The Business of Meetings – Episode 121: Shivoting with Dahlia El Gazzar
We are excited to speak with Dahlia El Gazzar, the Founder of Dahlia+ Agency, today! Dahlia is a tech, marketing, and digital agency specialist!
In this episode, Dahlia shares many valuable tips and insights for entrepreneurs and talks about tech, digital agencies, and digital marketing.
We hope you enjoy listening to our interesting and informative conversation with Dahlia El Gazzar today!
Dahlia has an OMG attitude about all things event tech and experience design. She is her own brand, with more than a decade of experience in the meetings and events sector, working on both the professional planning side and as an association collaborator, Dahlia is known as the coffee-fuelled ‘go-to’ source for trendsetting solutions, event tech news, and professional branding expertise.
Recently featured in:
Best Event Tech Evangelist: Event Tech Live 2022
Most Influential Women in Event Tech: BizBash 2021
Eventex 100 Top Influencers in Events Industry 2020
Smart Meetings Magazine 2019 Smartest Women in the Industry – Hall of Fame
Top 500 People in Events by BizBash 2019
Smart Meetings Magazine 2017 + 2018 Top 100 Smartest Women in the meetings industry who inspire us
Top 25 women in the meetings industry list by Meetings & Conventions Magazine
Top 20 of the #eventprofs US & Canada Power 100 List
Top Five Women in Event Tech List
MeetingsNet’s 2015 Changemakers
2014 Meetings Today Magazine’s Trendsetter & Industry mover & shaker.
Dahlia is an Evernote aficionado. She speaks globally on meetings and events technology and new-and-upcoming technology solutions and platforms. Her mission is to empower event professionals with practical intel on everything tech-related and educate them on the emerging digital innovation opportunities to elevate their events and audience engagement.
How Dahlia got into the meetings and events industry
Someone approached Dahlia at a resort on the Red Sea in Egypt, looking for somebody to plan a camel race with the Bedouins in the middle of the desert. Her only brief was to make money. She had to negotiate with some of the world’s hardest business dealers and owners. She created an amazing event with a camel race, a henna corner, a tea corner, and more than five hundred people. After that, Dahlia got addicted to bringing people together, making money, and the thrill of seeing something come together!
The “Coronacoaster” was a test of time for talent to ascertain whether they were in the industry or not.
Starting her agency
When Dahlia was with On Peak in Chicago, one of her great mentors, the head of On Peak, took her aside and spoke to her because he saw she was not giving her fullest. So she took a leap of faith and decided to start a business. The timing was off because her husband was going through brain surgery, and she had two young kids, so she was the only breadwinner. She went ahead anyway and founded Dahlia+, and On Peak became her first client.
Dahlia’s motivation for starting Dahlia+
Dahlia started Dahlia+ because she saw stakeholders in the industry having trouble telling their stories, changing their narratives, and talking to each other about how technology could help them. They also struggled to talk about how they could use digital solutions for change or how they could change their internal teams.
The plus in Dahlia+ came from the idea of Dahlia working with other agencies, partners, and experts who are smarter than her.
Some key lessons
- Align yourself with the lane you want to be in.
- Lean hard on those who can complement the lanes you are in.
- If you take on projects to satisfy your curiosity, it is not about the money. It is about what you will learn from it.
- The first thing you should do as an entrepreneur is to create your circles of trust, support, and expertise.
- Think of those who will compliment you in terms of your energy rather than your talent.
- Never work with toxic people who drain your energy.
Do not be a Jill of all trades and spread yourself too thin
If you take on too much and spread yourself too thin, you risk losing credibility in the areas you are not great.
A circle of support
If you have a circle of support, you will not get lonely when you have to work alone, make decisions or recommendations, or organize things yourself.
When looking for support and you need to vent, say so. If you need support when making a decision, say so. Then, when you tap into your circle of support, people will know what kind of engagement you need. Be there for them in the same way whenever necessary.
The Tech Zone
Dahlia created the Tech Zone to ensure that professionals are always ahead of the curve with technology and apps (like Evernote). It is a value-add, and they work across different industry sectors to help people feel comfortable asking the right questions and looking at new technologies to see how they will either work for them or not. Their ultimate dream is always to have a playground for people to play with tech, ask questions, and see if technology can work for them.
Dahlia started a podcast called Cut the Sh*t Cue the Genius with Liz Caruso and Michelle Bruno. Their webisodes air every Thursday at 9.30 EST. They curate topics their audience wants to hear more about and talk about what is going on in people’s minds. The audience comes up with solutions.
Tech and apps for starting a new business
If you are starting a business, get a project management platform to help you map things. Create a spot for storing new ideas, and start your business with a CRM solution. (MailTracker is a free extension on Google email to track who opens your emails.)
Choosing the right CRM is a matter of budget. It also depends on what you want to use it for. Dahlia suggests HubSpot, or you can even use Mailchimp as your CRM.
As an entrepreneur, you will always have scope creep if you fail to assess a project in the right way initially.
Protecting your bubble
Clients are always working and thinking and will approach you with half-thoughts or unbaked ideas that will require mental effort from you and your team. Be careful with that.
Pivoting was overused as a term. Then it changed to pirouette because people were going round in circles. Dahlia created the term shivoting by combining the words shift and pivot.
Know what you want to achieve
It is vital to know what you want to achieve with an event. Know which audience you are targeting, how you will measure the event’s success, and if you yourself would like to be part of the event you are designing. Or, look at what is in it for your audience if you are giving them the same speakers and content they have heard many times before.
Respect your intellectual property and expertise
New entrepreneurs should respect their intellectual property and expertise by refusing to speak for free at events, even if it gives them exposure. Nobody can guarantee business for you unless they guarantee leads for you as a new speaker.
Connect with Eric
Connect with Dahlia El Gazzar
On email: hello@email@example.com
Call or text Dahlia: 617 470 2655
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