TEA News

25 May 2020

TEA Western Division mixes things up digitally

Thanks to the TEA Digital platform, the TEA Western North American Division enjoyed a TEA Tuesday digital mixer on May 12, 2020, hosted by Western Division Board President Shannon Martin of Color Reflections.

Report from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Western North America Division --

Networking is something most every professional adult participates in - and definitely in the themed entertainment business. Like most TEA members, we at the TEA Western Division have missed seeing one another at in-person mixers and events. The reach of our Western Division digital mixer went beyond the limits of our geography as more than 70 people across all spectrums of the business joined from all over the country. As the mixer began, computer screens filled with a checkerboard of friendly faces and we were off! 


Shannon breaks the ice

Shannon Martin had a strategy to make this mixer a uniquely enjoyable, online social event. She explained we were in for a fun time of “Speed Networking.” During introductions, she asked folks to share their LinkedIn profiles in the chat, and then, along with some help from TEA Global Headquarters, she split the group into 10-minute breakout rooms. Each room had a specific set of icebreaker questions for participants to answer. This allowed us to connect simultaneously on a business and personal level, which is, after all, the great appeal of a networking mixer.

Coffee or tea?

Questions in breakout room #1 were:

  • Coffee or tea drinker?
  • What is your favorite item purchased during shelter-in-place?
  • What is the item you couldn’t purchase during shelter-in-place?

There was one dedicated coffee drinker who enjoyed multiple large cups a day; most others either solely, or additionally like tea. Michael Daut’s favorite purchase was the latest nine-movie Star Wars collection, while Kenneth Sutton of Orlando Special Effects reported that he found it hard to find supplies for his work (in addition to TP).


Binge watching

Questions in breakout room #2 were:

  • Bacon or avocado?
  • Favorite TV show to binge watch?

Bacon or avocado was easy for most to answer, with many choosing both (“because, why choose one?” laughed one person). There were avocado haters and lovers, and one insistent advocate for Miracle Whip rather than mayonnaise on the sandwich. 

Binge worthy shows included “The Mandalorian,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “What We Do in the Shadows.” Lisa Jey Schanley, TEA Western Division Board Member, said she was watching “Killing Eve,” and even shared her family TV binge spreadsheet. There was an intriguing side discussion about China and Star Wars culture.


Celebrity crush

Questions in breakout room #3 were:

  • Your favorite celebrity crush at a young age?
  • Morning or night person?

In this wildly diverse group, it appeared that the morning and night people were evenly split. Celebrity crushes ranged from Farrah Fawcett (sharing the classic 1980s big-hair poster) to Alyssa Milano, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, with Shanna Collins of the Bezark Company confessing she had crushes on Patrick Stewart and catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers.


Dog or cat?

Questions in breakout room #4:

  • Dog or cat?
  • Work from home or at an office?

As expected, there were some who liked dogs, and others cats. Everyone seemed to agree that dogs, however, are universally loved. In one room there was a tortoise lover who informed the group that it “is only half a pet since it hibernates six months out of the year.”

The home or office discussion had some interesting results with many liking the ability to work from home. Many agreed that in-person also has its place. Sean Reish of Wartsila Entertainment Systems, said he normally travels a lot so that he was loving working from home, as it gave him a chance to see his kids. Many shared the adjustments they’d made to accommodate working from home. It was a great topic for all to discuss, as most had experienced both.

Ralph Agbayani, a fifth-year student at Cal Poly Pomona and the outgoing president of the [email protected] chapter there felt his home is not the ideal place to work, and said, “My Mom is always telling me to do stuff.”


Consensus: Success

As we all re-convened in the main room, there were some with questions that deserved more time than remained, like “How can we bring theatre back?” (with the acknowledgement that these and others would be great topics for possible future events). But the general feeling was that the digital mixer worked extremely well. One participant observed, “It helps that you don’t know who will be in the breakout rooms. It makes it easy to meet new people.”

All in all, everyone returned to the main room feeling energized and fulfilled by this fantastically successful social experiment. The feeling was that TEA has created a wonderful alternative that is here to stay. While, no one went home with a fist full of the typical business cards, the numerous LinkedIn requests in the chat room helped fill the void.

Many thanks to the organizers and to all the participants for making it a great event. We all look forward to virtually meeting again.

Contributors to this report include Lisa Schanley, Jeff Dixon, Mark Eades and Michael Daut.


Posted by Judy Rubin



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