corporate events

Aerial shot of a group of woman.

Tuck at Dartmouth

Li

2022 Tuck Executive Leadership Capstone at IBM

Tuck at Dartmouth was a learning experience I had not expected. There we were, ‘tucked in’ at the IBM Learning Center for the 2022 Tuck Executive Leadership Capstone. We had been selected by WBENC and the program was underwritten by IBM. The program immersed us in Finance, Marketing, and Supply Chain Logistics. I pinched myself. Hard.

WBENC

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) selected 54 women business owners from across the country. We were invited to participate in the 2022 Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business Executive Leadership Capstone sponsored by IBM.

This program pulled together a perfectly-sized cohort of women with very different businesses, structures, processes, trajectories, histories, and strengths. All in all, we represented an extremely diverse cultural, regional, and socio-economic pool.

One of the most important facets of WBENC’s programs is how they facilitate building a workable and sustainable cohort. This particular program brought together women from different backgrounds industries, and regions. The professors and facilitators actively encouraged us to bring our real-world quandaries into discussions.

Tuck at Dartmouth

Although I had no business education before starting my company, that has not stopped me.  However, it has incentivized me to learn. To learn more, better, and faster. The Dartmouth professors created an intense course of study that allowed us to understand and implement strategies immediately.

Even though it may seem trite, there is a palpable difference between working with women business owners and the typical business world. Typically, competition is the norm, but between WBE’s, the generosity, camaraderie, knowledge, and business environment are completely different.

IBM

Everything about the program was excellent–the hospitality at the IBM Learning Center, the campus–it was almost perfect. On the other hand, if only they had had coffee makers in the rooms! (I am prepared for that–I always take instant coffee with me.)

Meals and breaks were structured to give us plenty of time to learn about each other, our businesses, and even specific recommendations and strategies. The food was outstanding, the setting gorgeous!

Takeaways – big and small

One particular takeaway, casually shared over dinner by a business powerhouse: “A successful business needs four strong legs—sales or business development, operations or production, finance, and also a spiritual or community giving-back element.” This may seem obvious, but hearing it in that moment from that business owner put it in an entirely different framework.

Maybe it’s just women who believe that there is enough pie. It could be that I am totally naïve. Perhaps there are ways people can work together, develop trust and take risks, make mistakes, and still continue to grow, thrive, and survive.

In this age of brown-washing, black-washing, woman-washing, and DEI without substance, follow up, or support, I challenge you to find organizations that allow you to come as you are, to find your place at the table (I believe there is room at the table for everyone), and share something of value. I passionately believe that there truly is enough pie, and am willing to help cut and serve it.

Who’s bringing the coffee?

Special thanks to Christiane Buessard, Pamela Prince-Easton, Liana Frey, Andrew Gaeckle, Margaux Lohry, Lauren Lu, Leslie Robertson, Laura Taylor, Jennifer Turner, and Joanna Wright.

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Group of young co-workers gathered together.

Accessibility Design

Accessibility

Accessibility—what is it and why should you care?

When you speak to someone, the hope is that they receive your communication and understand it.

In life, like on the web, there are ways of helping your communications reach their intended recipients.

Why bother with accessibility?

Why bother with designing for accessibility? Do you have the time to worry about everything? Of course not, but it is in your best interest to learn how to create accessibility.

Actually, about 26%—that is one in four—Americans live with a disability. Can you afford NOT to try to share your message, your event, your words, images, and thoughts with them?

Do well by doing good

What if I told you that you can do well by doing good? That by taking small, thoughtful steps to help make things accessible to people with hearing or visual disabilities, you will be increasing your market share? You will also be raising your search engine visibility.

One way to think of alternative descriptions is like an extra tag or sign on an item at the store. So if you were looking for snack foods, but wanted gluten-free, this would help you find it better and faster.

Everyone on social media talks about the algorithm or feeding the algorithm. To put it bluntly, why wouldn’t you want to add extra descriptions to your content—your story, your picture, your music?

What I recently learned from Google

Google recently offered an online course through SCORE. It was simple and sweet. Here are the basic takeaways:

  1. Optimizing your content will help people find you.
  2. Google will reward optimization by increasing your SEO ranking.
  3. You will make the world better by being inclusive.
  4. On top of all that, it will help you lessen your legal risk.

Why do I even care about all of this? Because of the nature of what we do at Handy Entertainment we see that accessibility is not just good business–it is fundamental. By being nimble, we create much more impact by reaching people where they are, by including them. Inclusion is not just about wheelchair accessibility. It is not about having Braille available. Inclusion is about welcoming people wherever they are and providing them with the tools to participate.

Here are some accessibility elements for digital content design.

Accessibility design techniques for digital content design.

Please share your thoughts on accessibility in your industry.

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Shoutout Atlanta 2020 Interview - The Giving Skirt blowing bubbles

Shoutout Atlanta 2020 Interview

(Shoutout Atlanta 2020 Interview–reprint of the article)

September 1, 2020 – Shoutout Atlanta featured Handy Entertainment

We had the good fortune of connecting with Jan Levie and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jan, how does your business help the community or world?

At Handy Entertainment, we say “Everybody is at the table,” and mean it. Diversity and inclusion are the foundation of what we do. Some of the ways we address inclusion and diversity are in hiring. A year ago in March we began partnering with the Bobby Dodd Institute to build meaningful positions for people with disabilities. There are many kinds of disabilities–some that are obvious, and some that fall under the radar. Under- and unemployment are extremely high in the disabled community. Something as simple as maintaining eye contact in an interview, or only having the stamina to work a certain number of hours a day makes finding meaningful employment particularly difficult for people with disabilities. The work we create demands flexibility. That flexibility gives us the nimbleness to adapt not only what we do, but also how we can structure work. Another way to build diversity and inclusion is by making what we do accessible to more people. Our first cancellation due to the pandemic was to be our first event implementing American Sign Language. We wanted to underscore the importance of accessibility in the events industry. While submitting for grants and funding in April, I discovered that out of 19 employees, 17 were women, minorities, LGBTQ+, disabled, veterans, or a combination. The vast majority of businesses we partner with are owned by women, minorities, LGBTQ+ folk, veterans, or again, a combination. How did we create this environment? With intention. We’ve been members of the OUT Georgia Business Alliance (formerly Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce) since 2012, back before it was cool. I remember a conversation with my business consultant when I’d told him I was putting the AGLCC logo on my website. He said, “That might cause you to lose business.” I replied, “That’s too bad. That’s not the kind of business I want.” That’s the bottom line. What are your values? How do you treat people? Do you stand up for what you believe in? Do you stand up for others? Everybody is at the table.

What is it that you do? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

What We Do. You are celebrating a milestone and sharing the most precious minutes and hours of your life with us. For corporate events, the stakes are equally high. We are given an awesome, rare, and daunting task–create meaningful and engaging entertainment that is unique and personal. Your event might call for customized Lip Cards, special costumes, messaging, or take-aways. Every one of our events and activations focus on creating a welcoming environment, putting people at ease, and connecting them with meaningful interactions. Our challenge is to produce an event that meets your needs that you’ve shared with us and even the ones you haven’t told us. What we do is similar to baking a different kind of cake for each event using different ingredients and a vision. As the world becomes more and more efficient and technology plays an increasingly prominent role in everything we do, my job is to create human connections. We bring people together and share a moment with them that is real, that is tangible, and is about them. That’s the bottom line–there is NO one recipe. That is what we love and what keeps me up at night.

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Three-Quarter Headshot Jan

Voyage Atlanta 2018 Interview

Voyager Atlanta 2018 Interview with Jan Levie

(the URLs have been updated in the reprint)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jan Levie.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.

I hail from Theater and Communications. Loving honesty and not really interested in rote repetition made me realize that a traditional career in the performing arts or as a journalist might prove a real challenge, so I kept working and trying things out.

One day (er, evening), I found my niche when I was removed from my post telling spooky stories at my kids’ elementary school Halloween party. The stories were too spooky. The other PTA Lady was a Gypsy Fortune Teller. (She is now a Judge — for real.) She asked me to take over while she took care of something. I did and people started lining up in the hallways for their readings, snaking through the corridors, asking our kids where their mom’s ‘shop’ was… I couldn’t see anything in her crystal ball, so I had people stick out their hands and read their palms.

From there, I gradually developed the concepts we use today of providing interactive event entertainment for people’s big moments. Whether it is Chocolate LipsReadings or a Zoltar Fortune Teller Booth (free human included), Food Readings or Golf Ball Readings, a Photo Booth or a Wild-Haired Waif trilling along the bannisters of a balcony while tossing Good Fortunes to the crowds, we look at how we can share your message with your guests, prospects, clients, employees, family, friends and the whole wide world in a way that will make you unforgettable.

Has it been a smooth road?

The road is smooth, it is paved with gold. No, not really. You know, even those people who want something different are the one’s whose eyebrows arch in disbelief when you tell them what you do.

I think the hardest moment for me was when I attended an event industry event that was a Toga Party. The temperature was literally close to a 100 degrees and really humid. I Youtubed some ideas, but then, strapped for time, decided to go without a costume. While pulling into the parking lot, I had the brilliant idea of just taking index cards (always have those babies) and riffing on René Magritte’s “Ce n’est pas une Pipe” by writing “Ce n’est pas une Togue” and safety-pinning it to my sweet little shift dress.

Arriving at the event, I was struck by how many ladies had apparently bought or rented toga costumes. I mixed and mingled. When the Toga Contest was announced and entrants were bid to line up, I slowly and deliberately rose from my seat and walked to the stage. There, I joined a bevy of toga-clad beauties. The audience was asked to vote using their applause. As the MC pointed to me, there was a wall of stone-cold silence. Afterward, I gracefully took my seat again, made it through the evening and ugly-cried all the way home. All that to say that taking risks can be tough. You are literally on your own. No matter how many people you work with or how many work for you, growth can’t occur without risk and there will always be nay-sayers and obstacles on the way. For me, they are the mile markers of my journey.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Handy Entertainment story. Tell us more about the business.

If I were to say to you that we love to serve real people, in real time with real entertainment, would that float your boat? How about Chocolate LipsReadings or Zoltar Fortune Teller Booth, or Food Readings — would you understand how we interact? Even Coffee Cup or Tea Leaf Readings can hold a whiff of what you need to share and can be tailored to hold a message that supports your cause or thrills your guests because it is about THEM.

Our mission: To graciously serve people of all ages, walks of life and beliefs, empower them to follow their passions, and to share the message with which we have been charged.

How do you do THAT with handmade chocolate ganache lipstick and beautiful, handmade cards? You make it allabout your client, their guests, their takeaway and information you can share that will help them understand how they are a part of it all.

We are known for bringing excitement and meaning to entertainment and events, of pushing the envelope when people say, “We want to do something different, but we always do [blah, blah, blah].”

Just the costumes themselves are sometimes enough to make you ponder, “Homeless or Hipster?” Recently while loading out of a big downtown hotel, the doorman body-blocked me as I came in, asking me what I needed. He seemed reluctant to let Little Miss Muffet pass.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?

The next 5-10 years hold enormous changes in all industries. In Live Events, many positions will continue to be rendered obsolete. The push towards outsourcing, automation, supply chain logistics, and continued developments in temporary and mobile 3-D printed accommodations will make live human interactions rarer and more desirable. Currently, we still have throngs of people paying dearly for the pleasure of being herded into ‘pleasure pits’ to ‘see/hear’ their favorites perform. How do we know that that image projected onto a screen is really the person we are being sold? People are beginning to segment their social interactions, and these groups are beginning to resemble the salons and soirees of past times. These movements have been sweeping through different milieus and have given rise to many popular experiences in the recent past: Micro-breweries, house parties, communes, mitigating your carbon footprint, farm-to-table—just to name a few. Live events also give people the ability to differentiate themselves and find others who share their interests and values.

Contact Info:

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