Gianna Gaudini: The Art of Event Planning
Former Executive Producer of Google Events and Experiences and current Global Head of Events for SoftBank Vision Fund, Gianna Gaudini, spent a decade of her career dreaming up and producing Google’s most over-the-top events. Gaudini’s events have been instrumental in keeping Google’s brand iconic and profitable while driving home brand messaging to the world’s biggest decision-makers. Gaudini is now Global Head of Events for SoftBank Vision Fund – the world’s largest Venture Capital fund with $100 billion in their portfolio of assets.
From turning event attendees into life-sized avatars that animate with personalized, detailed greetings, to CEOs skydiving into events; customized swag bags, glamping trips complete with Tesla test-drive experiences; farm-fresh locally harvested food spreads, and bobbleheads with personalized micro-chips for each attendee to take home; Gaudini’s events have been a driving factor for increased sales and brand messaging; finally, giving attendees show-stopping memories that last a lifetime.
Gaudini’s new book, The Art of Event Planning: Pro Tips From An Industry Insider, offers the best event-planning hacks that anyone can apply, to take their own events and parties from average to epic. We picked Gianna Gaudini’s brain to gain more insight into her incredible career and her new must-read book.
Beverly Hills Magazine: How did you manage to nab your previous long-term position as Executive Producer of Google Events and Experiences?
Gianna Gaudini: I didn’t go to school for event planning. I actually went to college at UC San Diego with the intention of becoming a doctor. However, I share early on in my book, The Art of Event Planning, that there are so many innate and transferable skills that lend themselves to a career in event planning. Once I determined event planning was a career I could build and grow in for a lifetime, I set out to have informational interviews with anyone I knew in the business, one of which became my mentor and future boss at Google.
Beverly Hills Magazine: How did that informational meeting turn into such an amazing job opportunity for you?
Gianna Gaudini: I reached out to her years later after working for several agencies, after going through an exercise of listing out the 100 companies I wanted to consider working for. I call this practice “manifestation,” and it’s another subject I cover in my book that anyone can use successfully to get the career of their dreams. Google was #1 on my list. I grew up with a mother who was an interior designer and a father who was a tech executive, so planning events for a tech company like Google seemed like a good place for someone who was constantly toggling between her right and left-brain.
When I reached out to my mentor, who had moved on from an agency, we worked together to join the event team at Google. After she got hired by Google, she had a role opening up on her team and she invited me in for an interview. I did go through a rigorous interview process, but I created my own serendipity by first realizing what I wanted to do and then taking the steps necessary to make that dream a reality.
Beverly Hills Magazine: You’re now Global Head of Events for SoftBank Vision Fund, which is the world’s largest Venture Capital fund with $100 billion in their portfolio of assets. Can you share an exciting event you are currently putting together for them?
Gianna Gaudini: I’m currently working on a VIP event for the CEOs of our portfolio companies, high profile influencers, investors and future investors, and our Softbank Vision Fund leadership team. The event is an invite-only thought leadership event and will provide opportunities for important relationship building through high touch experiences. That’s all I can say about the event given its exclusivity.
Beverly Hills Magazine: In your book, The Art of Event Planning, you share your best tips for putting amazing events together. How can your insider advice translate to someone who is looking to put together an unforgettable social event or party?
Gianna Gaudini: I always advise anyone planning an event, whether it’s social or corporate, to start by identifying their goals. This helps clear the brain from all the noise of aesthetic inspiration that’s so easy to get caught up in, that one loses the intent of the gathering. Once you have set a clear intention, every decision you make should support your end goal. This not only helps your event feel more cohesive, it helps when you have to prioritize your time and budget. It also helps your event be more memorable by editing away a lot of the excessive “fluff.”
Beverly Hills Magazine: What are the three key elements that make for a five-star event?
Gianna Gaudini: Incorporating surprise and delight into your event strategy keeps attendees engaged while building a deeper emotional connection with your brand. Surprise is not only an exciting tactic, it can generate brand loyalty, promote social sharing and can motivate authentic word-of-mouth marketing. I’ve been incorporating surprise and delight tactics into my events from the first dinner party I hosted in college to conferences for thousands of people.
Surprise and Delight don’t need to take up a massive amount of budget or logistics. Every guest should feel like a VIP. I plan with the intention of creating a relevant and personalized experience for each attendee.
Be it a personalized welcome to the event, a gift, amenity, a personalized schedule, or even choices when it comes to seating, food, and options at events. The more you allow people to experience your event in a way that’s authentic and comfortable for them, the more they will benefit from the experience and share that positive sentiment with others. Consistency of narrative is also key. be sure to give your event a consistent theme from start to finish. This includes all communication leading up to the event and any post-event communication.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Aside from people who are in the events industry or who aspire to be event planners, who else can benefit from reading your book?
Gianna Gaudini: I believe everyone is a planner in some capacity, at some point in their life. Whether it’s a birthday party, a dinner party, bachelorette party, graduation ceremony or recital; pretty much everyone I’ve ever met has had to plan an event at one point. Since events are often what anchor our memories, we can all benefit from becoming better planners of our own lives. Thus, anyone can benefit from the tips I share in my book when it comes to event planning.
I also share a lot about my personal career path and how to find and manifest the career of your dreams, how to build and lead a team and manage relationships successfully, and how to live a balanced life (despite event planning being one of the most stressful jobs, rated annually). The book is for anyone who is considering a career in event planning, anyone already in the industry, and anyone seeking advice and inspiration with a lot of great anecdotal stories from my experiences.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is your philosophy on creating unforgettable events that people will talk about for years to come?
Gianna Gaudini: Always ask, “What do I want people to do, think, and feel?” Start with the feelings you want to create, and the resulting emotional impact it will have on your attendees’ thinking, and thereby acting, in the way you’ve intended. I always try to create a truly unique brand experience that people will recognize and remember.
Learn more about Gianna Gaudini and her work at her website.