(~7 Minute Read)
Ever notice that when you have some semblance of success in life, there's a tendency is to hold on to things a little tighter. The reality is, most things are like that: companies, countries, people, you name it. It's because we think we have more to lose and our first instinct is to protect that shit as much as we can.
We then get trapped by our own success and all we care about is maintaining the status quo. We don't care about innovating, we don't care about the health of the industry we're in, or about moving fast anymore.
However... it's those that can look beyond the shackles of success that end up taking things to new heights. It's those like Ted Metellus who have committed to making our industry better, that truly move things forward.
Event safety and security is on lock when Ted The Man is around.
If you know Ted, you know I don't have to tell you to enjoy this interview. And If you don't know Ted, he's the Head of Course Operations for Rock N' Roll Marathon, but more than that he's one of the coolest most knowledgeable cats I know.
BTW - I suggest you get the notepad out for this one. Enjoy
When he's not being event safety and security guy. Ted's always good for a little motivation.
Ted, you ready to do this?
I am. BTW - I am super honored you’d ask me to do this. Especially in reading the other interviews with different colleagues, friends and other folks who I've heard about. Their stories are amazing.
Ted, no need to grease me up. I'm still going to ask the tough questions.
Hah. I'm serious and I'm ready. Bring em' on. I forgot that this is hard hitting journalism here.
That's right, my readers have high expectations.
Alright... So where did you grow up?
In the Bronx, New York.
Big family? Small family?
I'm the youngest of three boys, ten and twelve years apart.
Photo Cred: The Metellus Family Album. #ThankyouMrsMetellus.
How would you describe fifteen year old Ted?
Wow ... Just trying to figure out which way is up, realizing that the space and place that I was in, wasn't where I wanted to be. I grew up in a lower middle class community in the Bronx. It wasn't what you saw in the movies, but it wasn't far from it. It was rough. I remember crack on the streets and drugs and all that other jazz. I was fortunate enough to have a good solid family core and a mom that was really pushing education and advancement to us.
Ted always looking sharp. Photo Cred: The Metellus Family Album.
At that age, what was hanging on your wall in your room?
I’m sure a Michael Jordan poster of some sort. Him dunking on Patrick Ewing or something like that. I probably had some sort of awards or little certificates that I might have gotten from different programs and activities that I was involved in. That's pretty much it. Pictures, family, friends, those kinds of deals.
Ted sporting the 3 Piece. "Gotta always look the part. You literally have seconds to make an impression."
What was your path like after high school?
I went to a small state college called Oswego State University in upstate New York. It's five and a half hours away from where I grew up. I wanted to stay in the state, but get as far away from the hood as possible.
And your first job out of school?
My first legit job was at a radio station in New York in the marketing and promotions department. Did everything from on site promotion, to on site concerts and events with the on-air personalities supporting them, managing queues and setting up of venues and things. I wanted to roll that over into some sort of a career in radio broadcasting, TV, or in the events industry.
Ted & Biggie
Something tells me you’d make a great radio personality?
Yeah, I wanted to be Bill Bellamy. I wanted to be Bill Bellamy so bad that I booked Bill Bellamy when I was in college to perform at our university.
Of course you did.
Ted & Bill Bellamy go way back.
So how did you go from radio to large event production?
Well, when I was at the radio station doing marketing and promo stuff, one of my buddies told me about a gig, it was a cross-country cycling event called the GTE Big Ride Across America benefiting the American Lung Association (From Seattle, Washington to Washington DC). A couple weeks later, I jumped on a plane to Seattle, met a bunch of strange cats, and then traveled the country for forty eight days through fifteen states. I had never been past Jersey before that.
So how did you get the nickname Ted “The Man”?
Hah. Well I called a good college buddy of mine at home once and his dad “Big Al” picked up. I'm like, "Hey, Mr. Jones. Is Damian there?" In his big deep voice, he'd was like: "Hold on one second." He'd put the phone down and was like,
"DAMIAN! TED THE MAN’S ON THE PHONE! PICK UP THE PHONE! IT’S TED THE MAN!"
That was Big Al just doing his thing and It stuck. Damien called me Ted The Man, some other buddies of mine called me Ted the Man. It Kind-of just rolled from there.
If you were reincarnated as a piece of event equipment what would you be?
Oh a Leatherman for sure.
I mean if it’s like, “This is the Hunger Games for events, pick up your tools and go", it's definitely gloves, zip ties, a light, and a multi-tool. But if you have a Leatherman and nothing else, you're good to go.
Ted the multi-tool Metellus. Leading by example. Photo Cred: Some lazy ass who wasn't carrying four sets of water hoses.
In your work life, are you insecure about anything?
I definitely have insecurities. But, I think that's good. It keeps you humble. I think it keeps you hungry and focused, so yeah.
Hah - alright... putting me on the spot. Well, I think one interesting insecurity that I make light of sometimes, but I think it's a legit thing, is that I am a 6'2" black man from New York of Caribbean descent. And I have to stand up in front of a large group of people where I'm the only black person there. It's a little bit of an eye opening experience.
I'm not insecure about it, but I'm definitely aware ... I experienced this not too long ago in Chicago. You have minutes to change somebody's view on you, so presentation is everything. Always look sharp when you go too ... This is something for anyone in our industry. I tell younger people this all the time. Presentation is key. Always look good, always look professional and always carry yourself well.
Also ask the right questions right away. Not the questions specific to the nuts and bolts of your event, but ask the questions about the individual, their space, their place, and what they're doing. That's what I find breaks the ice. It goes from the cold shoulder and half a handshake, when you walk in, to a full on "Nice meeting you. Hope to see you again. Here's my business card. Let's stay in touch."
That's incredible Ted ...
What are the top three things you look for when scouting a new site for a major event?
Well, it's interesting. You would imagine physical plant type things are really important, but the things I'd be looking for right off the bat are your city agencies and the city partners. That's number one. What kind of relationships you have with police, city special events office, parks and rec, D.O.T., those kinds of folks?
Ted's event safety and security crew - Photo Cred: the Police Chief
Then it's going to be your actual venue, your site. What is it? Where is the space and place that you want to produce this event, whether it's a concert, a show, a festival, a running event or triathlon, whatever it is. What's the canvas by which you're drawing on? Is it conducive to what you're producing?
The third thing comes down to logistics 101—just infrastructure in the sense of hotels and transportation and those types of things. Is it a place that's large enough to be able to accommodate “X” many people in hotels? Can people drive in and fly in, park, get around with no issues? Those are the three things. Your city agencies, city relationships, your venue and site, and then the infrastructure in that city.
What are the most time consuming aspects of a build and how do you reduce that time?
The most time consuming thing is what I'm currently working on now: the logistics. Getting everything on paper, answering the emails, responding to people's requests and questions is definitely the most time consuming thing.
There are a couple things that reduce the time for me:
The more transparent you are with your information, the better you are as producer. I want everybody to know what I know. No secrets. Then everyone can function and execute independently. If you are the holder of all data and information, it may provide you some job security, but it also makes everybody else's job that much harder.
You need to create some sort of template. You can always reformat it, change it and add the data specific to a certain market, but nine times out of ten, whatever you did in the last market is going to apply to the next one. Templates will save you a ton of redundant work.
So what are some things you focus on in post-production to help in future events?
The recap meetings are critical. And I really believe that doing it in-person, with your team, in the market is critical. Timing is really important as well. You want to do it as soon as possible after the event. I manage seven or eight different cities and I know it's time consuming and expensive, but the value that you get back is huge. When you do it face to face, it also shows the city that you not only want to improve the event, but also that you value their opinion.
What do you find are the biggest technological challenges you face in the operations process?
Data capture is the biggest challenge. There's so much information being created and flowing around out there, between emails, texts, schedules, documents and maps. I mean, it goes on and on.
It's also like "great, another app or another program". It's so much that it's almost too much.
So it's really challenging trying to figure out how to capture, organize and store all that information. I think that's the biggest technological piece. Which is why I'm really excited for what you have cookin'.
Thanks Ted, me too :).
Seriously. It's going to help us a ton, so hurry up why don't you.
You're a good man Ted Metellus. Thanks for the shout out.
I just tell it how I see it.
So congrats on winning the Professional of the Year Award from the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety & Security. That's a big deal.
Photo Cred: The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security: NCS4
And from what I read, it represents all sports and leagues, not just mass participation.
The award goes to the person who has helped their industry, not only in a safety and security manner, but across the board.
I was super duper honored to be nominated. I hear people say that in film and TV, but I legitimately get it when people are like, "I'm just happy to be nominated." People are like, "Come on, man. That's bullshit." Like, "No, no. Legit." I sling cones and pick up GU packets for a living. Being nominated and then to turn around and win, I was like, "Whoa, that's crazy." Yeah ... It's an honor.
So what is it that you're doing or have done that got you nominated. Besides just being Ted "The Man" of course.
Hah. I think I fooled some folks. A lot of it is for our work on the Marathon, Endurance & Event Safety and Security Best Practices guide.
Which is like a hundred and fifty one pages. Is there's a Cliff's Note version or is that why people hire you?
Well, actually it's scaled down from what it was before. It's a work in progress. We're two years into this document and we're trying to streamline it and make it consumable for all events despite the size. Whether it's a small-scale 5K run in a park, to a larger marathon or triathlon or something huge where you're drawing thousands of people, it'll apply there. Ultimately, it'll be a blueprint of things you need: not only for the producer, but also for city agencies, police, fire, EMS, etc. This way everyone will be functioning off the same type of blueprint and the same rules. Everyone's working off the same page.
For any one interested in learning more or downloading the guide, just go HERE
So, what should I look for when hiring an event safety and security expert?
Well, it's interesting.
Before you deal with security agencies and hiring a specialty person, there's going to be a police sergeant and/or a special events person from that municipality that will be able to give you the blueprint as far as what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. They'll guide you on what they deem safe for the public, guests and patrons. That's the most important thing, whether it's a small-scale, medium-size event, or a monster event it's:
"I'm Chris. Nice to meet you. In eight to ten months, we're producing an event in your market. This is what it entails and these are the logistics. Can we sit down and review this? Can we do a site walk-through? Can we look at all the elements of it there?"
Just establishing that relationship is critical. When you have that relationship going, then the resources can be shared easily. That exchange of information will only enhance your event.
If you could interview any artist or athlete living or dead, who would you interview and what would you ask them?
If I had to pick one person, it would be Lance Armstrong.
Lance is a cat that I would love to sit down and talk with. I read the books, I had the little wristband, I event have a trek bike that's US Postal. He was the man. But aside from the TV shows and documentaries and books, I want to ask the cat one thing:
"If your son was following in your footsteps, what would you tell him to do or not do?"
There is so much to be learned there. So much to be learned.
So what's the best piece of career advice you've received and from whom?
I've gotten one consistent message from several of my mentors over the years. Guys like Matt Glass, Richard Adler, Bill Burke and a few others in the industry, used to tell me, "Get out of the back of the truck." It's literally and figuratively like, "Get out of the back of the truck."
I've always been a really hands-on operations person, trying to lead from the front, but what they mean is that you also have to teach others what to do. There's just a lot that involves the execution of the event that doesn't involve having to be the guy in the back of the truck.
So educating the people around me, is always something I keep in mind.
I guess ... just... enjoy what you do, let it show, and think about how that can ultimately influence somebody's day, week, hour, life, career, whatever it is. I am really thankful for what I’m doing and who I get to do it with. I hope others in our space also appreciate that more.
I'm going to try and keep this short. But honestly, I am biased with this one, because Ted is one of the coolest, most genuine dudes I know. Whenever I have needed help with Lennd or had a question about his process, he's been there. This guy has literally called me in the back of a truck to answer a question I had.
He also shares everything we post on The Facebook, so that helps too :)
But... I think the biggest thing I appreciate about Ted Metellus, is that he is truly sharing his knowledge, when many consider that knowledge and experience job security. He wants the industry to be better, so he's putting it all out there to be downloaded. And... that is why he's Ted "THE MAN".
Oops. Not sure how that got in there.
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