. So we need to spend a lot of time in front of them.

So what I'm in charge of is two things. One is I'm in charge of all of those face to face client experiences. And I'm also in charge of how our brand is experienced by not only our own people but our clients as well. I'd say it's a part of it is that visual aspect. All the graphics you see, logos, colors, look and feel. Are we quirky, are we serious, are we modern? That kind of thing mixed with being face to face. And it can be whether we are participating in another major event or producing our own.

BRANDON:

Got it. Okay. So when it comes to the event side of things, what types of activations, events are you or Rubicon Project typically running?

KARL:

It breaks down really into two nice buckets. One is we're either activating a sponsorship at a major event, like the Consumer Electronics Show or Cannes Lions or we're producing our own events and we get benefit out of doing both of those. So if we're activating at a major event, we're activating there because most of our clients are there and we can set up meetings with them. If we're doing our own event, it's because we want to spend a lot of time really doing deep dives into the technology of what Rubicon is doing and how that impacts our clients.

BRANDON:

Okay. And which one do you personally find to be more fun between the activations and the hosted events?

KARL:

They can both be fun. It really depends on the event. But I would say whenever we produce our own events, especially as an event producer, you get carte blanche, so to speak, that I get to create absolutely everything from the ground up. I get to pick the venue. I get to pick the timing. I get to pick the furniture. I get to pick the food. I get to create the experience that our clients have. So if I want that to be very casual, I can make it casual. If I want it to be very upscale, I can do that. If I want to have white glove service for our most important clients, I can do that as well. So for me, obviously producing our own events is my preference and the more I have to do the better. Some people kind of want to move into a venue where a lot of stuff has already set for them. I don't like that. I like to have a completely blank space so that I can control absolutely every bit of the experience that someone has.

BRANDON:

Great. And so, I mean right now it sounds like you're exercising quite a bit of authority when it comes to the strategy of in-person experiences at Rubicon Project. And I understand you have a long history of doing this in other roles. You've worked on a number of award shows and festivals, things like the Shorty Awards, the CLIO Awards, as you mentioned, Cannes Lions Festival, you've worked there in another capacity, the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Could you tell us a little bit more about your journey through these different roles and how they led you to where you are today?

KARL:

Yeah, I mean, it's kind of interesting. I think I have a lot in common with a lot of people that produce events around the world and that is, I don't know how many people actually go to school to want to be an event person. I think it's one of these things that you just kind of fall into.

For me personally, I was unemployed at one point and I was sleeping on a friend's couch and his girlfriend got tired of me sleeping on the couch, so she woke me up one morning and said, "You're coming to work with me." And it was for a trade show company and it was one of those things, I really didn't think that I wanted to do it for a living. They wound up offering me a full time job and I originally turned it down. This isn't what I want to do, but when I kind of thought about what is it that I want to do, I wanted to be able to travel, I wanted to be able to meet people. And there was this whole list of things that I had in my mind of what I wanted in my career. And when I looked at what it is to produce events and trade shows and festivals and all that kind of stuff, it ticked so many of the boxes that it surprised me. And I said I guess this is what I want to do.

As it relates to things like the CLIO Awards and Shorty Awards, I kind of fell into that as well. I was working for an entertainment company producing the Billboard Music Awards and the company that owned Billboard also owned the Hollywood Reporter and Ad Week and CLIO. And one of the best ways for them to showcase their brand was through awards. So I'm sure you're familiar with the Billboard Charts and Billboard has a R&B Hip Hop Awards and the Country Music Awards and the Latin Music Awards. And I, at some point became an expert in producing award shows.

But I also have a background working for an advertising agency and I found a lot of interest in that creative side. And I loved working with agencies. So I started producing award shows for Ad Week and that led to producing the CLIO Awards, which led to producing Cannes Lion and Shorty Awards and things like that.

So it kind of just is one of those strange things where I didn't mean to have a specialty in producing award shows. It's a kind of a niche space. But there's a lot of quirkiness around award shows and what people react to and what they don't react to. And as you kind of watch human behavior and watch what they do, you'll learn a lot. And I developed a specialty in award shows. So I try to use what I learned there and how people react and what they want and who they want to be. I use that in terms of how I think about almost every event that I produce.

BRANDON:

Wow, that sounds really interesting. Could you tell us a little bit more about some of that quirkiness, about identifying those things that work and those things that don't work so well?

KARL:

Yeah, I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is when I produced the CLIO Healthcare Awards, one of the things that makes healthcare different from regular advertising is that it's regulated here in the United States by the FDA. And so a lot of people, when you watch those commercials on TV and they're very vague and they say things like if you think you're having lower leg pain, you might benefit from this drug and they ask you to go to your doctor. And these are really weird things to do. And what I've said to people before is imagine if Nike couldn't actually say what their shoes do and they couldn't say they were faster, stronger, better, or any of those kinds of things. Because everything that you say from a drug related perspective has to be proven clinically, and so you wind up with so many rules and regulations that you wind up saying just a whole bunch of generic crap, if I can say that word. It's just you watch these commercials-

BRANDON:

Oh yeah. We're going to have to sensor crap from this one. Yeah. Yeah.

KARL:

It's just it's one of those things where you just wind up with gobbledygook and all the ads on TV wind up looking the same. So when we started producing the Healthcare Awards, it was really to try to delineate what makes award-winning healthcare ads and what kind of hoops that they have to jump through. And one of the things that I found out about the audience is they live in a coat and tie world. It's a very conservative world. The people that work in healthcare advertising spend a lot of time with pharmaceutical companies and it's a lot of rules and regulations.

And they do a lot of black tie events. And so when we started to produce the awards, we went and asked them and said, "What do you want from a an award show?" And they all said, almost on cue, the same thing, "Whatever you do, do not make it a sit down dinner. Do not be black tie. Do not have a red carpet."

What they really wanted is they wanted to be seen like consumer agency creatives, which are very funky, creative, fun people. And what they really wanted was that kind of environment. And so what I've learned throughout my career is don't produce an event for your audience. Produce the event for your audience's aspirations. Produce it for who they want to be. So if they want to be treated like a rock star, if they think they're rock stars, treat them like rock stars. Right?

And so in this case, what we did for healthcare was we made it super casual. We even had to in our invites show people how to dress, right. We had to tell them that you can't wear khakis, you can't wear a blue Oxford, you can't tuck in your shirt, you can't wear penny loafers. We try to go for every cliche and say you can't do this. Now here's some examples of things that you can do. And we basically would take pictures of agency creatives from the consumer side and say this is what you want to look like. And they loved it. They absolutely loved it. And we tried to... with every aspect of the award show, we tried to bring that kind of attitude towards it and say how do we make this different, how do we not make this a formal event, and it, it worked extremely well.

BRANDON:

Wow. No, I could see how that having that aspirational mindset when you're creating an event can really help resonate with your audience. One thing that is sort of funny to me, Karl, is that you've mentioned that when we were doing our prep call you said, I couldn't find anybody whose dislikes events more than you. And of course-

KARL:

That's correct.

BRANDON:

... you've been involved with events for quite some time and it seems like evidently you have quite a knack for it. So what do you dislike about events and how does this perspective that you have or had influence your approach to events today?

KARL:

Well, there's two ways to look at this. I mean, there's two kinds of events that I hate. It's once I have to go to for work and ones my friends drag me to. And so they kind of had different effects, right? So if my friends are dragging me to an event, I'm worried is it crowded, is it going to be hot, do we have a VIP space. I'm worried about can I get food, can I go to the bathroom. All of these kinds of things that are going to inconvenience my life. Right.

When it comes to a work event, I'm worried that they're going to want me to do goofy icebreakers or they're going to want me to do some kind of exercise where you stick a spoon with a string down your shirt and then it's got to go up someone else's shirt. There's all sorts of things that I absolutely hate, trust falls and things like that that people make jokes about. But they still, I think what happens in today's world is the trust fall has just been modernized, but in essence it's still a trust fall. You're still with a bunch of people from different offices that you may or may not know. And the company's trying to force a social interaction that could not be more awkward.

And so I take all of these experiences and I really enjoy producing events because I'm always thinking how do I... what would, what do I want? I want a place where I have plenty of room to move around, where it's easy to go to the bathroom, where there's great food. I don't want rubber chicken. So I try to take all of these things and put them together.

And especially with our internal events, I kind of built a little bit of that reputation that we do... for instance, I'll give you an example. We do our annual global sales meeting in a different city every year and we try to celebrate that city. So we went to New Orleans one year and we wanted to make sure that we had all of this special New Orleans food. So we had crawfish etouffee and jambalaya and shrimp, crawfish. We did a crawfish boil out in the bayou. We wanted to make sure that we had a jazz band come in one day. And so we really kind of celebrate that and make sure that we had the very best of the best. I would never allow the generic national beer brands to be at one of our events. I make sure that it's always local microbrews.

And so we just take it all the way down to the finest details, every single decision that we make. We try to make sure that you're going to have fantastic food, you're going to be comfortable. We're going to do everything we can to eliminate all those weird social awkward moments so that you don't have to dread going to a company event.

BRANDON:

Yeah, and I think there was another internal example you shared with me as well.

KARL:

Yes, yes. Yeah, actually that was really cool. It just so happened that when we were going to be doing our global sales meeting in Reykjavik, which Reykjavik was one of these great locations where you wouldn't think about using that as a venue for one of these kinds of events and for us it was a no brainer, mostly because half of our people are in Europe and half are in the United States and Reykjavik is right in the middle. So geographically, in terms of how long the flights were and how much the flights cost, that was a really great choice for us, but also because it's a very unique place.

And a lot of people were asking me as they were preparing for the trip, what are you going to do about the season premiere for Game of Thrones, because it's the final season. And everybody was really excited about it. And I was like, "Oh wow." I knew that if I didn't do something that everyone could watch Game of Thrones with each other, that they would find ways to sneak out of our event to go watch Game of Thrones.

So I reached out to some of my friends in the entertainment business and partnered with HBO and HBO Nordic helped us to do a premiere and we really wanted to just... a lot of the scenes in Game of Thrones are filmed in Iceland. So we found a Viking longhouse about 30 miles outside of Reykjavik that is, I mean, you feel like you're back in the 1800s and it is... you feel like you're right in the middle of Game of Thrones and you're right in the middle of Viking country. And so we had a really big dinner and party there and then we did the premiere in this Viking longhouse and it was amazing. People absolutely loved it.

BRANDON:

Wow.

KARL:

It's a celebration of the event. It made it a lot of fun. People got into it. We had some of our folks wearing Viking outfits and that's the kind of thing and it gets me excited when the people I'm producing the events for are excited.

BRANDON:

Wow, that sounds amazing. I had no idea about the Viking longhouse and that whole entire element of it. It sounds very immersive.

KARL:

It's great. I'm happy to share photos with you at some time. I mean, it was a lot of fun. It's got the grass on the roof, on the outside and everything and it's... we even hired a bunch of Viking strongmen, which that's one of those things where I thought that might be really goofy to hire a bunch of strongmen, but the production company that I was working with in Iceland said, "No, trust me, you know, people really like this." I said, "All right, I'm going to trust you." And it was hilarious. These guys came with-

BRANDON:

What did the Vikings do?

KARL:

Well they, it sounds... this is one of those things that, it sounds stupid, but it was really funny. They brought in various sizes of what you can only describe as small boulders, right? These giant rocks. And I don't know how much they weighed. I mean I think the smallest one was 150 pounds. The biggest one might've been 400, 500 pounds. And these guys would pick people out of the audience who wanted to participate in this and see if they could... they showed them techniques that you wouldn't hurt your back and whatnot. And everyone kind of gathered around in a circle and would watch various people try to pick these things up. And as stupid as it sounds, it was hilarious. Everybody loved it. It was a great thing to kind of get everybody kind of rallied around one thing.

BRANDON:

It sounds like a far cry from the typical trust fall.

KARL:

I hope so.

BRANDON:

No, it sounds like-

KARL:

I hope so. I mean, that's my dreaded moment, that anyone would ever accuse me of hosting a trust fall.

BRANDON:

Well, yeah, no. This included giant boulders, strong men and feats of strength. So very cool.

KARL:

Exactly.

BRANDON:

I love it. So whether you're looking at an internal event, like say this Game of Thrones experience in Reykjavik, or you're looking at an external event, how are you thinking about evaluating the success?

KARL:

There's a lot of ways that you can look at it. I mean, the most important thing really, especially when we're dealing with events that we're doing for clients, is I go to the sales team and I ask them what are the goals that you're trying to achieve, and almost always there are goals in that quarter that they're trying to achieve, that we want to have so many implementations with our clients, so many upgrades with our clients. And in order to do that, we have to do the numbers backwards.

So let's say for instance, we want to implement a new technology and we want 10 clients to take on this new technology in this particular quarter. In order to do that, we're going to have to set up say 50 meetings and in order set up 50 meetings, we're going to have to reach out to 200 clients. And so we kind of do the numbers backwards from there. And so whatever the event is, and however it's organized, we start measuring the interactions, the number of clients we're inviting to the event, the number of clients that have RSVP'd to the event, the number of clients that have accepted the meetings. And then we follow the outcomes through to the end to see how many implementations we get.

BRANDON:

Got it. So it sounds like there's a great deal of communication and coordination among different teams.

KARL:

Yeah. And I think the example I gave you is pretty clear cut and I think a lot of people can relate to that, but I think a lot of times they're not so clear cut and people kind of say well I don't really know how to measure the success of this event because it's not like we have a product that we're selling a particular number of or it can't be tracked because of the way in which it's sold.

And so what you have to do is you have to take your internal stake holders, the people that you are producing the event for, and ask them what are your goals, what do you want to get out of this event. So it could be anything from there's an education that we need to achieve or we need to do team bonding. And I will ask people, "Okay, team bonding, how do you define that?" And it's really about getting to the bottom of it because if you have an agreed language and an agreed goal and you find a way in which, okay, if something's too nebulous to be measured, you have to continue the conversation until you find something that can be measured. How do you define that? If you say, well, I just need everyone to be... I need people to network. How do you define networking? Right? Because it's a little bit different for everybody.

They have to be able to set yourself up for success here, because if my version of networking is different than say my chief revenue officers version of networking, we're going to have a problem, because we could come out of an event, I could think it's very successful and he doesn't. So it's important that if I'm producing an event for the sales team that I understand from sales leadership what they think networking is and how we define that and how we measure that.

BRANDON:

Throughout your career it seems like there've been a lot of these instances where you're working with other stakeholders, be they internal or external, to sort of drive specific initiatives or outcomes. One thing that really stands out to me from our previous conversation is your focus on diversity in events and specifically in gender equity. And I know this was a really big focus with you in the past with the CLIO Awards and moving forward from there and some other different events. Specifically, I know that you shared a statistic that 3% of chief creative officers worldwide are women, only 3%. And I know that this speaks to some of the, a lot of the work that we need to do in the agency world, but there also is a huge gap in the tech world as well. So could you share with us a little bit about how throughout your career you have worked towards gender equity in the event experience?

KARL:

Yeah, and this is definitely something that started with the CLIO Awards and you're right with that 3% number. A woman by the name of Cindy Gallop started an organization called the 3% Org and it was all about that statistic that came out at one time. That statistic may have changed slightly now, but I think it's still pretty dang close, that roughly 3% of all chief creative officers are women. And in the agency world, that's a challenge when you're the CLIO Awards or Cannes Lions or the Shorty Awards. When you put together a jury and you say okay, well I want a jury that's 50% women because we want to achieve some kind of equality here, but only 3% of them are chief creative officers. It's very difficult to put together a jury because that was one of our rules is that you had to be a chief creative officer in order to serve on one of our juries.

But this is one of those things where you have to be willing to bend a little in order to achieve your goals. And you have to kind of say to yourself is it more important that every single person that serves on a jury be a chief creative officer or is it more important to achieve gender equality? In our particular case, with the CLIO Awards, we thought it's much more important to achieve gender equality. After all, the end product of advertising is going out to everybody in the world, right? Half the world is male and half the world is female. And so it's kind of ridiculous to have only men judging the quality of advertising. Right? So in order for us to achieve that, a higher number than 3%, we had to change the rules. So the rules being that it's chief creative officer, we said okay, we'll take an executive creative director or we'll take a creative director if we have to.

Second is, we used to say that with the men on the jury that you can only serve once every three years. And we would say okay, well for the women they can serve every year. And so we kept having to kind of bend our rules a little bit in order to make sure that we got gender equality. There was a little bit of squawking at first. Are we compromising the quality and experience of people on the jury because we're bending those rules? And the thing is is that the women were simply not getting the opportunities in their careers to achieve those titles, to be in those positions. But it was clear once they got on the jury, they had every bit the same amount of experience and quality of experience that the men had. And it changed the dynamic and the men really appreciate it as well because it's not just a bunch of guys sitting around talking about this. It elevated the conversation, it made it more sophisticated. And we got a lot of kudos in the industry for doing that.

And I think this year, in fact, every year we move that number up. So the first year we really pushed on this initiative. We had about 10% women. The following year it was 15 and then it was 20. This year in particular was the first year that the CLIO Awards achieved a 50% male, female gender equal jury. And even though I'm not involved with CLIO anymore yet, kudos to Nicole Purcell, who is the president of the CLIO Awards. She did a wonderful job of driving that initiative.

And we're facing that same issue in technology right now, that we have such a predominance of men and the industry, especially at senior levels, that when we're putting together our summits, we go out of our way to find women in the industry that can speak to the issues that we are wanting to host. And it has been nothing but good news. That thought that because there's not enough women in the industry that you're not going to have the most experienced person on stage. That's totally false. When we put them on stage, they have done absolutely fantastic. They have all the same experience as men but they're not getting the same opportunities in their careers. And so we're starting on our side and doing what we can.

BRANDON:

Aside from what we already discussed, do you have any other pieces of advice for working towards diversity and gender equality?

KARL:

It's got to be a goal, it's simple as that. If you don't acknowledge the difference, if you don't take note of what your current situation is and how far you need to go, you can't measure whether you're making success or not and there is going to be pushback. There's always going to be push back because in order to get gender equality, in order to get racial equality, in order to get these things recognized on stage, sometimes you have to bend the rules a little bit to make sure that you put those people on stage because if somebody were to say in your organization, here's who we want on stage, we want people with these titles. In some cases they say we only want C level people.

If I look at my own industry here of ad tech and say we're only going to take C level people on a particular panel, I know for almost a fact that we're going to have a lot of problems finding women to put on that panel because there's so few women in C level positions in ad tech. So we have to be able to push back internally and be brave about those sort of things and say wait a second, I think it's also one of our goals that we need to have equal representation on stage. And so if that means that it's not a C level person, we're going to need to do that.

BRANDON:

I love it. And if you could give yourself one piece of advice earlier in your career, what would it be and why?

KARL:

Good God. That's a tough one. You know what? Honestly, I would say give in to what you do well. I've experienced this with a lot of my personal friends and even people that have worked for me. It's if you're doing something, you think you want to be doing something else, because I think everybody has that. You probably heard the saying that actors want to be rock stars and rock stars want to be sports stars and sports stars want to be actors, and it kind of goes in a circle like that. I think everybody kind of has something that they wish that they could do. And what you have to do is take a look at what are you good at.

And for me, I'm good at producing events, I'm good at producing experiences and I've definitely thought I want to be at the advertising agency. I want to work in entertainment. There's a lot of different things that I've wanted to do, but I keep coming back to what I'm good at and the more I focus on what I'm good at, I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing a great job. And that at the end of the day is probably the most important thing. So if I had to give myself advice when I was younger is give in early and do what you're good at.

BRANDON:

Love it. Okay. And the final question I have for you is amidst all of the work that you're doing, how do you stay inspired and keep your creative instincts fresh?

KARL:

I think I do what anybody else does. Like I said, I hate events. If I go to an event, if someone drags me to an event and I really like it, I give kudos and I say well what did they do that I didn't do or what ideas did they come up with that I haven't come up with? I do get inspired by the creativity that people put into that. And I mean that goes from everything.

One of my favorite places in the world, by the way, and this is going to sound terrible, but I do like Disney. And the reason is when you create experiences, there is nobody on earth that does it better. And so if I ever go with friends, one part of it is of course you get the childhood memories from Disney, but when you look at it from a professional standpoint and look at how they're creating experiences, you just say to yourself, wow, this is as good as it gets. It's amazingly inspiring.

BRANDON:

Cool. Well, that's it for today's conversation. Thank you so much for being on the show.

KARL:

Thank you. I appreciate it.