Best of Summer 2021!


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Show Notes:

Listen back through Summer 2021 with highlights from our first five guests of Pivot Points!

Thank you to Alon Alroy, Bizzabo, Mike Sheehan, formerly with Hill Holliday & The Boston Globe, Kathleen Vadenais, Fidelity, Idalia Rodriguez, Arbor Advisory Group, & Theresa McNeely, Homology Medicine.


Elise Orlowski (00:08):

I’m Elise Orlowski, a Senior Video Director here at Cramer.

Tripp Underwood (00:11):

And, I’m Tripp Underwood, a Creative Director at Cramer.

Elise Orlowski (00:13):

And at Cramer, we work with so many incredibly fascinating people from all over multiple industries.

Tripp Underwood (00:18):

We have so many great conversations, many that are just too good to keep to ourselves. So now, we’re sharing them with the world.

Elise Orlowski (00:23):

Right here from Cramer studios.

Tripp Underwood (00:25):

This is Pivot Points.

Elise Orlowski (00:30):


Elise Orlowski (00:35):

You know, I think we’re just starting to think about it, but I’m curious. Looking forward, I think we’ve been thinking about all the learnings, but looking forward, where do you think we’re landing with hybrid events? What do you think that experience is going to be like moving forward?

Alon Alroy (00:50):

First off, I’ll say that yes, it is a buzzword, but when we also think about it, hybrid is all around us already. Think about the most amazing companies in the world right now, like Uber, right? When you think about that experience, it’s this intersection between digital and real life that makes the experience very powerful. You click a button, suddenly, there is a real car in front of you. When you think about Amazon, these are all hybrid experiences. So, we’re already living in a very hybrid world right now without thinking about it. And, this is where we need to take the industry. The industry is going to hybrid. There’s going to be, as said earlier, way more than just, “Here’s a live event and a live stream with some maybe Q and A.” We really need people to feel like they can really move dynamically between remote to in-person.

Alon Alroy (01:40):

So, I do think that all of the event elements will need to evolve. Sponsorship will need to evolve drastically because there will be virtual hybrid in-person opportunities. Events will become also this year round medium with different activations on top. So, now people think about an event is when the first piece of content, this is where the event starts, how to claim that actually event durations will really, really change. An event will have different components. It’ll have a virtual component, it’ll have an in-person component, then another virtual component. It can be potentially a two month event. It’s hard to think about it at the moment, but event formats will evolve.

Tripp Underwood (02:23):

Yeah. And I love that idea of shifting the mindset of this industry to less be about this event as a moment in time, and more about this event is a continuing conversation.

Elise Orlowski (02:34):

Yeah. It’s a series, it’s part of a bigger hole.

Tripp Underwood (02:36):

With communication temples that are live and virtual and like that, and thinking things in a more circular manner, as opposed to traditionally how we’ve been doing it for years of a linear one.

Elise Orlowski (02:47):


Tripp Underwood (02:47):

I think that’s both exciting and dead on.

Tripp Underwood (03:02):

What’s it like managing a kitchen staff versus an advertising staff? Two very different classes of people in terms of what’s expected of them, what they’re doing. And I’d just love to get your take on how they’re alike and how they’re different.

Mike Sheehan (03:15):

Yeah. Listen, there are similarities, particularly because in the kitchen, there’s a higher degree of creativity. There’s certainly perfection in the quality of the food that you’re always aiming for whenever it goes out to be perfect. And there’s the allergy side of it, which is it has to be, you can’t make a mistake.

Tripp Underwood (03:44):


Mike Sheehan (03:45):

We’ve got a gluten-free fryer, and so people have to be on their toes to make sure that we’re not serving anything that could be hazardous.

Tripp Underwood (03:58):

Dangerous. New level of detail.

Elise Orlowski (04:00):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Sheehan (04:01):

Totally. But I think it’s a little different and it’s been eyeopening certainly for me because it’s a transient business. The folks who work in the kitchen have, what I’ve experienced, have tended to be treated not particularly well with their work before and almost disposable. If you don’t like it, we’ll go get another one.

Tripp Underwood (04:27):


Mike Sheehan (04:28):

And that’s just never been the way that I’ve operated. I try to create an environment where people are valued and we actually have some people who’ve been with us from the beginning. You just got to treat them well, and hope they return the favor.

Elise Orlowski (04:42):

As I’m listening to you, I think you have so much experience and you definitely seem like someone that does not want to stand still, which I can relate to. I’m definitely not a person that likes to stand still either, but it can be exhausting. You know what I mean? I think at some point people kind of want to achieve that homeostasis in their life. And even, they just achieve a level and don’t know where to go from there. I guess, what motivates you to keep moving, to keep finding these different areas to really invest in and grow and expand? I’m curious.

Mike Sheehan (05:11):

Well, I don’t like to sit still. Yeah. I knew when I was in my kind of final years at Hill Holiday. I knew that I love to work and I love to do things, but I didn’t at that point, I think I was 52 when I left, I didn’t want a job job. I didn’t want… I love to work. I don’t want a job. When I did The Globe thing, I did it for three years. Right from the start. Because I know 36 months is like a short car loan. You can do anything for 36 months, but it was still, it was a job. It was you have an office, you have the desk.

Mike Sheehan (05:58):

And, I like to manage by being present. So, you don’t have a lot of options. You got to be there. And that’s just not… I love to work and I love change. I love doing new things. I just don’t like doing the same thing over and over and over. I don’t care how well it’s going.

Tripp Underwood (06:17):


Mike Sheehan (06:18):

I just don’t want to do it over and over again. I just get bored. I remember driving to my first day at The Globe and being very excited that for the first time, in a long time, I was driving to work with a pit in my stomach.

Elise Orlowski (06:34):

Yeah yeah yeah.

Tripp Underwood (06:34):

That nervous energy.

Mike Sheehan (06:35):

And listen, I didn’t have that. We were on an incredible run until holiday. It was great. We had a great team. It was amazing. But, I didn’t have a pit in my stomach anymore. The machine was running very well. But I liked that feeling. I just liked that feeling of not knowing if this is going to work out, or what you’re going to walk into and believe me, that was walking into something that… I probably anticipated 25% of what I would walk into when I walked into The Globe.

Elise Orlowski (07:31):

I’m curious. We just wrapped Fidelity Summit, Circle of Excellence. I’m curious as to what learnings you even had from those past two events, and how to

Kathleen Vadenais (07:45):

Yeah. I agree with you. It’s been a challenging year, but it’s been a great year, right? I think there was a lot of hard work done, late nights, but a lot of fun, too.

Elise Orlowski (07:56):


Kathleen Vadenais (07:58):

I think that some of the biggest learnings is failure is no longer a bad word around here. The best innovations have come through testing new things, missing the mark, and improving the process to be honest. We also identified that additional support is needed for virtual events, right?

Elise Orlowski (08:26):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathleen Vadenais (08:26):

There’s more rigor testing needed. There’s more analytics. There’s more need to have some sort of rapid response plan when you’re in a ballroom and something goes wrong, you can kind of work around it. When something goes wrong virtually, you have to have a plan to recover for us.

Elise Orlowski (08:48):


Kathleen Vadenais (08:49):

And as the team learned… that you guys have been great. As the team has learned, we have really strong meeting and events skills. In this new reality, the project management needs to be tighter with more oversight. Also, putting more tools in their toolbox, understanding of production and digital and technology are going to be key for them to be successful in the future.

Elise Orlowski (09:28):

Investor days. Everything has become virtual over this past year. I’m curious, what do investor days look like from a virtual perspective?

Idalia Rodriguez (09:39):

Well, they’re all over the place right now. I think we need to, as an industry, have some best practices. Some companies have done an amazing job at creating investor days. Many continue to produce investor days very similar to a live event. And, I don’t mean that in a positive way.

Tripp Underwood (10:04):


Kathleen Vadenais (10:04):

I mean that [crosstalk 00:10:06]

Elise Orlowski (10:05):

Not interpreting that for virtual,

Idalia Rodriguez (10:08):

Exactly. The interpretation for virtual is not happening. I think the old fashioned way of standing up at a hotel ballroom and on a stage with your slides next to you with a clicker in a suit are gone. I think that experience was flat at that time. And it’s even more flat when you’re trying to transfer that to the virtual format. For us, we feel that companies need to think of a investor day as an investor experience. It should be like, if you have any product and you’re going to launch that product. There’s a storyline, right? [crosstalk 00:10:56]

Idalia Rodriguez (10:56):

There’s the beginning, the middle, the end. And that’s how investor days need to be thought as going forward. Even if you go hybrid, which I think what we’re seeing in our firm is that companies are thinking in places like the east coast where a big percentage of the population has been vaccinated, that they will do it in person and they will do it virtual. But, it’s not just having a live stream of your CEO, speaking with a clicker and a big slide. It needs to be an experience and needs to be videos. It needs to be animated graphics. It needs to show the entire management team. It needs to be a Ted talk with your investors. It’s communicate with me, tell me your story, and make it compelling.

Tripp Underwood (11:54):

Teresa, I’m kind of curious if you can, what is it like when people are throwing very personal questions or very broad statements out there on the internet. And, how do companies like Homology respond to that? Or are you even able to respond to that? What does that back and forth look like in this industry?

Theresa McNeely (12:28):

I’m so glad you asked that question, because it is really frustrating for companies in this space. We talked a bit about the HIPAA regulations, patient confidentiality. Companies can’t even say whether or not that’s a patient, that’s not a patient. First of all, in many instances, we don’t really know.

Tripp Underwood (12:54):

So, someone could be posing as a patient when they are truly not a patient for whatever reason. Yeah. Just stirring the pot as it is. Wow. Okay.

Theresa McNeely (13:02):

That absolutely happens.

Tripp Underwood (13:04):


Theresa McNeely (13:04):

It happens among competitive therapeutic areas, companies buying for the same therapy and developments. So, it becomes a sometimes misused tool. But, I think once people and I put all people in that. Patients, caregivers, principal investigators, reporters, investors, you name it. Once they understand that the company cannot respond, I think then it’s a real eye-opener. It’s not that we don’t want to. We’re just unable to. There’s regulations in place that prohibit our responding, particularly in a forum, like social media.

Elise Orlowski (13:59):

That’s super eye opening to me. And that totally makes sense. Because you can’t track if that person is a part of et cetera, et cetera. But I think from the public standpoint or the reverse, I can see how a lot of big public things… [crosstalk 00:14:12]

Tripp Underwood (14:12):

It seems like the company is uncaring.

Elise Orlowski (14:13):

Correct. Yeah.

Tripp Underwood (14:14):

When it’s actually, we care too much to comment because we can’t jeopardize what we’re doing.

Elise Orlowski (14:17):

Which is such a switch usually, because usually people have to make statements. But yeah, that’s super eyeopening and a good thing to know.


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