Even in his downtime, Broadstreet CEO Mark Baltazar finds a way to keep his brain in high gear.
Years ago, he took up flying planes as a way to escape the office grind and focus on something other than work — and found he learned some valuable career lessons about discipline and preparedness in the process.
“When you fly a plane, you have three backups for everything,” he says. “You are always thinking about, ‘Down the road I'm going to be landing somewhere; do I have all the codes and communications I need?’ Those things apply to work.”
The same principles applied to Baltazar's first foray into events, working as a stage manager on Broadway in 1987. However, it was the lack of job security between shows that pushed him toward corporate events, where he found many companies ready and willing to take in employees from the Broadway community.
“It was an easy transition,” he says. “Theater in particular taught me the ability to uncover the ‘truth’ in any scene so the audience could easily make an emotional connection in the moment. For any kind of event, the ultimate goal is to provoke an emotion.”
Today, Baltazar's company produces about 50 events a year across various industries, but he says being able to forge those connections is still one of the most important aspects of his job. And not just for those attending the event — it's also crucial to him to be able to form an understanding between himself, his production team and his clients.
“You have to connect to your client and understand the subtle difference of what they ask for and what they want,” he says. “You have to understand the needs and desires of producers and creatives, who all work toward the same goal but at the same time have diverse and distinct needs.”
With today's technology, such as email, text messages and the Internet, communications between all levels of a company are becoming more frequent, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and idea-sharing. Though Baltazar calls technology a “big game-changer” for him when it comes to creating stronger corporate connections, he warns there are pitfalls to be wary of.
“Technology has also made our expectations of time increase exponentially,” he says. “We become reactive and have less time to discover the magic in an event.”
Because of this, Baltazar says he's most proud of any event that succeeds in creating that targeted emotion and that sets new standards for a client. To pull this off, the Broadstreet team thinks outside the four walls of a ballroom, and doesn't let doubts hold them back. Once, Baltazar's team pitched a meeting on New York City's Ellis Island for 650 people. Despite having a tiny budget and being forced to move the location 13 times, Broadstreet made it happen.
“You never know until you actually execute if [a plan] is going to come off,” Baltazar says. “When you get a reaction, and it works, there's nothing better, because it was merely an idea at one time. It's pretty amazing.”
Broadstreet 242 W. 30th St., Floor 2, New York, NY 10001; 212/780-5700; www.broadstreet.com
“I'm never surprised [in this industry], but I'm often shocked. It's usually about just common sense; we move so fast, the obvious that's right in front of our face gets lost.”
“I love to be in a constant state of learning. It keeps you fresh, aware and open to new ideas, grows brain cells, and just opens your eyes.”
TECH AS A TOOL
“Technology is the big buzzword, but technology is only a tool that helps to make an event great — not the end result. We find it most effective when it's used to enhance the collective experience and not become the focus of the experience.”
“A career in the events industry requires a huge amount of curiosity, commitment and fortitude. There is a huge opportunity to turn the industry on its head and blaze new trails.”