Maria Keenan

Event Management Advice from the Woman Leading Patreon's Events

Jane Kwett is the senior event marketing manager for Patreon. You might recognise her name from our post detailing why we've decided to host a conference.

Not only has she been an inspiration to us, she's touched the careers of many hundreds of event goers over the last 10+ years she's spent in events. 

The Patreon community is one of most inventive around, featuring artists and creators from all walks of life who build fan membership via the Patreon platform. Through ongoing funding, they are able to spend more time engaging their fan-base in an interactive way and continue to populate the internet with beautiful things that millions of people enjoy. Jane has the thrilling job of bringing the community to life by producing PatreCon and other live experiences. 

She'll be sharing stories of those experiences in Chicago at Admission, but first we wanted to catch up with her about her career, its highlights and what the creative community she's involved with means to her. 

1. What makes you passionate about building communities?

"A community is more powerful than any product, company or brand. A community is organic and made up of passionate individuals with a shared sense of purpose, meaning, and goals. It’s exciting to work with communities because it means that I work with humans, and nothing is stronger than the willpower of a group of people rallying around an idea that they believe in.

 

You can’t build a community from scratch, communities exist already and we can foster them.

"What I do is bring together the communities of people that share a passion for the project I’m working on and foster their ability to connect with each other and give a name and purpose to their identity."

Jane was born and raised in a family of programmers, technical writers, and entrepreneurs in San Francisco which contributed to her passion for innovation and authenticity, but I still wanted to know more about how those two factors contribute to people establishing relationships at events:

2. How do stories bring people together?

"Stories are the way we interpret and share the world around us. The story of our life helps define who we are and what we believe; the stories of our experiences serve to connect us. In sharing stories about these experiences we can help others find deeper meaning in our own work and give them new lenses through which to see the world.

The stories I share about my work can be humorous, serious, ridiculous, thoughtful… but each experience and story I hear helps me make a better decision tomorrow.

"When we give people an opportunity to share their stories with each other it instantly draws a connection between them."

3. What advice do you have for someone who is moving from one events community to another such as your shift to Patreon after your tenure at Yelp?

"Personally, I’ve always needed to identify with the community that I work with and I've also leaned on them as a resource. A genuine interest is a hard thing to fake and I don’t think I’d be able to do it, honestly. Between Yelp and Patreon I experimented with working at crypto companies, advertising-platforms, interior design companies… but I realized quickly that these weren’t my tribes.

 
"If I didn’t have a real interest in what the community was interested in it felt like so much work day in and day out. I felt rudderless and I craved a mission. When I feel the mission in my bones it’s a pleasure to go to work every day."

So yes, my advice is to first follow your passions and interests. And second, be open and dedicated to learning from your new community. 

4. What did your personal career path into events look like? How do you continue to grow as an event organiser and make sure that you’re setting and achieving rewarding goals for yourself?

"I’ve always been an outgoing person so I really do love attending events. Over the years, I’ve injected a healthy amount of homebody into that persona but I still appreciate a well-run event. In college, I majored in Psychology and Neuroscience and thought that I wanted to be a researcher or psychologist. My mom encouraged me to explore marketing and business so I interned at Yelp in 2005. It was summer and Yelp was just 8 men sitting around a table crouched over laptops.

I had the opportunity to work for a brilliant person who felt that human experience was the “killer app” and that if we could harness the power of our local communities as mavens and ambassadors, that’s more powerful than any ad on a bus.

"It’s not the ad that leads to new customers, after all, it’s the people talking about the ad around the water cooler. As a psychology student, this clicked. I was hooked. And it's applying psychological theory and principles to events today that keeps it exciting."

5. When your job is in events, it seems that it can be very easy to fall into very long hours to accommodate all of the different strands that go into it (e.g. dealing with vendors and working around their hours, strategizing, negotiating, travelling, networking, getting speakers, checking venues) - what’s your work-life balance like, and how did you achieve that?

"Hire well; hire people who enjoy doing things that you do not enjoy doing and can make decisions when you are unavailable. With that said, yes, this is not a normal 9-5 job and in order to not burn out, you need to turn off or work from home or take a vacation when you need. Try to plan ahead and plan for things going wrong so that fewer things need to be rushed or booked last minute."

 

I also bring my partner with me when I can on work trips so that we enjoy a weekend in a new city together and I feel refreshed and ready to take on those 12 hour days.

Admission Presentation Title:  “Community First: Event Programming That Makes an Impact”

"I’ll be diving deeper into how I’ve worked with different communities and teams to create goal-directed event programming. Things that I’ve seen people do well at events and tips/tricks on being authentic in your events. I take a community-first approach to my event marketing and focus on driving activations that are both delightful and relevant to our core audience.

"As I’ve mentioned here, I’m also very interested in using research and psychological theory in my event design so will dig deeper into some key concepts and their interpretation in events. See you there!"

Admission, our conference for organizers, takes place this September 25th in Chicago, Illinois.

Admission, a conference by Tito