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A Super Bowl Risk

by John Chen | Apr 28, 2014
How a huge gamble reaped “suite” rewards for an experience creator.

The adventure began with a staycation with my mom over the holidays. Our goal was to spend quality time together seeing the best of Seattle. After The Nutcracker and Oliver!, we went to a Seattle Seahawks football game. We had such a great time that we attended subsequent games each weekend.

At halftime of the NFC Championship game, even though the Seahawks were down, I had an epiphany: The Seahawks connected the people of Seattle, and we could connect the fans.

The Seahawks won the game and were now slated to play the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. I looked for tickets to the coveted game—and found suites available. These suites are usually tightly controlled by NFL teams and high-paying sponsors, but this year they were available to people like you and me.

I texted the NFL and said I’d buy all the suites they had. Over the next few days, we worked the financing and locked three suites with a total of 88 seats. When I built my original company, I set out to create life-changing adventures for people. My dream was about to be played out in the biggest way I’d ever imagined—in New York City and at the Super Bowl (in nearby New Jersey).

My vision included NFL Media Day, Michelin 3-Star La Bernardin, Lion King on Broadway, the Maxim party, an exclusive buyout of the NFL pop-up restaurant Forty Ate and more. Using my MPI connections, I quickly built a team and designed an “Adventure License” for US$30,000 that included all of the above events, meals, lodging and being a guest in one of my Super Bowl suites. The Geoteaming XLVIII Suite Adventure was born.

We also opened a “fan cave,” led by a former Seahawks player, at the top floor of the Copacabana, so every Seahawks fan could join in the fun for only $12.

 

LESSON: We change lives when we create meaningful connections and magic moments.

 

This was one of the biggest financial risks of my life. I was “all in.” I had to trust myself. The risk was huge and a lot of it was out of my control. The NFL could reschedule the Super Bowl due to snow, we might not sell all our seats or my adventure team might call me crazy and quit. But I had a plan.

It’s the job of a meeting professional to anticipate and mitigate anything that could possibly go wrong. My team has been “practicing” for 17 years, so I trusted we were ready. Worst-case scenario, my family and team were going to have the best Super Bowl party ever. Best-case scenario, we were creating an entirely new product with huge potential for our company.

 

LESSON: Trust yourself, even if you know you could fail. You define success.

 

I set an intention so big that I had to level-UP my game. Two months earlier, in November, I set an intention to make $1 million in net profit in three years.

 

LESSON: Set big intentions and keep your eyes wide open.

  • I was open to taking this risk because it was part of the answer to an intention I had set.
  • Build relationships long before you need them, so when you need them, people say yes.

 

My team manifested my vision for this adventure in just seven days and then magic happened…the Geoteaming XLVIII Suite Adventure went viral.

I conducted 20 press interviews in six days, including the Puget Sound Business Journal, Forbes and CNN. People were intrigued and excited about this epic adventure—and they wanted in on it.

We sold Adventure Licenses in cash and trade. Crazy deals flew over my desk including software, training and my favorite, chocolate! We sold 85 out of 88 Adventure Licenses and gave away the last three to members of the military and the most passionate person who emailed me about the desire to attend the Super Bowl, a 27-year-old Cuban immigrant named Anthony.

We had an incredible week that left many of us speechless. My personal highlights included front-row seats at the Lion King on Broadway, Chef Éric Ripert’s amazing food and my mom being the star of the Maxim party by dancing to Dirty Vegas. We watched the Seahawks make history while meeting Steven Tyler, Miss America and Mack Strong. We surprised everyone with Skittles cupcakes in our Super Bowl suites as we celebrated the Seahawks’ win.

Yet, as I sit in my office and reflect on this event, I realize watching the Seahawks become Super Bowl Champions was not my greatest gift.

The Super Bowl gave me my own life-changing adventure. In debriefing with my team, I learned I put undue stress on everyone. I let my excitement override my team members’ needs. The biggest feedback I heard was: I need to be more humble. I believe it took this event for people who work with me to feel open enough to tell me this.

I’m learning to slow down, be more approachable and be sensitive to my team members’ needs. I want them to be my teammates not just for one Super Bowl, but for life.

 

LESSON: Take time to debrief.

  • Listen. Regardless of how you think things turned out, listen to others’ perspectives.
  • The keyword in meeting planning is “planning.” While we created the impossible, it’s not sustainable.
  • With every big risk comes a hidden reward. It may not be what you think it is.

 

As Macklemore says, “Make the money, don’t let the money make you.” We are already planning for Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona and Super Bowl L in San Francisco.

What risk will you take to play big in the world?

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