Enjoying a cold beverage, some respite from the heat of Jakarta, and savouring the success of a recently completed live event series, a colleague recently asked—what were the three things that I’ve learnt from toiling within the event business. Hmmm. In no particular order…

1. Don’t be, nor promise, to be all things to all people

This is never a good thing. Many agencies present themselves as a full ‘turn-key’ solution provider. This is disconcerting.

Editor's Blog: A word on creativity
Editor's Blog: A word on creativity
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How to avoid awkward presentation moments
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What it really means is that they don’t really know what or who they are and more importantly what they are really, really good at. Or they are simply greedy and will promise the world before outsourcing and margining up all those things that they don’t really do. I’m ok with partnering—it’s a cornerstone of the live event process, but be transparent.

I’ve learnt not to try to be all things and instead practice restraint and be confident as a specialist that can excel in a particular niche. I believe these days some call this being authentic.

2. Understand the difference between reputation and character

The reputation of an agency or specialist is what people believe it to be or could be, and it is this reputation that is often skilfully manipulated and cultivated. Character however, is what you are when the lights go out—when all the corporate branding and pizzazz is stripped away. Character doesn’t hinge on what other people think—it resides within and is reflected in actions.

You’ll want to do business with an agency or individual with a good reputation but you’ll come to value and trust the depth and tenor of an individual's character, who has much more ‘skin in the game’.

3. The ‘168’ edict of business relationships

Strong relationships are crucial. Don’t just turn up, flicking business cards out like confetti and hope something comes of it. Relationship building is a lengthy reciprocal process based on real human connections.

Try the ‘168’ edict the next time you are out and about—it’s not a bad rule of thumb to work to:

1—It’s always about first impressions. And first second impressions

6—Give people at least 6 minutes of your time. Be present, genuine and curious

8—See somebody you know or want to know? Don’t wait. Walk the 8 metres over to them. It could well be the most valuable and or enjoyable 8 you’ve walked that day.

Now finishing my beer as the sun sets across the Selamat Datang Monument, and the orbiting carousel of traffic begins to light up like fireflies. Noisy but kinda pretty. So my last tip—remember there are only 168 hours in a week. Use them well. Use them wisely.


Based in Hong Kong, Darren is an international award-winning business communication professional who has been actively engaged as an agency head, executive producer, show director, and experiential marketer in the creative design and delivery of live communication programmes and brand experiences for a broad range of clients.  

Contact Darren on LinkedIn or at Factor168 Creative Events Company