How I Got Here: My Message To Idaho Event Professionals

(*This is taken from the first of a series of blog posts for Idaho Event Professionals; a group I am the President of.)

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Idaho Event Professionals, or IEP, has a brief history, but the organization has made a lasting impression on many of its members. I am one of those people. From being a nervous and uncertain new business owner to becoming a confident leader in this industry, I have felt the positive impact that a community like IEP can have on somebody.

In this series of blog posts, I’d like to introduce myself as the Idaho Event Professionals President and share with you the surprising revelation I had when I first entered this industry. I’d also like to give you a brief history of IEP, plus breakdown the three core values this amazing group was founded on. Then, I’d like to unpack those values and show you how the board members and I plan to build on those to strengthen our community.

First, a little reflection…

REFLECTION

I’d like you to take a moment to think about a time in your working life when you were excited about something. Maybe it was a big idea. Maybe it was a new job. Maybe it was when you started your own business.

Now think about those thoughts and feelings you had AFTER that initial excitement wore off and it was time to get to work. Did you have those feelings of uncertainty and insecurity? Did you have those thoughts like “Am I good enough? Do I have the knowledge and resources to really make this happen? What are people going to think of me?“

I know I had those thoughts and feelings when I started my mobile DJ business, but I kept pushing forward. What I found is that there are a lot of great people and groups like Idaho Event Professionals who are there to support you on your journey. If it wasn’t for some of the people I met when I first started who knows where I’d be. All I can say is that we’re fortunate to have a group of wonderful and talented people like you in our community and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Who I Am and How I Got Here

First and foremost, I am blessed with a beautiful family. My very loving & talented wife Joely and I are the proud parents of two beautiful children, Finley and Asher. They keep us busy and fulfilled. Everything I do is for them.

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I’m also a DJ at heart. I LOVE music! I’ve actually been mixing records for fun since the late 90’s. I was originally drawn to electronic music while going to school at the University of Idaho. In my second year in college I used some student loan money to pick up a set of turntables and records. (Dave Ramsey would have been very disappointed.) I immersed myself in the music and started to get better. I played at a few house parties and clubs and even had my own radio show at KUOI. It wasn’t anything too serious though. When I moved to Boise in 2005, I started to take my hobby to the next level.

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I had a residency at Red Feather Lounge for several years, which eventually led to other opportunities at Neurolux, China Blue and Barbacoa. Once I made a name for myself people began asking me to perform for their parties and weddings. (Woohoo, more money!) That eventually led me to start my own business, Rhodes Entertainment, in 2011. Although, starting my business was heavily influenced by some frustration in my life…

I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Radio/TV/Digital Media Production. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I found a job in television, working for the local Fox 12 News station. I started out as a photojournalist (or “photog” for those in the know) in 2007. It was a cool job. I got to work with some great people and covered all kinds of crazy news stories. My heart wasn’t in it though. Plus, the hours weren’t the best and neither was the pay.

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Two years later I was promoted to News Producer, which meant I was in charge of putting together the nightly show “Fox 12 News at Nine.” I was pretty good at it, but I was really unhappy. The desk job life just wasn’t for me. I was getting frustrated, so I took some time to analyze my situation. I realized that the times I was really happy were on the weekends while mixing records in downtown Boise. There, I was living my passion. So, I decided to start my own business. The plan was to keep my full-time job while I built the business until I was making enough money so that I could quit my full-time job. As luck would have it, I was laid-off later that year because the TV station cut its entire News Department. Joely and I just had our first child, so the timing couldn’t have been worse. That’s when I was forced to kick it into high gear.

A few months after being laid-off I did my first wedding show. I needed clients! I needed leads! But, I was really intimidated and nervous about being around the other professionals at this show. I started getting those feelings of insecurity and uncertainty.

“What are these people going to think of me?”

“Will I be shunned because I’m the new guy?”

I had no idea, but I was a little bit scared. Much to my surprise it was the exact opposite. In fact, I was approached by several vendors who were very friendly to me; two of which were my direct competition, owners of DJ companies. They introduced themselves and made me feel welcome. One of them even gave me some tips on how to run my booth.  Are you kidding me?! I never would have guessed that. I found out much later that those two were actually board members for IEP. They represented what IEP is all about; creating a community and helping each other out, even if they’re your competition.

Since that show I’ve just continued to work hard on my craft and my business, trying to get involved as much as possible. Six years later, here I am writing a blog post as the President of this group. Pretty cool.

Now, I described this scenario in the context of frustration and desperation. I hated my job. I needed money. I needed clients. It’s also important to know that I absolutely love what I do. I help make someone’s vision become a reality. Whether it’s a Wedding or a 50th Birthday Party I get to work with clients on one of the most exciting days of their lives. I put every ounce of effort I have into making sure I meet their expectations. That’s exciting to me. I’m a people pleaser at heart, so knowing that I contributed to an event’s success is truly fulfilling. On top of that, all of the stuff in the middle, like marketing, accounting, music research, networking, etc., is also fun to me. It can be stressful, but there’s never a dull moment.

In my next post, I’d like to give you a brief history of IEP and the reasons I decided to become a board member. I’ll show you how this group got started and the challenges we faced that led to its resurgence. Stay tuned…

~ Eric