Episode 12: How To Advance Your Events Career Through Education & Training feat. Omar Colom

by | Oct 10, 2022

In today's episode, we speak with Omar Colom of Evolve Technology and AV Educate about his never-ending quest to build both his skills and his community.

What we’re talking about 💬

  • Advancing your career through education.
  • Training resources for freelancers.
  • The importance of mentors.
  • The future of live events education.

Listen 🎧

Watch the Episode 📺

Important Links 🔗

Read the Transcript 📚

[00:00:31] Angela Alea: Welcome everyone to another episode of Corralling the Chaos. Today we’re going to dive into all things training, and the great talent out there within the event industry, and to help me do that today, I have Omar Colom with me today. He is a US Army veteran with over two dozen decorations awarded to his name.

For actions while serving two tours of combat duty in the Middle East. He’s also a proud father. He is the founder of AV Educate, [00:01:00] a leading resource for audio-visual training, and the National Director of Education for Evolve technology. He’s also a second-generation industry professional and is it accomplished video engineer with many years of experience as a projectionist.

High-resolution switching specialist and graphic designer. He also holds over a dozen broadcast and professional video training certification and an associate degree in film and digital production. So as you can see, he is clearly qualified to help us dig into all things training and skillset within our industry.

So welcome, Omar. So glad you’re here!

[00:01:40] Omar Colom: Thanks for having me with that type of introduction. I was about to say, Hey, thanks for having me. I’m outta here. That was fantastic. You wanna high note, right? What else do we need to cover right here, right?

[00:01:47] Angela Alea: That’s right, I’ve been really excited about this particular episode because I’ve personally had a chance to see you in action.

[00:01:56] Angela Alea: I know we’ve partnered on a few things and a few training initiatives in the past, [00:02:00] but I’m really excited to have you on today to really discuss the state of our industry right now, because there’s a lot of skill gap. So much opportunity. People can’t get trained fast enough and all while the needs are changing fast, right?

[00:02:15] Angela Alea: As soon as we think we know what we need and we train people up, there’s new revisions and new things coming out, and so it’s just this constant wheel of catching up to be trained. So I’m really excited to kind of have you help us dig into this. Um, you’ve obviously spent a lot of your career. Paying it forward, teaching so many of the talented folks in our industry.

[00:02:37] Angela Alea: So why are you so passionate about that? I mean, you’re a tech, you’re at show sites, yet you’ve kind of taken this path to take on training and paying it forward. So why is that?

[00:02:46] Omar Colom: When I did this, you know, 12, 13 years ago when I started, there was no resource like, like what I have now. So it’s kind of, I was building that for myself for a very long time.

[00:02:56] Omar Colom: And then out of, out of necessity at another job I [00:03:00] had previous. I became the trainer for that company and, uh, for, for, I’ll say the name psav for back in the day, which is now gone. But Psav used to be the director for the Fountain Blue. And I was in charge of, training for the whole company. It wasn’t until I did a show afterward where I met, uh, Michael Hudson on a show, I think in dc We were doing a show together and he, he had asked me about a PowerPoint that I created on LinkedIn called Signal Flow.

[00:03:24] Omar Colom: And it was one of those moments where I was like, Someone who I look up to and someone who taught me stuff is looking at my content and learning from it. And I was like, Man, I didn’t realize anybody was even looking at this stuff other than the employees of the company. Uh, I just posted it as, let me get it out there.

[00:03:37] Omar Colom: And then that’s what kind of started the whole AV educator umbrella. Uh, and then from that, honestly, the feedback from the, the community in general was great. Um, one of the things that I’ve realized in the last couple years from even just from starting to educate is that there, there is a lot of training for different things.

[00:03:53] Omar Colom: but everybody’s isolated and siloed in their own kind of worlds. And unless you know about them, it’s hard to find them. Right. And no one was giving that kind of [00:04:00] resource or, or putting it together. Uh, so one of the main things with a BJ that I did is, is I brought it all under one umbrella and I brought it all into, to this one unison.

[00:04:07] Omar Colom: And then again, feedback from the community. You know, it started off double sided. There was some negatives and some positives, uh, but majority of it was positive. And I kept hearing this good feedback and it’s kind of what kept me. So honestly, if you guys have watched anything and you had wanna message me and let me know it’s up, that that fuels me to continue to do what I do.

[00:04:22] Omar Colom: Um, and also I know that those people that I’ve met in the industry that have moved up from it and have gained from it and have benefited from it, and that again, reinforces what I’m doing and makes me feel good about what’s going on. And just like, makes me wanna continue giving back to the community.

[00:04:33] Omar Colom: I also learn from these guys and I get opportunities that open up to me because of, because of. So it’s not, it’s not always a one way streak. I do like to pay forward and, you know, I don’t expect anything, but a lot does come back and it really just keeps driving me, pushing me forward to go to that next thing.

[00:04:46] Omar Colom: Like, how do I improve the process? How to make it better, How do I do this? And then, you know, going back to where we started, um, For corporate AV particularly, uh, live events has kind of their own thing. Uh, installation definitely has its own industry, but corporate AV [00:05:00] doesn’t. And we, we pull from so many resources.

[00:05:02] Omar Colom: We pull from broadcast, we pull from theater, we pull from live events, concert society on different part, you know, different parts pull from different things. But again, it’s all, it’s all different fields. Different things. But we, we as a corporate AP pool from that, and there was no centralized location for that.

[00:05:15] Omar Colom: So I, I wanted to build it. I wanted to create that and. Back to what you said earlier about me, the second generation part. You know, I learned a lot from my father and I, and I had, you know, I guess a head start from people. My dad owns a company called me to stage. I was able to work for him for a long time.

[00:05:28] Omar Colom: I was able to get my feet in the door, get, you know, get access to gear and just get hands on with that and talk to people in general. So, you know, I knew about his industry coming in. Um, but I think the difference is that I had someone to, to, to bounce ideas off to and to talk to about stuff. And him being part of the, you.

[00:05:44] Omar Colom: Him being an owner and knowing all the gear, and we wanted to specialize. It was more like read the manuals. Yeah. Um, and again, it’s, it sounds like such an easy thing to do, but if you don’t have that gear with, with you, reading the manual can be a little bit difficult. Right. So I wanted to make this community where everything comes [00:06:00] together and it’s, it’s, again, it’s taking, you know, a step back from my own life and seeing what other people have and what their abilities are and, and talking to.

[00:06:07] Omar Colom: And realizing that, you know what, this is a really easy way for the community to get together and to have a platform to just share that stuff. And, and it’s gotten there to what it is now, right? Nationwide shares on their eval, shares on there. Um, other, other communities that are doing smaller events are sharing on there, uh, TV one shares on there sometimes.

[00:06:23] Omar Colom: So when they outsource, like people are starting to see that as a place that just share content for the community so they can benefit from that and, and grow. And again, that, that just fuels me in what I wanna do moving forward. And it just keeps me going. Honestly. It’s, it’s a labor of love right now. And, um, it’s been cool.

[00:06:38] Omar Colom: I mean, it’s why I’m here too, right?

[00:06:40] Angela Alea: I love the altruism in it. Right, because I mean, it’s great because you had somebody and your dad, which we don’t hear that ever actually. Right. It’s kind of like, Oh, it’s a cool industry. You know? I worked as, you know, a hand in a show and I was like, Oh, this is kind of cool.

[00:06:55] Angela Alea: This industry, I, I should probably stick with it. And then they’re kind of on their own [00:07:00] and so, you know, or they, or they go to school for it and then they, they come out and as freelancers. , there’s no career path. There’s no, no one to really kind of invest, put their arm around them, take ’em under their wing, escort them into the industry, invest in training.

[00:07:15] Angela Alea: They’re kind of on their own to make their own career, figure out what the training is, uh, try to find a mentor, um, which is hard when people are mobile and traveling and it, it’s really hard to have that consistency. So I love the fact that. Identified that your experience was not the same experience as everybody else, and you wanted to give them a fighting chance to, to really make something in this industry.

[00:07:41] Angela Alea: So I, I, I absolutely love that. I wish more people would do that. I think a lot of the trainings today, which I get, it’s part of where we are, are more self-serving. I’m gonna go train my people so I can benefit versus let’s just do something great for the. Some of these people may or may [00:08:00] not come back and work for, it’s for me, right?

[00:08:01] Angela Alea: But at the end of the day, I’m gonna make the industry better cuz the more people that are trained up, the more we can entice more people to join the industry. And I think that’s what it’s all about right now is leveling up. Getting everybody’s skills to where they need them to be. Not just the book knowledge, but the onhand knowledge and having the experience, uh, to actually use that.

[00:08:23] Angela Alea: So I absolutely love that. Um, would love to get your thoughts on kind of what you see as far as what are the biggest skill gaps we have right now in the production space? What’s the highest demand and the lowest supply out

[00:08:36] Omar Colom: there? Yeah, so I would say, It’s, it’s a tricky question. There, there is a, I think there’s a higher demand for, for hands in general that are more skilled, um, but not necessarily as stay chance more as technicians.

[00:08:49] Omar Colom: Uh, and when I say it’s trigger questions, cause I, I see a change happening industry where, you know, because of the. The recent pandemic that just happened, the way AV has done has changed a lot. [00:09:00] Uh, the technology has changed. It’s advanced a lot. The way we do things is changing. And now with IP being introduced a lot more and more with the digital, sorry, with audio and video coming in, you know, ndi, Dante, things like that, that’s also changing the game a lot.

[00:09:12] Omar Colom: And it’s, it’s requiring more skills into more things other than just the AV side. And in addition to that, it’s also requiring, Yeah, technicians because of what they’re used to for virtual events, right. More ions to do more positions as a one man band, and that’s becoming more of a requirement, more than, Hey, this is.

[00:09:30] Omar Colom: It doesn’t happen all the time, you know, Or it shouldn’t happen all the time, ideally, but it does. And now it’s becoming more of the norm because more and more technicians that came outta the pandemic successfully are taking those roles and they taking us from business cause they wanna work, They’ve raised their rates and now they’re doing that position where they’re doing the, you know, the audio, the video, the graphics, the playbacks.

[00:09:46] Omar Colom: They’re doing a lot of things all at once and it’s becoming more of the norm. where you have one person doing multiple things. So now, now, now you have to specialize in something to get the gig, but you also have to be cross trained in other things in order to stay on the gig. You’re not just doing this one position anymore.

[00:09:59] Omar Colom: And not to [00:10:00] say that that happens all the time, but especially in breakout rooms right now. Yeah, which is what I cater to. You’re seeing a lot more under the, under evolve. Obviously we still cater to that specifically high end, uh, engineer who wants to do specific. And you’re seeing that a lot still.

[00:10:13] Omar Colom: Mm-hmm. , but you’re also seeing the in between where, yeah, I might be doing projection, for example, but I’m also doing graphics and playback. So now you can’t just be the projectionist. You could be a great expert at that, but you’re also be doing this, you know? Yeah. You could be great at media service.

[00:10:26] Angela Alea: Yeah. The key is to not be a one hit wonder. Yeah. Yeah. You have to be really kind of multifaceted because these shows are requiring that, and the reality is I have 38% leaving. You need to be able to do a little bit of everything right. And what and what that’s called. And so I think it also, I know you and I have talked about in the past, you know, there’s, there’s no standard way of what we call positions and what one company calls it, it means something totally different to another.

[00:10:51] Angela Alea: And I think, you know, as you think about the need to really be multifaceted, what is that new position? Should it be [00:11:00] called something different, right? Versus I need you to be a combination of these three things. Well, what is that moving forward, right? Because I do think things are beginning to kind of stabilize and settle, and it looks very different than it did.

[00:11:13] Angela Alea: Um, and, and not even because of Covid. I think it just looks different with the evolution of events and what else possible, You know, events now they’re, they’re way different than they were five years ago, um, with, with the capabilities. So I think just rethinking and redefining. Let’s not even call ’em position names, right?

[00:11:28] Angela Alea: It’s your discipline what, what’s your discipline, right? Um, and that discipline can cover a multitude of things. And so I think that’s good advice for people just entering the industry. Don’t get too specific. Um, be able to go deep and wide because the demand for people who’ve mastered that, it’s pretty big.

[00:11:47] Angela Alea: It’s great. It’s huge.

[00:11:48] As

[00:11:48] Omar Colom: a 10 and a nine, you know, person out there freelancing, the industry does not, the, in not even the industry, the industry caters to us internally, outside of US, government, taxes, insurance, none of them, they don’t care about anything we do. [00:12:00] So even, even that point is like we are creating, you know, last, you guys are doing an amazing job with those reports.

[00:12:05] Omar Colom: You do those white papers you bring out, right? We’re kind of creating these new standard. So that our industry has somewhere to go and a place to do it. You know, like you said a little bit earlier about, you know, if you’re a 10 99 employee and you’re freelancer, there is no, there is no guide to move up in the industry, right?

[00:12:19] Omar Colom: There is no like, source to do that. But if you’re, if you’re in the industry and you learn things, right? There are guys that are talking about this. You know, Clems got the books out about, you know, uh, creating your own career path and, uh, and having the idea from start to finish, right? Mm-hmm. , the other idea is too, is like as you move up in your industry, as you mentor, That’s, that’s the only real way that I’ve, that I’ve figured out at least to move up, is that in order for me to get a new set of clients with higher rates or, or more persistence that I wanna do, I should train my replacement so that I don’t lose these guys.

[00:12:47] Omar Colom: But, so that I’m, I’m essentially moving up with my own internal ladder. Because there’s no corporate umbrella here. Right. Moving up that internal ladder here. Yeah. So that now I can do these positions more cuz this is what I wanna do more and get paid more to do. But I’ve also replaced myself by, [00:13:00] by bringing it somebody else who’s, who’s gonna not leave a hole for the industry.

[00:13:03] Omar Colom: And that’s like one way to move up. Right? But no one’s talking about that cuz that’s not a real thing. It’s, it’s something that I thought of that, hey, this is how I wanna move up. It’s

[00:13:10] Angela Alea: interesting because I, I really, um, When we talk to people there, there’s kind of two schools of thought when it comes to mentoring and teaching and kind of bringing somebody along with them.

[00:13:21] Angela Alea: You’ve got those who get it, um, and they’re like, Yeah, absolutely. But what we hear more than not, and I so wish this would change, is this mentality of why should I help somebody else become the same level I am or better? Cuz that’s just my competition and it’s just, I don’t know. I’m just gonna be real.

[00:13:42] Angela Alea: It’s so ugly. It’s just an ugly, um, mindset, you know? Because at the end of the day, no matter who you are in this industry, you met somebody along the way that you learned something from, even if you had to take the lead. Like, I love the people in our industry who are like, I’m gonna go find [00:14:00] a mentor. I’m gonna go find somebody.

[00:14:02] Angela Alea: I’m gonna identify ’em, I’m gonna be intentional. In telling them what I, what I wanna know from them. I’m not gonna waste their time. I’m gonna be intentional in what I want to learn. And when you are, people are generally happy to do that. I just wish we had more of those in the industry versus everybody just trying to, you know, cut everybody off at the heels and nobody else can kind of climb the ladder because I just, I don’t, I don’t think there’s room for that in our industry.

[00:14:27] Angela Alea: I understand. I really don’t. I think those are, are really beginning to kind. Corner themselves off, if you will, and people are, I, they’re taking notes of the ones who kind of like you. You know, they’re, they’re altruistic. They’re trying to pay it forward, right? At the end of the day, there’s plenty here to make a very good living for any single person that wants to join the industry.

[00:14:48] Angela Alea: There’s so much opportunity. So I just, I wish there was more of that altruism versus them being overly territorial and protective of, you know, what their skills are. So I think that’s a really great call out and something I’d love to. [00:15:00]

[00:15:00] Omar Colom: I think people are trying to change that mentality. And, and again, it goes back to what I said about the latter, like, if you wanna move up in the industry, you need to turn their replacements.

[00:15:07] Omar Colom: You need to train someone to be just like you. And then on the other side to that, not to sound rude to anybody who, who has this mentality, but you might be stuck in your ways and not realizing that you, you’re not gonna move up at all. Because you don’t think that if you help somebody out, they’re gonna, you think they’re gonna take your spot.

[00:15:22] Omar Colom: If you’re secure on your job, you’re secure in your skill set and your ability to communicate with your clients, you’re not gonna lose anything. If anything, your clients can come to you more for help for those types of, for those types of scenarios. And vice versa. If you train that person to train you up, they’re gonna also come back to you for things and they’re gonna give you stuff that they can’t take either.

[00:15:39] Omar Colom: So it’ll be a sharing system, you know, if you’re training, if you’re surrounded by people who you know, if you taught, this guy’s gonna take your job and. Probably shouldn’t be with that person, you know? And, and I would like to think in our industry, we, we tend to weed those people out. If you’re here for a quick buck, you won’t be here very long.

[00:15:55] Omar Colom: We tend to weed that out. If you’re in here to be, this is my job, and you go over there and do your [00:16:00] thing, you will get weeded out. That old white glove mentality that’s, that’s starting to get old and people are starting to get rid of that. The younger guys who are more eager, more hunger than than you who want to come in, get stuff done and help the people around them and they wanna get done things faster and better.

[00:16:14] Omar Colom: Yep. And I’m starting to seeing a lot of the older mentality where it’s, this is me, I do my thing, you do your thing over there, I’ll tell you what to do. That’s starting to get phased up cuz that’s not copacetic anymore With clients or with over producers. Well, what

[00:16:24] Angela Alea: can people do? When you think about newer people that maybe been in the industry a couple years, but they’re wanted to kind of, you know, push the envelope, what would you recommend that they do to increase their skills and level up?

[00:16:36] Angela Alea: Yeah,

[00:16:36] so

[00:16:37] Omar Colom: I mean, obviously education, I think is, is the one thing, right? You know, one, one thing I’ll say, you know, other who meet me like, Oh, you’re this video genius, all this stuff. It’s like, it’s not that I’m a genius, you know, I’ve been at this for at least 10 years now, so I have some, some clarity of understanding, but I also, I’ve committed myself and a lot of the people that I work with a lot, a lot in the industry, repeated.

[00:16:56] Omar Colom: We also take time once a year to do training on something. It doesn’t matter what it is. [00:17:00] You don’t have to go and do, go out this summer and do three, you know, class a month and get, take one thing a year. Just, just that bare minimum. Right. One thing a year where there’s three days, three months, a day class, whatever it is, just do one class a year.

[00:17:12] Angela Alea: what, what are some of the places they can go? Obviously you work with Evolve, so like talk to us about what some of the best training initiatives and programs are at.

[00:17:21] Omar Colom: Yeah, so, So right now, if you’re a Stagen looking, the ba technic. AV Educate is probably one of your early resources, uh, for corporate av.

[00:17:28] Omar Colom: If you’re a Stagehand looking to be a technician for, that’s a breakout room. AV educate’s a great. As well as a resource to other channels of, of venue, audio, videod, lighting, It’s all shared there and comes together. This entire file section, if you’re a self learner, right, there’s 150 plus files of PDFs you can download and read up.

[00:17:44] Omar Colom: You wanna go to YouTube as well. YouTube has great stuff. Here’s what I’ll say about YouTube real quick though. YouTube is a lot of theoretical. And what I, what I mean by that is you’re gonna learn a lot of things visually, but until you get the hands on with that, it’s not the same thing. Knowing what a fader does and when to use that fader are two different things.

[00:17:59] Omar Colom: That’s experience versus [00:18:00] knowledge. You typical will give you some knowledge, but not the experience you need in this industry. You need both. Theres a crossroad that you need to meet to if you wanna learn about installation or wanna get some basic knowledge of on general. AV stuff has a great course for the cts, right?

[00:18:11] Omar Colom: If you wanna learn more of the advanced stuff, you wanna become an engineer and you want, or sorry, a technician to an engineer. Go to evolve, go to Nationwide. You know, they offer classes for that higher level tier things. You’re gonna pay for those a little bit more, but they’ll pay you back within a, within one show.

[00:18:25] Omar Colom: You gotta show for three days. Any class you take with these companies will pay you back. That, that, that’s how quick the revenue is. You do that training. You, you, you, you also gotta do your due diligence. Let me say this too. When you do these trainings, don’t just do it and just post a social media. If you have clients that you talk to, you have a labor company you talk to, just send them an email.

[00:18:43] Omar Colom: The fact that somebody knows that you did that is gonna help you get that gig for that position. If you don’t tell anybody and you just post on social media, I don’t follow a ton of people on social media. I don’t follow tell my students. I have no idea if they post. Sometimes your clients are the same.

[00:18:55] Omar Colom: They’re not all following you, and if they are, they’re not all looking at your feet all the time, right? When you get that stuff, [00:19:00] whether you take pictures of it, whether you have a certifi. Just send it to your clients. Hey, I did this class, da da. Here’s what I did. Put a little summary in there of what happened that will put your name and that position in the top of their minds.

[00:19:12] Omar Colom: And they may say, You know what? I’ve trusted you for a long time. You’ve done a lot of work for me. Let me put you in this position cause I have something coming up. Or vice versa, the next session comes up with the next few weeks. Oh, you know what? I got this and put that in your email chain, trained on da, da, da.

[00:19:24] Omar Colom: Put it in there. Make people aware of it. Don’t just take the class and then. Did you get the position? Cuz that’s not, that’s not realistic. So there is some work that you have to do on

[00:19:31] Angela Alea: your end. There’s a book out there called Hope is not a strategy. You gotta

[00:19:35] Omar Colom: actually, you gotta do more. Yeah. And it, it’s part of the, it’s part of the puzzle there.

[00:19:37] Omar Colom: But yeah, you educated, if you guys wanna are starting out right now, it’s a free source to get you up to speed. The idea is essentially that you can get some fundamental trainings and fundamental knowledge move up to a higher paying position that can help pay you for those other classes Now. Is that the only sources?

[00:19:52] Omar Colom: No, there’s, there’s more sources. You go to the manufacturers, Nova Star does this stuff, Barcode does stuff. Dante has free training online. Again, we’ve shared that multiple [00:20:00] times. And including free training for Dante online on, in the AV gig channel. Cause it is, it is a network, uh, source for everybody to, to, uh, to gather from.

[00:20:07] Omar Colom: There is two courses for lighting. Uh, you can go to the manufacturer directly and get some training from them. Uh, Grand Ma has, its a course online. Hog has a course online. Ross has a course online. And again, the online stuff is good, up to a point. Because you can only learn so much visually. You have to get the hands on to, to connect the dots, you know?

[00:20:25] Omar Colom: Um, a lot of, a lot of systems now. No, I said, I know I said this earlier. A lot of systems now are having a virtual simulator. Black Magic has a virtual simulator I call on virtual simulator, E two virtual simulator. You can do the online classes. Get the simulator, and now you’ve gone from theoretical to practical, then now you’re doing the experience, right.

[00:20:44] Omar Colom: That again, elevates you. But like you were saying a little bit earlier here, it’s not hope. It’s putting that extra effort to get there. For example, AV tech talks that we did twice a month. We were doing classes, free classes online. Trust me, I was learning just as much as those guys that were doing the classes and I was [00:21:00] asking all kinds of questions and now, What really ends up happening is that you watch something or you read something, right?

[00:21:05] Omar Colom: Books are fantastic way to also expand in your knowledge and don’t just stick to corporate ab stuff. Do other things outside, do pottery, do, do an art class. Those little things that you do outside of that will connect dots for other things in your world of what you see the world as That’ll connect, things open up for you.

[00:21:21] Omar Colom: One of the things I love about a tech talks is there’s, there’s been numerous scenarios in the last three years. I’ve been like, Oh, you know what? I remember this does this because the guy said this. Let me look at the manual Quicken and see where that’s at. I, I completely forgot where it was, but I remembered right cuz of something.

[00:21:39] Omar Colom: Oh, you know what? This was the thing we talked about. Let me look this up real quick. Oh, here it is. Hey, here you go. How many times do you go on site, like you’re saying, right, getting a mentor or somebody. How many times you go have on site and you’re like, Hey look, let’s sit down with me. Let’s, let’s do a talk about this.

[00:21:50] Omar Colom: Let’s go over some things. Never. That never happens unless you’re in show, show mode and that opportunity. The reality is, is what that provides. Yeah. What that provided just a [00:22:00] way for you to have the knowledge of, you know what, I don’t, I’m not using this right now, but when I do use it, I’ll remember something and now I know that what it kinda can’t do, or, you know, I kind of remember it did this, or you know what, hey, I don’t remember it did that.

[00:22:10] Omar Colom: But it might have, there might have been an update, which there’s tons of updates. It might have changed, but I’m pretty sure it does X, y, Z.

[00:22:16] Angela Alea: So what I’m hearing you say is, uh, identify where you wanna learn, be intentional. About it and have a plan for how you’re gonna do it, and then prioritize the time to do it.

[00:22:29] Angela Alea: Make, just make it happen. Yeah. Um, cuz a lot of people, you know, they, Oh yeah. I wanna learn. I wanna learn. I mean, we’ve even had training classes and where we’re covering it for our crew, we’re paying for it. and then they don’t show up. Yep. And it’s like, okay, I get it. And it’s kind of like, and then they just change their mind or what?

[00:22:48] Angela Alea: And it’s like, okay, well , and half the time, I’m sure those are the guys, you kinda own your

[00:22:51] Omar Colom: success, right? Yeah. But I’m sure half the time those are the ones, Hey, you got any work for me? I’m looking for work. It’s like,

[00:22:57] Angela Alea: Absolutely, Absolutely right. So, [00:23:00] you know, you just gotta commit to getting better because.

[00:23:03] Angela Alea: There’s a lot of people that are, are really hungry to do that, and they’re looking for the opportunities and, and according to you, there’s a plethora of them out there, which is really encouraging, which is what I wanted people to hear. There’s a lot of different paths to take to train and a lot of opportunities out there.

[00:23:18] Angela Alea: You just gotta go be intentional and, and research it and just go do it. Don’t ever think it. Yeah. Um, well, how can we attract more people to our industry? Oh

[00:23:26] Omar Colom: man, that’s, that’s always the hard one, right? How do attract more people? So I, you know, ideally in my, in my. We need to be more active on what we’re doing on the, I, I’ll say marketing, cuz that makes sense, but more active on the outreach side of things.

[00:23:40] Omar Colom: And unfortunately, we’re, we’re again in an industry that, that isn’t well known, right? We’re not lawyers, we’re not bankers, we’re not accountants, we’re not, uh, you know, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. We’re. The director of this company or the director of that? Like what does that do? Oh, we do video. Oh, so you’re a videographer?

[00:23:56] Omar Colom: Uh, no, that’s, that’s film in, in cinema. Oh, well you [00:24:00] do, you know, I do Led D Walls, like concert stuff. Oh. But that’s live. I don’t really do, I’m rental and staging, you know, like it’s, we’re in this weird market, so it’s, it’s hard for us to do that, but I, I think, well, it’s really cool During the Pandemic is the Live Events Coalition came out and they started doing some outreach stuff.

To learn more about the Live Events Coalition check out: Episode 10: Why The Live Events Industry Needs Advocacy


[00:24:15] Omar Colom: On social media. There has been a, a public noticing of us right now. We’re, we’re, people are aware that there’s this, there’s this industry that’s, that’s a living livable wage right. To, to work in. That’s to do the things that you guys get to enjoy, right? Like these things aren’t just built here all, all year round.

[00:24:34] Omar Colom: No. Every, every venue you go to, every arena you go to, right? There’s tons of videos about this now is a blank campus and we get to come in it and we get to do all kinds of cool stuff inside of it. And I. Before that people just thought this stuff was there all the time, and it’s not really the case. So we need to expose the next generation to that kind of workflow and that mentality of you can be independent contractor, a freelancer, um, a small [00:25:00] business doing this.

[00:25:02] Omar Colom: And here’s like ways you can make it happen for yourself. I think right now with, with everything changing in the industry as a whole, with with at home work being more acceptable, freelancers being more acceptable, independent contrast being more acceptable by the, by the government as far as businesses and taxes go, that is one step.

[00:25:17] Omar Colom: The second step is to say, Hey, there’s this industry here that you guys love to watch. Here’s how you can make money and live in this industry and do this, this stuff. Not just be a part of it and be a consumer, but be, be proactive and then. I think, What’s that kind of, which we’re, we’re doing that now, right?

[00:25:33] Omar Colom: We’re with the XR stages and the VR stuff, we’re, you’re starting to see more behind the scenes content where fantasy stuff being publicly posted and on TikTok and Twitch and Instagram. We’re starting to see that more. I think the next step is to say, Hey, would you like to do this for a living? Here’s what you could make.

[00:25:46] Omar Colom: Here’s what, Here’s possibilities and like lastly, you guys have a great report you guys put out every year about that, Like those little things and like going to, let’s say a school, a, a high school or college and saying, Hey, here’s some stuff that I do. Here’s the presentation. Now, unfortunately I’ve tried to do [00:26:00] this.

[00:26:00] Omar Colom: Schools are very like, We don’t know what industry you’re in. It doesn’t make sense. And we also don’t offer, we don’t offer anything that covers that. So, no. And it’s like, okay, I get it. Do you have production theater in these classes? Well, we have this, but we have to shut it down and we have this, And you know, you’re saying you’re not theater.

[00:26:14] Omar Colom: Like, well, we could still do the presentation there. Like there’s still, there’s a whole market for theater, which is they read from us all the time. Right? So it’s like we’re in this weird niche where we have to make people comfortable with letting us talk about stuff that, that, and showing that. Right.

[00:26:28] Omar Colom: And maybe. This is where, I don’t know. So maybe we have to get more data scientists involved in the industry, get more numbers out there, get more of those things out there. You know, uh, Blackstone recently bought out, you know, all the, you know, the psav, the big, the big boys, psco and then vr, stuff like that.

[00:26:41] Omar Colom: So maybe getting them, them to get with us and say, Hey, How can we use some of your numbers that you guys are putting together to benefit the industry as a whole? So we can, we can talk more about this stuff and, and put it more out into public and make it more of a mainstream position at this, you know, uh, you know, like we said in theater ninjas, right?

[00:26:58] Omar Colom: All ninjas. Cause we wear a black [00:27:00] all the time, but make it more of a mainstream noticing thing. And I think as, as parents too, we need to talk about it. You know, I take my kid all the time, can, I’ll call her on FaceTime and I’ll like, Hey, took out my show. And she, she loves seeing this stuff. Hopefully when she gets told she wants to do it, Yeah.

[00:27:12] Omar Colom: But if she doesn’t, it’s cool. But you gotta see like as I build in and do things, and I think, you know, we as individuals need deal more often if, if an industry of a hundred thousand plus, I mean, we’re probably way than that. We’re probably in the millions, right? If we all did this and shared, yeah, 12

[00:27:26] Angela Alea: million, actually 12 million, 12 million people,

[00:27:28] Omar Colom: 12 million people in this industry.

[00:27:29] Omar Colom: It’s crazy if, if all of us did this on a daily basis, just post about our stuff without, without. We would make, we would definitely be noticed. Right. Oh man, this is definitely noticeable. Right. And I think there are people doing that. There’s some fun stuff on TikTok and Instagram that I’ve seen for people that are, that are trying to get out there and do some fun content, interesting things.

[00:27:48] Omar Colom: I think a lot of us are just, we’re on the technical side. We’re not on the creative side too much. Yeah. Uh, and it’s where we, we miss out. But the ones that are kind of both on the technical and the creator side, they’re, they’re doing content and some of it’s [00:28:00] really cool to watch. Some of it is, Hey, I appreciate the information,

[00:28:04] Angela Alea: I think you’re right though. I mean, you, you bring up a great point. It’s, um, like my, my daughter in elementary school, they had a morning show and in fifth grade she got to be the producer. She had no idea what it meant. And then I was trying to explain to her, Well that’s, that’s kind of. Our customers that we serve, they’re in production and here, and she’s just looking at me like a deer in headlights.

[00:28:25] Angela Alea: Right? Like there’s no name to what we do. Yep. And when you say events, they think event planner, which. So important. Um, but events encapsulate so many things. It’s, it’s the technical, it’s the production, it’s the security, it’s the parking, it’s the people checking, you know, your bags and taking your tickets.

[00:28:44] Angela Alea: And there’s so many different components to what it takes to produce an event. And I don’t think we do a good job, to your point of naming it, talking about it at, I’m gonna get on my soapbox. We don’t even have our own s i c code. Yes. [00:29:00] And that’s crazy to me. When, when it comes to workers comp and general liability insurance brokers just kind of look at our industry.

[00:29:08] Angela Alea: Like, I don’t know what to do with you. Are you putting furniture together? Like part of what we do is we, we audit workers comp codes to help our customers save money. And the number of times I’ve seen those codes, I’m like, Pyrotechnic. I’m like, You don’t, you don’t blow up stuff, do you? They’re like, No, absolutely no.

[00:29:23] Angela Alea: I’m like, Well, that’s how you’re coded. You’re paying a fortune. Because these insurance companies, they don’t know what to do with us. We don’t even know what to do with ourselves sometimes. Right. It’s like, it’s always, it’s always funny to ask people, you know, uh, well, what do you do? And they kind of are like, I don’t really know.

[00:29:39] Angela Alea: Where do I go? How technical do I get? Do I not get technical? Do I give an example of an event and the part I play in it because, There’s just no name really for it that really. Drives home what these great people do, and so I would love to see more people promote it. I would love to see more schools doing morning shows.

[00:29:59] Angela Alea: I think [00:30:00] that was so cool. My daughter loved doing it. I think that’s a great point you made. Let’s put it on the map early on because guess what, kids go to festivals. They go to concerts. It doesn’t ha they watch tv. They, they go to Broadway. Like it doesn’t have to be a corporate conference, right? Like event production spans so many different things.

[00:30:19] Angela Alea: And every single person is a consumer of these great things. Um, they just don’t know what name to put on it, right? They go to NFL games, go to the mlb, you know, like those. Those are events. Um, and so I think that’s a really great call out is we just gotta start naming it and familiarizing every single person who will listen to us and could not agree more about Nancy and Dwayne and you.

[00:30:41] Angela Alea: I know you’re on the live events coalition board, just all the work all of you have done. I just really hope everyone continues to support them. Go to their website, I think it’s live events coalition.org, $75 to be a minimum, I mean to be a member there. That’s nothing, right? And all the things that you [00:31:00] get and just all the good work you all are doing over there.

[00:31:02] Angela Alea: I just think it’s fantastic. So thank you for, for the role you’re playing in that. Um, my final question for you that I like to always ask every guest is, what do you hope for the future of our industry? Cuz I do feel like we have an opportunity to kind of reshape the future of it. So what do you hope for the future of our

[00:31:20] Omar Colom: industry?

[00:31:20] Omar Colom: I hope. 10 years from now, maybe 20 years from now, that there is a more institutionalized way for our industry to function. I’m hoping a lot of things that we’re dealing with now are resolved and there is. Clear and precise format. If you’re going this route, you should do these things. If you’re going this route, you should do these things.

[00:31:38] Omar Colom: If you’re doing it this way, you should do these things. I really hope in the future that, that that’s, that’s a, that’s a process and that things are more, more centralized. Right now. It’s kind of like the wild west, a little bit where it’s chaotic and you can kind of make, you know, make riches out here. Um, by being specialized in something or you can make a bus by trying to specialize something.

[00:31:53] Angela Alea: It is a lot like the Wild West. There’s nothing standard. Everyone does something a little bit different. They sometimes [00:32:00] call things something a little bit different and, uh, I think our industry craves that. I think they, they want, they’re waiting for someone to step up and say, Let’s standardize. Here is the path.

[00:32:11] Angela Alea: Let’s make it concise so that way people coming outta college are people wanting to enter. It’s not just the big abyss, you know, I don’t know what this means. Where do I go? Right? Like, here’s the entry point. Here’s pick a path, right? Do you want audio, video, lighting? Yep. Broadway Theater. Like what are you wanting to do and help them?

[00:32:29] Angela Alea: Really crystallize that. So I think that’s a really great call out. I think that’s, I think that’s a great thing to hope for our future. Um, well, I appreciate you, I appreciate the, the flag that you have led for many, many years. I’ve been following your things even before I got the chance to meet with you and personally work with you and do some trainings.

[00:32:47] Angela Alea: I’ve thought it was great. I, I remember reading, I think the first time I saw your name was, it was a PowerPoint deck that you did, that you put on LinkedIn , and I was like, Wow, no one’s talking about this. Like, I remember it was, and it was the basics, right? [00:33:00] Like show up, dressed appropriately. Oh man. Smile on your face.

[00:33:03] Angela Alea: Ten one, all the things that were Yeah, but, but they’re so overlooked. Yeah. Like we can’t stop talking about it, right? Because that’s always going to be things that we need to continue to talk about. And then, okay, once they’ve mastered that, here are other things you need to think about. Okay, now let’s talk about your technical skills.

[00:33:21] Angela Alea: But, um, I just so appreciate how you’ve led our industry that way and talked about things well before. Others started talking about it. So thank you for your contribution to the industry and training everybody. Um, and I know you have lots of good things coming up, so we’re looking forward to continuing to following you.

[00:33:38] Angela Alea: Um, where can our audience find you? Should they want to get in touch with

[00:33:42] Omar Colom: you? Yeah, so I mean, first off, thank you for the recognition. I really appreciate that, that that means a lot. Hearing from you, uh, if they wanna find me, you guys can find me. Uh, Evolve Technologies is the director here. You guys can email me directly there.

[00:33:52] Omar Colom: You can find me to AB Educate on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on YouTube as well. You can reach me out directly there. I’m pretty much direct accessible [00:34:00] through text message, email, uh, messaging services on social media, and almost, almost all the platforms, uh, just reach out to me. Omar’s everywhere. I try to, I try to be, um, but just, you know, just reach out to me way you can.

[00:34:11] Omar Colom: Uh, you know, I’m lucky enough that the industry as a. Uh, is respectful of my time and stuff, so I, you know, gimme 24 hours and I respond to you. I’m pretty good about talking to people and I like talking for the most part. Um, you know, if I’m not too busy, but I, I enjoy, Well, you’re

[00:34:24] Angela Alea: a trainer. You’re supposed to be talking, right?

[00:34:26] Angela Alea: We’re not, We can’t learn from you if you’re not talking. Yes. So you’re supposed to be talking.

[00:34:29] Omar Colom: Well, I mean, yeah, I’d like to conversate, you know, hear of stories, hear about what they got going on, and try to help figure out solutions. I, I love problem solving is the reality of it. I love this industry cuz everything’s a problem we have to solve.

[00:34:39] Omar Colom: It’s all intricate and engineering, it’s always a, it’s a new puzzle, right? Every time I go into a new show, new gear, new sit in the flow, new process might be similar but it’s always a little bit different cuz of what I have available to me. So it’s all about these puzzles and, and people come with puzzles and I like to solve.

[00:34:52] Omar Colom: So that’s really what I

[00:34:53] Angela Alea: enjoy doing. Well, perfect. Well, thanks again for joining us. You know, my takeaways from this episode are, are [00:35:00] kind of a couple things. Number one, be intentional. Make training a priority. There’s no shortage of opportunities that Omar is called out here today. Um, play your role in really advancing our industry.

[00:35:13] Angela Alea: Join the live events coalition, be a part of it, and also carry the flag. Let’s start standardizing some things. Let’s start naming things. Let’s put some order to the chaos, right? Because I think that also will help entice new people.

So thank you again, Omar, for being our guest. And that’s it for today’s Corralling the Chaos.


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