I Traded Silicon Beach for Silicon Slopes
This article was published in the Summer 2021 issue
by Sean Spencer, VP of Marketing, Boom AI
I’m sorry Utah, the California invasion is in full swing…and I’m a part of it. We are jacking up your home prices and invading your coffee shops. After 20 years in Los Angeles I joined the herd looking for greener pastures.
I’ll give this to LA, it gave me some pretty unique professional experiences. I started off by getting accepted into the NBC page program and worked on The Tonight Show (nicest guest ever/ Steve Irwin). I later worked in various TV Show art departments including Days of our Lives and Rules of Engagement. I then climbed my way up to becoming an art director and designed sets for countless comedy specials including Brian Regan, Jeff Dunham and even the late George Carlin.
Eventually the entrepreneurial bug overtook me. I developed and launched a tech based experiential marketing company called mirmir. Over time it became quite successful and I had the opportunity to work directly with A-list celebrities and huge brands at the biggest events in the world. From the Oscars to Coachella to Super Bowls, I’ve been involved with them all countless times. It was great, but it began to wear on me. From catching prominent political figures doing cocaine off of my equipment backstage to collaborating with the Kardashians, I got to where I had just seen too much and signed more NDA’s than I can remember. Ultimately, I pitched my company on ABC’s Shark Tank™ and accepted an investment offer from Robert Herjavec.
Most of my success I’d chock up to the blessing (or curse) of being born with serious OCD, a creative brain, and some good luck. I believe success is available to anyone who lives and breathes their goals. Eye on the prize, make mistakes, course correct, keep moving forward. While it’s fun to look back at the wins, I’ve certainly had plenty of losses, which are often the best opportunities to learn.
When the pandemic hit, LA was stripped of most of what still made it seem great. When all the people and traffic of the city were out of sight, the horrific homeless situation was even more glaringly visible. I had to question what I was really getting in return for the insane California cost of living. I realized that it was time to make my move like so many others.
I’m currently the VP of marketing for BOOM AI, headquartered in the Silicon Slopes area. We are creating all sorts of amazing tools and services for new customer acquisition and engagement. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with genuinely smart and fun people. CEO Jacob Munns loves to instigate intense afternoon spike ball matches that are the perfect way to team build and shake off any desk fatigue. There is so much exciting development and a ton of talent here in Utah. The whole Silicon Slopes scene seems filled with optimism and opportunity. As an outsider, I appreciate everything that makes Utah great, but I’m also bringing some lessons learned that I hope will help others.
5 Lessons from La La Land
Break the ice. Meetings don’t need to be so somber. I absolutely loved watching one production designer that I worked under instantly change the energy in serious board rooms. When you have multiple stakeholders from different companies meeting for the first time there is often a stifling vibe. A funny joke or well-timed wisecrack can instantly put everyone at ease and make for a much better meeting.
Get your hands dirty. As a young scenic art director I was often in charge of managing much older and seasoned set builders. I could tell they did not want me telling them what to do. I realized that the only way to earn their respect was to get my hands dirty. I would often go outside of my job duties, hammer in hand next to them with no ego. It made all the difference in the world.
Connect to everyone. One TV director I worked with used to always carry a tennis ball. Throughout the day he would pull it out, make eye contact with someone and then throw them the ball, often from great distance. This quick back and forth of catch quickly connected him to coworkers in a unique way. Even the lowest level production assistant would get the ball tossed with them. This simple gesture reminded everyone that they were seen and valued.
Influencer power. Everyone knows the value of a good old fashioned celebrity testimonial. More common these days are paid influencer or micro influencer posts. The problem is fans are now pretty savvy and can tell when the influencers they follow are simply on the take. If you can make a celebrity a true fan of your product or service, your business will be infinitely blessed. Real believable praise will come your way and often much of it will be totally free.
There is enough pie. As an entrepreneur I once came across one of my competitors at a marketing event. Instinctively I wanted to avoid him and criticize his offerings. Instead I took the exact opposite approach and walked up to him and gave him praise. It turned out our businesses were symbiotic in some ways. Over the years we ended up referring clients to each other and are still friends to this day.
Utah is wonderful and Los Angeles isn’t going anywhere. I do look forward to returning and cruising old stomping grounds or surfing with friends, but even more, I look forward to living in Utah and not worrying about my kids simply playing outside. I will be spending more time in world class national parks and less time working with LA ego wolves. I’ll be scoring fresh powder instead of wasting any more time on the 405. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me, if anyone out of state asks me, I’ll just change the subject.
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*Read the latest issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine, Summer 2021