10 Oct When Passion Becomes Purpose
“Witnessing Chloe successfully navigate through the startup phase of her business to elevating her craft to the highest level has been wondrous and awe-inspiring.
Chloe has built a business based on turning ideas into experiences, much like how she crafted her own successful business from an idea. Chloe embodies the unteachable ingredients of drive, determination, and mindfulness.”
The universe seems to take notice when you find something you’re really passionate about. For Chloe Mandell, her passions united to create Mandell Experiences (M.E.), a large-scale event planning company. Within M.E’s first year of operations, Mandell organized or worked twelve events, including the X Games and Rio 2016 Summer Games. Not a bad first twelve months. Her inspiration? A wholehearted belief in the power of experiences and their value in our lives. “Experiences have been proven to hold more value than things for many reasons, but especially because they increase in value over time,” says Mandell. “Think about the last pair of pants you bought versus the last trip you went on. From which do you gain more long-lasting happiness? I started Mandell Experiences to create and spread happiness in the best way I see possible (and love doing).”
M.E. offers a comprehensive approach to events of usually 500 people or more. With events of that size, Mandell needs to access a myriad of skills for both the office and being out in the field. Every day is a learning experience. With every event, Mandell isn’t only planning it, she is also working on funding it, getting people there, and running the event. Those four aspects of event planning take very different skillsets. “The ability to manage large groups of people and troubleshoot on the fly is quite different than the demands of developing and operating year-long planning, marketing, and sponsorship strategies. However, I’d like to think of myself as a full package experience producer, allowing my company to create a cohesive program from start to finish.”
In Mandell’s world, no day is typical, but she works hard at maintaining balance. Take this schedule:
Mandell just returned from Innsbruck, Austria, where she was shadowing the IFSC Youth World Climbing Championships – a 12-day, 800 competitor, multi-thousand spectator, live broadcasted event – which she’ll be helping produce next year in Canada. Before that, she was balancing training for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, while negotiating a new contract for conference manager of a tech conference in Phoenix, AZ, while planning the largest single-day bouldering competition in the country, and supporting her twin sister as the Maid of Honor at her wedding. Phew!
So how does she maintain this crazy schedule? It’s not about a routine but about choosing to participate in activities that offer her a sense of work-life balance. She has found success through several positive life habits: cooking healthy vegetarian meals, waking up before 7am, not drinking coffee, staying hydrated, meditating 15 minutes a day, yoga, bouldering, and trail running.
The life of an entrepreneur is a daily learning experience. Every day you learn something new. Here are some key lessons that have helped Mandell continue to succeed:
Your passion is your purpose
I have been rock climbing for over half my life. My passion in climbing led me to produce some of the largest climbing competitions in the country. Then I pursued my passion for events and found myself at the Olympics. Moreover, I studied abroad in France in high school and later in Japan in college, gaining fluency in both languages. What’s the connection? Climbing just so happens to be making its Olympic debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and my goal is to take advantage of my unique skillset to help produce that event. I feel lucky to set myself apart by aligning with events that share the same quality and standards I hold for myself.
If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. If I say I’m going to be somewhere at a certain time, I’m there. In a place like Portland, where an easygoing and perhaps commonly passive attitude among many can make “I’ll try and be there” a very likely no-show, or fashionably late the norm, I’ve felt a little out of place for thinking otherwise. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I’m in events.
Not every potential client is the right client for you
I feel like when you start out running your own business, you take any client you can get. But as you begin to identify what you stand for – in the case of Mandell Experiences: quality, integrity, creativity, flexibility, and stoke – you are able to make a more deliberate effort to take on, or, more difficulty, pass on certain opportunities. I strongly believe that in the end, everyone is better off if you’re the right “model match,” as Michael Knapp puts it, for each other. I am grateful to be at the point now where potential clients are excited to grow their events to reach a place where we can work together.
Think of a new approach
Ever since I was a child, I have always sought new ways to push myself mentally, physically, and in this case, experientially. I’ve never really been good at accepting the status quo just because it’s always been that way. I often think outside the box, like filming in 360˚ up a climbing wall during a competition so folks can experience what it’s like to climb in front of 1,000 cheering fans during a postproduction Virtual Reality setup. “Same ‘ol” is just not good enough for me. I continue to strive for ways to be the best at what I do and create the best events for my clients and the wonderful folks who come out to join them.
An entrepreneur wears many hats, but they don’t all fit!
As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at everything nor necessarily have the background training in everything. For example, I have had to learn a lot when it comes to the nuts and bolts of contracts, insurance, and basically all the administration it takes to run a business. While it’s certainly rewarding to diversify your skills, one thing anyone going into business needs to realize is that to be successful, you need to work on your business, not just in your business.
I’m blown away by how my seemingly random life path has actually created the perfect combination of skills to achieve my dream,” Mandell says, She found this path by pursuing what excited her most and being open to following her dreams. “If you’re willing to take that leap, opportunities magically start to appear,” says Mandell.