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The 12th Floor: Meet Maisa from the Toronto Office
Exclusives | August 30, 2016

The 12th Floor: Meet Maisa from the Toronto Office

In The 12th Floor series, Lavin’s Spencer Gordon interviews the many amazing people who make up the team here at our head office in Toronto, Canada. The Lavin Agency relies on its creative, intelligent, and passionate staff to represent its roster of world-changing speakers. Here you’ll get a chance to meet the professionals who work behind the scenes to guarantee that you find the perfect guest for your unique event, and that it goes smoothly—from initial inquiry to standing ovation.

Our ninth post in the series features Event Coordinator Maisa Lebovitz. Hello, Maisa!

What’s your role here at the Agency? And how do you describe your job to others?

As an event coordinator at The Lavin Agency I am the main point of contact between a client and a speaker, making sure an event goes smoothly from inception to implementation. Not everybody is familiar with the term “Speakers Bureau,” so sometimes I also say, “Like TedTalks!” and that helps.

What’s your favourite part about the job?

My favourite part about the job is that I get to be a part of so many different kinds of events. I like to say that “I’m here for the party”—because every event is a celebration of sorts. Sometimes we are celebrating a new industry perspective, getting people away from their desks, or hearing a great author talk about their new book—whichever it may be, I’m happy to deliver a great experience.

What’s the most challenging part about your job?

The weather! When a speaker is getting to an event on a rainy or snowy day … that’s a nerve-wracking scenario. Thankfully we always have alternative plans for travel put in place in case anything happens so that the speaker gets to their event in one piece.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to work here? What were you doing before?

I’m from Brazil originally and made my way to Canada 10 years ago for university. Then I started working in the production of large-scale festivals and events. I had roles in the TO2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and Just for Laughs and got hooked on the environment.

Sometimes it can be a little stressful, but when an event comes together it’s very rewarding. Sometimes there’s dancing at the end, which, as a Brazilian, I love.

What is the best (or what were some of the best) keynotes you’ve seen?

Anytime I hear Angela Duckworth discuss Grit, I get pumped up like, “Let’s do this!”

What are some of your favourite books authored by Lavin speakers?

I love Teju Cole’s Everyday Is for the Thief, because I’m originally from Brazil and we have some of the same endemic issues of corruption that he touches on. Having studied English Literature in Canada, I also have to give it up to our speaker Margaret Atwood, I love her second book Surfacing and return to it time and time again.

Do any of our speakers speak on topics close to your interests, passions, commitments, and so forth in particular?

I recently had the opportunity to hear Lauren Singer discuss her philosophy of a Zero Waste lifestyle and I was SO excited. I had seen her video on the internet, where she showed that all of her garbage could fit into a mason jar. As I get older, I’m turning into a full-blown hippie, so I had adopted a lot of her suggestions already, but it was wonderful to hear how passionate and eloquent she was, and it made me think of ways to simplify my life further.

Any highlights of your time here that you’d like to share?

Last Christmas break I spent a lot of time watching Netflix, completely enthralled in the Making a Murderer series. A couple of months later I opened up my inbox at Lavin to see an email from Dean Strang, one of the primary lawyers on that show. I went on to coordinate an event for him in Toronto and it’s one of my favourite memories.

What are the most common questions you’re asked about being an Event Coordinator?

“What kinds of speakers do you coordinate for?” The list is super diverse and impressive. We’ve got comedians, scientists, entrepreneurs, entertainers, athletes, authors … it’s a great roster.

How do you ensure that a speaker makes it to an event, and gets home safe, without problems?

I send as many helpful reminders as they need. I’ve definitely sent a few text messages like, “Yo, don’t forget the hotel address is ______”

If there are unavoidable problems with travel, how do you solve them?

Ask the speaker to arrive the night before. Or before that. Or a month before, and chill in the event city for a bit—that could prevent the stress. But also researching all plane, train and automobile routes as a backup and having a getaway car in an alley.

How do you arrange hotel accommodations and special requests?

Usually I call and talk to every possible hotel staff member or venue contact. I explain the special circumstances and kindly annoy everyone by going over everything. 

What are some great lessons you’ve learned through securing so many arrangements?

People are super busy! I never assume that a speaker or any contact can take a phone call at any moment. It’s crazy how intense scheduling can get.

If you could describe a perfectly arranged event, it would be …

One where the vision is clear and everyone works as a team to communicate what they need in detail. 

Are there any memorable occasions that have made you think outside the box in terms of events?

I like it when speakers get hungry and curious about where they can eat, post-event. I’ve spent some time googling restaurant options in small towns and you can always fall back on pie.

That concludes our ninth 12th Floor interview! Now, to begin your search for the ideal keynote speaker for your next event, workshop, or conference, get familiar with Lavin’s philosophy through our FAQ section, search our roster by idea—where you can search for economics speakers, digital and social media speakers, business speakers, leadership speakers, and many more—or scan through a list of the newest names on our roster.  
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