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Career AdviceEvent Planning

Becoming an Event Planner

Alicia Schiro, Founder, and CEO, Aced It Events

Alicia runs a successful corporate event planning and production company. She is available to help with all types of corporate client entertainment. She can be reached at alicia@aceditevents.com  www.aceditevents.com

Alicia, tell us how you got started as an event planner?

It was a complete twist of fate. Initially, I started in the corporate technology sector and after the dotcom downturn, the board decided to merge the company with a competitor. My dream was always to own a café, so that’s what I set out to do after that. Gourmet Café was born, and I ran it for three years, and it did well—it was a tremendous experience. Unfortunately, I had a terrible horseback riding accident, and I was forced to sell my café as I wasn’t mobile enough to give it my full attention.

As I was recovering, I bumped into a colleague of mine. He had started his own mobile gaming company and gave me my first shot at an event and tradeshow planning job. Even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do, he had me shadow people so I could figure it out. There was one project where he needed a giant mobile phone built and asked that I try and get it made in New York. I completed the project on time and under budget. He gave me a permanent job managing tradeshows around the world. I was hooked.

After this experience, I realized it was something I enjoyed doing. I worked at two companies in the event planning capacity, and it was there I started to build my book of business. I learned so many skills along the way—the most important being the art of sales and negotiation. Over the years, I built relationships with high-profile clients such as Macy’s, Rolex, Diageo, Johnson and Johnson, Nestle and many more. I’ve worked with celebrity chefs, professional athletes, and even got to meet Maya Angelou.  In the process, I also got to tour with the band Foreigner for the summer. This was a unique experience I curated for my clients. I mean, what client doesn’t want to feel like a Rockstar!

I produce events that position my clients in the most successful way for their employees and customers. I even brought some really good ideas to the table for one of my employers—it’s wasn’t always a popular thing to do, but I was always thinking of ways to elevate the companies I worked for. Sometimes the ideas weren’t well-received but it didn’t stop me, it actually redefined how I thought. I’ve witnessed companies who had everything, mismanage their budgets and their employees and I watched them lose it all.  I learned a lot and knew it was time to go out and start my own event production company. I’ve been doing it now for three years, and I’ve never looked back. My clients value my work and continue to come back to me.  They also send referrals my way.

I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs over my career. I was promised a general manager’s position, only to be told I’ve never scaled a business. Then to find out the guy who did receive the position, never worked in the event industry or scaled a business. Promises are made and broken, it’s important not to become jaded. I learned to work harder and be better.  “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Steve Martin.

When I started my company, I was drinking from the firehouse. I had to do everything from incorporating my business to planning client events, manage the budget and everything in between. It was all on me. Things weren’t easy, but I got them done. “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Since I had a client base I got up and running quickly–I went online and got incorporated—which is not as easy as people tell you. What helped me was not to keep worrying about what an enormous financial sacrifice this was going to be. Rather than think about the money I was spending, every day I created a list to help me focus on what needed to get done. “JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD,” I told myself.

I don’t have a lot of overhead since I do everything. I’m very hands-on.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for more than three years.

What’s your golden rule?

You’re only as good as your last event. Always raise the bar. You have to be self-motivated–be your biggest cheerleader and fan.  You have to really want it and love it. I  set my own schedule. Focus on doing what you love the most.

Who’s been your biggest influence?

My friend, mentor, and adviser—Rhona Silver, she was an amazing individual. Sadly, she passed away in 2017. Rhona started the first kosher catering company in Long Island and the Huntington Townhouse. Major celebrities and dignitaries would frequent there and host events. She was the definition of glam and taught me to pay attention to details and go above and beyond what anyone else would do. Her vision was terrific, and she did everything at a reasonable price. Rhona could always pull off a blowout event even with a limited budget. That’s the challenge! Anyone can plan an event with an unlimited budget. She did all of these things at a time when not too many women were setting the world on fire. She started the first online marketplace for events and catering. She was a visionary in the truest sense of the word.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?

Starting my own event planning company.

If you could go to dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?

I want to host a dinner party with these 8 guests.

Tony Robbins, Prince, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jesus Christ, Walt Disney, Cleopatra, Suze Orman

What advice would you give to kids who are entering college?

Good luck! It’s challenging – because these days the discussions and curriculum are politically driven. Do your own research and don’t be influenced by others. Think on your own – be your own person. Otherwise, you can’t make informed decisions.

 

 

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