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18 | Vasil Azarov, Growth Marketing Conference: How to Growth Hack Your Event

  • October 9, 2019
  • 44:18

Vasil Azarov, Founder of the Growth Marketing Conference, discusses how to launch an event from scratch, creatively collaborating with partners and sponsors, why you should look at your event as a product, and the best of Bordeaux wine.

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Top Takeaways

1

COLLABORATING WITH PARTNERS AND SPONSORS: To accelerate event growth during the early days of the Growth Marketing Conference, Vasil challenged the traditional way marketers view partnerships. He focused on building mutually beneficial partnerships and co-sponsoring programs. This includes promoting and partnering with competitors to give them exposure, producing content—like webinars—to build an audience, leveraging a partner to co-sponsor direct mail campaigns, and more. “The key element of building a successful relationship is to make sure that you’re leveraging your strength to make it a win for both you and your partner.”

2

DRIVING AWARENESS AND REGISTRATIONS: When scaling an event program, Vasil invests in two things: building partnerships with sponsors and fostering organic, word-of-mouth strategies. Co-promoting events with sponsors helps amplify key messages to potentially relevant audiences while fostering deeper connections with existing attendees helps sustain event community growth. “Partnerships and word-of-mouth I would say have been our most successful channels when it comes to growth."

3

LOOKING AT YOUR EVENT AS A PRODUCT: For a successful outbound events strategy, Vasil believes the key is looking at your event as a product. By having this perspective, other marketers can focus on delivering the right product to the right customer. “If you get it in front of an interested customer at the right time—it doesn't really matter if they’ve never heard of your event before.”

ABOUT Vasil Azarov

Since founding the Growth Marketing Conference, Vasil has seen its membership soar to over 106,000 individuals. Vasil is also the CEO of Startup Socials—another event series dedicated to providing networking opportunities for startup founders and teams. Throughout his career, Vasil has worked with large brands like IBM, Microsoft, and Delta Airlines and high growth startups such as Autopilot, SendGrid, and Zendesk.

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:

Vasil, I understand that your work takes you around the world and to a lot of different places, and I know that when you travel that sometimes you like to appreciate the local wines of those places. My starting question for you is Cab Sav or Merlot?

VASIL:

Definitely. If I have to choose it would be Cab Sav, but I've tried some amazing Merlot back in the day. Now my preference is French Bordeaux, so it changes.

BRANDON:

If you could channel your inner sommelier and really describe to us, could you tell us some of the major notes or the major flavors that you really like about the Bordeaux?

VASIL:

I really like the earthiness of it and sometimes I like the French Bordeaux, where you can almost taste the burnt wood, you can taste the forest. This is something-

BRANDON:

Wow.

VASIL:

Earth, forest. This is what I enjoyed the most and the smokiness of it.

BRANDON:

Wow. I'm going to need to try some Bordeaux. So you are the founder of Growth Marketing Conference. It's an event brand that's dedicated to hands-on education around growth. To set the stage for today's conversation, could you tell us a little bit more about Growth Marketing Conference and your responsibilities there?

VASIL:

Yeah, absolutely. First of all, Brandon, thanks so much for inviting me. I'm a huge fan of the podcast and been listening to it pretty much since your first episode. I'm a huge fan of what you're doing at Bizzabo in general. A little bit about Growth Marketing Conference and our events series, we connect and empower modern marketers and entrepreneurs. Our flagship event attracts over 2,000 attendees from around the world. We host it in San Francisco where growth marketing was born, and our vision is to become the most valuable event and community for modern marketers.

Going back to your questions about my responsibilities, so we have a pretty small agile team right now at the moment, so I'm still very much hands-on when it comes to everything related to event production from initial planning to marketing and sales. I'm head of marketing at the moment although, we actually hiring one probably next year. But the way I'll see it is that every single entrepreneur, and the same thing goes to event producer or event marketer, is either a product guy, a relationship building guy, a process oriented guy or a team building type of person, more like a cheerleader. So my role lies more around, or I'm more focused and more experienced when it comes to, product and relationship building.

BRANDON:

Great. You're leading the marketing for Growth Marketing Conference and really assisting in building those relationships, especially with partners and sponsors and other key influencers when it comes to the success of these events. You and I have had the opportunity beforehand to chat about your origins, and I know that how you got involved with events really involves a lot of serendipity but also a lot of hard work, and you really build something from the ground up. So for those who are not familiar, could you share with us how you first got involved with events, and how this led to where you are today at Growth Marketing Conference?

VASIL:

Yeah, absolutely. Ever since I remember I was always passionate about being around people and bringing people together. I started in events back in 2009 and my first professional role was doing social media for hospitality and events. And my first job so to speak was running social media marketing for one of the largest online marketing events back in 2009. It was called Online Marketing Summit, and this is when I discovered my passion for being around marketers because they are very creative people, and great to be around. And just by chance, one of the days, some of the key team members from the events team left the company, and our former CEO offered me to take over and run events in 14 different cities within a two-month timeframe, which was very scary-

BRANDON:

Wow.

VASIL:

In the beginning, and it was very stressful for the first two weeks. I really hated it, but then something clicked. And even the stress of the events, all the excitement and stress, something that I all of a sudden started to enjoy, and that's when I realized that this is the thing that I would like to be doing. Eventually, this conference got acquired, and our founder started the new company, and I joined the founding team, and we connected to the local startup community in Silicon Valley. So that's sort of was the next step.

BRANDON:

And that team was acquired, and then I know that you eventually started building out your own event series as well. I mean today Growth Marketing Conference has produced more than 513 events and has a community of over 106,000 members, but it all started with a small meetup. Could you tell us a little bit more about startup socials and how that led to Growth Marketing Conference?

VASIL:

So around the same time when we moved into coworking space with a new startup, I started to get to know local entrepreneurs and companies in this space. I really love the energy and the new growth mindset of that community, which was different from marketers that I worked with at the larger companies like IBM, Microsoft, back in the days. So, and that's where I started to attend local startup events, and I attended startup social mixers organized by my partners, currently Yuri and Vadim, but back in the days they were founders of startup socials.

Really loved that energy, and what is startup social? Startup socials were mixers born in Silicon Valley with the idea to connect entrepreneurs, partners, startups, and they took the networking in coworking spaces back in the days outside to a more informal environment like lounges where you are a little bit more relaxed, and really loved the energy there. I was trying to figure out how I can get involved, and I volunteered first, and eventually, we produced one of the largest events they ever had with about over 2,000 people.

And down the road they told me, "Hey, we would like to work on our own startups. Why don't you just take over and see where it could take you?" And here we are, a few years later, we came up with an idea of organizing the first conference, and four years afterward, this conference attracts 2,000 people as well. So it's been quite a journey.

BRANDON:

Right. And during that time it's pivoted from startup socials to Growth Marketing Conference.

VASIL:

Absolutely, correct. Yes.

BRANDON:

So with that we've had this sort of pivot and how the event series, the event itself has been branded, and it's also just totally blown up. I mean you said yourself, it's your events are now bringing in thousands of attendees. There are multiple events going on a year. What have been some factors that have been crucial to the growth of the brand?

VASIL:

First of all, I would like to mention our values, the community values as well as the values of our team. Everyone is an entrepreneur. We all believe in the growth mindset, and we all believe in connecting and empowering marketers and entrepreneurs at the event. Also, I think the major role of growth marketing events series success was our brand and positioning. First of all, we don't really have a product or service that we sell. We're brand agnostic, vendor agnostic. We're very community-driven. We are very diverse, and we globally focused.

Our team in fact works remotely from all over the world. We have people in South Africa, we have people in Germany, Berlin, East coast, West coast, our core team here in San Francisco, and every single year I'd say 25 to 30% of attendees are arriving from different countries, from all over the world. So we definitely very much globally focused, and the way we like to think about marketing, modern marketing and growth marketing, we are making it for everyone in a way we're democratizing it.

So I know that a lot of Silicon Valley people speak in a very technical language that only they can understand. And what we try to communicate as whether you are an enterprise, whether you are a startup, whether you a digital agency, product marketing manager, growth person, growth marketing is for you. In the nutshell, it's all about teaching, cutting edge strategies and sustainable tactics for any business to grow. So I think people really resonated with that, and if I had to expand on it a little bit more, some other factor that became crucial is that growth marketing and growth hacking were coming out as an emerging category. So we were a bit lucky that we started our conference around the same time.

BRANDON:

Right.

VASIL:

But the most important part that I want to emphasize with all about meeting people in person, and building relationships. So this was one of the crucial factors of Growth Marketing Conference success.

BRANDON:

This is something that you mentioned you're doing a lot of right now. It's also, as you just mentioned, one of the keys to the event being as successful as it's been. Could you tell us a little bit more about how you are building relationships specifically with partners and sponsors to make the event successful?

VASIL:

First of all, we started our event pretty much with a zero marketing budget. So we had to get creative and partnerships for us have been crucial on that path. So a couple of things that we did that might think unconventional, but I think it's something that played to our advantage is, we really promoted our competitors. To expand on that, one of the things we realize by talking to our community is that they cannot attend every single event, and just by giving them other opportunities to attend the events from our competitors, we actually build credibility for ourselves. So we partnered with many other events. Some of them are quite competitive in nature, some of them have an overlap when it comes to our audience, but at the same time-

BRANDON:

Sure.

VASIL:

We know that events are high quality, and we did promote them. In fact, we did create a calendar that we produced at the Growth Marketing Conference, and we gave away to every single attendees with our calendar of recommended growth marketing events from our partners. So that's how we provided some exposure to them, and the same time it made us look good, but it wasn't the main purpose of it. But one of the key elements of building a successful relationship, you need to make sure that you leveraging your strength to make it a win for your partner.

For example, in our case, we have a community that we can leverage to help partners grow their brand, get new customers, and at the same time they have else that they can provide to our community and to us to help us grow. Another crucial element that it needs to be something that also makes it a big win to the community. So you don't just use your community by pushing some stuff that they don't need. So I can give you a couple of specific examples.

BRANDON:

Please, that'd be very helpful.

VASIL:

So about six years ago, we built a very important partnership with Business 2 Community, which is a media property, which has about 2 million of unique visitors every month. And I was producing webinars for them on the regular basis as a consultant first, but eventually I became a partner. So for us, we recruited all of the speakers for all of this webinars, and we provided all of the technology... Well, they provided technology to execute on the webinars, but we were bringing in speakers and valuable content. At the same time, they were promoting webinars to their community, which helped us grow our subscriber list down the road, and helped us eventually grow our email list from 10,000 to over 50,000 of subscribers, because they have such a huge traffic to their website.

BRANDON:

So you were doing webinars for this organization, and while you're doing these webinars you were able to plug Growth Marketing Conference, and then they would amplify that message with their own distribution, their own reach?

VASIL:

Yeah, and we did have a partnership that we share in their privacy policy. They could share the registration lease with their partners, so we took advantage of that too.

BRANDON:

Wow.

VASIL:

This is one of the example of creative partnership. Another one that we are about to launch with our partners Sendoso, and they're big on account based marketing, and they provide you with the opportunity to send a personalized gifts to potential customers. We actually partnering with them right now as we speak to send handwritten notes and small gifts to some of the previous Growth Marketing Conference attendees, and invite them to global growth marketing conference and this campaign will be cosponsored with Sendoso, so they would get an exposure out of it, and they would be providing all of the gifts. They will take care of all of the shipping. At the same time, we are benefiting by getting that message out and they benefiting by getting the word out about their company as well.

BRANDON:

I think that's something that's a... It's really neat to hear, especially for organizations that might be on the smaller side. I know definitely some of our listeners are in that boat of how you can work with other organizations to not only amplify a reach, which I think is huge, but also to find unique ways to engage your audience like this partnership with Sendoso, or get access to other tools or services that you'd normally have.

VASIL:

100% and again, the key is to think about it as a win win for both of the parties, and a big win for community.

BRANDON:

I think these are two examples of great partnerships where there's a very clear win win, but I know that as Growth Marketing Conference has well continued to grow, you have also started to lean more on to traditional sponsorships. In making this transition to more actively leaning on sponsorships or incorporating them into your events, what have you found to be really key to keep in mind?

VASIL:

So we have made many mistakes down the road as we are building our sponsorship program. And something that we realize because we're trying to implement traditional enterprise B2B SaaS playbook to events, sponsorships and it didn't work at all. So we realized that you cannot hire a person who is very aggressive when it comes to sales strategy. It's always good to have someone who understands sales methodology, but it's so much more important to hire somebody who is really good at relationship building. So because when you try to recruit a sponsor for your event, there is no free trial.

So they cannot test out the product because especially for the very first time, they have to trust you that you really take care of them at that event, and for that specific reason, your first event is so important. This is the first impression that your sponsor get, and you really have to make sure that on the sales side, you need to bring that person who can vain your brand, and really able to describe what that event would look like, how the sponsor brand would be positioned at the event.

So it cannot be that person who just does the traditional sales playbook, and tries to close the deal as soon as possible. Something that we learned by letting go of a couple of our head of sales is that something that really works for us right now is merging the roles of head of sales and customer success. In fact, we require our heads of partnerships and everybody who drives sales for the business to be able to learn exactly the needs of a sponsor, and be able to support them all the way leading up to the event and afterwards.

To give you a very concrete example, as soon as the sponsorship contracts get signed, we schedule a kickoff meeting with the partner. We make sure that we identify their objectives, goals. We try to get their target customer list, so we will be able to invite these people to our events, and then we have a cadence, establish a cadence of meetings leading up to the event to make sure that we never lose touch. That is something that helps us to have 50% retention of sponsorships from the last year while back in the days we had only 10% of sponsors coming back to us.

BRANDON:

That's a huge turnaround. I think that's something very novel to have such a customer-centric, or I guess sponsor-centric approach to engaging with these different partners and sponsors is really going to out of your way to make sure that they feel taken care of at every step.

VASIL:

Yeah. And one of the things I would like to add to it is just as far as we're talking about sponsorships, and this is something that I've learned from some other event organizers, and we successfully implemented it at our company. Sometimes going in person to an event and meeting that VP of marketing CMO in person, and talking about some topics that you both are passionate about, it could make such a huge difference. We had one deal in our pipeline for one year and a half, and just by me going to one event recently and meeting that person literally for half an hour, left to a deal closed within a month. You cannot underestimate the power of in-person.

BRANDON:

There we go. It sounds like when it comes to securing these sponsorships, face-to-face is really important. I know this has been also an essential component of how you have promoted the events as well to attendees. For our listeners who might be looking for a little bit more growth marketing advice on how they can growth hack their own events, which channels have you found to be really successful in scaling?

VASIL:

So we already talked about partnerships, but if we dive a little bit deeper...so the way we work with partners is we co-promote each others events. So we also provide a discount to our events. We obviously provide some exposure to the relevant partners. Everybody knows that the logo on the website, exclusive discounts, sometimes opportunity to moderate a panel, or MC the event in exchange for them helping us spread the word. Something that I think that we do on more of the innovative side, we really invest into helping that word-of-mouth, organic strategies.

So we really try to spend a lot of time with our existing attendees. Again, leading up to the event and afterwards, for example, we host webinars for existing attendees several times to explain them what really they would get at the events, so they can anticipate that experience. The people that they would meet, our vendors, which of them would be relevant to them, so they can set up meetings ahead of time, what kind of sessions they should bookmark in their calendars. And the other part, as soon as the event is over, we try to talk either in person or over a video call with at least 30 previous attendees, and we record these conversations, we analyze them and that's how we improve on the event experience for the next year.

So that's partnerships and word-of-mouth I would say have been our most successful channels, when it comes to growth. It's really difficult to measure them, but at least we keep hearing that, "Oh, somebody else mentioned the conference to me, so I have to attend." But another channel that works for us is outbound marketing. So it's really... If you figure out your event as a product, then you can... The way I see about it is if you put the right product in front of the right customer who maybe never heard of you, but if the offering is there and it's 100% relevant and you get it to in front of your interested customer at the right time, it doesn't really matter that they never heard of you before.

That's why cold email worked for us like magic three years ago, and then afterwards a lot of other conferences started doing it and now it's less effective but I think it still works. Very personal messages on LinkedIn to the right person with the message to bring their team to the event, worked for us much more efficiently than content marketing for example, which is something that we are just starting to focus on, and the first channel would be search engine optimization and performance marketing.

And this is ties in into building successful partnerships as well because we are Growth Marketing Conference, and we are connected to some of the best people who can do search engine optimization and performance marketing for us. So we built relationship with this companies so they advise us and they actually execute search engine optimization, content marketing and Facebook marketing, PPC campaigns for us.

BRANDON:

So this is another example of a great partnership where you're providing value to these individuals, these organizations and they're providing a service for you in exchange. So there's outbound, there's working with your partners to amplify the message. There's working with different partners to help you out with different aspects of promotion beyond just distribution and reach. That's all very cool, and I think one thing you mentioned there that I have never heard of before, but is the fact that you were having basically exit interviews for people who have attended the events. You know obviously there's NPS, which is very valuable. There are events surveys, which can be very valuable if you can get people to actually fill them out. What's the program for getting your 30, or so attendees to opt in to a conversation like this?

VASIL:

You can also do it strategically. I wouldn't choose this attendees randomly, so you probably don't understand, which brands, which companies you would want to see next year that they went 100%. You would want to see some of the companies at your event year after year strategically because this is your target audience.

So I usually start with the companies like that, and we usually offer either a discounted pass or one complimentary pass and the special discount for their team, if they would agree in exchange for half an hour of their time when we have the interview questions prepared, but the processes we schedule them usually back to back, and then it's me and our head of operations and experience at the event we on the call, sometimes we record the call, sometimes we don't.

Sometimes we take thorough notes and down the road we aggregate that information as a part of the Google Doc, and then we have the all hands team meeting where we analyze this data, and brainstorm some of the suggestions on how we can improve the next year event. So that's the process.

BRANDON:

I'd love to pivot into the future of events. I know this is something you spend a lot of time thinking about yourself, and my first question here is how is event marketing becoming the next category of innovation? You mentioned that at one time growth marketing was the one and you're able to ride that wave. But now event marketing is very much becoming that.

VASIL:

Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, if you would Google event marketing, I would say two, three years ago, the results that you would get would be absolutely different from what you see these days. And if you go to LinkedIn for example and look for a job search, you will see such a huge demand for event marketing roles right now, all of the Silicon Valley brands and larger B2B and consumer brands currently hiring for event marketing or field marketing. I also looked at some research, and I know that Bizzabo actually did very comprehensive research, which shows that the average CMO invest 24% of their budget into the events.

I think it was a couple of years back now, it's probably more than that, and Entrepreneur Magazine did another research and they found out that two thirds of all of the marketers invest in the events currently. Facebook recently changed their entire mission statement, and it happened actually at the live event in Chicago, and now their mission statement is, "bring the world closer together."

So in my prediction when it comes to that, events would become one of the most profitable channels to acquire customers, to engage them, and to retain them. Especially as we move into a new era of artificial intelligence and all of this new technology, machine learning is becoming a big new theme. So there will be a deficit, my prediction of in person and really human connection, and that's why I think event marketing is so powerful.

And what I mean by that, just to expand on it, it's a combination of really understanding the event as a product, as a platform to also understand how to market that product, how to drive sales, how to drive their attendance for the event, and finally providing the experience at the event, and customers and users or event attendees would be coming back year after year.

BRANDON:

It sounds like this is another trend that I know that you spend a lot of time thinking about, but it's this growing role of the event marketer. It's no longer just about you're in charge of just getting people to an event or you're in charge of just finding some content and letting it go. But it seems like the responsibilities of the marketers is growing a lot. We're talking about it right now, but how else do you see this sort of shift to a full stack event producer happening?

VASIL:

This is something that I learned back in the days when I was working with the larger brands and we were organizing an event in 2011 for enterprise marketers. A lot of event producers or event managers, they were sort of disconnected from a marketing department, and they were really had a very solid understanding of event logistics or event experience. But then sales and marketing was a separate department so to speak.

And I didn't hear anybody talking about events as a product and really thinking about that concept from the inception before coming up, and what I mean by that is really thinking about the unique value proposition of your event, the brand and as well as the experience before you even plan the event, how you will market it. So an event marketer is someone who understands events as a product, who really knows how to drive sales and marketing for that event, and who also understands the logistics and the event experience and is able to put all of this together.

BRANDON:

It seems like there is definitely more attention being paid by large organizations when it comes to events. We're seeing this reflected in the responsibilities of event marketers these days. Why do you think we're seeing more events and in particular, why do you think it's easier to do it now than it was before?

VASIL:

I personally feel that as events are becoming an emerging category right now, especially here in Silicon Valley where we're based, I've been seeing a lot of companies, a lot of funded, high-growth startups putting together their customer conferences. So on one hand it's becoming a trend in addition to larger enterprise companies who have been putting together events for a very long time. But now finally there is more information available and how to actually do it. Again, and this is my hypothesis, also by talking to some other marketing executives, I actually didn't know it for a fact.

Some of them don't have that clear understanding why we are spending $2 million budgets on this events just for brand purposes, but they still feel that there's attribution. It's really hard for them to attribute that ROI but they still doing it for brand related purposes. There are some other brands who are afraid to do this events because they think it's too difficult, but nowadays it's actually not difficult at all.

So I think more and more brands are realizing right now that building events, investing into events, leveraging other events is the fastest way to connect with your existing and future customer, and it doesn't require a huge budget to start your own event. All it requires is a playbook, step by step formula that event marketer actually understands.

BRANDON:

We talked about getting an event off the ground before, but I mean if there's anything else you'd like to add.

VASIL:

Yeah, so if you're starting your events from scratch, I would think of it long-term. It's very important when you start an event to think about the event series, not just one stand-alone event that you're planning to produce because you might not be able to build that following and brand for your event, if you just think short-term. It always helps if you build an event on top of an existing category, or if you're a larger company, you might even brainstorm on how to create your own category as a part of the event.

Then think of it from start to finish before you actually get to work. Hire a consultant to double check your budget. It's extremely important if you start in the very beginning, if you don't have anybody in-house, think the right brand and positioning, and if you are really small and let's say you are an entrepreneur or you're not a big company, you don't have too many resources. Try to think of the venue and get in at least one big sponsor upfront to help you fund your event to minimize the risk of losing money.

BRANDON:

That totally makes sense. I'd love to pivot to you and sort of get a bit more a perspective on how you are leading your own team, and some of the things that you've found to be successful for your own career, and one of those things is around relationship building. We've talked about it a lot during this conversation today, but it's one of those things that it can be difficult to do sometimes. What have you found to be successful in expanding your network?

VASIL:

Yeah, something that was very helpful for me, and this is one of my mentors and advisors helped me frame it, is that think of any relationship building as building your trusted advisory board. So every single meeting that you have, think of it is whether that person could be your potential advisor down the road, and what would you do if you have that mindset. So obviously think of it very much long-term. Think about understanding the other person, personal and business goals, and how you can help him or her to achieve this goals, short-term and long-term.

So this is something that has been crucial for me, building the relationships and for our company, for the company growth in general. Maybe if we can give a specific example, building relationships with our speakers for example, and a lot of people ask me how you are able to get these high profile brands, or some of the speakers that charge thousands and thousands of dollars to speak at your event. But there are couple of important things for every single, either professional speaker or brand. At some point of their career, there will be a moment when they need some publicity, when they need some help, whether the new book coming out, or they launching a new product or they hiring someone, right?

So this is where if you have a community, if you build a community, this is how you can help them. So first try to meet with them in person. Again, we've been talking about in person quite a bit during today's interview and the way usually it's easier to meet the people who are not very easy to approach in person is by looking at the conferences where they speak, and especially when they travel. So usually when high profile people travel, they usually have a little bit more time for meetings than when you just reach out to them out of the blue. So that's how I build a lot of relationships and was able to set up meetings with them, and really trying to strategically understand and get to know them before you try to offer to collaborate with them on a project.

So this is something that's really, really helped us. Understanding their goals, understanding their challenges, help them achieve their goals, promote them, promote their content. This is something that you cannot fake, right? You really need to be really authentically interested in what they do in their work? It's not about just, "Hey, you know, you work for Facebook, you would be a great speaker for our event." It doesn't work like that. So try to get to know a person and eventually build a relationship before you ask for anything.

BRANDON:

We have time for a couple more questions. The first one is who's an influential marketing or events leader that you think is really doing a great job?

VASIL:

Something that I really pay attention to is not necessarily just a leader, but more of the event experience in general. Every single time I go to an event, there's always one or two things that I see there that I absolutely love. It could be a very small detail, very memorable details. For example, I've been at Traction Conference for couple of years back, and they were having a caricature portraits of their speakers and an opportunity for attendees to drop business cards next to them to connect with speakers, which obviously the business cards would be given to the speakers later on.

So for me, I'm thinking about those small things that you notice at the events, and I try to attend new events year after year. Obviously Dreamforce, Inbound, they have a great production, but I give credit more to smaller organic events like Traction Con for example, or one of the events that I was following for some time is Sales Hacker, which got eventually acquired by Outreach, so definitely follow Max Altschuler and his work and now there's another event that I would like to quickly... I don't know if you ever heard of StartCon events based out of Australia?

BRANDON:

No.

VASIL:

And I interviewed Cheryl, she was a part of our event marketing school series. Actually we partnered with you guys last year on, and she just traveled out of Canada randomly to Australia, and a few years after she started the conference that now attracts 4,000 startups, one of the biggest startup events in Australia. So these types of stories really inspire me.

BRANDON:

That was a building something from scratch from the ground up sort of stories.

VASIL:

Absolutely.

BRANDON:

Very inspiring. Final question. If you could give you an earlier version of yourself, one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

VASIL:

One of the pieces of advice that I would give myself is to really... And this gives me that perspective and framework of thinking about events and managing events company right now, is that everything is going to be okay. There are always sleepless nights when you have anxiety and I remember one time when I had it, maybe a few years back, I had to lock myself in the room and I just literally was so stressed out. I felt that nothing is coming together and the conference will be a complete disaster and every single year, even right now I'm having this moments where, well now I don't lock myself anymore.

But then was just telling myself it's going to be okay, right? And every single time I have that feeling I'm always, Hey, look at the conference, it was happening for the last five years, it's going to happen this year. It's going to happen next year, and just a reminder that this anxiety will go away. Events, business is a roller coaster. Just try to think and focus on the positive things. The things that you love doing every day, and this is something that will keep you going.