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PODCAST – Brandy Thigpen, City National Bank

Listen to this month’s live podcast featuring Brandy Thigpen, VP Events Marketing of City National Bank.

More about Brandy Thigpen
To kick-off our 2024 Live Podcast Series, Brandy Thigpen, Vice President, Events Marketing for City National Bank will join James Giglio, CEO and Founder of MVP Interactive. Brandy brings more than 20 years of experience in hospitality focusing on sports and entertainment. In her previous role as Director, Client Services for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Brandy specialized in managing logistics for conventions and mega sporting events like the 2017 NHL All-Star Game, 2022 Super Bowl, 2022 MLB All-Star Game, and much more. Brandy was also instrumental in the bid process for Los Angeles to secure the 2026 World Cup and 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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Podcast Transcript

Hi everyone. This is James Gilio, CEO of MVP Interactive, and welcome to the MVP podcast. (···0.6s) Our podcast will bring insight to a range of topics involving technology, consumer engagement, experiential marketing, and general business related subjects. This show will host not only our great roster of clients from the professional sports world, along with Fortune 500 brands and agencies, but other entrepreneurs and startups. (···0.6s) We hope our podcast brings value. And thank you for listening. For general inquiries or topic requests, please email MVP podcast@mvpinteractive.com. And please subscribe to our YouTube page and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and SoundCloud with account name MVP Interactive.  

(···14.0s) Welcome back everyone to the MVP Interactive podcast. I am James Gilio. I’m here with a very special guest today, uh, by the name of Brandy Thigpen.  

And she’s the Vice President of events at Citi National Bank. (···0.7s) And, uh, Brandy has been in the industry for over 18 years and leading event operations with large arenas, theaters, convention centers, and various other facilities across multiple industries, including sports, entertainment, tourism, and hospitality. Some for career highlights include managing sold out events with WE Cirque de Soleil, Harry Underwood concerts, and holding the key role on the bidding team of the 2022 Los Angeles Super Bowl.  

So that sounds very exciting, and I would, uh, love to learn more about that. And Brandy, thank you so much for joining us. (···1.2s) Thank you for having me, James. And welcome. Thanks, um, to those who have joined us online. (···0.8s) Awesome. Well, you know, uh, your bio really covers, uh, nearly two decades here as well as multiple industries. So, you know, we really like to, um, engage our listeners with, uh, the background of our, our guests.  

So, uh, I’d welcome the opportunity for you to, you know, walk us through your, your career journey and, you know, spanning in that nearly 18 years of the experience. (···1.0s) Sure. So I was raised in a household of sports and entertainment lovers. My parents, my sister, I have an older sister, and, um, from Alabama originally, were huge Alabama football fans, but my parents also support all Alabama athletics. So I grew up going to everything from Alabama football to gymnastics to baseball and softball games.  

And my parents even traveled to the World Series softball when we were kids. So, um, I’ve been immersed in this industry since a very young age. Um, and I think I was a little different than a lot of kids. Um, I was not only an athlete, um, I played all four years of college tennis. Um, but I was also at a very young age, knew what I wanted to do. I knew what I wanted to be, be when I grew up. Um, and of course it’s evolved over the years.  

Um, my original plan was to be an agent. Um, I wanted to be, you know, in sports, you know, as close as I could, but didn’t have plans to be a professional athlete. Um, as I got into the industry, that changed a little bit. You know, I, I have a lot of love for the game, and the agent side of the business can sometimes (···0.8s) get a little dirty. Um, and that, that took, you know, I didn’t wanna, I didn’t wanna lose that, lose that passion that I had for sports. Um, I got my degree in sports management from Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee.  

Um, it’s now the University of Tennessee Southern, um, the University of Tennessee School System purchased the university just a couple of years ago. Um, and I did my internship at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville. Um, and when I was in school, your internship was an entire semester, so I had the opportunity to move to a city and take on a full-time job. Um, we didn’t get paid back then, um, but it was a full, you know, it gave me a full immersive experience into the industry.  

Um, I also had the opportunity to do some work with the Tennessee Titans, um, some marketing intern work with the Tennessee Titans when I was in school. (···0.9s) And that really kicked my kick started my career. Um, I was at work one night, um, working with WWE as an intern. I got to work at five o’clock on the, in the morning at three o’clock the next morning. I was still at work. I had on the same clothes.  

I’d had a couple of meals, but no shower. And, you know, we’re, we’re waiting for the day. I, I wasn’t leaving the building until the last wrestler was outta the building. And my, um, even as an intern, my boss came up and said, look, I’m going home for the night. The building’s yours. (···1.1s) I think anyone that, any of us that work in events have, well, multiple, all-nighters and know that that’s, uh, an occupational hazard, so to speak, when you, when you get involved in this industry. (···0.6s) Yeah. So I, I was standing with a guy, um, from wwe and he said, well, you’re an intern, right?  

I said, yes, sir, I’m, and he said, what’s your plan? I said, I’ve, I’ve applied for jobs all over the United States, and I’m just gonna go wherever, you know, wherever I land. (···0.6s) He said, have you had any interviews? I said, actually, I have. Um, I’ve interviewed with a, with a building in Corpus Christi, Texas. And he said, oh, what’s the name of it? I said, it’s the American Bank Center. And he said, one of my best friends is the general manager there. How About that? Um, it wasn’t, but a couple of weeks later that I was taking an auto clad class, um, just to prep my career.  

Um, that was something that my mother worked at the local vacational school, and the drafting teacher offered to teach my sister and I AutoCAD for free. And I thought, you know, this could be something that would be beneficial to my career. And in the middle of that class, I got a phone call, um, and I declined the phone call. And when I went back to listen to it, it was a voicemail from the guys from WWE calling to congratulate me on my job.  

Mm-Hmm. Um, with the American Bank Center. What was unique is that I had not been offered the job yet. Yeah. They knew I had the job before I even knew I had the job. Yeah. How exciting. And we can assume that this person was not Hulk Hogan that pulled the strings for you. Right. It was not Holt Hogan, unfortunately. (···1.7s) What a fascinating story, though. That is, that’s amazing. It, uh, it sounded like they were real champions of yours, you know, to kind of, you know, see what you were able to do as an intern and, um, you know, to kind of bring that news to you before you knew it was, was pretty remarkable.  

(···0.7s) Yeah, it was. Um, it was quite the experience. And now here I’m, um, almost 20 years later, I still have relationships with those guys from wwe. One of the camera guys, the exact same guy. I see them, I’m based here in Los Angeles now. (···0.5s) And, um, I see them when they play, um, LA shows. Um, but I did that for a couple of years and, you know, my general manager told me on my first day of work, um, I managed events at an arena theater and a convention center all under one roof.  

So I did everything from weddings and trade shows to sporting events. I had minor league hockey, men’s and women’s division one basketball, um, and arena football before Arena football folded. And I know it’s, it’s come back a couple of times. Um, but he said, look, you’ll be here for a couple of years. You’ll learn everything you can learn, and then you’re gonna be on your, um, and I was there exactly two and a half years, and then I, I came to Los Angeles (···0.6s) and, um, I really started expand, started expanding on my career.  

And I use the analogy a lot. Um, you know, if I was gonna be the CEO of McDonald’s one day, I’m, (···0.7s) I’m the type of leader that I wanna know how to fry the french fries. I wanna know how to make the Big Mac. I wanna know how to do all the work so that when I’m your leader, (···0.6s) I’ll be able to guide you, um, and lead you through all, you know, so that we can, we can brainstorm and, and work together.  

I don’t wanna just know one track. And that’s how I’ve built my career. Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. And it’s, uh, you know, you’d be surprised. Not many people sort of have that internal philosophy and, you know, you kind of get into these organizations sometimes. It’s a very, you know, boss manager relationship where, you know, similar to you, I, you know, my approach to everyone here at MVP is, you know, I would never ask you to do something I wouldn’t do. Right. Because I’ve done it all, especially as, you know, within the startup world or, um, you know, having your own business.  

So yeah. I mean, I think that is a, hopefully a skill (···0.6s) that, um, is more sort of promoted throughout people’s careers and, um, you know, it just provides such a much better work environment and, and, uh, cultural mesh between colleagues as well. (···1.1s) Absolutely. And I had, as an athlete, I, I’ll never forget, my junior college tennis coach we had training at, at five 30 every Friday morning. And we had, we started practice with a three mile run. He was the first one to kick off the running, and he ran with us every single morning.  

And that, that left an impression on me. Yeah. Um, so I, I do like to, to credit my coach Goodlow on always being there and, and, you know, being a good leader from, from the beginning. Yeah. Um, but with that, I’ve, I’ve worked in many different avenues in this industry. I have food and beverage experience, I have hotel experience, I’ve got convention center, um, operations. And then, um, I joined the, about 10 years ago, I joined the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board and working on the industry from a different, you know, from a different perspective, from more the political side, the city side or, or the destination side.  

Um, LA tourism is the destination marketing organization or A DMO. They’re the organizations that sell the destination as a meetings or events, um, location. Um, so I started out there and that’s where I really got immersed into mega sporting events and kind of the experiential, um, sure.  

Marketing, if you’ll in the industry. (···0.7s) Let me ask you this. I mean, as much as they are juxtaposed against each other, I mean, did you see some level of similarity between an entertainment company (···0.8s) or sports, sports and entertainment company to something more civic is, you know, like the LA board of tourism and, and maybe similar dissimilarities can (···0.5s) expand on that?  

That would be great. Um, it gave me a really great, since I was also an athlete and I worked in the industry we were going after, this was actually right before the Rams started looking to move the team to Los Angeles. And Los Angeles wasn’t in a position to host the Super Bowl or the Olympics or any of those events because we didn’t have the proper venues, um, that we needed without the Rams coming back. So once we started, uh, you know, once the Rams got really serious about coming back to la, um, I was able to come in with the mindset of the operations background and the athletic background.  

Not that it, you know, not that being an athlete, um, is necessary to be successful, but it gave me another perspective in the industry. Um, so I was able to brainstorm and troubleshoot with these organizations, you know, to, to make it the best experience possible. And for example, the NFL was my client, the NFL does a really great job of training the next destination for the Super Bowl.  

So they would fly our team out to, in, in my case, Miami, for the 2020 Super Bowl. And you, we surveyed the entire landscape of that project. And then it was our job to come back and say, alright, NFL, this is how your project fits into our city. (···1.0s) Interesting. (···1.3s) So it, it just many different, with all of the different, since I have hotel experience and operations experience and team experience, (···0.6s) all of that (···0.6s) was necessary to build a project like the Super Bowl, you know, in for a destination.  

Sure. So what is a fun fact that most people aren’t aware about being in tourism? You know, on a day to day when you have events or, and you’re looking to procure an event or another organization come, what, what are, what are some elements that people may not be aware of? Um, well, something interesting that we’ve been talking about here. You know, weather is always a topic of conversation in, in Los Angeles, historically, it’s 72 and sunny here, um, year round.  

However, um, we’re in an El Ndo year this year. And something that’s interesting about that is when you’re living in a destination that’s 72 and sunny year round, when you’re getting patches of rain or stretches of rain, rather, I think we’re expecting like a week straight of rain this year, rain, you market your destination differently. Wow. Um, when the ramps were building their stadium, they had 72 rain days built into their construction plan.  

And the first year of construction of SoFi Stadium, they ate up every single one of those rain delays. (···0.9s) Wow. So that, which they, the NFL requires a stadium to operate for two full seasons before you can host the Super Bowl. So when your construction is delayed, if you don’t open on time, guess what? (···0.9s) It delays the opening of your stadium, the seasons, and potentially your Super Bowl. (···0.7s) Yeah. Which happened in la but fortunately, COVID also happened around that same time.  

Right. And delayed things a little. So we were able to shift, we were originally, um, supposed to host in 2021, and the 2022 Super Bowl had not been awarded yet. So we were able to move the Super Bowl to 2022 to accommodate that, those delays. Yeah, that’s interesting. You don’t hear Covid as being a positive to things, but I do know that there’s two, two individuals now in the industry that have, um, properly sort of, uh, I guess benefit to a degree from Covid.  

And, uh, one is SoFi, and then the other is Wembley. Um, when they took it, they had the foresight to take out a pandemic insurance, you know, back, you know, a few years ago with, um, some other viruses. So they, they were also able to insulate themselves from the unfortunate, um, experience that we, we all went through. But, so, okay. And it’s funny, anecdotally, uh, I was actually at a conference last year in, (···1.0s) at SoFi in February and in Los Angeles, obviously, and it was a pretty heavy rain, um, pattern during that time.  

(···0.8s) And despite SoFi being a, I mean architectural Marvel, it is a beautiful, beautiful state-of-the-Art Stadium, while we were attending the conference, the roof was leaking. So, so that is, I think, a further example of how LA is, you know, ill prepared for severe weather. And so I can certainly appreciate, you know, that factoring into your marketing efforts and one I wouldn’t even consider.  

Um, but that’s interesting. So maybe talk about that a little bit. You know, what are some of the sort of pivots that you take when, you know, you have an auto show or something, you know, to that degree looking to come in where, you know, it, it, what elements of Los Angeles do you talk about be besides the weather, that that helps secure that, that property? Um, well, I’ll, I’ll give another example too, is they, when the stadium was being built, the super, the SoFi Stadium was built to host the, the Super Bowl.  

Um, that’s one of the most secure, um, sport parameters that you have to have in, in our industry. And we also want to bring the men’s Final Four to Los Angeles, (···0.8s) which is one reason why SoFi Stadium has a roof on it, because you have to have, you know, a roof for basketball. Yeah. (···0.6s) What did, what wasn’t taken into consideration is that SoFi Stadium doesn’t have walls on it. (···1.0s) So if you have a basketball game in first, you know, March, April, (···0.6s) and you’re playing tip off at, you know, two o’clock, I think typically, um, west Coast games are around two o’clock, and the second would be at five o’clock, I think.  

Um, they didn’t think about the sun was gonna be setting. (···0.8s) So with no walls on the building, here you go to step up to the free throw line to go shoot a free throw, and you’ve got sun right in your eyes. Right. Right. That’s a problem for a basketball player. Right. (···0.9s) They also didn’t think about how the humidity without walls on the, the venue would affect the court.  

Right. Yeah. Another, you know, another issue, um, with safety, of course. Um, so those are, those are things and troubleshooting that we’ve, we’ve had to do along the years. But we also look at things like, you know, Los Angeles, in order to host the Olympics, Los Angeles did not have to build any additional venues in our city to attract the Olympics.  

(···1.2s) And that was, um, in part to the LA Football Club, building a brand new stocker stadium right in downtown next to the LA Memorial Coliseum. The Rams bringing back the, um, their team and building this, you know, couple billion dollar stadium in Inglewood (···0.9s) looking at our transportation system is important. If you’ve flown into LAX, um, recently, you’ve seen all the construction. They’re building a people mover that will be ready, um, I believe supposed to be ready this year in, um, anticipation for the 26 World Cup and the 28 Olympics.  

Um, but something else that was really interesting about the Los Angeles is that in it costs (···1.4s) to bid on the Olympics (···1.9s) and the Olympic Committee, um, they, (···0.6s) they, um, select the city seven years in advance.  

(···0.8s) Well, it came down when Los Angeles was bidding on the 2024 Olympics, it came down to three cities, Budapest, Paris, and Los Angeles. (···0.5s) And once you get to those three cities, the destinations each have to follow the same, the exact same guidelines. Um, when presenting to the IOC, when the International Olympic Committee is coming to do the site visits for your city, (···0.5s) you can do, we were allowed to take them to a sporting event. Um, we could do like an experiential dinner.  

And there was one, there was one other, um, um, you know, example that we had to follow, and it, it escapes me at the moment, but when we got to that point, Budapest said, whoa, we can’t really compete with what Los Angeles and Paris can compete with. (···0.7s) So at that point, Budapest just bowed out, and it came down to LA and Paris, (···1.3s) LA and Paris both were, you know, capable of hosting the Olympics.  

We had both done it twice. (···0.5s) We had pros and cons on both sides. Um, Paris at the time was under some terrorist attacks. Um, the United States was looking at Donald Trump’s presidency when he was talking about, you know, he, he was building the wall, and the Olympics was saying, why would we bring the world to your country if your country doesn’t wanna welcome the world? Yeah. So those were very big, you know, um, cons against both cities, but Los Angeles, um, the 1984 Olympics, um, and as far as I know to this day, is still the most profitable Olympics in Olympic history, yet Paris in 24 was gonna be hosting their centennial of their Olympics.  

So very big pros for both cities. Yep, yep. (···0.5s) So our city leaders went back to the International Olympic Committee and said, listen, (···0.5s) we’ve spent $50 million to bid on this. You’ve got two highly capable destinations that can host this event.  

(···0.6s) Why not award one to one city and then give the next Olympics to the next city? (···0.8s) And the IOC said, well, our guidelines require seven years. We can only, we can only select the city seven years in event in advance. Well, our city leaders said, change the rules, (···1.6s) you know, award the Olympics 11 years out, let’s, you know, let’s be smart about this. Why charge somebody another, make them spend another 50 million to bid on the 28 Olympics?  

And the rules changed, and Los Angeles gave Paris 2024, and we got 2028. Yeah. That was a, it was a perfect compromise. And it’s, it’s so funny that you bring this up because Natasha and I were actually at the Rose Bowl last week, um, at a meeting, and, you know, Los Angeles is, is, has become quite the destination for these national and international events. You know, the College of Football playoffs there last year, and, uh, the World Cup coming in two years, and then obviously the Olympics.  

But I remember, geez, it felt like a lifetime ago, 12, 13 years ago that I just started reading about Wasserman’s effort to kind of bring the Olympics to Los Angeles. And here we are. We’re just four years away from that. And it’s just, (···0.6s) my goodness, I couldn’t, I, I just, it was just a interesting moment because yeah, I mean, 11 years in year one sounds like a lifetime, but it, it kind of comes quick. So did you have much involvement?  

Uh, so with a little bit of background, you, you know, you were obviously very close to the, uh, the Olympic committee and the host committee, uh, both with the Super Bowl and (···0.5s) with the, um, with the Olympics there. So how closely were you a part of that bidding process or your involvement with Wasserman’s team? And, uh, if, if at all? (···1.2s) I didn’t necessarily work directly with Casey and his team, I was kind of the right hand to the Sports and Entertainment Commission, which is a division of Los Angeles tourism. Um, they’re kind of under the same arm, but different operating budgets, if, if that makes sense.  

Um, the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission, um, commission, they do not have the hotels or the convention center. LA tourism sells the hotels and the convention center. The, um, L-A-S-E-C has the relationships with the organizations. So I was kind of their right hand. They, I have about a four inch binder of all of, you know, everything that I need to know for the Super Bowl and how we’re gonna execute that.  

So in, in my role, I kind of played middleman. I was the middleman between the city and the NFL and the city being LA tourism, the city of Los Angeles, the LA Sports and Entertainment Commission, and the NFL. Um, so I was the considered the destination expert. The NFL would come to me and say, you know, we need to talk about street pole banners. You know, when you go to these major events, you see the branding all over the city. You arrive at the airport, you’re welcomed with welcome banners in the airport.  

You drive down the street, you see the teams banners hanging from light poles. Um, so everything from branding and decorating the city to the venues or where the teams were gonna stay, that kind of fell on my responsibility and for me to connect them. Um, also, anytime they came to our city, they would reach out to me and they’d say, you know, we’re coming to la, we’re gonna be there four days. We need to find where our teams are gonna or are gonna practice. Um, you know, it’s important that the teams cannot stay next door at the LAX hotel properties when they’re playing the Super Bowl, because who is gonna be staying closer to the stadium, the fans.  

Right. And you don’t wanna put a team who’s gonna compete for the World Championship right. In the, in the middle of the fan hubs. So a lot of the teams, you know, it typically stay 45 minutes to an hour away from the venue. Um, in Los Angeles, people think that’s a little crazy, but with a police escort, you can, you can get anywhere pretty quickly in, in la Although that could be two miles away, but 45 minutes in Los Angeles, but (···0.7s) I know what you’re saying.  

(···1.2s) Yeah. So I, I had my hands in, in really building that entire landscape and presenting to the NFL on how we could execute the Super Bowl. Um, and I’ll never forget the day that, that I sat in the, in the room, right in front of the TV watching the live decision on live tv, and, you know, hearing that we had one our efforts, we were successful in our, in our efforts. And I may have shed a tear or two.  

It was a, it was a lot of hard work. Absolutely. Absolutely. I can’t imagine operationally, logistically, you know, uh, publicly gov, civically, governmentally, any, any type of variable that you have to consider for an event of that scale. So that, I mean, obviously that sets you apart from a lot of folks in the event business, because when you’re talking about event, I mean, is there anything bigger than the Olympics? Right? Probably not. Or the Super Bowl. (···0.5s) So how did that parlay your career into working with Citi National Bank and, and sort of being the, the vice president of events there?  

Um, and (···0.5s) you know, I’d imagine that there’s similarities in terms of what you are, are, are doing on a day to day, but maybe talk to us, you know, now that you’re sort of in a private company or, you know, anything that you’re comfortable with, um, talking about the efforts there. (···0.9s) Sure. So when Covid hit, um, a lot of these destination marketing organizations like tourism, like LA tourism, are funded based on the tra the trans occupancy tax that you stay, um, that you pay when you stay in a hotel.  

It’s usually anywhere from 18 to 24% that goes back to the city’s general fund that then funds the marketing, um, the marketing arm for the city, um, general like police, fire, paramedics, things like that. So when our hotels shut down due to Covid, we lost 90% of our funding immediately. Oh my goodness. So it was inevitable that my job of planning events on that scale was not the most important thing in March of 2020.  

(···0.6s) So, um, we unfortunately lost our jobs. Um, and I started doing a little consulting work because the Super Bowl still had to plan the Olympics, still had to plan. And all of those people who I was working with had lost their jobs. So I stepped in as a consultant and said, I can, at least I had relationships where a lot of those people were willing to have conversations with me offline to keep the process moving.  

Um, and in that, in that consulting world, I had someone reach out to me, um, and tell me that City National Bank was looking for contractors to come in and help them pivot their, their business from, you know, in-person events to virtual. They’d never done a lot of virtual events. So I came on in December of 2020 (···0.9s) as a contractor, um, when my contract was about a week from expiring, they said, would you stay for one more month?  

And I said, sure, stay one more month. That one more month turned into, would you just come on full time? (···1.2s) And City National, um, is a very interesting place. We’re actually one of our largest segments is sports and entertainment. Um, a little fun fact, back in the sixties, Frank Sinatra Sun was kidnapped and the ransom money was about $240,000. And Frank Sinatra, um, stumbled into a City National Bank branch. He could not find $240,000 in cash, um, at that time period. And (···7.4s) City National Bank had it, um, they were able to work with him, son was, was um, rescued and City National was instrumental in helping him get some of his ransom back.  

My goodness. And Frank Sinatra went out to Hollywood and told, you know, his, his network to bank with City National, and we became the bank to the Stars. So even though I’m not fully immersed in sports and entertainment, I’m still sports and entertainment adjacent.  

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Well, is there a picture of Frank Sinatra in every conference room, uh, across your building? There should be. Right? That’s amazing. What a, what a fantastic story. I mean, what an unfortunate event, but, uh, yeah, that, that’s, uh, that’s, so that’s similar to, you know, most people (···0.9s) don’t know that, you know, Coca-Cola invented Santa Claus, for example, right? Like, you have such these, uh, these little fun facts. But, so I, I’d imagine over the years that, you know, and this is something that’s, I think from an industry perspective, long overdue, but you know, we really feel the groundswell of, um, women in sports and, and brands and, uh, the general public really buying into the sport and get, and the women’s sports getting the respect that they deserve and, and need and, um, to help promote their brands and, you know, (···0.8s) elevate the equality of professional athletes.  

Um, spanning again, those two decades, have you seen that shift?  

And what do you look forward to as a, as it regards to, you know, the promotion of women’s sports? Um, I was just, um, I’m actually attending a networking event tonight for women in sports and events, and I mentor a lot of students. Um, that’s something that’s really important to me because when I came into the industry, it was a man’s world. Yeah. Um, I was 22 years old, I walked into my first day of work and high heels and nails done, and, you know, hair and makeup. And I literally had people tell me, you’re not gonna be respected showing up in this industry like that.  

Um, this industry wants people who are gonna get down and dirty, um, who aren’t willing, you know, who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. And that’s exactly how I’ve started and I’ve built my career. Um, and I know you and I were talking earlier about, you know, being a leader and how, um, you know, it’s important to lead by example and not to do, not to ask your teams to do anything that you wouldn’t be willing to do. I’ve painted hockey ice, I’ve helped build basketball courts.  

Um, you know, I, I, um, another big event that, that I was instrumental in was the 2015 Special Olympics World Games that came to la, which is actually larger than the Olympic and Paralympic games. Many people dunno that, um, I believe we welcomed something like 248,000 people from 165 countries for that event. Wow. Um, and, um, I had, we, we had some unfortunate events that, um, happened when we first had athletes arriving in our city for the games, and we had people stranded at LAX because the transportation company, they weren’t monitoring flights.  

And when flights were delayed, since they weren’t monitoring that, they left their drivers on, um, on the clock while there were no flights coming in. (···0.6s) Well, when their time as a driver, you can’t, um, you can’t go over a certain number of hours if you’re, if you’re a bus driver or truck driver, something like that.  

Well, since they weren’t monitoring time when their, when their time was up, they just left the airport, (···0.6s) well, these flights still had to come in, you know, and we had people with thousands of people with intellectual disabilities that were showing up in our city. And I even stepped in and said, look, you know, I, I’ve got a Land Rover that’s about, I can go maybe about four people at a time. Um, but that was a big moment in my career where I got to shine as a woman in the industry.  

Um, so I’ve done, I’ve done the dirty work. I’m not afraid to do the dirty work. Something that I really pride myself in, in is that my title doesn’t limit what I do on a daily basis, got my salary, doesn’t mean that I’m too high up in the organization to do what it takes to get the job done. Um, and I really hope, you know, I, I think that that has really helped catapult my career, and that’s the message that I, that I really, um, share when I’m talking to a lot of women and mentoring these women who are coming up in the industry because it’s not a man’s world anymore.  

We really are, you know, we really are coming in and, um, I’m not gonna say we’re taking over yet, but we’re covered for you. No, but hopefully there will be a, a presidency that will help, uh, kind of promote this further. Right. Yeah. So real quick, I know we’re, we’re kind of nearing the end of time, but I do wanna make mention anyone in the chat room there, if you wanna ask, uh, us any questions, please go ahead and drop that into the chat. Um, but Brandi, before we get going, I do want to talk a little bit more about Los Angeles and the greater tech scene, uh, as a technology company.  

I think, um, you know, on the East Coast, um, it’s been a nice sort of movement and transition to see Silicon Valley sort of spread throughout the country, but obviously come down the coast in California. And so, um, you know, Playa Vista being a, a a a a hub for a lot of massively successful, uh, technology companies. Um, have you had any pulse to that sort of growth or involvement and or just general opinion on that?  

(···1.0s) You know, not so much. I know in your world we’re seeing so many fan fest and things are, are seeing so much more of the experiential marketing and the, you know, the, the things like, like you produce, um, with the immersive technology, um, at the bank, we are learning that, you know, to use our technology a little better. We used to be very personal in our interactions with a lot of in-person events.  

And covid taught us that our are busy, we have ultra high net worth clients who don’t have the time to drive across the city of Los Angeles or an event for a breakfast or a, you know, a lunch meeting. So we, we really are, um, embracing that technology and how we can deliver the same message, but virtually to save them time and, um, you know, to get in front of them. Something that we are looking to expand on is how to still deliver, um, with technology and keep the personal touch.  

Um, sure. You know, at the bank, we’re not talking, you know, sports as much as I am tax, you know, law changes and succession planning and things like that. But if you’re sitting with someone who is, you know, has a high net worth and we’re engaging their next of kin, um, whether they’re looking to sell their business or they’re planning for, you know, their, their future passing with their children, that’s a very personal conversation.  

So we really need to still tie the technology in, but be able to offer that, that same personal connection. Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I, I do think the, I would agree with you that, that the trend is shifting. You know, most people don’t see financial institutions as tech savvy or, or sort of synonymous to technology, but with FinTech startups. And I think that’s changing the culture. And in fact, I was out to dinner, um, with a banking executive who, uh, was really working on internal about the vision of their particular bank and being, you know, we’re in this connected world where there’s gonna be a time where your, your car essentially is going to replace your cell phone or your mobile phone in terms of its capabilities.  

So imagine going through a parking garage, parking and just getting out because your car is being charged, the, the parking rate versus, you know, your mobile wallet or your physical credit card and things. So it’s really interesting to see where, um, banking technology can go, um, with, with that connected experience.  

And, you know, even internally, we were joking, um, you know, we’ve heard the neural link, uh, Elon Musk’s next startup is, uh, you know, brain implants. And so they had just announced the first human that received the chip, and you know, we made reference that, you know, one day you’re gonna be able to blink three times and pay for cable or something to that effect. So it’s, um, you know, it’s a pretty wild future. And, you know, technology is, is certainly driving that (···1.1s) Well, and in the hospitality world, there are, there’s new technology that, you know, they’re testing where you pull up at a hotel, and if you’re spending the money to stay at a Four Seasons, um, James, when, you know, when James arrives in the port cachet at the, at the hotel, (···0.6s) it’s this technology would alert the front desk that James is approaching, right.  

So that when you stop your car, the valet already knows, you know, welcome. Thank you for being here. They know who you’re Yeah. The front desk, you know, we see digital keys already.  

I just was in La Jolla, California over the weekend for the farmer’s Insurance open, um, PGA golf tournament. And I did, I never even had to go to the front desk. Yeah. You know, they, they communicated with me the day before I was allowed to check in 24 hours in advance. My digital key was ready as soon as my room was ready, and I never even had to speak to the front desk. Yeah. That’s, that’s the way of the future. I’m, I’m all for that. And, you know, there may be a, a certain part of the population that is, that will resist this sort of open access to, to yourself as an individual.  

But, uh, I think having that connected experience (···0.5s) and, um, as a, as a way of life and operational living mechanism for all of us is, is going to be the future, which is also going to essentially challenge brands too, to really innovate through their marketing (···0.6s) efforts, through technology. And that’s what’s exciting for us. I think, you know, despite our (···0.8s) industry age and being in an experiential and immersive technology for over a decade, I, I think we’re just now at the tip of the iceberg in terms of how life-changing immersive experiences are going to be in our day-to-Day.  

Um, so whether it’s a live event, a concert, a a sports venue, um, brands are going to really be challenged with how you can connect to that potential consumer. And it’s not going to be the analog ways that, um, we’ve done things in the past. And so I think that’s really exciting. And, um, I’d imagine for marketers it proposes some type of challenges.  

Well, because, um, you know, immersive technology is not something I always joke, even when we, we look to scale up a team here, it’s not like, you know, we’re accountants or lawyers where we can get a pool of candidates, you know, that have real life experience. And so, um, so I think this maybe is a little bit of a shameless plug for MVP, but I think that’s the value add in, in a company like ours, that we can really connect to your brand, understand your message, and then sort of dictate the right experiences or the best experiences through technology that, you know, really provides that frictionless communication to the consumer and the brand.  

And so, um, yeah, so anyone out there listening and that, that, that has a, and it’s funny that you, uh, work with the financial institution because one of the biggest things, you didn’t say this, but one of the, the biggest things that we hear from other financial or insurance and financial services companies, like, Hey, we’re a boring brand. You know, like, I don’t know, like, what we can do because people, you know, we, you know, we service this el you know, element and you know, we’re, you know, we’re life insurance.  

And it’s like, how exciting is that? And that, you know, that’s just another way that, you know, these immersive experiences kind of break down that barrier. (···1.2s) Well, I wanna add to, I’m, I’m currently in school. I’m going back to get my master’s in sport management. It’s a business degree. And I just wrote a paper last week about Formula One, Las Vegas. Um, this is an event that tickets started at eight per ticket. Some people spent upwards of $50,000 (···0.9s) for a three day pass.  

(···0.7s) That’s not an event that is available to just anyone. Right. And let’s be honest, it’s not really for the, you know, it’s for the community, but it’s, it’s for the high dollar corporate America who can afford to spend that, that kind of money. But I think in your world, and where I think you have a great opportunity is how can the, you know, us common folks, how can we enjoy experiences like that, right. Um, in the future that we may not be able to be there in person.  

Um, and I think, you know, this may be an opportunity for financial institutions to put their name on your experiences Yeah. To create that for fans. Yeah. Um, you know, so I, I, that was then it was interesting digging into Formula One. I’ve never worked on that project, but I did, like I said, I did some research for that paper. Um, and I, I think you’re, you know, I think you’ve got, um, I’m excited to see where you go in the future. You, you’ve impressed me with, um, you know, some of the experiences that I’ve seen you create.  

I appreciate that. Yeah. We’re, we’re, um, to your Formula One, uh, comment. We’re really excited about the, uh, vision Pro from Apple. I think a lot of headsets that have come before them have really missed, um, their mark Not from a, not only from a technical perspective, but from a consumer perspective, a generation perspective. Where as we know, apple is the type of company that can move the needle and change the way we interact with the real world.  

And so the fact that, you know, we’re talking about these connected experiences, (···0.5s) apple connecting into your mobile devices, and now they’re into streaming and they’re, they’re, they have access to, um, I think they’re, they’re now the, the, the streaming platform of MLS, right. And so being able to tie that holistically into a headset that, you know, maybe you don’t need to spend that, you know, uh, super Bowl tickets. I think the cheapest one right now is $8,000 for the upper deck in Las Vegas. And so, you know, if you can pay $18 to stream that, you know, and, and get an immersive experience could be really, really fascinating for, you know, the next, our generation and the next generation, quite frankly.  

So, (···0.7s) Absolutely, absolutely. Excellent. Well, I, I see that we’re, we’re a little over time, which is fine. We, we could probably keep this going, but we wanted to, you know, give one more opportunity for some of the guests here. If you have any questions, please, uh, set it in the chat. But, um, if not, Brandy, this was, this was a pleasure. Um, you know, thank you for, for being a participant here.  

And, you know, we look equally look forward to seeing some of the initiatives that you guys are rolling out and Yeah, I, I have a feeling I’m gonna be out in Los Angeles pretty often for the next (···0.6s) foreseeable future. (···0.9s) Well, you know, Los Angeles was just awarded the 2027 Super Bowl, so, um, 26 World Cup, 27 Super Bowl again, 28. Oh my goodness. Building their new, the Intuit do that’s gonna be opening soon. Um, this is a good place to be right now.  

So I do see you out here more often. Awesome. Well, I’ll definitely be sure to look you up next time I’m out there. Please do. And thank you for having me, James was fantastic. My Pleasure. Thanks so much. Okay. Thank. (···37.1s)  

Podcast: Brandy Thigpen, VP Events Marketing, City National Bank


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