The 12th Floor: Meet Petar from the Toronto Office
Our inaugural post features Sales Agent Petar Josic. Hello, Petar!
Spencer Gordon: What’s your role here at the Agency? And how do you describe your job to others?
Petar Josic: I am an Agent at Lavin. Alongside a team of Agents in Canada and throughout the U.S., I sell and manage the talent that the agency represents to hundreds of event organizers around the world.
SG: What’s your favourite part about the job?
PJ: Two things. The first is representing and working closely with the most fascinating speakers in the world. And the second is helping event organizers create truly memorable experiences.
SG: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to work here? What were you doing before?
PJ: Funny enough, I was actually on the other side of the business. I worked for a publishing company, and we distributed one of Canada’s leading real estate magazines. I was heading up a division that organized conferences in multiple cities, and we’d always look to bring in high-profile business leaders to share their stories with our delegates. This was my ‘in’ into an industry that had my name written all over it!
So, to all the event planners out there. I like to think that I have that little extra bit of insight into what goes on in organizing an unforgettable show.
SG: What is the best, or what were some of the best, keynotes you’ve seen?
PJ: I’ve seen a lot of talks, and honestly, I can’t say that I have just one favourite.
What I like to hear differs from time to time. Sometimes, I can’t wait to hear a good motivating story. At other times, I love to hear a business leader talk about how he or she manages their endeavours.
Regardless, one of the most important things that I look for are concrete takeaways following a presentation. If you can tell me how to apply the subject you are talking about (whatever the subject may be), and how I can apply it in my professional or personal life, then you’ve likely left a lasting impression.
SG: Do any of our speakers speak on topics close to your interests, passions, commitments, and so forth in particular?
PJ: If I was to pick, then my top three categories of interest would have to be: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Sales. I like to think that those three topics summarize me as a professional.
SG: Any highlights of your time here that you’d like to share?
PJ: Without sounding too cliché, I would have to say that the relationships I’ve forged have been absolutely amazing—both with the talent I represent and with the buyers I work with. These relationships have stretched beyond professional borders and have evolved into something more personal, which is something I have and will continue to cherish.
One event highlight I’d like to mention was a talk I organized that allowed me to meet a personal idol, and one of the world’s most renowned business leaders, Jack Welch.
The event took place in Montreal, which is one of my favourite cities to visit, and the room was absolutely packed to capacity. There were approximately 2,000 people in attendance to hear Jack Welch tell his story, and if I recall correctly, he received not one but two standing ovations. Quite a memorable night!
SG: Now, I thought I’d ask you a few questions specifically designed for agents. Say a client wants to book a speaker. Where should they start?
PJ: Call or email Petar Josic at 416.979.7979 ext. 281 or at email@example.com.
Seriously, though—it’s kind of like looking to buy a nice watch. Do your research and shop around. There is a lot of clutter out there, and talking to industry professionals whose jobs actually rely on the success of your event is a great way to start.
SG: How would you help a client find the best possible speaker for their event?
PJ: Well, there are a number of ways to go about this. To begin with, a face-to-face meeting is always great. However, with the sheer volume of clients and with everyone’s hectic schedules, it becomes a little unrealistic.
What I really try to do is fully immerse myself in the clients’ positions. I try to imagine what it’s like to be an employee of the organization throughout the entire process. I spend a great deal of time researching everything there is to know about the client’s company, culture, structure, challenges, and so forth.
It’s extremely important for me to also ask as many questions as humanly possible. The last thing I want to do is waste people’s time by providing a laundry list of names that may or may not have any relevance whatsoever; and by asking the right questions, it really allows me to hone in on exactly what somebody is looking for. It’s not just the who, what, where, and dollars to spend questions. It’s the questions from far-left-field that usually help me steer clients in the actual direction they want to go. (I keep those “secret far-left-field questions” only to myself and my clients). It’s amazing how many times clients think they want one speaker, but end up realizing they need someone completely different.
SG: What would you say to a client who wants to know if our speakers attend dinners, receptions, and so forth—i.e., anything beyond keynote presentations?
PJ: I’d say it’s totally doable. We must keep in mind that these sorts of asks vary from speaker to speaker. For example, some speakers would rather have their alone time prior to a talk. Afterward, they’re more than happy to mingle or abide by the set agenda. It’s really a preference thing for each speaker, and we all work together to establish a win-win for everybody involved.
Another thing I always tell organizers is to try and be as realistic as possible. Because most of the talent I represent have jobs and are taking time away from other endeavours, it doesn’t make much sense for them to be on-site at 10:00 a.m. if their talk isn’t until 7:00 p.m.
SG: If a speaker isn’t available for the client’s event, how would you help them find another choice?
I hate when this happens! But again, we need to keep in mind though that we are dealing with human beings. Human beings with families, jobs, and other commitments.
I always manage expectations as much as possible and let my clients know that there is always a chance that the speaker we’re leaning toward may not be available. For that reason, I always advocate for a Plan B. Most clients work with rather large committees, and I strongly advise that when they are ready to book a speaker, they come with not one but two options: their first choice, and just in case the first choice falls through, some extra ideas ready to go.
That’s why communication is the most important aspect of the industry. I’ve seen too many instances where clients get excited about booking a speaker only to find out that he or she is unavailable. It all falls apart when somebody hasn’t managed the clients’ expectations or when there is no backup plan in place.
SG: Are you able to put clients in touch with speakers directly?
PJ: Sure. Only after we’ve booked someone, though. It isn’t fair for me to put my clients in touch with my talent if they are not going to book them.
After a deal has been struck, then absolutely. Our speakers want to know everything there is to know about your organization and event so that they can give the best possible performance.
SG: After the event is booked, how do you help answer any other questions?
PJ: I make myself as accessible as possible throughout the entire duration of the booking cycle. It’s important for me to make booking a speaker as seamless as possible for clients by responding to any inquiries as quickly as I can.
I’ve found that efficiency in this industry really makes the difference, and when a client is looking for something, or has a question or concern, then it’s unfair to them if something goes unanswered. Again, to use a shopping comparison: If I buy something somewhere and have any kind of follow-up questions or concerns, I expect a quick and professional response. It’s customer service 101! If I don’t receive a response that solves my problems, then the chances are I will not want to purchase something from that place again.
SG: Thanks so much, Petar!
And that concludes the our first 12th Floor conversation! To begin your search for the best keynote speaker for your event, read our FAQ section, search by idea, topic, or industry, or scan through our newest, most exciting speakers. And remember, you can get in touch with Petar directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.