Saturday, September 26, 2015

Need to Lose Some Trees? Have a WEDDING!

Pictures of dining table, gift table and ceremony seating from Eric and Leslie's wedding

     Yes, I realize the title of today's blog post may sound a little obscure, but it is in fact the topic and story that Top Notch witnessed first hand this year. It's no secret that a wedding venue can be a large factor concerning the wedding budget. Wedding Venues are not cheap!! As a result, many customers in the last few years have cut cost regarding a venue by taking the DIY approach and hosting a back yard wedding. This concept is exactly what Eric and Leslie opted to do for their wedding earlier this September. Top Notch began the planning process around March of this year and received the opportunity to tour Eric and Leslie's home. They explained to me their plans, as well as what they had envisioned for their “Big Day”. As we walked outside towards their intended wedding reception location I saw 2 things.... A large shed and woods. Little did I know, that the next 6 months would include much labor including cleaning and tree removal that would result in a magnificent yard appearance. Even more so, I was impressed with the simple, yet creative methods Eric and Leslie used to decorate their yard and shed for the event. Large tree remains served as dining tables for guests, lights and a chandelier were tastefully hung above the dance floor of the shed, and Eric's “working tables” in the shed were masked by table clothes and signage to serve as the gift table, dessert table, etc. Perhaps, Eric and Leslie spent many of nights brainstorming the d├ęcor and layout for the wedding or perhaps their brilliant ideas were gathered from internet resources such as Pinterest, Google, and others. Either way, these two illustrated the fact that a backyard wedding can be cleverly executed to appear as a great wedding venue. With a little imagination, time and work, a back yard wedding can be a great idea to save cost while offering a great location for you and your guests to enjoy your Big Day!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Make Your Speech or Toasts EXTRAordinary

                   (picture taken from an actual Top Notch wedding- Photo credited to Hilary Mercer Photography)

Why be Ordinary when you can be EXTRAordinary right? Why not apply that same philosophy to your event as well. Top Notch is consistently looking for techniques, ideas and props to make our events stand out and be memorable. This past weekend's wedding of Eric and Leslie Jones supplied me with a great idea for future speeches, toasts, and presentations. It made such an impact that I felt compelled to share it with all of you, my readers. Although a toasts or a speech at event is necessary, it can often be perceived as one of the less exciting times of an event. However, the example below is certainly not the case regarding Saturday's wedding.

Prior to start of the ceremony, Leslie's maid of honor introduced herself and described that she had specific requirements from me, the DJ to ensure that her toasts went accordingly. After nearly a week of planning, the maid of honor had prepared a soundtrack of popular song samples and sounds that were coordinated to play along with her speech. Top Notch has certainly met these demands for maids of honor before, as they have requested for the DJ to play a certain song as a memoir to the bride such as “Here is a clip of the bride and me back in 7th grade singing Spice Girls”. However, this particular toasts was different. It was creative, it was humorous, and had every guests members attention as they eagerly awaited in anticipation for the next “tune” to play. The bridesmaid had brilliantly chosen specific songs to fulfill her words in her speech. Examples that I can recall were the following

“Eric as a single gentleman would go out on a Friday and Saturday night to his favorite local hang out, I'm sure he thought “I Love This Bar”. The lyrics to Toby Keith's popular song “I Love This Bar” were then played in place of the her stating the exact words.

Other examples include

“When Leslie and Eric found each other, they both were thinking “At Last” by Etta James was then played

“Then along came their first baby which clearly made them say “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns n Roses was then played

The idea was brilliant, but also got me thinking, what other “twists” can be placed here to make a toasts, or speech stand out? Perhaps a dance to music? A Slideshow or filmstrip from a lost relative or friend who couldn't be present at the event? Or even a similar speech coordinated to music like the example mentioned above. With a little bit of planning and creative brainstorming, the possibilities of making the “toasts” or speeches stand out at your next event could be the one factor that all of the guests will be talking about and remembering for years to come.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Business: aka Following your Passion

     I'm writing this post on a Sunday. On Sunday's that Top Notch Entertainment and DJ Services is not booked for an event, you can find me at my home usually working. Yes, that's right, on the day that society reprimands that we shouldn't we work, I on the other hand, and almost always grinding away. Sunday is an excellent day for “catching up” on missed opportunities or duties that were not fulfilled throughout the week. For some odd reason, it seems that many find my work on Sundays, or my work in general difficult to fathom. I often hear

“Don't call Joe today he's wrapped up in his DJ stuff”
“You're really up until 10pm-12am during the weekdays working on DJ work? For what?
And the kicker....
“What can he possibly be doing that take's up all of his time in that DJ business?

     We'll friends, comrades, and family the answer is this...THE BUSINESS!! Any successful entertainer, musician or even artists will agree, the industry is 80% business, 20% art, sometimes even less. My business is no different. Yes, Top Notch shows up to events with “some big speakers” and entertains guests or crowds for an allotted time period, that's the 20% the majority imagine I do, but there's also the duties of consulting, event and wedding planning, contracts, invoice, and paperwork, marketing, advertising, etc that composes the 80% behind the scenes work aka the BUSINESS. With that being said, I don't mind working on a Sunday, nor until the late hours of the weekday evenings simply because I enjoy what I do. Let's be honest, it's not exactly a normal, admired profession. There was a time when I was hesitant in mentioning these responsibilities to many peers simply to avoid their discrediting comments. Honestly, the “entertainment” in the name Top Notch Entertainment & DJ Services was included for a few reasons, 1 being to avoid ridicules regarding my choice of profession.

Top Notch has been in operation for nearly 9 years and friends still say “he's doing that DJ Stuff”. I'm accustomed to brushing it off, I don't mind it anymore. They don't understand and I realize that they don't determine the success of this business, only I do. And neither should you. No matter your profession, isn't there an opportunity for others to criticize or belittle your occupation? There are reputable landscaper contractors that could be summarized as simply “cutting grass”, plumbers that could be summarized as “just unclogging pipes and toilets”, photographers that “just take pictures”, etc. 

     I actually know a fellow entrepreneur in the food industry that carefully placed his business location, where he purchases his products and even time's he serves his products to the public. He has a blast, appears to be fulfilled and actually earns a wealthy 6 figures and his business is running a hot dog stand (NO JOKE!) Follow your passion, other's may not understand, and that's okay, but don't let them deny your business the success you desire for it to achieve. Some will be with you along the path, other's may come and go on and off the path, and other's may continue to be in your path of life, but must simply take a turn on your success path when it comes to your occupation and professional. It's important for us as entrepreneur's to understand this.

Follow your passion, march to the beat of your own drum, and the less you care what others who are not on your journey think, the more your drive and direction will steer towards the goals of your choosing.

Statements throughout history depict this concept some of my favorites have been posted below for you to review.

Confucious- “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Preston Ely (Real Estate Guru)- “You need to follow your passion”, “The gifts that you have are supposed to be used, you're going to have a very awkward conversation when you leave this world if you don't use your gifts”

Earl Nightingale: “We are at our very best, and we are happiest when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meanting to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.

Jeffrey Gitomer: When you're on this journey, it may (at times) seem a little silly. This is a natural feeling. Stick with it. Hang in there. Let idiots and zealots go their own way. You're on a mission. Let nothing or no one get in your way.