As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan to Rebuild in the Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing business consultant, executive coach, public speaker, entrepreneur, and renowned event creator, Steve Clayton. Steve is an authority on turning imagination and drive into dollars. He has built a reputation of consistent success, innovation, and expertise, which leaves companies and clients with the same positive mindset that he applies to each of his undertakings.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I always knew I wanted to wake up each day and do what I loved to do. Producing, developing, and executing event concepts for brands is something that is meaningful to me, and what I am passionate about.
Growing up, I was a good student but an average academic student. What I mean by this is, I didn’t do exceptionally well at school. I did OK. I was an athlete. I played basketball. But, it was basketball that taught me the valuable lessons that prepared me for life and my entrepreneurial journey.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
One mistake that I think is funny now, was when I was just starting out in business and a referral set up a meeting with me and a potential client. Without doing any research on the person, I asked them where they worked. They responded but I had no idea what the place was or what they did. I tried to play it off during the meeting, but he saw right through me. Come to find out, it was a well-known security company. The lesson I took away from that experience was, if I had only taken the meeting seriously, and took the time to do some research about the person, their background and the company they worked for, I would have been much more prepared and could easily have earned their business.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
One book that I really enjoyed reading and took to heart was “Tools for Titans” by Tim Ferris. Tim’s interviews with top performers in various industries and walks of life highlight similarities and differences in their approaches to life, business and success. It was this book that introduced me to the importance of mindfulness and life balance.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When I started, the purpose for Soundskilz was to be an industry leader providing the best resource in entertainment. Since opening our doors, we have put together events of the highest caliber. We have worked on world renowned events such as High Times’ Cannabis Cup, Steve Harvey’s Neighborhood Awards, Chalice Festival, and the San Diego Fair just to name a few. Many events, drawing thousands of attendees and racking up profit and prestige for our clients, have awarded Soundskilz the reputation as the go-to company in curating experience, call-to-action, interactive marketing, and tradition for both brands and their supporters.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
I have a few “number one principles”. One that’s top on my list is priorities. A motto that has stuck with me is “If it is important to you…. You will.” Meaning, if something is of value to you, you will find the time for it. You will make the effort for it. You just will!
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share a few of the personal challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
WOW! Where do I begin? Kids, income, house, business… Society and entertainment experiences… There are so many changes that are transpiring before our eyes through this situation. The main challenge I have faced was the uncertainty of it all. Everyone wants to know “when”? When will things get back to normal? When will we be able to gather again? When will live events be able to convene again? There is no answer. No one knows. A good friend and business associate of mine said, “unfortunately, our businesses are in the hands of the government.”
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Well…for a few weeks, work had come to a complete stop. Without “mass gatherings” and events, our industry has had to come up with some very creative alternatives. I have seen a number of companies doing drive-in movies and drive-in concerts. Both of which I, personally, don’t believe in.
We had to put our staff on unemployment for about 2 weeks until we got our bearing on things. Working remotely was not too big of a challenge for us since our team is used to communicating on the run and remotely. We were kind of already set up for that.
We are now working with a number of churches to facilitate their live stream services and a variety of events (including concerts) in Arizona, Texas and Florida for later this year.
In addition, I am working to consult on reopening events and temporary events permits with a variety of cities and counties. I plan to help develop an advisory council which will create safe event procedures and standards in order to hold events.
One of these safe solutions is a product that my company, Soundskilz, will be selling in the US. This technology will allow events and venues to provide a safe virtual host or concierge that will greet all consumers. The technology will then do any number of series of functions that the clients assign for it. The technology can scan for a face mask, scan a person’s body temperature and dispense hand sanitizer without contact. It provides event and venue owners reliable data on whether a person may have a temperature or if they are wearing a facemask with 0.5 degree of accuracy within 100ms. This new technology can allow consumers the confidence that the venues are going the extra mile to protect their health. While it allows venue/event owners the ability to decide how they will proceed with certain data given the criteria, i.e. if someone has a fever, how will they create a system to facilitate that information.
These systems do so much more…. they can display important safety messaging, or advertising to offset costs. They have it built in. The units even have facial recognition and pay points to allow for purchasing of tickets or payments. The facial recognition camera can even validate if a person is authorized in a given area. You can tell I am super excited about this…. given the heightened safety climate of today’s business and gatherings, this may revolutionize the standards of industry. I cannot reveal the international parent company yet, but I can tell you their technology is used in international airports to identify mobile passports without contact. Please feel free to contact me directly should you have any questions or interests in these units for your event or venue at [email protected].
Shameless plug :)
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and friends who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
A few key support I have given to friends and those select businesses I consult with are:
1) Meditate Daily. Give your mind a break. Our minds are so busy thinking about the “what if’s” but many times, we are not present in the now.
2) Take time to do something for yourself each day. Maybe it’s taking a walk or going for a swim. This act of self-love is important for your ability to be in touch with something you enjoy.
3) This too shall pass. Although there are some critical changes in our society, this event will come to pass.
4) Educate yourself. Don’t just get your information from one source. Listen and watch a variety of sources on topics that you have questions on. We are smart people. With most of us having some sort of common sense. Think for yourself and ask questions. Don’t believe anyone’s first take. Fact check. Research. Do your due diligence.
5) Learn to adapt. My family, my employees, my business and I have had to learn to adapt. You can’t be stagnant. After you have educated yourself, adapt to the changes by making some changes yourself. Maybe that’s to adapt to working remotely… adapt to getting up earlier…adapt to new industry laws or procedures. If you don’t adapt, you could be left behind.
Obviously, we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet, at the same time, the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I think that post Covid-19 provides opportunities for those who are willing to educate themselves and adapt as I said above. From disasters comes innovation. The next big innovation can come out of this situation. Be prepared to make changes. Many businesses may fail. Many industries may change. It’s inevitable. But those who have vision, who are willing to make a shift, coupled with hard work will prevail.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act live or do business?
It is still too early to tell. I hope it doesn’t. But I think that there are too many people out there listening to the wrong thing. There are too many people scared for one reason or another. I don’t believe social distancing will work for the long term. I don’t believe it is in our human nature. We are social people. But I do believe technology will give people a sense of security to attempt to return to the lives and businesses as normal as possible.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
I have already begun. I have adapted. We are already working remotely. We have taken the time to learn new marketing techniques and skills. We are rebuilding our websites and databases. We are adding products for sale on our online stores, including our merchandise. We are expanding our reach in other markets across the US and even in Canada. And, personally, this situation has made me really ponder politics.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I encourage other readers to take some time to find out what is really important to them. Is it time or money? Is it business or family? Is it all of the above? When you set your mind on your priorities, things will be a lot clearer. Educate yourself with what is going on in our country, state, county and city. Make a decision on what direction you want to take with your life, your career, your business. How can what you do make a difference? I have come to the obvious conclusion that you only have one life…. Live purposefully!
Can you please give us your favorite” Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Two of my favorite life lessons I live by are:
1. If it is important to you…. You will!
2. You will only be as happy as your most unhappy child. — My Father
How can our readers further follow your work?
I am @IamSteveClayton or @soundskilzproductions on IG & Twitter.
I am Steve Clayton on Facebook (but I’m really not that active there)
Find me on LinkedIn at Steve Clayton or Soundskilz.
For all booking, speaking opportunities and media inquiries contact [email protected]