With the 2021 event season coming to an end and wrapping up our last event of the year with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in San Diego, our team has taken some time to reflect on what we learned. A handful of our new staff members at Event 360 have been learning about the Komen 3-Day and everything that goes into producing this beloved non-profit event for the past few months. They have heard about how it is a life-changing experience to be a part of something so much greater than one can imagine, and it certainly lived up to the expectations! We asked our new staff members to share the most important lessons they learned after staffing their first 3-Day® event.

Marketing and Social Media Manager, Mina Garagozlo, said her biggest takeaway was to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. She said, “No matter how much preparation and planning goes into the 3-Day, it can be nerve-wracking to walk into an event where you don’t fully know what to expect. Even while surrounded by a team full of kind, amazing people, it’s intimidating to be one of the least experienced people in the room. Take that and amplify it when you are meeting your coworkers for the first time in person, who are some of the most experienced event professionals in the country. Before I walked into event training, I took a moment to remind myself that each of the people I look up to and respect at Event 360 started in the exact same spot. The people who know this event like the back of their hand were also the “new kid” once upon a time. It actually ended up being a great experience to come into this event with a fresh set of eyes and allowed me to bond with my coworkers, particularly the ones who were also new to the 3-Day since we were experiencing a multitude of new things together. Our team was there to answer my questions and lend a helping hand, so I felt the support all around me. The 3-Day is truly something that is hard to put into words, but I learned that the discomfort of jumping into something new always leads you to something wonderful!”

Social Media Coordinator, Monica Roos, learned to prepare as much as possible, but be flexible! She said, “In the months prior to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in San Diego, preparations were made across the board. My team and I planned out major sights in San Diego we wanted to take pictures of, what times we needed to be at certain locations, what tools and equipment we needed, and how to get everything done efficiently and in a timely manner. We prepared social media posts in advance with ideas of what pictures we would pair with them. We set goals for our team on-event, splitting up agenda items by day. I felt that I was prepared for my first 3-Day, but when Day 1 came, I knew immediately that flexibility was going to be a huge factor in my success. We had all of these plans and schedules, but actually being out on the route was a bit of a different story. When we had opportunities to grab items on our photography shot list, we got them, even if it wasn’t planned until the next day. We moved social posts around, depending on when it seemed appropriate during the event, not during the planned times we had previously set. We got all of our deliverables taken care of, but in the midst of traveling from one cheering station or pit stop to another, there were some items on our “wish list” of photo-ops we didn’t get to, and that’s okay! I was very pleased with the amount of preparation I put into getting ready for the 3-Day, but now I know for the next event I staff that flexibility, moving things around, and taking opportunities when they arise is necessary for success.” 

Jesse McDaniel, Creative Services Coordinator, learned that the work that we do matters. He said, “The sleepless nights, long days and seemingly endless to-do lists can be overwhelming, but they’re necessary. The 3-Day community is so passionate and driven that being able to witness their dedication in real time is truly awe-inspiring. Event 360’s stake in this event means the world to a lot of people. It’s valued by the boy in the Youth Corps giving up a weekend to support his mom. It’s valued by the crew members who work around the clock just to be of service, and to the 10-year walker back again in support of her daughter. It’s valued by the sisters who’ve spent years traveling from state to state, focus unwavering as they do what they can to create a future free of breast cancer. We are greater than the sum of our parts, and each member of our team is imperative to our success. My directing traffic or distributing radios or just acting as an extra set of hands may not have been make-or-break moments for the 3-Day, but seeing everyone on staff, everyone in attendance, offering their very best, and receiving the very best in return was a sight to behold. I know many of us have lives that have been impacted by breast cancer in some way, and having the opportunity to help other people possibly have better stories is a gift. I’m so incredibly proud to be a part of an organization whose love for humans is no mere obligation but a privilege.” 

Event Production Coordinator, Brandon Clark, learned a lesson in seeing the bigger picture. When asked about his 3-Day experience he said, “It is no shock that the largest event of the year for Event 360 is the Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day. With its multi-day event schedule, three major sites, three stages, three ceremonies, 60 miles of walking trails, and countless permits secured, it is all-hands-on-deck when it is time to staff the event. This being just the third event I have staffed with Event 360 since joining the team in September, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. While staffing my first two events, I worked with smaller teams in one location, so even though I was new, it was rather easy to find my bearings and have a complete picture of everything that was happening behind the scenes. I landed in San Diego thinking that even though it was a huge event, the 3-Day was going to be no different. Well, I can tell you now that I was wrong in my assumption. After our first team meeting, I knew that the 3-Day was going to be like no other event I had worked in the past. The sheer amount of people staffing this event was mind boggling. Hearing everyone speak about their different roles, what to expect, and how to best execute the event smoothly was incredible to say the least. We all quickly got to work in our different departments, splitting up in multiple different directions, and starting on our individual tasks. My role for the week was to organize and run all of the sound elements across the different ceremonies and camp activities throughout the event. That became my bubble. At first, I thought it was a rather small role in the grand scheme of the whole event happening that weekend, but I quickly learned that the work that I did affected the work that the stage manager did. The work that the stage manager did affected the work that the creative team did, and so on and so forth, with the flow of all of our work constantly impacting one another. It was then when I realized that for this event, I wasn’t going to see the entire bigger picture — it was just too big. But the one thing I could see were the effects of teamwork — and quality teamwork at that. I come from a theatre background where everyone plays a role. Whether that be onstage or off, we all have a job to do in order to come together and create magic. It was apparent that weekend that the event world is no different. I didn’t need to have the entire picture to be successful. Every single one of us on event that weekend played our role, supported each other when we found bumps in the road, and managed to create the magic that became the San Diego 3-Day. Together, and only together, we painted the bigger picture.” 

You will always remember the first event you helped produce and the lessons that come along with the challenge of something new and exciting. As the 2021 event season comes to a close with the Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day, we are reflecting on the multitude of lessons we learned as a result of bringing people together for this event. What lessons did you learn producing your first event? Share your stories with us in the comments! 

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