Management & Learning

01. Your Inner Working Circle

You can’t be your best self until you find your tribe!

My very first manager taught me two invaluable lessons as she had me running around a cultural precinct doing everything and anything to learn every trick of the trade. First lesson – surround yourself with the best and never fear their talents. Second lesson – find your tribe!

Working in the arts, events, entertainment and tourism industry building meaningful relationships with your team is not just a nice thing to have – BUT relationships in the industry are a fundamental need and resource. Nothing will ever beat an authentic business and working relationship! It’s essential in our industry that everyone is delivering to expectation to exacting standards, within concise time constraints and doing what they said they can and could do. We’re all working together towards a common goal here – ‘good’ will never be ‘great’ and we’re invested in ‘great’ as a team.

Finding your people is essential! Finding your ‘tribe’, your ‘people’, your ‘peeps’, the ‘folks’ with whom you connect, is imperative, but not always a simple task. Sometimes it starts as a collection of work colleagues, other times you may find set or subset groups with which you resonate right away.

Most times, and only after a series of trial and error, do you discover what clicks, what connects and what works. Tweaks are continual in order to stay relevant and synergy with the folks you are trying to serve is essential. Whatever the case, it is important to surround yourself with empowered and supportive people who encourage you to be your best self because when you finally find your tribe, it can foster tremendous growth, both personally and professionally.

Your working tribe isn’t usually a bunch of mates, although good trusted friendships will develop and they will become your most valuable asset, your culture beacon – your people, especially in our industry when you’re working odd hours, travelling from one hotel to the next (which sounds exciting but you quickly come to the realisation that every hotel room pretty much starts to look like the rest in every city you visit). It can feel disconnected and lonely but before long your working tribe becomes a family especially when on the road.

Before you find your crew, you must know yourself. You don’t know with whom you resonate if you don’t know what your core message is. Become comfortable with own work standards and expectations, from there you will attract people that best match your ideals. Don’t change yourself to fit a model; be yourself and become your own model. You will feel valued and most successful with a tribe that best matches the qualities you exhibit and embrace.

While you should certainly be considerate to everyone who crosses your path, that doesn’t mean everyone you meet is going to be a good fit for your tribe. What qualities are you looking for and are they the right fit for the team? Let’s face it, you may come across someone who is exceptional but if communication, team culture and workstyle differ I usually find a butting of heads will follow. Work ethic and expertise is important, but team culture and purpose will always win the day – every single time! Our industry is a people industry! Know what you are really looking for and feel fully confident about seeking out ideal ‘partnerships’. The point is, you have built and developed a tribe of like-minded people no matter what your need and to meet every challenge. And that’s a good thing – no it’s more – it’s great resource of talent, knowledge, and solution shooters all on the same bus to deliver exceptional projects.

Within the arts, event, entertainment and tourism industries we move around a fair bit and your tribe in our industry isn’t and never should be limited to your own backyard, especially in today’s world of global serendipity. Those days are long gone and it’s a marvelous benefit. Your tribe may be on the other side of the world or sprinkled around the country – it’s not about location, COVID showed us this to be true. When you come together onsite your pre-planning, team rythum, know-how and knowledge of each other will sit at the core of your success. So be open to different kinds of connection – sometimes long-distance or work connections are great tribe members who, albeit you may see or visit less frequently, are no less valuable than the ones you make at home base.

A tribe is a remarkable machine – there’s trust and a working dynamic that is effortless and seamless. Always a handy tool working in the ‘live’ environment. Over the past 25 years I’ve made some incredible working partnerships that are as old as my career and on every job the workmanship in their area of expertise and our silent know-how of streamlined delivery is treasured.

The bottom line here is that you need people and in our industry it’s the tribe that challenge you and make you better. The goal here is not to be the smartest person in the room. It is to surround yourself with people who are exponentially better in a variety of ways. Those who fuel you….inspire and like you work towards being the very best they can be alongside you every single day. In any project regardless of scope and size the diversity in which you work from hospitality, venue operations, technical production, client services, talent through to design and logistics is enormous and being with the right team is not only essential it’s imperative to succeed.

Get out there and find your tribe…together everyone can achieve more!

Yolande (Lou) Smith

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