Super tools: CoSchedule – true marketing software

Take back control when marketing your events!

The hard part about being a small business person is that it’s a small business. You’re worried about the ACTUAL product, and then you’re worried about everything else.

What’s really hard when you’re both the money person AND the marketing person, because when money’s tight, you feel like it’s your fault and you need to try harder.

Because of this, I spend a LOT of time looking for affordable ways to do marketing right and by far my most favorite tool is

For starters, CoSchedule has one of the best blogs on productivity and marketing around. That is how they hooked me. I use and RSS feed and check articles weekly and I always landed on them. They knew what they were doing, it was worth spending the time and energy to learn something new.

The cloud-based software is built around a calendar, that you can use for multiple accounts and events. You’ll connect everything you’ve got: your email, WordPress sites, product management software, and of course your Facebook pages, groups, Instagram account, Twitter, you name it.

co schedule event social media

Start filling out that calendar with posts, emails, and blogs!

CoSchedule will take you through a complete campaign: you can write a blog post, determine when to post it, when to share it via newsletter and social media and watch the clicks come in.

Pre load photos and forgettabout it!

They have an add-on product that will repost classic and evergreen posts when your feed is a little slow.

Basically, CoSchedule is what every proactive marketer needs. Keep being spontaneous, but relax knowing the big stuff like price bumps and promotional emails are covered.

Depending on your plan, you can also collaborate with others, keep a running log of tasks and ideas to write up, and there’s just so much I’ve barely touched.

See how it leads you through the calendar?

But, bottom line, stop wasting ti

me piecing everything together and start CoSchedule today.





You can even plan events!

Choosing a Mascot

It’s time for a logo. You may not feel a logo is that important. That it may cost too much do make professionally. Wrong. You need an image to help guide your story. Whether it’s a honey badger or a bumblebee, a tribal sun or a little lamb, a five-color graphic ready for printing on shirts or a hand drawn sketch by your beloved, we all need a little totem to guide our thoughts. A logo isn’t just a recognizable little drawing. A logo sets the consistent experience for everyone. A logo sets the tone for the whole brand.

You can do some research on similar events to see what they do, but use that knowledge to do something different. You don’t want to be one of a million. Eventually your logo becomes your entire story, even if it has no bearing on what you do. Example? Starbucks. If you look at their past logos, they were intricate and advertised what the coffee shop was about. Now? There’s a giant green mermaid logo slapped on the side of my grocery store and it means, “Come inside to get delicious and consistent coffee treats and pastries from a company started in Seattle that set off a coffee revolution and is now conveniently in your market.” Starbucks wins at branding with a mermaid: the last thing you think of when you think “coffee.”

An early event company we ran called “Nimble Creative” ended up with a goat balancing on a stick as their logo. It was preposterously cute, but was based on something. It was how goats in the Middle East got up into trees to get leaves. The company name came first. Then when the logo got designed, it worked. We didn’t need the logo to have running and biking in it, which that company mainly did. It just needed to be something we could hang our hat (or goat) on.


Evolution of an event logo:

We put on some of the first mud run / obstacle course events! But, because of this, we didn’t really know what kind of personality we wanted to give the event, so we went with what was popular at the time:

2011 – commando-style/boot camp. No real logo, just stock photo of a badass lady crawling, camo, aggressive text. This is pretty common for event start ups in terms of design and 1st attempt.

The following year, we reviewed what the actual feel of the event had turned out to be, and it was a lot more festive than badass. People loved literally wallowing in the mud and having a good time, so I designed a new logo: “Happy Pig.”

He’s got his thumbs up, he’s popping out of mud kinda like Porky Pig, the colors are brown, pink, blue and white. Evokes water, fun, but like . . . clean. I chose a more festive font.

And then while this event absolutely was “happy pig” we realized that to sustain it, we’d need to capture the evolving audience of hardcore OCR people who were looking to truly be challenged. Truth was, our event was every bit as challenging and well constructed as the “big” obstacle course races, but happy pig and the fun feel didn’t appeal to them.

Enter, “Oink Oink, motherf*cker.”

Similar color scheme, but black plays more strongly, there’s a more core font choice, and the pig isn’t giving you thumbs up anymore, he’s about to take you. The pink and the black are like a mullet: serious in front, party in the back.


It looked awesome, but we actually decided that while it was profitable, it was a ton of work and we saw the trend of obstacle course racing dying out and got out while the getting was good. Our logos were neat, though.


So did you like this? Bet you’re going to LOVE our book!


Tell Your Story!

Event planning is the trickiest for some and easiest for others. Imagining the finished product. What does everyone involved experience at your event? How does it feel when you’re there? What’s the ideal testimonial they give to you after it’s all said and done? What features and offerings do you have to share?

If you’re doing this for the event’s sake, you know your sport. If you’re trying to make money, you may not. Now it’s time to pick the needs for your location and pick your sport. These two go hand in hand. Anyone can put on a 5k just about anywhere, but to put on really awesome events the location should dictate the course. You want your event participants to be wowed. Location, paired with sport, is what matters.

Bottom line:

  • Is venue location key to the success of my event?
  • Can I find enough of my target demographic in this venue location, or will the event itself compel them to travel long distances?
  • Just how challenging should the venue’s terrain be for my demographic?
  • How big a location do I need? Do I need to account for parking, festival, vendor space, or other space-hogs?
  • How will I build this space out? Will it fill up or feel vastly open (be careful with open events –if a venue is huge and doesn’t feel full, that emptiness can diminish the experience for event goers)?

In the initial stages, it may be tempting to keep coming up with elements to your story. Fight this urge. We will talk about this in the marketing chapter but, for now, just know that the more you have to say, the less your audience will listen. Complex event stories are not ones people will sit and listen to, even if there’s so much more. Boil it down to one or two ideas. Most people do not care about the subtle details that will become important to you. We’ve had clients become obsessed with photo-op backdrops while expressing no interest in executing the afterparty they were heavily promoting.

Practice explaining your concept to friends and family. If they “get it” you’re golden. Better yet, writing your mission down succinctly will help you connect with other parties down the line, from sponsors to participants to web designers.

Validating Your Idea- Is it Weak?

How do you know if your idea will fly? Ask yourself this at every milestone in the event planning process. A lot of people have brilliant ideas, but brilliant ideas to you may not be brilliant to others. It’s time to put your ideas out into the world.

You are now an artist. You are putting your work out into the world and others are criticizing it. We get it. It’s scary.

Remember, events aren’t just about passion and creativity. They are about money. You’re either fundraising or you’re making this your job. Just wait until you get to race day. You’ll be forking over your hard earned money, looking back at all the stress and work you’ve gone through, and you’ll realize that the only people about to have a good time are the people who came to enjoy your hard work.

So what is validation? It’s finding people in your demographic, and then pitching your idea and price to them:

“So, I have an idea: [Explain idea]. Is this something you would make a priority to do?”

Listen carefully to their response. Then ask:

“This is how much I think I would need to charge for my idea. Would you pay for it? And would you sign up today?”

If you hear excuses like “I need to check my schedule,” your idea is weak. It may not be a good idea or it may need refining. People who aren’t ready to fork over money immediately are also telling you something about the event or its pitch. Don’t commit until people say, “Yes, I am so there. Take all my money. I’ll start training right now.”

True validation is getting three people to buy tickets to your event the minute you tell them the idea. No amount of Facebook likes or supportive friends equal the power of ticket compulsion.

If Your Idea is Weak

The best products identify a need. This need may or may not be understood by the customer. In business this is called a “pain point.” A pain point makes someone squirm. A great example of this is the mud run boom. It answered a couple needs in the general population, namely: “Running is boring,” “I don’t feel connected to people,” “I don’t do anything noteworthy.” Mud runs are “happenings.” They take a traditional 5k or more run and make something happen. Something which relieves people’s boredom and makes them feel accomplished. Running marathons used to have the same power, but like any idea they lost their steam overtime. Now we have mud run marathons and more!

Sit down with your idea. Look for ways to fill people’s concerns. If you’re interested in running, ask the people you think would run your race what bothers them about running and races in general. Ask them what the best things are. Ask them what they wish was a part of that experience. Then provide it. Remember to incorporate those provisions into your message. Don’t leave registrations on the table. If you have a feature, ensure people know about it! We’ll return to this soon.

If you find you don’t have a pain point but your idea is still not motivating people, and you need and want to do this event, pay close attention to our marketing section. A compelling campaign can make all the difference.

Who Are You Targeting?

Set out the primary reason for your actions. That is “make money”, “do something awesome”, or “raise awareness.” Determine who it is you’re trying to sell to. Your event is going to be aimed at somebody. That somebody is going to shape the feel of the whole thing. If you’re aiming for rich men in their 80s, your language and visuals, along with the course and prizes, are going to be different than if you were aiming towards a gaggle of teenage girls. You may say, “Everyone is my demographic.” Wrong. Think about Apple vs Android. Are they targeting everyone these days, or do they know their audience and cater to them?

If you’ve never had to do this, there are a number of demographics research tools on the Internet. You can also ask similar event principals about their experience. For instance, it’s surprising the number of women events are attracting, yet some events only provide male-sized t-shirts (shirts that don’t get worn, don’t get exposure).
You need to get specific with who you are talking to and designing around. You’re not just saying “men in their 40s with road bikes.” You need at least one other qualifier:

[demographic 1] + [ demographic 2] = nicely focused audience member

Your event can have more than one audience, but you need to know this before you start as it will inform everything from venue to date to details about the event.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the age range (and median) for events similar to what I want to do?
  • Is there an age range I specifically want to target?
  • Is there a target gender?
  • Is this an easily accessible sport with low entry fees or not?
  • How much money should my demographic make to be able to comfortably afford my fees?
  • What interests does my demographic have (we know they like to mountain bike, but do they
  • also have a Honda Civic)?
  • Is there crossover that I can target (e.g. do they just love minipigs)?

Where do I find them (doing laundry at the laundromat)?Once you start to ask these questions, you can do research with tools like Facebook advertising and statistics websites. Getting ahold of sponsorship packets from similar events is also useful. These demographics not only help target your event, they attract sponsors.

It’s also a good idea to create a mascot alongside your logo. More on this later.

The Birth of an Event

Events happen for two reasons. Either it’s a way to generate money or awareness, or you would just like to see this event take place. Most people think events are a mix of both. From the beginning, the smartest thing you can do is decide what the event really is to you. That will help you.

If you’re doing this event for money, your primary concern needs to be making money. That means you need to draw enough people from the community to make it worth your while. It means not draining your time, money, and enthusiasm. Organizations looking to make money need to have solid connections in the community the event targets and that the event isn’t part of a saturated group because you’ll never cut through the establishment, no matter how awesome you are.

It’s important to understand the market you’re entering – the participants, the culture, and the language. It’s your job to learn that culture. Attend similar events. Talk to people who go to these kind of events. Listen for their struggles and concerns – be prepared to solve them.
If you’re doing this for the love, be careful. The same concerns apply, but for a different reason.

Events don’t make money easily. While that may not be a concern of yours, losing money will be. Sometimes an event doesn’t exist not because someone with the knowhow and passion just hasn’t done it, but because it just won’t fly. Another pitfall of “doing it for love” is that many directors are just racers that love races. You’ll need to turn out something more if you want to be a well-oiled, efficient machine. You need to think about a lot more than racer experience or how awesome a course is. Those don’t make a sustainable event, even if we all wish they did.

Events succeed because of your business acumen. Great events fail because of lack of promotion and wasteful execution.

Keep the why in mind. Know your purpose before you do anything. It will help you design the event, market it, and keep going long into the night when your bed is calling you. If you’re the writing type, now is a great time to start a journal and explore what you’re looking to get out of this. If you’re not, assemble a bunch of friends and talk it out. Take notes! Make a big ol’ note to yourself that you can look at in good and bad times. Remember why you started this!

Use events as team builders!

Are you a corporation looking for something fun to do?
– It’s a proven fact that a little fear and adversity makes us bond.
Why not sign your team up for a race with us? 

Our Checkpoint Challenge partner and team races combine team work and adventure into one unforgettable morning!

Or train all year long for a triathlon with your group and join us at the Morro Bay Triathlon!

Another great option is volunteering or sponsoring an aid station – give back to the racers and our charities while teaching the value of service!

Perhaps you’d like your own?

We provide a unique experience for ambitious fundraisers through the Orangewood Foundation – network with high powered people who don’t mind getting dirty!

Contact us and let us know what we can do to support you, whether it’s customizing event shirts for your group, providing booth space, or putting together a custom event for your organization.

Lessons Learned After Over a Decade of Event Production

We make it our business to know the ins and outs of our business, and that means that despite us not being the biggest on the block, or the most profitable, we are generally slightly ahead of event trends for a reason.

When we started doing this, we were eager kids with a lot of free time, not a lot of business acumen or long term vision, unlimited energy, and extremely limited income. We landed large sponsorships from recognizable companies, got a lot of local support, and made it feel like this was an easy place to make our way.

My, how things have changed!

The final Mud Mash, RIP little guy!

The final Mud Mash, RIP little guy!

In 2010, we had a stable of ten events: adventure races, triathlon, runs, bike races, mud runs, and more. We worked hard, we played hard, and hopefully we made a lot of people happy. In 2016, we’ll be self producing two events. Why the shrink?

A number of factors, many of which affect the future of all events going forward:

  • Insurance changes – As time has progressed, events have gotten larger as a whole and had more attention from the insurers themselves. Since land managers won’t let you produce an event on their property without it, insurance is a must. But when the requirements for insurance start to impinge on the ability to produce an event, it starts to become a problem. This could be required coverage increasing over 100% from one year to the next, it could be restrictions on an event’s features (aka, you can’t have water activities or obstacles), or it could be flat out refusal to insure, depending on the event. History, longevity, and safety records don’t matter.
  • Politics and resource management crackdown – Whether it’s Florida or California, we’ve experienced more and more difficulty because of permit requirements from management agencies. We’ve had government agencies demand we hire a specific company in the permitting process for a service that charges way more than something any other company could provide, we’ve had safety agencies require above and beyond coverage because of one thing happen with a different event because of poor management and planning, and we’ve had increased demands for permits – requiring thousands of dollars of professional services we used to be able to do ourselves. Things like this limit creativity, and definitely limit profitability for an event. We’re proud of our professionalism and ability to navigate this world and make things work (our 24 hour race this year involved 14 different permitting agencies working in conjunction with one another in a location we’d never hosted an event at, and everyone left happy!), but that’s a benefit of over a decade of learning the game. The newer entries to the event world will have a harder and harder time, especially as we feel the squeeze.
  • It took a lot of convincing and team work to get this 24 hour adventure race to go.

    It took a lot of convincing and team work to get this 24 hour adventure race to go.

    Marketing Challenges – Ten years ago, we didn’t have quite the sophisticated marketing machine we do now. This is good and bad. You can target the heck out of people you think would like to know about your event, but unless you have the $$ to do so, you’ll never get through. An old advertising adage was you have to hit someone 7 times before they engage.

    • How much will that cost? We particularly loved Spartan Race’s Joe Desena in an article with Obstacle Racing Media: “When Spartan was first beginning to advertise in 2010, DeSena said he had a “moment of insanity” and was spending about $300,000 a month on digital marketing. In what could have been a warning to potential competitors looking at the Obstacle Course Racing business, DeSena said if he were to attempt to reach that same amount of people today it would cost about eight times that $300,000 monthly expense. “It would be hard for us to recreate that today”.”
    • In 2014, we went into $15,000 debt to throw everything we had at marketing our obstacle race and triathlon – and the result was what we expected: not enough. Fancy website redesigns, aggressive online targeting, and billboards just won’t do it. Without a built-in desire by the population to find your event, unless you’re an established something in your community, it’s a massive uphill battle that requires either patience or lots and lots of money. Neither of which is a guarantee of success.
  • Community Support – We’re not talking about the racing community here. If you are putting on a good quality event, you’re touching your participants in a sincere and impressive way, and you’re relating to them on a peer level, you’re winning. The key here is getting enough of them. But, no, we’re talking about the larger community: local businesses, governments, and tourism boards getting behind what you’re trying to do. We’ve seen events have a LOT more success here than we by bringing a different game with them: while we’ve been putting on events *we* think are cool, the better tactic for support is finding out what the community wants and bringing that forth. This can be through demographic research, surveys, or asking. But, for us? We’d rather do what we love than do what others want us to.
  • Big business/scalability/adaptability – With the advent of the Internet and social media, we’re very, very connected. The local mom and pop event won’t draw to its potential unless you go big. Just like chain businesses where a loss here and there balances out with a portfolio of locations, so too are the more successful event chains.
    • At the same time, we’ve watched the rise and fall of attempts through the years, most notably the obstacle course races. Remember Zombie Runs? Man, when all the zombie movies came out, I was sold. But what was promised and what was delivered couldn’t line up. Beyond that, people moved on from zombies to the next trend. The undead are dead.
    • Obstacle course races in general definitely peaked a few years ago. We had to compete with two other events locally one fall, both under delivering and blighting the offering as a whole. And, beyond that . . . only a few races have maintained viable numbers (though they are falling vastly from their peak years) from what we can see – and they did it by scaling big time right away, plugging in, digging deep, and expanding internationally. Only so many people have the investment and skill resources to make that work. Certainly not the majority of event producers, and to the detriment of why most get into it in the first place – to have fun!
    • The other thing we’ve seen happen here is events that survive, adapt. Again, a great example of that has been The Spartan Race series: started in the heat of passion for the movie 300, thousands of people, inspired by the Greek Spartans signed up to test themselves. The original races focused heavily on the Spartan theme . . . but as the passion for 300 faded, they harnessed the passion for the workout it inspired, and the Crossfit revolution that started around the same time and created a symbiotic relationship there. It was brilliant, it was forward thinking, and it is something most of us lack the ability to do while mired in a million things at once. There are triathlons based on lakes are literally drying up and attendance is waning . . . adaptability is the #1 thing to do if you’re established but want success.
  • unnamed (12)

    Just another triathlon, but an ocean one, with kayaking, and great community support.

    Recognizing that the market is saturated – It is IMPOSSIBLE to schedule an event that doesn’t conflict with a compatible event. You have to either be so cool and different that they have to try yours, or you have to be more accessible in some way or another. And you have to make sure the population that wants to go to both is big enough to fill both.

Bottom line, the only way to make events work these days is figure out what people want, and give it to them. But then you also have to have the means to do so.

Some of our events have failed dismally in the past, leaving us near bankruptcy. Some of our events have been wildly successful one year and then tanked the next, with no reason we can put our finger on. Event production is like playing a slot machine. Put enough money and resources in there and do it long enough, it will hopefully pan out. But do you want to wait around that long if you’re not lucky enough to start with a lot of money or win on the first few handle pulls?

I highly recommend reading Seth Godin’s The Dip to really make this point. Basically, you have two charts:

chart3This chart shows you three possible paths for your endeavors – you’ll feel really good as your effort starts to go up but then . . . CRASH! or you’ll be fighting a good long time and then . . . CRASH!

What you need to be on is The Dip:


How do you get there? By getting better than your competition (and you always have competition, even if you don’t see it yet) and persevering through your competition’s hardships. Again, via money, energy, or time.

Another great, relatable book to our topic is How Bad Do You Want It? After reading the author’s case studies, I’ve found that in many ways, in many different arenas in my life, the answer is “Not bad enough.” When it’s time to crash out, cash out, or just stop feeding the machine, it’s when you answer “How Bad Do You Want It” with “Not bad enough.”

And that is why All Out Events has shrunk in the last five years. Though, arguably, the past few years have been our most profitable both from the ability to enjoy life angle and the events. Singling our attention to the events we actually want to put on makes a huge difference for a small business. We took a look at energy expenditure vs money income and the answer for things like our popular Mud Mash was: “we don’t want it bad enough.” It wasn’t a loser, but it took all hands on deck to make it go and it wasn’t growing enough for us to scale it or make it easier to produce.

This is where we get to the state of our beloved All Out Adventures series. How bad do we (and our community) want it? When we looked at the end of this year’s efforts and it netted a bit of a loss, and when we found out we were expecting twins in 2016, the answer was . . . we don’t want it bad enough. And so, we put it to the adventure race community and asked them the same thing . . . and the answer also was . . . not bad enough.

In the end, it's the fun, the smiles, and the love that matters.

In the end, it’s the fun, the smiles, and the love that matters.

And that’s exactly the issue with that sport’s success. There are races willing to put in the effort to keep growing and pushing the sport, but unless there’s a large, adaptable, scalable effort on a national level, we’re getting nowhere. While we feel we have the skillset to make that work, we need more powerful resources to make it work. Most help has come in the form of asking us to simply work harder to prove ourselves, but we feel we’re past that, and we’re getting contracts that bank on our skills that pay maximally for minimal effort these days. Where is the motivation?

And so, dear reader, that is the state of events in 2016 from All Out Events’ perspective. We hope this was interesting and perhaps helpful!

When a Last Minute Cancellation of a Race Isn’t a Scam

I don't have a photo of Josue Stephens or the race, so you get this instead.

I don’t have a photo of Josue Stephens or the race, so you get this instead. Thanks, Creative Commons!

A month ago, our friend and fellow SLO resident and race director, Josue Stephens, flew out with his young son to take him to Mexico and be a part of a much hallowed, respected, and super cool race, the Ultra Caballo Blanco. The race was started by Micah True and made famous in the book Born to Run – a chronicle of how modern science interferes with evolution in humans and sparked a minimalist, fore-striking movement.

I read the book. I totally tried the barefoot running shoes, the Nike Frees, the New Balances, and you probably have, too. Whether you’ve stayed with it or gone the Hoka One One route (totally the opposite), most athletes know about True and this race and the indigenous Tarahumara running stars profiled in the book.

When True died out in the desert on a run, his friends looked around for someone to take the reins – settling on Stephens. For the past few years he’s worked with True’s friends to produce a race in a rough part of Mexico (it’s cited in the book as a hotbed of drug activity) that both highlights and supports the Tarahumara there.

What should have been a beautiful destination race that gave back to the people there and gave much to the participants ended up being canceled last minute. It was such a big story, that the New York Times picked it up, along with the usual running magazines, sites, and blogs.

Sitting at my computer, looking at Facebook, I was shocked to see this update from Stephens come through my feed:

Runners are safe and the majority of them have begun their journey home. We will have more information in a few days once we are home and rested. We encourage everyone to run this week in support of peace, in the Copper Canyons and all over the world.

Because of the race cancelation we were unable to distribute the corn to Raramuri finishers as was traditional. However, we are working together with Norawas de Raramuri to arrange fair distribution of this corn to the Raramuri villages that have participated in the event before.

What what what?

When Stephens returned, he told us that an incredible thing had happened – drug violence had escalated to the point he didn’t feel safe putting on the event as people were being found literally decapitated and he his son had been caught in crossfire between the drug violence in town.

So, with the racers all having arrived, he made a difficult choice to cancel the event. The Mexican government, eager for good publicity and tourism dollars literally took his bullhorn and told people to stay, that it was safe and they would be protected. Really? Who was protecting the Stephenses in the street, the police he saw dearmed and abducted?

And so, the race was off.

And dang, rightly so. You do not send people under your protection, many of whom are in a foreign country and do not speak the language? NO BRAINER.

Did you know that race insurance (much like home insurance) has clauses for just such thing – and it’s terminated in case of war, acts of God, etc.

So, what was definitely a safe call by Stephens was met with major controversy in the running community. Why? Because Fuego y Agua, Stephen’s company was not refunding people’s money.

As we like to do here from time to time, let’s take a look at this for a moment.

The obstacle racing industry has been plagued in the past few years with events being set up, money collected, and then quietly canceled. Outside magazine profiled a race company that did it with marathons. Is there much recourse for such things? Some, yes, but most of the time if they’re filing bankruptcy or you are getting the hell out of dodge with untraceable funds – there’s no real chance you’ll see your money again. (In this case, however, it’s always a good idea to dispute charges through your credit card – they’ll likely help you out and there are consequences for the company that then comes under investigation by the credit card for fraud.)

But when an event director comes to a location, has the entire thing set up, staff in place, shirts, finisher prizes, permits, insurance, etc in order – should he or she give back all the money?

No. Here’s why: do you love that organization? Do you want to see it continue to succeed? Did you know that most races cost a pretty penny to put on?

When all those expenses are laid out prior to event day, who eats those costs if people give you back full refunds? The company – and many times, a specific individual. If you’re not working with a big budget, that’s going to hurt. It’s going to result in things like bankruptcy and Ramen for dinner . . . and why would you want to do that to someone? If you’ve got enough cash laid out to attend an event, train for it, and race in it, my guess is that it’s not worth it to you to make someone else suffer mightily because the event doesn’t happen for a good reason. Events, let’s face it, are luxuries. For the people in Mexico – they were able to come together, get their race swag, have a great vacation, and many went and ran together in solidarity in other, safer places.

But there’s always a few.

The whole thing left a bad taste in Stephens’ mouth and he immediately relinquished the race for the following year – it’s been given to the nonprofit beneficiary for the race in the past, Norawas de Raramuri. We hope that they’re able to continue this beautiful race in a safe way for the future. Now the locals are empowered to use the race as they see fit to help their community. As someone who shared the notice said, sin palabras (speechless). It’s a beautiful gesture for a race with a huge following that could have been sold at a profit. Scam artist? Heck no.

Our race director, Yishai, had the honor of going to Nicaragua a month prior to assist Stephens’ Fuego y Agua series there (here’s a great blog with beautiful photos of it) – and Y came back with much respect for the honor, professionalism, and calm that Stephens exuded. We will be proud to partner with him in the future on our events and on his, and we’re glad he made the decision not to go destitute because of a few indignant, albeit loud, voices.

We’ve seen, and, unfortunately, partnered with scam artists and people with poor character – but he is not one of them, and that next race you enter that gets canceled might be for a good reason, too. (Hey, did you hear about Ironman Tahoe last year? Canceled at the starting line. No lie!)

Understand the costs, and we hope you’ll understand the choices made.

Leadership By Giving Power Away

"I might be putting this thing on, but the athlete's the one in charge."

“I might be putting this thing on, but the athlete’s the one in charge.”

People get into the event business for a number of reasons, but the ones that stick around seem to have two very strong qualities:

  1. The desire to be in the middle of intense action, even when it hurts.
  2. Entrepreneurial spirit

I’ve been chatting with our intern during our weekly meetings about what she wants to do with her life. She’s finishing up at community college here and on the path to moving back home and getting the 4-year degree. She’ll be leaving an epic social life and a lot of opportunities. “It just feels like getting that degree is delaying opportunities,” she said. And, surprisingly, her parents are also asking her to reconsider finishing that degree.

All of the principals of All Out Events have four year (or more) degrees, but after ten years in the business, we totally get it. We don’t need a college degree, we need those two qualities above.

Especially for the kind of work we do. When everything seems to be going to hell at once (and yes, it happens, but hopefully you don’t see it), our radios flare up and we call out for support, for reinforcements, for quick-action decisions.  Nobody is there to punch a clock, and everyone is there hoping that the hardwork will pay off eventually.

You don’t get people like that by being “the boss” and holding the power for yourself. Sometimes I reckon that putting on high logistics events feel like orchestrating a war. All these factors, civilians, enemies (in the form of problems, nature, complaints), and tons of different angles. There’s a reason great generals are there not as top-down decision makers but also as inspirers.

At the end of the day, you’ve got to be left standing, broken, bankrupt, and ultimately responsible. But hopefully your troops got something out of it, no matter what.

The thing that’s missing with the general analogy is the fact that event planning takes a team. A team you can rely on. One you can lean on.

10 pm, and we're still going strong!

10 pm, and we’re still going strong!

Over time, I’ve learned that if you’ve got people with those two qualities, you can give them everything. You can tell them how much money you’re making (or not), you can tell them what’s going on with marketing, and you can ask them what is going wrong. You’re on the same team – you’re pulling for the same successes. Moreover, you’re not alone when you have to make big decisions. Whether it’s hiring or closing up shop, your team is with you and they’ll be there to make sure it’s not all on you.

That is a blessing. Being the “boss” in events means giving away the “boss-ness” of your relationship and making sure everyone gets what they need to kill it.

When they don’t, looking to yourself first for the reason why. Make sure you’re quick to see effort and note it – even if it’s just “Hey, I saw you do that. I appreciate it.”

And if you see fault, go back to navel gazing for a moment – if these people are on your team, what’s causing the problem? Can it be addressed proactively by you before you even approach them with your criticism? Many times, the answer is yes. Maybe you need to train them more, prepare them more, or make them understand their role in the bigger picture.

Get out of micromanagement and let your team know what the consequences are. There’s no bloated company paychecks or people punching the clock to blame – it’s people bruised, bleeding, and tired right alongside you.

Find people that work like you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life (and they’re fun to go with beers with after it’s all over, too)!

That’s living.

That’s leadership.