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Women of The C-Suite: “When I opened myself up to learn from other people and listen to what others had to say, that is when I overcame the adversity in my business.” with Lauren Grech

After two years of trying to do it all on my own, I eventually matured through age, experience, and falling flat on my face. I finally realized that I had to start accepting other people’s strengths in order to drive future business and success to my company. I had to learn to share the highs […]

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After two years of trying to do it all on my own, I eventually matured through age, experience, and falling flat on my face. I finally realized that I had to start accepting other people’s strengths in order to drive future business and success to my company. I had to learn to share the highs and ride the lows with loyal and trusted colleagues. When I opened myself up to learn from other people and listen to what others had to say, that is when I overcame the adversity in my business.

As part of my series called “Women of The C-Suite” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Grech, the co-founder and CEO of LLG Events, a luxury international event management and design firm specializing in weddings and experiential events in New York City and worldwide. In just three years, LLG Events became a Forbes 30Under30 nominee for taking a $300 billion industry and generating philanthropic revenue; after being the youngest-ever company invited to the Destination Wedding Planners Congress, where 70+ countries are represented. Lauren and her partners are adjunct professors for New York University’s upcoming Masters of Science in Event Management program, the first of its kind in the country. They have solidified partnerships with resorts and tourism boards across the globe, worth over $1 million in corporate-sponsored travel for 2019. Learn more at LLGevents.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

LLG Events was born unconventionally. — Thinking I would pursue a career in Biology/Pre-Med, I went to undergrad at Binghamton University and then went on to earn my M.S. in Forensic Science at Pace University. Post-graduation, I became a Research and Development Scientist where I determined cause of death, ran toxicology reports and researched new drug testing technology for pain management clinics. Turns out, I hated it! I thrive in social settings, with dynamic people, and although working at the ME’s office was extremely rewarding, it did not feel like I was making a direct impact on anyone. I worked relatively alone.

As I was working at the ME’s office in NYC, my then boyfriend, Paul, proposed! I began planning my own wedding and learning about the world of events. There was such a flair, it reminded me of putting on a show, and I loved it. It felt like going to the circus for the first time — when you see all these different acts, and everyone’s talent and coordination to pull it off, how could you not get enamored by that? It was a lifestyle that celebrated the happiest day of people’s lives and I wanted to be a part of it. So, I began planning my exit strategy from research and development, and started LLG Events, my own event planning business, one month after I married my husband Paul. I told him about my plan and he wanted to be part of it and we agreed to be business partners. We sat at my mom’s kitchen table thinking of a name, creating a business strategy where we agreed that our first step was to go back to the place where we got married, and ask to shadow the Maitre D.

And so we went, working 40 hours a week at our “normal” jobs, and volunteering every Thursday and Friday evening when they had corporate or social events, and every Saturday and Sunday when they had weddings. Paul and I would be there for 32 hours most weekends, and learned everything we could. We worked every job — from barback to waiting tables to bridal attending to valet to bathroom attending, we did it all. We shadowed anyone and everyone we could, to learn every aspect of the industry. I knew that if we were going to be successful and respected, we needed to have exposure to every position.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I have never won anything in my life…until recently! Last year, we became the youngest company ever-invited to the elite, invitation-only Destination Wedding Planners Congress, where 70+ countries are represented by luxury vendors that create celebrity and royal events. Before we left the conference in Mexico, we were asked where we thought the 2019 host city would be.

I had a feeling it would be in Dubai and submitted that as my answer. Turns out, I was correct! We then became one of fifteen attendees that guessed correctly, so we were put into a lottery to win free round trip tickets and accommodations to the 2019 Destination Wedding Planners Congress in Dubai. It was a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ setup that was live-streamed, where each vendor’s name was on a giant wheel with a ticker clicking. And it just so happened to land on no other than LLG Events!

Follow us @LLGevents to see our stay at The Atlantis Palm, Dubai, at the end of March!

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?

One day we were about to meet an A-List supermodel as a potential client…except I never made it to the meeting! Somehow I inputted the wrong address and ended up over two hours away. I called my partner who was onsite and told her she would have to run the meeting without me. Our client was so sweet and understanding about it and laughed it off so everything worked out; however, I learned a major lesson.

Always take a minute and triple check your work, what you are doing, where you are headed, meeting times and locations, emails you are about to send…When you are too confident or not paying attention, that is when mistakes happen.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I can think of several reasons that make our company stand out! In our industry, it is extremely common to see businesses named after their owners. For example; Lauren Grech Events. However, I believe that in order to make our company stand out we needed an ambiguous name that could become a brand. It is a smart move for creatives who utilize their personality and name to distinguish themselves from other similar services; however, from the beginning, I envisioned my business becoming a brand and I knew I wanted to highlight my dynamic team with the name.

I co-founded LLG Events with my husband Paul and branded LLG as a husband-wife duo, which, at the time, was uncommon in our industry. Yet, we ultimately changed the narrative and rebranded the company to be led by two strong, independent females — Teal and myself.

It’s very rare to find this dynamic in our industry, and the ambiguity of ‘LLG’ has made us stand out. People come to find that our brand is not just comprised of one leader rather we function as our own comprehensive firm with a system of accountability amongst our COO, Creative Director, Public Relations and Marketing Director, etc.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

A movement we are currently endorsing is VOW, a collection of products and services that are raising funds for the Girls First Fund, which supports organizations working to end child marriage. This movement was recently brought to our attention, and being a philanthropic leader in the industry, we knew we had to get on board. So we are putting initiatives in place to raise money and awareness for the VOW movement, to give girls the chance to say, “I don’t.”

This movement will help the 12 million girls each year that are forced into child marriage. After hearing about this movement, we knew we had to act as this is happening all around us at such an alarming rate in various religions, cultures and geographies.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

My biggest piece of advice is to be able to perceive and capitalize on your team’s strengths.

After two years of trying to do it all on my own, I eventually matured through age, experience, and falling flat on my face. I finally realized that I had to start accepting other people’s strengths in order to drive future business and success to my company. I had to learn to share the highs and ride the lows with loyal and trusted colleagues. When I opened myself up to learn from other people and listen to what others had to say, that is when I overcame the adversity in my business.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Successful team management requires a strong communication system — whether it’s my LLG Events team on a daily basis, or a team of vendors before, during and after an event.

The only way to ensure the least amount of mistakes is to have everybody on the same page. To keep track of that, we created a cloud-based system that allows us to manage vendors in New York City and worldwide. I suggest putting together a strong internal digital platform that will keep your team organized and communicating efficiently.

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 about that?

There are three main people who have helped me get to where I am.

1. Paul — My husband, my founding business partner for LLG Events. Paul has been there since the beginning. When I told him I wanted to start a business and quit my job, he volunteered with me so that I was never alone. He came to every meeting, met every vendor, every client. He put the time in outside of his full-time job so that we could build LLG Events together, as a husband-wife duo. He never let me face anything by myself — even to this day. He always has my best interest and knows how to pull the best out of everyone. He’s the one that recognized I needed to partner with Teal, and pulled me out of my own distractions to notice it.

2. Teal — My business partner that took a husband-wife duo and made it a fabulous trio. I wouldn’t be anywhere without her. You can’t buy loyalty like she has. And we didn’t even know each other from anywhere, we just knew that we both came from certain pasts and would be lifelong friends, supporters, motivators, and business partners. She was the event producer I needed during our event in France, she is reliable, hard working, attends every single event, coordinates every event, designs all our marketing materials, she is the one that gives me the confidence to go out there and sell.

3. My Mom — From the very first LLG sit down at her kitchen table, to her showing up and even volunteering at our events, she has walked this journey with me from the very beginning. She made sure to attend every event, showcase, photoshoot I ever created, she was my travel buddy when venue scouting, she is my biggest fan. She never failed to remind me how proud she was and to always take care of myself. I would not be the CEO I am without her business savvy, her love and continued support.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We strive to incorporate altruism in every aspect of our business. Last year, this evolved into an annual pro bono wedding for a couple in need who was putting their community or a cause above themselves. By gifting them a dream wedding, we are able to bring light to their lives and celebrate the love of two selfless people, while also bringing their unique community or cause to the forefront of conversation.

Our 2018 recipient was a couple who was crucial in the Virgin Islands’ recovery efforts post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria. They took their engagement photos in the wreckage of their island home, and put their wedding planning off to focus on their community. When their story was brought to our attention, we knew they deserved our inaugural pro bono wedding.

Our work garnered extensive media coverage from the likes of Good Morning America, Fox News, and Ashton Kutcher’s APlus, so their community no longer felt forgotten about.

Our 2019 couple is a 26-year-old breast cancer survivor and her fiance, who proposed on her last day of chemo. Instead of planning her wedding, she’s been focusing on helping other young women who are battling the disease. We met her through an incredible organization for young women battling breast and ovarian cancer, The Breasties. The wedding will be this fall.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. “The cost of ambition: Late nights, early mornings. Lots of associates, very few friends. You will be misunderstood. People will want you to do good, but never better than them. For these reasons, you will do many things alone,” said Brooke Carrie Hil. Once I read that quote, I felt very connected to it. My experiences taught me that there are givers and takers in this world, and as a leader, you must be able to recognize early on who is willing to help your business and team grow into the best versions of themselves and who is not.

3. Learn the art of saying, “No.” Value your time and think about how this project is going to directly impact you and your team. Learn to recognize a potentially abusive client or a project you cannot handle and say “no” to it. It’s better to excuse yourself rather than damage the image of the brand by taking on a project you do not have capacity for.

4. Be a good listener. When Teal first started at LLG Events, she approached me about redoing our proposals and contracts. I was apprehensive at first, as I felt the proposals and contracts we had were fine. However, I told her to show me something better — and she did. This taught me to trust and listen to other opinions as you can always learn and find value in others.

5. Fail quickly, and accept your failures. I used to feel that failure was a sign of weakness, but in fact it’s probably the greatest way to learn and my greatest strength!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂

One, two, three…

Every three seconds, a girl under the age of 18 is forced into marriage. Recently, LLG Events has fully endorsed the movement, VOW, that supports the Girls First Fund which strives to end child marriage.

We have recently advocated to be Advisory Board Council members so we can make a direct impact on the industry and create initiatives that bring awareness and money towards the Girl’s First Fund and Vow.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It takes nothing to be with the crowd, it takes everything to stand alone,” said Hans F. Hansen.

This quote has helped me appreciate my differences, and embrace them. I always felt like I was meant for something greater, to do something with my life that inspired others to live in a positive light. This quote was given to me by my husband and business partner who is constantly reminding me how much he loves my uniqueness, my differences and the fact that I am a innovator and creator. This quote gives me the strength to keep my momentum even when I experience a setback with LLG Events. Every time I failed, it reminded that I had to just learn from it and keep breaking boundaries.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@LLGevents on all social media

LLGevents.com is our website.

Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

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