Learn to love the power of “NO” — its ok to say you cannot do something for someone, setting boundaries is essential. I think most entrepreneurs feel like they have to say “yes” or figure out how to accomplish something, even if it’s outside the scope of their work or ability, much to the detriment of themselves and their company.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Karrie Goldberg. Karrie is the Founder of The Kagency, established in 2004 as a venue marketing and booking agency, which quickly scaled to support various verticals in the event, marketing, experiential and advertising worlds. Well known as one of the first agencies working with empty commercial real estate (now coined as pop-ups), The Kagency answered support needs of their clients by not only expanding their roster on a national scale, to include nightclubs, hotels, restaurants, public parks, abandoned warehouses and other unique spaces, but the agency also represents a stellar list of talent (DJs and visual artists), consults on the designs and build outs of event venues, executes out of home media buying, performs feasibility studies and much more!
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I often tell people it was a happy accident, but if I really had to analyze how The Kagency came about — it is truly the culmination of my interests. I worked in hospitality in Chicago during college and absolutely loved it — I was forced to hone my people skills and found myself very much at home with all the creative folks in the industry. I was also an avid music seeker and follower from a young age, attending my first concert (David Bowie) in the 6th grade. I went on to study Japanese and Accounting, combing those efforts in Tokyo at PriceWaterhouse Coopers, but quickly realizing the corporate world was not for me. My “Sliding Doors” moment came when one of my best buddies from Chicago was opening a photo studio in NYC and asked me to come help and on that same day, I received a full-time contract from PWC to move to LA. I chose NYC and never looked back- subsequently helping with the studio, taking over event bookings on my own, developing all the systems and marketing, eventually leading to companies calling me to help with their locations- The Kagency (nee Kage Konsulting) was born.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
Where to begin!?
I’ve been asked
- to find a balcony for Tabasco for pepper plants (southern facing)
- sign a contract that explicitly allowed a famous rapper to smoke weed in the venue ( I had to decline)
- to be a color commentator for an all women’s wrestling network with obligatory wrestling lessons as part of the package
I’ve negotiated contracts
- with Madonna’s team on my mobile while in a pool in Dubai
- with Louis Vuitton while on a horse-riding Safari in Kenya
I’ve been up at 3am to load in an event with 1,200 lbs of Hellman’s Mayonnaise and Billy Ray Cyrus.
Dave Chappelle crashed one of my client’s holiday parties- they loved it.
I met Martin Gore from Depeche Mode one night at Cielo, we had a nice long chat and I subsequently hosted their after party there after a performance at MSG.
I booked Roger Taylor (Duran Duran) to play with Louie Vega in Ibiza and woke up to an amazing string of texts from them both about how incredible the evening was — major FOMO.
But probably one that stands out the most was when I first started and was asked to meet a basketball player that needed help with endorsements- it wasn’t my focus, so I declined the opportunity…to meet LeBron James…still kicking myself for that one
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The entire business was built on errors and lessons learned- our venue agreement used to be 4 pages, now its 26…Hard to pin point one, but I do recall that we did a big birthday party for a music mogul who had booked Earth, Wind and Fire as his headliner with Maroon 5 opening- this was 17 years ago- and I loudly said “ who the hell is Maroon 5”- they were standing right next to me…and then went on to have a #1 song like..weeks later☺ After that, I never openly asked/discussed/criticized any talent or vendor openly..
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
In essence, the very service we offered 15+ years ago was new and novel, so we stood out and developed an untapped market. What makes us unique now is our very hands-on approach, in that we truly support every production above and beyond. Our ability to deliver and offer solutions , given years of experience and a massive database, puts us in another ballpark.
For example, one time I booked a very intimate event where Ziggy Marley and The Roots were performing. The venue did not have any space for a green room and there was not enough frontage for a mobile green-room either. So, I had an idea to rent the bagel shop next door- I negotiated a deal with the owner to include a buy out and craft services- we draped the window and voila, a green room- still makes me laugh, but the producer was thrilled and it all went seamlessly.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I think its all rather subjective, but what seems to have worked for me
- Learn to love the power of “NO” — its ok to say you cannot do something for someone, setting boundaries is essential. I think most entrepreneurs feel like they have to say “yes” or figure out how to accomplish something, even if it’s outside the scope of their work or ability, much to the detriment of themselves and their company.
- Exercise- make it part of your schedule like you would a meeting.
- Find a hobby that has nothing to do with your work — about 8 years ago, I got back to horse riding and it became my #1 focus on the weekends. I got up early, was outside, met loads of amazing people, got in some exercise- it was as good for me on the inside as it was on the outside.
- Set aside at least one night per week for yourself- I found that in NYC ,I was out every night with friends or clients at dinners or events. I looked at my calendar once and realized that I had not spent a night at my apartment to dinner in months, so I started to ground myself, often times on a Friday evening!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Oh gosh, I have so many I can think of that have been with me along the way. I’ll have to say Tony Moschini, he is a childhood friend from Chicago who convinced me to move to NYC to help him with his business. Not only did he help me get started in the photo studio as their event booker, he gave me my first venue (Root: Drive In Studios) , a venue we still book after 15+ years. But more importantly, he has been a constant sounding board and someone I cannot only rely on for, sometimes, painful honesty but incredible support. We have also done some insane work together, I feel like we are part of the same platoon, having fought so many battles together — but man, do we have a lot of great stories and laughs.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We actively support various charities throughout the year, not only by doing programs with our licensed venues (round ups, drink promotions, etc) but also donate our venues and talent to select charities to help raise money.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
Not so much a life Lesson Quote- but one sign I saw that always stuck with me and made me laugh is “ I LIKE IT, WHAT IS IT?” — I think that people are so overly influenced now with toom many channels, its hard for most anyone to decide what they like without anyone telling them WHY they should like it- from clothing, shoes, jewelry, music, food , hotels and more. I’d like to think that I don’t fall victim to that type of influence- so I can decide if I like it and then ask what it is after the fact. Personally, I would say it was my taste in music from a young age, my classmates were into U2 when I found Bowie fascinating but didn’t know why anyone (in the Midwest) would find him to be anything but fabulous. Professionally, I have taken on clients (venues and people) that I just liked and didn’t know exactly how successful we would be, but those have been my best gambles- some of our outside the box clients that we not only have had the best relationships with but also some of the biggest revenue earning ones as well
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Building and running a business is like having a kid- there is never really a “day off”, you have to spend years developing it, it will exhaust you, it will test your boundaries but since its yours, you will love it and find eternal amounts of energy to support it and make it thrive. I don’t really think I have had a proper day off since we started, but it has never bothered me.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no” — it will save you time, money and pain in the long-run. There are countless times in the beginning when I thought agreeing to a client was the right thing to do, but looking back, the time and effort ended up costing me so much more than what I put in — I had to learn to be more selective.
- Its likely the thing you love about your business, the reason you started it, will become the least of your focus b/c you have to run a company- working on the business vs in the business. I used to love doing site-visits and running events, now my time is better spent running the business and growing the business- but I do miss the day-to-day with the event clients.
- Learn to delegate and not fear mistakes — the only way I could scale my business was to let go, give my employees some of my responsibility. While I like to think I am a perfectionist, I had to accept that mistakes will happen and usually there is a solution. Often times, its something minor- staff forgetting to add tax, not adding the extra security guard, minor math errors- mistakes they make once and then never again.
- Its not always how it looks from the outside- so often, especially in the beginning, you tend to compare yourself to your colleagues. As I got to know more about them or their businesses, I wrongly assumed that so many of them were more successful or profitable than I thought. I very quickly stopped worrying about how others were doing and focused on my own goals and potential.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
15 years ago, I wanted to start a taxi-rating app that would rate drivers, but also help people locate lost items…I feel like that could be a great global help, but with car sharing, my idea is not as fruitful…☺
OK no, in all seriousness, I would put my efforts to helping animals. I sincerely don’t have a fully-baked idea, but I will brew on something to help with animal adoption and animal conservation.
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