EP 262: Honing Your Craft Using Smart Project Management With Kickass Conferences Founder Isaac Watson

Jan 28, 2020 | Operations, Podcast

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How Kickass Conferences founder Isaac Watson manages massive projects like organizing a conference
  • The 5 phases that each event plan goes through and how project management works at each stage
  • What tools Isaac and his teams use to ensure every detail is accounted for and every guest has a fabulous experience
  • How he manages the experience on the ground during a live event

I used to balk at project management.

It felt like the systems I was supposed to follow were imposing rules on things that didn’t need rules.

I’d get it done. And I’d do it my own way, gosh darn it.

But then, at some point…

…probably the 341st time I didn’t have enough time to execute a project the way I really wanted it to be done…

…I realized that project management is as much about honing your craft as it is about making sure you hit deadlines or don’t forget a step.

Teasing out the bits and pieces of how projects happen helps us make better stuff…

…whether what you’re making is a publicity campaign, a book, a set of complex financial reports, or a podcast.

This month, Sean and I have working hard on the next phase of our project management at Yellow House Media. Yellow House is the full-service podcast production agency we co-founded back in August.

The way we look at it, every step in the process of producing a podcast is an opportunity to make a show better—to make it more engaging for the listener and to drive more results for the business owner. But to fully take advantage of those opportunities, we have to have our process down.

We can’t just throw an episode together. We have to carefully and intentionally work each step of the process so that both the host that we’re working with and our team has the greatest freedom to innovate and improve.

The structure of project management gives us the space to hone our craft, to get creative, and to make something great.

And the better we get at making great podcasts, the better our project management gets too.

My guest today has had a similar experience learning the ins and outs of event planning and hosting kickass conferences.

Isaac Watson is the founder of Kickass Conferences, an event strategy and production studio based in the Pacific Northwest. Isaac helps community leaders develop and deliver transformative events for their audiences that inspire them to build a better world. So far, he’s planned and managed events that have touched over 21,000 lives across the US and Europe.

Isaac is a natural event planner. I know because I’ve attended a number of events that he’s planned and I hired him to plan a conference for me 4 years ago.

But Isaac hasn’t relied on his natural aptitude for creating meaningful and engaging experiences. Instead, he’s designed a process he can rely on to pull off one great event after another.

This process and the way he manages his events is clearly a product of the way he’s honed his craft over the years.

He notices what works, he notices patterns, he notices the things that go unnoticed—and then he adapts the way he manages future projects.

In this conversation, Isaac and I talk about how things have evolved since his very first event, the 5 phases that every event goes through from vision to completion, how he works with clients within that process, and what it’s like when it’s go-time and an event is live.

Now, let’s find out what works for Isaac Watson!

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