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Paul Hoke

Video Content

Designing Moments: A New Approach to Event Entertainment - With Paul Hoke

In this episode, host Chris Do sits down with Paul Hoke, an unconventional master of wedding entertainment, who reveals the art of creating deeply personalized and memorable wedding experiences. Going beyond the traditional DJ and entertainment role, Paul shares his unique approach to engaging with clients—through listening, silence, and understanding their backstories—to craft events that resonate on an emotional level. From integrating personal stories and family traditions into the fabric of the occasion, to challenging industry norms with creative problem-solving under constraints, Paul's methods demonstrate the profound impact of empathy and personalization in transforming events into lasting memories. Through a series of touching stories, including the innovative engagement techniques and the thoughtful integration of family history, this episode is a testament to the power of thinking outside the box and the importance of creating meaningful connections. Join us as we delve into the mind of a creative genius who challenges clients to reimagine what a wedding can be, ensuring that each celebration is as unique and extraordinary as the individuals it honors.

Designing Moments: A New Approach to Event Entertainment - With Paul Hoke

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Mar 27

Designing Moments: A New Approach to Event Entertainment - With Paul Hoke

Elevating Experiences

In this episode, host Chris Do sits down with Paul Hoke, an unconventional master of wedding entertainment, who reveals the art of creating deeply personalized and memorable wedding experiences. Going beyond the traditional DJ and entertainment role, Paul shares his unique approach to engaging with clients—through listening, silence, and understanding their backstories—to craft events that resonate on an emotional level. From integrating personal stories and family traditions into the fabric of the occasion, to challenging industry norms with creative problem-solving under constraints, Paul's methods demonstrate the profound impact of empathy and personalization in transforming events into lasting memories. Through a series of touching stories, including the innovative engagement techniques and the thoughtful integration of family history, this episode is a testament to the power of thinking outside the box and the importance of creating meaningful connections. Join us as we delve into the mind of a creative genius who challenges clients to reimagine what a wedding can be, ensuring that each celebration is as unique and extraordinary as the individuals it honors.

Rich Cardona Media

Elevating Experiences

Episode Transcript

Paul Hoke: Listen, I listened to dad. I left space. It was more about the silence then and the questions. Honestly, you've always been, even in our industry. We've, what's the why behind that? Go a little deeper. What's the why?

Chris Do: My next guest is someone that you might not traditionally think is the right fit for our audience, our community here, but having spent several days with him on the water, that's a story for another day. I got to learn a lot more about Paul as a human and what he does, and I think his experiences will allow each one of you to reflect on your own lives and how you're creating these experiences for your own clients.

We're going to get into it. Paul, for the people who don't know who you are, can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit of your backstory?

Paul Hoke: Hi, I'm Paul Hoke. I'm in Greenville, South Carolina. Turns out Ben also lives here. I started watching Chris probably five or six years ago because I was a unicorn in my industry.

And his voice and lessons resonated with me where the people in my industry kind of graded against what I saw that my customers that I served needed. And just as he spoke the design language, I started to take that on my own and go, how would that apply to my industry? And it was, I couldn't jump in full force.

As you guys know, when you start watching, you just kind of consume all his information. And then I had to translate it to what I was doing and how I was serving a specific client. And what I've been doing for 25 years is teaching social dancing to introverts at Clemson University. When they would have a wedding celebration, very conservative doubts, and again, I'm serving engineers, their families don't throw grand parties with alcohol.

So. It was kind of common, like, oh, they'll, we'll cut the cake and then everybody will take off or they'll just have a fellowship and I'm like, okay, so you don't dance, that's, that's okay. But we can still celebrate. How does your family have fun? So as I listened to your design ideas and your discovery, I would almost use the same questions to go, well, what's important to you?

That's where you should spend your money. Who's important to you? Grandma and grandpa, meemaw and peepaw have been married 63 years. How do we celebrate that? Oh, you don't want to throw a bouquet. Let's not throw a bouquet. But what if we have a moment where you hand your throwing bouquet to grandma, to meemaw and papaw, and then the next song is meemaw's favorite song that they slow dance to. What would that look like?

So that is not about a schtick I do at a thing. It is Jennifer's meemaw and papaw that have been married 63 years. It is she doesn't want to throw the bouquet. It is honoring meemaw and pawpaw without that thing of, well, you've been married 63 years. Do you have any wedding advice? We've seen that that doesn't connect. It's I kind of go, it's the Hallmark movie with the different characters, the different setting, but it's still the same storyline. Can we modify it? And then I ran into you and you got me and kind of chased in that rabbit trail. It gave me a little confidence to, to not listen to the DJ community and world.

That's like, Hey, we'll just recreate a nightclub. That's all we do. And a lot of my customers come to me and they, they want to talk about music and I go, yes, I can do that in two weeks. That's easy. It's this other part of serving your family in the way that they do. don't even know they want to be served. That is the design aspect.

Chris Do: Okay. So there's a couple of things I want to highlight for everyone because I've spent more time with Paul and I just want to zoom out a little bit, give everyone some context here. So naturally when you spend time with somebody, you kind of have to get to know who they are and the way that he might describe himself to maybe a stranger at some point, maybe not today, but it's like, I'm a wedding DJ or MC.

And they're like, what? The guy that I know online, you're, this, no, wait, no, no, well, there's a backstory to that. Well, I teach dancing. Wait, wait, there's another, why do you need to teach dancing? Because there are all these techie engineer types who are very socially awkward or introverts and dancing is a way for them to be a little bit more personable.

And they have a skill that they can use to build relationships with, and then this leads you down this path. And we're now at this point in which you're being asked by your former students for getting married, how do you craft an experience? And what I want our audience to listen for is, listen to how Paul breaks out of his category, goes against the grain of what people in his space do, And he finds something and he's able to deliver it in the way that many of you would approach a website or a logo or brand identity.

And that's what I want you to listen for because there's a lot that you're going to be able to scrape and learn from the things that he's doing. And I hope he's going to share some of these really heartfelt stories and for you to be able to map this to, wait, this is an opportunity for me to do something different.

So that's the context, everybody. Listen in for this part. Okay. Paul, here's the question for you. You're an out of the box thinker, you're a very charming guy, it's part of the South, and you're a very good representative of the South, and you've told me stories like, okay, a traditional wedding has certain beats and notes, and it's very templatized, and you didn't want to do that.

First, tell me why you don't want to do that, and then let's get into some of the things that you do, and then the actual applications and the stories that you have to share.

Paul Hoke: So when I first started just helping students, they're like, man, we like what the events you throw for dancers. Can you help us do this at our wedding?

And I was like, yes. And they would rent these amazing hotels. And then we would play swing dance music or local variations as Carolina Shack. And that was what the couple loved. And after about an hour, the guests were like, okay, we've had enough of that. Let's go back to what we know is a traditional wedding celebration.

And they're like, no, we're going to stick with our music. And I'm like, we can, but let me try two songs that please them. And the crowd fills the floor and they're like, Oh, maybe, you know, better. So then I started quit being a vendor and being an expert in the area of serving couples. And I started to question, well, I know you want EDM and your group will have it.

Let's have your guys dance for 20 minutes here. We'll give them a break, go to the bar, and then we'll dance EDM later. So sometimes years later, in fact, a friend of mine, his name is Paul. He came back a couple of years later. Now I get what you were trying to do. Yeah. You spent 60 grand down in Charleston. On the bay, throwing this amazing wedding. And I wanted to keep people there. So my guarantee used to be again, learned from you. If 80 percent of the people aren't there at the end, I haven't done my job. Maybe I owe you money out of the talent fee. Let's talk about that. Who's going to guarantee you the guest stay at the end?

Nobody. And they lean in and listen to that. And I would have family members come up and go, well, how do you know this couple? Oh, they're my students at Clemson, man. This is a great wedding. Oh, really? What's different about it? I don't know. It's just different. That doesn't help me and I'm on the job, in the job.

I can't explore that deeper. So I started shadowing other DJs and I actually worked for a multi up, which means they have, you know, 20 DJs in Charleston. So I would go down for three years work in the busy season and we would just split the fee. And I call it a fill in the blank wedding because the couple would get an online planner, choose their song, everything was kind of set in the order, and they just filled in the blank, not knowing if it was a better or worse answer.

My job when I worked for them was to call the bride, not even the couple, on Wednesday. Hi, I'm Paul. I'll be your DJ. Do you have any questions? No, I've never thrown a party like this. I don't know what questions to ask. No, it's fine. We'll see you Saturday. Okay. I'd show up, introduce them into the room, and then walk over to the table and introduce myself.

I'm here to represent your family on the microphone, but I'm working solo. So I got to stand behind that stand where I'm not commanding presence. I'm not building rapport in the room. And this is Charleston. This is a top wedding destination and what I saw was they're processing brides like a factory. I do more romantic, sentimental, vulnerable, heartfelt perceptions up in Greenville, South Carolina.

That's marketing. That's perception. That's not reality. And then I started to understand, Oh, that's my difference. They DJs love music. I love my students. I love my couples. So I serve them and their families where DJs are all about. And couples come to me, what are we going to do with music? And I'm like, Yes, let's talk about that.

But what about this other conversation? Are your parents more important? Are your meemaw and peepaw more important? So, I just started exploring that idea. And you had a language that I connected with, listened to Blair, and just kind of the mentors you've had on here. Again, I've taught for 25 years. And you're an excellent teacher.

And meeting you in person, you are who you are. Like, that was what most impressed me when we hung out, you know, back in August. Was you're the same, you asked me a billion questions. You're just a curious soul like myself, you know, and I enjoy that discovery session with my couples and trying to find out who's important in the room.

I'll call dads, you know, go, hey, what does that father daughter dance look like? I have a daughter. And one time when a friend was dancing with her dad and that was an important moment, I knew what that moment meant to her. I thought of my daughter, she was eight. And I started to tear up, I got to make an announcement right after, I got to transition that, get it together.

You can't be vulnerable in this moment. And then I started thinking, who's going to serve me and my daughter when we get there? And again, eight, that's a long way away, or she's 16 now. So I wanted to do more meaningful questions and more meaningful discovery in serving the clients. And I asked Tyler, she, and I'm skipping around brides that I, that I know, you know, you know, because I know that they don't just all stick together.

Tyler's, my, my dad doesn't want to dance. He knows my dancer friends are going to be there. It's going to be embarrassed. Okay. What do you do with your dad? Oh my gosh. We go hunting. We go hiking, fishing. We ride motorcycles. Okay. So I sit on that. I wait till the end of the meeting and I go, if we were to create some ideas, then I, my couples are required to come up with three ideas.

That nobody's ever seen at a wedding. And I have no idea what those are until we create them together. And I said, Tyler, just, and Tyler's mom was sitting at my dining room table and we were discussing, I just, we're just brainstorming. And I said, you know, we're, you're getting married at that, that red barn out in career, having the ceremony outside.

What if your dad walked back, we pulled the barn door closed to represent you with the opening, but you guys jumped on his Harley and drove out of the bar. To the back of the ceremony, it's on dirt. So we put a piece of wood down, he could put the kickstand on it. It would be safe. It wouldn't fall over in the dirt.

And she, her eyes lit up and mom was like, Oh no, no, no, no, no, no. And I'm like, just brainstorm, just talking ideas. I'll tell you when that motorcycle started, the crowd went nuts. They're like, yep, that's him. That's dad. When he walked Tyler down the aisle, I've not seen a more proud father. Walk a daughter down the aisle.

Soon as he shut off the motorcycle, the crowd cheers. I fist bumped my buddy, Greg, who's my sound man, DJ, sound tech. And I'm like, we just started the party. That's it. That made it. Not a corporate organized, efficient event. That vulnerability learning about dad and his situation made it their family event.

And then when, when I went to dance with his daughter, he's like, I know I only have to do this for 60 seconds, but he was still glowing in that moment of walking her down the aisle. He wasn't thinking about all the dancers in the room. And I'm like, dude, a parent dance has nothing to do with dancing. And I'm a dance teacher.

It's about a child honoring their parent for three minutes. If you play catch with your dad, dance with them for 30 seconds to get that Father's Day picture for Facebook for your profile, but then go grab a football and just play catch with a football. Like do your thing. Then afterwards, the MC can go, this is why they did that.

But you know what? Half the room is going to know that relationship. It's the other family that you have to bring along and go. What we didn't tell you was that's how they spend time together. And that's why this was so meaningful. So it can never be a shtick that they've seen at another wedding. And if it is. We go, how do we make it yours? Cause I won't, I don't want to do that.

Chris Do: So I'm, I'm listening to the story and you haven't, I don't remember you sharing that one before, but I think again, I don't want our listeners to be disoriented here. So Paul does a lot of different things. One of the things he started to grow from on the side is just, out of listening to the request for what he could do.

So he's teaching dancing at the university, and then they're like, hey, can you help us with our wedding? And, and the business grows. And then I think we all go through this arc where we kind of see like, what are the established big boys players doing? And we see what they're doing. We're like, there's gotta be a better way.

And they, they're like a factory DJ where you just go in and there's not a high touch feeling and that's the way the market is. And then you say, I don't want to do that. I want to do something more innovative. And you're kind of, I guess the term that you used, and if I recall correctly, was you're an entertainment designer?

Is that the term you used? Yes. And I thought at first, you know, full disclosure, when you first told me that, I'm like, Oh, here's another guy with a highfalutin title, like, you're not a trash man, you're a sanitation engineer. You know, it's like, you don't work in fast food, you work in express dining. It's like, what?

Come on, let's just be real here. But actually what Paul walked me through his, the way he thinks and operates, I found a lot of connections and parallels to how you may want to have the conversation with your client. So it's kind of weird. It's like art and life imitating one another. So I'm out there teaching designers how to have a different kind of conversation with their clients.

Paul applies this in a different industry, and I'm like, that's pretty cool. Let's take Paul's experience as a person who works in weddings as an entertainment designer. Let's bring that back to the world of design again. So we're bouncing back and forth and pulling. So as an entertainment designer, you're actually running what I would consider like innovation workshops.

Paul Hoke: Yeah.

Chris Do: Your edict of like, we must come up with three ideas that you've never seen anyone do before, who can never claim. And so you free them from the dogma or the traditions of this is how a wedding is supposed to be structured and an act four is going to be like this and act six and the cake is cut and everybody goes home.

And you're like, let's break it open and you give them permission to celebrate and honor the people that matter the most to them. So you started with a lighthearted story. I'm curious, before we get into more of the strategies and the things you've actually done, is, do people come to you with the expectation that this is Paul, and you're not going to get a traditional, you're not going to have a templatized conversation. Do they already know this going in, or there's still a little bit of like, let me try to bring you to my world?

Paul Hoke: Everybody that's come to me is off balance. If they've been to a wedding, they get that I do something different, but they're not quite sure what I do. And I can't explain, like, when you're in the room, you get it, but just to explain it, like, today, you don't know until you feel it, and the stories I told you had to do with a father-son relationship or a grandpa relationship, because I thought you would connect to that, you know, the father daughter relationship may not connect as well.

So, When they come in, I go, now, I'm going to be three times more than any other DJ you talk to, and I'm not here to sell you equipment packages. They are going to sell you level one equipment, level two equipment, level three equipment, and I don't even know if you're going to meet the talent that is going to be on the microphone representing your family.

I had a girl two weeks ago said, yeah, my brother's wedding last August. They hired a budget guy. I And he was a self proclaimed comedian. So he would tell all these jokes and the timing and the rhythm was off, but he was always on the mic trying to build his standup career and we're like, please shut up, it's too late that is in the room that created that defensive thing.

And it's like, oh, he didn't get audio or video of that person representing your family on the microphone. I show, uh, my Sarah's wedding was at Thornblade. It's a really nice country club. And I screwed up somebody's name and I went, hold on, hold on. Let me do that again. And I was like, this is how I would, we all screw up, but saving that is where we become the hero.

And here's one time when my best friend, Sarah, I would never screw that up in my life, but I scrolled up on my iPad, on my teleprompter and read the wrong name. And everybody cheered and she went, that's not me. And I was like, I'll fix it. Stand right here. I was like, okay, I screwed up. I'm going to take it on this.

And being a teacher and failing in front of students, you got this, you know, this happens, but some people are scared to death about talking in front of public. So I've studied character study on Michael Buble, how he builds rapport in between the songs that he sings. And just went to YouTube and did a study and search.

And like, what does he say? How does he build rapport? What does he do? Cause that's a little bit of knowledge that I want in to represent. You know, you say I got that Southern charm. I want some Michael Buble suaveness, you know, to come through. So I've studied a little bit of what he does.

Chris Do: So, you're an entertainment designer, so people are coming to you off balance, which I take as they've had a bad experience, they're wondering, like, something's funky, or we heard some good things about you, they might have been to another wedding that you put on, and they're like, hey, this is a little different, we gotta look up this guy and have a conversation.

So I ask that question because I want everyone to know it's not like they're just lining up and there's no effort that you have to do. You still have to bring people on because you're asking them to have a leap of faith to do something out of the box. And people are very much regulated by routine. And so here you are, you're like, hey, we have some rules.

I'm three times more expensive, which is a classic. Just letting you know up front that it's going to be more. Let's just pause there. Let's just talk about that. When did you adopt this strategy and what are the kind of responses that you get? And sometimes people don't have that kind of money. And what do you do?

Paul Hoke: Well, there was a ongoing philosophy in the industry, just raise your price, just raise your price, just do it. And I'm like, listening to you and you're like, add value and obviously raise your price, but back that up. I have no problem now going on three times the price because they lean in and listen.

Whereas before it was like, why, I wasn't confident that I had the skills. I wasn't confident that I could do this for every couple. Like, what if I get a, like, I went to, my buddy flew me into Chicago to help a couple cause he had had an instance where he couldn't help Haley and Haley's the hairdresser for the industry.

Like, she serves all the sexy people and you don't screw up a vendor's wedding. And he's like, Paul, I can't help her. And this is two weeks before I'm like, I usually have 9 to 12 months with my couple. What if we need to get somebody in a recording studio to sing a song to their mom? I don't have that time with Haley.

How do I serve her? So I went through all his planning sheets, all his questions, all his discovery, and Eric and I have been working together, building this idea, and trying to grow a small network of people that do this. And there's only about 10 of us now that really take on this entertainment design idea and process.

And I call Haley's dad the Wednesday before. I hear you're flying in from South Carolina. I'm so thankful. I was like, Eric wasn't supposed to tell you that. I didn't want to make you nervous. I'm coming in a day before. I'll text you when I land just so you have peace of mind that I am in state. I'm 30 minutes away.

Oh, not a big deal. Flights are great. You know. Eric said, you know, and I know I got to go there and represent and make Eric proud. I'm talking to dad and uh, what is that moment going to be? You know, are you guys playful? You got a little choreography? Are you sentimental? I'm going to cry like a baby.

That's my, that's my girl. I said, are you okay with that? Cause I don't want to extend this moment. If he gets angry when he starts crying in front of 300 guests, that is some dad's reactions. Oh no, I'm going to have tissues already in my pocket. I already got that figured out. Cool. So I can lean into that moment with silence.

and just let them have a moment together on the dance floor. And it's a distillery, Journeyman Distillery. And I said, Hey, just, you know, I've had some people get a little happy at events and want the microphone, maybe a little boisterous, a little out of hand. Is there an uncle or maybe a frat boy like that that I need to be aware of?

No, no, we all, you know, we have parties like this frequently. Everybody may have fun, but they don't get out of hand. Cool. Because if they do, I'm bringing them to you. Oh yeah, no problem, no problem. Dad, is there anything else that I should maybe be aware of, or any questions I'm not asking that you have concerns about?

The wedding Saturday. And there was the longest, strangest pause. And he said, well, there's, there is a thing. Wendy is my sister. She threw Haley's bridal shower. Aunt Wendy's not gonna be there on Saturday. Okay, is she okay? Yes, but on, on Monday, her son passed away and she's got to be at his funeral and hosting that two hours away.

I said, okay, of all the families I've ever known, your family, one needs to celebrate, but they need permission to celebrate. They need to know Wendy's okay with them celebrating two hours away, because this is heavy in the mind of one family. And I said, let's get Wendy there. Not, not in person, but in spirit.

I don't know what you mean. And I said, well, I'm going to text you a voicemail, a Google voicemail. Doesn't ring on my end. Wendy's going to call in, she's going to leave a speech. And after the bridesmaid speech, groomsman speech, we're going to play a little recording from her. If she would, if she would like to, that's how she would choose to participate.

He got a little confused. So Aunt Wendy calls me 3 hours later. My brother, what does he want me to do? And I said, here's the idea. Oh, I love it. I am busy right now. I will leave you a recording tonight. I said, I just need it two hours before the ceremony. So whenever you know, at your leisure and call as much as you want, I'll look at the last recording first.

Cause if you want to do two or three takes and it sets in motion, this is Wednesday, Wendy called me on Friday. I shadow Eric at another wedding. In the area, just to get the local norms and customs. And so I don't be too, I'm not too Southern in the outskirts, you know, of Indiana. I see a voicemail pop up.

I said, Wendy did it, but she just left one voicemail. So we get done with that wedding. We go back to his place. We sip it on some bourbon in the living room. I'm like, Hey, let's, let's hear what aunt Wendy did. Aunt Wendy knocked it out of the park. And I know you've heard the audio. It's phenomenal. And I was like, this is going to start, this is it.

This is the vulnerable moment. That's going to start the party and give permission. So the next day we're in the room, nobody knows, dad knows it. That's it. Cause I want genuine emotion and surprise. I tell the photographer and videographer, there's a third speech that is not on the planner. They're not in the room.

So what I need you to do is go at 45 degree angles and, and get on Haley, take pictures, take video. Her reaction is going to be one that somebody needs to see and Haley will want for the rest of her life. So I get the video and the photographer set up. I talked to my sound tech and I said, I'm going to introduce the third person.

It's like, we have somebody else that's going to give a speech. Where are they? They're somewhere in the room. Can I, can you point them out? I'll take the mic over to them. And then I just bowed my head because the focus is still on me. And I said, give me a three count, and then hit play. And within five seconds, Haley was in tears.

All the bridesmaids had gathered around her. In 30 seconds, Wendy gave that room permission to celebrate that day. And I left a long pause after she spoke, because there's nothing you can say to follow that up. I said, tonight we celebrate in Wendy's honor. We're going to open the dance floor with a slow dance, and I'm going to ask you to grab a sweetheart, a loved one, somebody at your table.

Just put your arm around them and come out here Let's all start the night with a slow dance. And I showed you a picture of ten, eight, ten people, whole tables, just arms around each other, swaying back and forth, eyes closed. It felt amazing. Of the 300 people, probably, I don't know, 280 got up and started dancing.

I took a quick picture, the one I sent to you. I text Aunt Wendy. And said, tonight we open the floor in your honor. You did this. I know you're not here, but you're here in spirit. That felt amazing. Giving that gift to that family. I walked over to a DJ of 35 years and he said, I didn't understand why Eric had to fly you in.

Now I get it. I've never seen that. I could beat on this bourbon barrel and these people are ready to party. It doesn't matter what I play right now. They're going to celebrate. That was amazing. I've done this 35 years. And I said, to be honest with you, I've only been doing it five years and I've never done that.

That was dad's gift, a moment of vulnerability and honesty. And you take the tools that you know and craft something for them, you facilitate it, again, it wasn't about me, it's not about me having the spotlight, it's where do you shine it, all the important people in the room, you're serving the bride, whose best friend throws the bridal shower, and that's one of my, that's become one of my favorite stories to share.

Because so many elements of design came in, and it was Wednesday to Saturday. There was no time. There's a constraint on that. And I've heard you say, man, give me some constraints. That's what makes it even better. Limit my abilities. I have to be more creative. And there were absolutely three other things that we did that night.

But I think for that family in that moment, that's the highest way I could have served them.

Chris Do: I want to ask you this question, Paul. It's a beautiful story. It's very touching. What are the lessons, the takeaway moments for you reflecting back on that? How do you draw the lessons from that story? What would you do? Well, how would you advise other people if they want to create a memorable experience?

Paul Hoke: Listen, I listened to dad. I left space. It was more about the silence than, than the questions, honestly, you've always been, even in our industry. We've. What's the why behind that? Go a little deeper. What's the why? And a lot of the times I start with the groom.

What's the most important thing to you? Cause this voice has not been heard. And when somebody makes them sit in silence and go, I just want my friends to dance. Oh, do you dance? No. Okay. So if your friends aren't going to do that, what else are we going to do? Your friends are important to you. Oh, you spent your summers together.

You guys roast each other. I can use that. Okay, let's move on. And then later on, I go, when we introduce them, since you have that relationship, what if we roast the crap out of them? And we make fun of them as they enter the room. We'll bring you in first, so you get to watch them, and we'll do it in reverse of what is normal, so you get to see them on the hot seat, and they're like, oh, crap, I'm next.

So, asking questions of discovery, silence, and listen, and then, I have a lot of tools at my disposal, because of 25 years. My buddy Greg used to travel with Princess Cruise Lines. He's the stage production manager. He's promoted now. He's beyond that. At the Georgia Aquarium, they spend millions of dollars in production.

He's trained with Cirque du Soleil. He's trained with Disney. So if they go, we want it to snow during our first dance. I'm like, you know, I can actually do that, right? Like there's stuff you've seen in Vegas that we can make happen. I mean, if there's no budget, Paul wanted to fly in on a helicopter from the Yorktown over to the country club.

And I'm like, you know what? FA says I can't do it in two weeks. The country club said the exhaust would burn their grass and we can't put a platform there. But I did check on it. It's like what? So you just make a couple calls and go. I know this is a pipe. This is a what if this is a movie scenario. But what if we low budget?

Can we make it happen? So those are the tools I've just leaned into. And again, having constraints, not knowing what I can do for people makes it way more interesting. It's not a repeatable thing. It is a design and you need, like you said, when you experiment, you need that latitude and that extra budget to go,

okay, that's idea number five, but man, it just got better. Now it's idea number one. It zoomed up the charts because something we added, some new information came in and it's great when they leave their wedding and go, oh, we had so many other ideas we didn't have time for. Yeah. What a great party that you didn't do all the entertainment because we picked the three best things to do.

And everybody stays there till the end. We're dancers or non dancers, right? your parents friends that are in their 40s, 50s. Like, how did they celebrate?

Chris Do: There's a couple of things that you said I would like to contextualize and frame for our audience. in the kind of maybe the language they're familiar with.

The first thing I heard in the story with Haley and Aunt Wendy and the dad was, you didn't have a lot of time, so you have to be creative. So the constraints are like, what can we do? We can't do big productions. And you went through your usual line of questions and you thought, we've covered the basis, we've put the father at ease.

And then you asked the killer question is, is there something I should have asked you to, I didn't. Is there something else you're concerned about? And you gave a ton of time for them to figure it out. And the clue to all of us is the body language, the silence, is actually a huge clue. To say, like, there's more here, just give the person space.

And if you're patient, they will reveal something. And it's heavy on his heart, but he didn't know if this is the time or place to speak it. So, a lot of times when we're working with our clients, We're too involved with running the show that we don't actually take a moment to pause and say from their point of view, is there something else they wanted to talk about that we didn't give them space to?

And that's where your gold came from. You do what, um, Brian Collins, the, um, well respected and, the top tier shelf kind of designer legend that he is, says in every problem you must find a hidden dragon. He often references Beowulf and, Grendel's mom, and that there's always a bigger problem underneath the problem.

So when you solve one thing, there's actually another thing and you have to get to the heart of the matter. And what was heavy on his heart was, I lost my nephew, right? His sister's son passed while he's conflicted and he's in a world of emotions, mixed emotions. And you did what you're supposed to do as a service provider, which is to serve.

And I like your, your general philosophy on this, which is so many of us want to run, to be the stage on the stage. You were like happy to be the guide on the side, just to make sure you're navigating the motions and telling the story, giving people permission to celebrate, because the ones that knew would probably heavy on their heart.

It's hard to celebrate when you know someone else is in deep grief. And to ask Aunt Wendy for the, for the generous act of celebrating this thing while she's mourning herself. And it's such a beautiful thing and using all the tools of the trade, creating the suspense, the drama, and then releasing that into the audience and then giving them something to do with their emotions.

I think you do that really well, probably better than anybody that I've spoken to. Because a lot of people would create that moment and everybody's feeling it. And then you say, why don't we just do this? If you guys can just stand up and hold each other. And we're gonna just move through this and we're gonna have a great time. So you gave them action to take, and I thought that was really beautiful. Did I miss anything there, Paul?

Paul Hoke: No. One of my tools is as a teacher, and you've been in a room with students. You know when students are ready to learn. I know when students are nervous and they need a story, a laughable moment to, we learn better when we're happy.

When we get frustrated and confused, we don't learn. Same thing happens at weddings. When people are frustrated or confused, they don't have fun. When dad shows vulnerability and speak to his children, that sets a tone in the room. And I'll ask them when your DJ reads the room, what does he do? Everybody's dancing to eighties music.

So they play more eighties. What does he mean by read the room? Cause I know when your family's ready to celebrate. And when we need to do the next thing, I can tell you, if dad's going to give a tear jerking, sentimental speech, we can't do a playful thing after that. We need the groomsman who is a comedian.

We need him to do the last speech leading into this next thing. It's a flow. It's an emotional flow in a vibe. I don't care about tradition. If there's a tearjerker or if he's going to create a sentimental moment, maybe we go into the father daughter dance after that. Or we move things around to fit the day.

I get permission to mess with the timeline. I'm like, you're going to show up at a time. You have to be out at a time and food that you're spending a ton of money on. It has about a 15 minute window that needs to be served in. But sit back and enjoy your party. If we need to readjust things, I'll tell the people that need to participate, hey, we're going to do this thing now because that's what the family's ready for.

Have you been to your spouse's Christmas or Thanksgiving? How's that family weird? How do they celebrate? What's different about their events? Oh, you know, when I went to the first Christmas, dad wrote Seuss poems and he would work on these for three months and we'd hide clues around the room and we all would, would do that.

What if we do that at your wedding? Yeah. What if we share that tradition with your family, and then you guys adopt it going forward? That was one of the most fun things we've ever done. So it, there's, it's endless ideas pop up, and at first you're kind of nervous how to be creative. But when you, you listen, sometimes the things just, they come to you. It's been so much fun creating this for people.

The Futur: It's time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.

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The Futur: and we're back. Welcome back to our conversation.

Chris Do: I like the kinds of questions that you ask to get them to think about how to honor somebody that might have passed, somebody that's important to them, or to bridge two families together because the groom and the bride, they know each other well, but the families may not, or the extended family surely doesn't, and to bring and cross pollinate traditions and to introduce some of the quirkiness of one family that makes it so memorable. And you're giving them all this kind of permission to like, let go of all these tropes and these traditions, if you will, and allow them to do something and to really create a truly memorable experience that is one of a kind.

And when we think about people in our service space, whether you're producing a video, I think a video, the parallels are very close here. You're telling a story, are you going through the mechanical parts, like we open on this shot, we go wide, we do a two, three camera setup, and then we're in, we're out, we deliver the video, or are you trying to surface something that's meaning, that's going to resonate with the audience, in this case the audience is everybody, the 300 participants in the celebration, and you're making it special, memorable to the CEO, that could be grandma or grandpa, you know, And the client who buys this, the chief marketing officer, which I guess is the bride and the groom, you're servicing and hitting all people.

And so you have a high probability of delivering something that just totally knocks it out of the park. Can you tell us another instance, another story, and share something with us so that we can learn from that as well?

Paul Hoke: Sure, I'll tell you the one that I shared with you last August. So my buddy Michael from fourth grade, he used to come over just because I had a pony and we'd ride horses together.

And I helped with his daughter's, first daughter's wedding, he's got three daughters, four or five years ago. And he brought me into Missouri from South Carolina. And I was like, every daughter's wedding, if you have me, we'll be different. And you know, he just trusts me. Okay. Come do what you do. I like your posts online.

I think it's going to be great. And so the second daughter gets married and I'm gathering my information. I call him and I was like, all right, who's her best buddy in the family. Oh, it's my dad, Grandpa Sam, and, uh, he would take lollipop, lollipop, oh, oh, lollipop, and he would say Lilybrook, and so in kindergarten, the teacher would finish the class and play music for all the students, and one day, he plays this song, and Lily just gets crazy.

They stole my grandpa's song! And he's like, what, what are you talking about? It gets on his lap. She's sniffling and it's Lilybrook, Lilybrook. So the rest of the year, they've got to sing Lilybrook. Oh, don't bump. So I said, Oh my God, I know your, your mom is ill and your dad, a grandpa, Sam may not make it to the wedding.

When are you going to see dad? Oh, probably in two weeks. I was like, cool. Take your phone, set it up on the shelf, hit record, walk out of the room and go, dad, There's Lily. You're at the wedding. Sing to her. I said, I don't know if we'll use the video. I don't know if we'll use the audio. Maybe he'll be there.

A month later, he sends me the video. The audio is amazing. Sam was able to make it. So we didn't know if he would be or not. So I said, here's how we're going to play this. We're going to do the parent dances. And then we're going to, we have one more very, very special dance. And Lily, I know somebody that means the world to you.

Grandpa Sam has asked you for the next dance. And then we just played it. And her head buried into Grandpa Sam's chest and Sam just glowed. I didn't want him singing in that moment cause I thought he might get choked up. I didn't know, you know, live performance, how that might go. So we played the recorded version.

It was maybe 30 seconds long. And then I explain, I tell everybody the story, the kindergarten story. And then I go, Sam, what the best part, I saw it on video. And the best part was you making that sound. How do you do that? And he pops and then all around the room, I'm like, they start doing this. And I'm like, Hey guys, you just had dinner.

Do you really want to put your fingers in your mouth right now? And they're like, Oh yeah. So just that playful observing what's going on in the room. And I was like, but what if we play, can we play that song again? But this time let's all join in now that we know the words and we'll sing the song to her?

And she was like, heck yeah. So we played the song. We segued out of that into lollipop and that started the dance floor. I didn't even have to say, welcome everybody to the dance floor. Dance floor's open. That started the party. I walk over to my sound tech. The groom follows me. He doesn't know what we do.

We didn't even start dancing yet. We didn't start doing DJ stuff yet. And he goes, now I get it. I was like, can, can you tell him that he's here shadowing me? He's never worked with me before. Yeah. He told me he did all this stuff and he would make bars unique and you just made my wife so proud. That was amazing.

Thank you. And then they just danced again. We had other things in the room, but that was to me. the story that resonated. And when Grandpa Sam is gone, she will always have that audio recording of Grandpa Sam. She'll have the video. She'll have the wedding pictures, video from the, from the wedding. And to me, if I can give a family that gift, it doesn't matter what you charge. It was worth it. And Michael's teased me that the next daughter's getting married at a Chateau in France. So we'll see.

Chris Do: You're going to have to keep one upping this.

Paul Hoke: Oh, and I love the challenge of it. But also, I vet like you. Vet my families, vet my couples, and see, are we a right fit? If you're just trying to recreate a kind of a drunken nightclub scene, you can spend way less and get exactly this is way different. I'm asking you to let me have control of your timeline.

I'm asking you to let me do secret surprises, maybe for you, maybe with you, but they will either be amazing, or I don't do that. If I have questions, then I don't, I don't, we don't do that. It's going to be amazing. And at the end of the day, half of the fee you pay me. Is on the line. If you're not happy, you go, I don't owe you that money.

And I said, I've never paid a dime back because it's going to be better. And you know, I know that adrenaline is running that day. They're going to have the best time of their life anyway. But when you add these things and they're better than what you promised, it just blows their mind. The only problem is I work with a lot of introverts and they don't tell the story. The word of mouth is so limited. And then how do you tell that story?

Chris Do: You get on a podcast and you tell that story, Paul, that's what you do. The question I have for you as I'm listening to the story is, when you're talking about playing the song and then inviting everyone to do the same thing, is that an audible that you're calling on the spot or you knew this is what we're going to do and then you can cue the DJ to like then transition into the real song? How much of this is premeditated versus this is you thinking on your feet?

Paul Hoke: All of that was premeditated. I knew it was a short segment. I wanted to let them hear the original because there's younger people in the room. I didn't know if they knew the song. I wanted the audience to join Grandpa Sam to make him proud.

I wanted them to feel and participate. So we know sitting at a table during dinner, I call it pre group, but I have music that makes everybody want to dance, but it's a not a danceable song. So they start moving. They start tapping. They get fidgety. I build that frustration. So when I say the dance floor is open, they're like, I don't know why, but I have to go dance.

There's asking to clap their hands, asking to raise every little bigger movement is asking for a little bit more participation. And if you build that frustration with an audible, now we're all singing. We don't sing karaoke, but we're doing it to serve Grandpa Sam. We're doing it to serve the couple.

That's when you sing happy birthday. Everybody sings. So I knew asking for a little more, a little more, a little more buy in when I said, you're already in here. You're already stinging. What's what's one more step. Just shaking your butt and acting a little goofy. So absolutely premeditated the photographer videographer knew exactly where the action was going to be and how to capture it.

Chris Do: This is kind of important to know. So now that I know it's premeditated, you're sitting there designing the entertainment, the arcs, the motion, the story, and the engagement and the participation, are you doing this by yourself? What's the creative process like when you're like, okay, we now have this recording, they're going to do this.

How do you come up with the idea? Like let's, let's invite the audience to do this and then let's transition to that. And then we're going to get into the DJ set. Is this just years of experience, intuition, you kicking around with some people and like, yeah, yeah, let's do that. And then let's do this.

Paul Hoke: I'm a magician. I don't know. I tell them I'll sit on this and between three and six weeks, the pieces will fall together. I don't know what, when, how, why. I remember one day I was driving down the street and we were doing something with a wine box presentation and my buddy Leonard wanted to do this. They don't drink.

And I'm driving to meet another couple. I'm driving to meet Drew and talk about his wedding. And I'm going downtown in my main street, my town. And I go, Oh my gosh, Leonard. Leonard fishes. Leonard's box. They go fishing. Their first date was fishing. His box is a taco box. Why am I thinking wine box this whole time?

I call Leonard. I'm like, your box is a fishing taco box. And he's like, of course it is. Yes, it is. You're right. I'll get on that. And But he's a handyman. So he had it done like within the end of the week. So got a decent looking tackle box, painted it all wedding white. And we put notes in it, locked it up from the wedding.

So on their fifth anniversary, they could open the tackle box, go out on a boat, open the tackle box and read these notes. Well, it's just whatever five years later. And, uh, I often, I mean, even a good consultant waits, right? So sometimes you know it on the spot. Yeah. But it's a big idea and they need time to trust you to come around to riding a motorcycle with a wedding dress.

How do we do that? So I've learned over time, not to like hit him in the face right off the bat. Like, Let's build up to the big idea.

Chris Do: You're in a space where, in theory, in, in many cases, not all cases, obviously, there's a lot of planning, booking a venue and hiring lots of services and vendors. So there's, and it's like, in theory, if it's done right, you only get married one time.

So it's a big decision. And there's a lot riding on this in terms of not just your experience, but for your guests, which is probably even more important than your experience. You're getting commitment up front. You're asking for permission. You're charging exponentially more than the next person. So at some point, they are explicitly giving you permission, like, We trust you, man.

This is all on you at this point. Because the idea of some surprises sounds pretty cool. Secret surprises. It might be on you. It might be for you. It might be with you. We don't know. And you're going to have to trust me in six or so many months. It'll all come together and some parts you'll know about and some parts you won't.

And that's the beauty of what it is that you do. And so they buy in on that. Where do you find resistance in this? And how do you get them over that? Or is it immediate, like, this is not going to work. There's really not a lot of, like, interest in me trying to figure this out?

Paul Hoke: I'm pretty upfront about how I'm different, and just ask the questions. I talked with a couple last night, and they really wanted a dance party, and talk about music. And, and can you, can you play 30 seconds and then go into another song, and then do another 30 seconds and then go to another song? And I was like, you've talked to a club DJ, and that works amazingly well at a club.

I think it frustrates families at weddings. I'm going to be straight up honest with you, if that's what you need and you think that's important, you probably should go with them. I don't like the same beat droning on for 20 minutes while you cut in all these different songs. That is a personal preference, but if that's what you want, yeah, we can do that, but we're also going to read the room and I know after 10 minutes, they're going to start walking off the floor.

Like, when do I take a break? Like when do I grab a beverage? I haven't had that, that moment to just gather myself and, and, and not talk about music. So sometimes I've told a story during class at Clemson and two or three years later, they'll go that resonated. Let's talk about what you do. And then that opens the door to, yeah, it's definitely different.

You know, I've, I've had one of my former TAs. teetered around six months going, I don't know. I don't know. And I'm like, I'm not pressured. You can have that thing. And then she went to another wedding and was like, okay, I'm done. You're, I'm hiring you. Because when couples get engaged, the first question, how many weddings have you been to?

How many are you going to before you get married? And I had Jennifer with me, mom, pop off. She was going, I think nine weddings. One was her brother. She was in, and then hers was like the 11th wedding of the year. And I was like, you're going to be the best at every wedding. When you see something wrong or that you love texting me anytime a day.

I want written notes. Don't like this, like that. I will promise you, if any of that stuff happens, you get your money back. It will not happen under my watch. And that insight into what she liked and how to serve her was so informative. And it also told me a lot of people on the mic are not there to steal the show.

They're there to do shtick. They're doing those fill in the blank weddings. The couples didn't know, you know, switching the speeches. Order of that creates that flow and that vibe that, you know, you want, or it creates some friction. And it's like, we don't know what's wrong in the room, but man, what if you flip the intros for the bride and groom versus the bridal part?

Could we do something with that? Are you okay with that? You don't want to throw the garter. Well, if you heard the story of why the garter tradition was there, you would hate it too. But you guys are Clemson football fans. What if I get a football signed by Dabo Sweeney? Oh my gosh, Kelly can launch a football.

Brent, why don't you hike it to her? She'll take two or three steps back. We'll put the garter around anybody that wants to catch a football signed by Dabo Sweeney with the garter. Get on that end of the room. It wasn't single minute. It was everybody in the room. There were ladies, kids, everybody was down there.

He launched it. She launched it the length of the, uh, the room. And it was awesome. And the person that got the football was. Like, holy moly, I can't believe that's a football signed by Dabo Sweeney. So, the three ideas has to be personal, entertaining, and adding emotion. So it's not, I don't come up with any of it.

I take the stuff they've given me and go, Is an audience going to like this? How do we make it entertaining? And that informs what we might do.

Chris Do: A creative person is going to hear this and like, oh, you know, they're going to make a thousand reasons why they can't do this, or Paul's got this working for him or, or whatever it is, or they don't have something that you have.

What I'm trying to get into is when you meet a prospect. Let's just call them a prospect. Sometimes they're your former students or whatever it is. There's going to be some resistance to price, to structure, to trust, to style, whatever it is. The first thing I heard you say was, you know what, I'm okay not being your guy.

So you're practicing like, you know what, I'm detached from the outcome of this conversation, which gives you a strength and authority and confidence that I wish more people would just exercise. I'm okay with this being whoever you want. Next is you use the old retreat and follow. Concept from Mr. Blair Enns.

You say, you know, I'm going to be three times as much. It may not be right for you. And if you want that, you're going to overpay me to do it. I'll do it, but you're just going to overpay me to do it. And the other thing that you said, and I like this, is like, you're casting, or the kids would say, you're throwing shade at what other people do.

By using this term, and I just wrote it down so that everybody can use it too. Oh, if you just want to fill in the blank, branding. If you just want to fill in the blank, website. I'm not your person. You've labeled the enemy. The enemy in this case is like tradition and templates and cookie cutter weddings or ceremonies or whatever it is.

And so you're asking them to make a decision. Do you want something different? Do you want something memorable? Do you want something that you're going to be able to cherish for the rest of your life? I do that, but it comes at a price. Now, when you meet somebody that you don't think is a good fit, What do you say to them to say goodbye?

Paul Hoke: I actually direct them to my, I have a Facebook group page, Heirloom Entertainment. And I say, you know what? The things I would like to participate in, I post on there. I tell my couples to go there and come up with ideas. Whether you use me or not, I think those are some great ideas. Look over that, see if that fits you.

If you want to use me or not. There's a bunch of ideas and then let them self select. And sometimes they look at an idea and go, well, I can do that. And maybe they can, and maybe the talent they hire just bones it in and goes, well, this is the script they gave me to read, but then they got to work with the camera.

It will never be as good. I mean, it's the, it's the choice, you know, self serve versus I'm guarantee you the result. And when you let people try to figure it out for themselves, Sometimes they come back and go, you know, that thing where you're going to put me in a studio and I'm going to sing a song for my bride for the first dance.

That's why I'm hiring you. I want you to present it in a way that, you know, I'm kind of introverted. I don't want to steal the spotlight, but how would we present that? And I'm like, I got it. I've done it three times. Do you want auto tune? Do you want a full on? I have our friend, Edwin has, has a whole studio locally.

We can get you in there to do. thing or I have a free studio that we can use. And my buddy Greg, he does autotune and we can help you out. So there's a free to fee schedule on that idea. So I will do that with a lot of the bigger ideas, depending on their other budgets and how much they want to lean into it.

Chris Do: So when they're not a good fit, you just send them to your Facebook page, which is Heirloom Entertainment and their ideas, you say, use any of it, use none of it, do whatever you need to do. I'm here to serve you. And if you can do it cheaper, if there's a self serve option that works better for you and you don't want the full service package for me, no problem, no harm, no foul. Go do your thing. So you have the confidence. And the wherewithal to say, you know what? It's not, not everybody's for me. It's totally okay.

Paul Hoke: I worked in those weddings in Charleston and my soul would die because I'm like, oh, you know, if those aunts had come up and told me beginning of the night that they do a sing along with the groom and that's a thing their family's always done, we could have done that, but they came up to me and I had three songs I could play cause that's, what's on the fill in sheet. And I'm like, I'm sorry, we can't do that. That hurts me. Why? I'm the defender. I shouldn't care, but I would see all these moments that were passed and that gives you the confidence to go, I don't want to be there.

I'd rather be home with my family. If I can't serve in the highest and best use, that hurts your soul. And the guys I've introduced to this that shadowed me go, what? There's so much meaning behind it. I never thought to do that. Because your mind is in music and dancing and that's where you've limited it.

But I will tell you the guys I connect with. DJs that have a daughter, they hit about mid forties and all of a sudden random tears, crop up moments of pride, grief. You get emotional as a parent. I didn't know that as a young punk, when you're just, you know, trying to make girls bounce around on the dance floor in a club. You don't think about a daughter or making another father proud of the first significant celebration his family's ever thrown.

Chris Do: So you're saying those DJs reach the level of maturity and they, they get involved in the story and the emotion, not so much like, let's just get people to jump around?

Paul Hoke: You want me to be honest with you? They get old and scared and think they're not relevant. I can't rock the house or, or they see me getting gray hair and they think I can't rock the house. You know what? You're behind this big old thing anyway. Nobody's really watching you, but if you frame the night that everyone feels comfortable sober or not to act goofy and to celebrate and just play.

They're going to dance. They know this music. It's not like you're pulling out obscure. I did do a Nigerian wedding once because nobody else would do it. And they didn't want American music after we played an hour of that. So I had to scour and I'm like, I can't be responsible for the lyrics because I don't know.

But it's definitely a different thought process. And I, you know, I have so much to owe to your guidance and just that translating, how would I apply this to this business? I mean, you know, I've got a couple businesses and I do have a full time job, so I didn't have to rely on this. I need to sell this next wedding to feed my family.

That is, that's a thing. People have to create numbers and they're proud in the industry. I booked 100 weddings last year. You know what? I'm happy with 10 or 20 meaningful weekends away from my family that also allow me enough profit to then give my family a first class experience the following weekend.

We'll go out to a five star brunch on a Sunday or a Saturday or whatever. We, we go to Charleston and play for the weekend. And it's, it's the fun money. I don't even, I don't even count that as our income. It's, it's, it's served my family. One, the dad that told me. You made my family proud tonight. Shook my hand, handed me a wad of money.

Went over to my DJ, Greg, handed him some money. And we had done our three things, the dance floor had just started. And they were med students. They were gone for nine months. I'd never really met the parents. Mom showed up and was like, she says you have this. I was like, yep, you're gonna have a great time tonight.

I didn't know what she meant by that, but she meant there's no wedding planner. This is on you. This is on the DJ shoulders. I look over at Greg and I said, how much did he give you? And he goes, and 200 is a very generous tip in our industry, because it's just not common as we don't get tips. And he said, if you, I don't know, I'll go to the bathroom and count it.

Tell the why I'm whispering. I'm not there.

I walk in the bathroom and I count 500 dollars. Some DJs charge 700 dollars. To serve a family. And before the dancing even started, that dad gave us 700 dollars just so happens the next day we were going to a, uh, meals on wheels, fundraiser event. We did an auction. I bought a painting of a jazz band, live painting. And then over on the table was four passes to Disney and we bid it up to 500 dollars.

So I said, dad, thank you so much for the tip. I took it and I donated it to a good cause and you're giving my family the gift of Disney. And we're going to go in six months. Thank you so much for your generosity. Cause I wanted him to know the gift that he served my family with and was so generous with my family.

Chris Do: Paul, you know what I, I really appreciate in the things that you've shared so far is that your job here is to, to listen, to dig and to find out those quirky traditions, not the traditional wedding, but the, the traditions that each family has, the quirks in the idiosyncratic things that they do to make these things really wonderful, memorable and to honor those celebrations and to tell the stories that need to be told. And I think that is the big thing that everybody here can listen to and take away. Which is when you're talking about designing the brand or identity of a company, what are their traditions? What makes them unique and different?

How do they celebrate differently? What are the stories that need to be told? And if you can encapsulate that in a brand story, You've done the same thing and what you've done so well is you've created, not an experience, you've created memories for people and there's no price tag that you can put on that.

Those memories will live with each guest. And it might live multiple generations about the thing that happened at this wedding that you weren't alive for that I'm going to tell you about now. And I think that's a wonderful gift that you're sharing with the world. Is there another story you want to tell me?

Paul Hoke: All of them.

Chris Do: Let's, let's pick one. Let's pick one. The one that, like, stands out. Because I think sometimes when we hear three stories, we can spot the pattern. It'll be a little easier to like, okay, I get it now. Maybe the first two they're like, wow, this is pretty genius. I don't know how to do this.

Paul Hoke: Okay. The names will come to me in the middle of the story. And again, often it's one of the couple has taken my class, built some rapport, and the other one is clueless. So when they come in and design sessions. Uh, discovery is always try to do at my kitchen table, try to have a meal, tell them it's going to be 90 minutes or maybe three hours.

I don't know. The first initial meeting might be on zoom if they're, if they're not local, we've done everything on zoom, but they come in, we start talking, just building rapport and start to talk about how we might help them and what the normal wedding looks like. And I says, what is the dance going to look like with your mom?

Are you a mama's boy? And. Oh my gosh, my brother got married two years ago and he danced to her favorite song, Phil Collins in the Jungle Book. He already danced to that. I don't know what song I'm going to choose. And I said, okay, I know right then. Got the answer for it. And we have the meeting. I circled back and I said, let's go back to this idea of you dancing with your mom.

You're going to play her favorite song. And we're going to play her favorite version of that. And he's like, yeah, my brother already did that. And, uh, looks at me and I'm like, no, but she hasn't heard her favorite version and neither have you. And he looks at Julie and, and she's just glowing ear to ear.

And he's like, do you know what he's saying? He's like, no, but it's going to be good. I thought she knew the answer. I said, okay, let's rewind. You told me the story of your first date. You guys did a thing together. You told me the first time you went to Myrtle beach and you guys walked in the ocean, you proposed.

You did a thing to get, you drove up here 90 minutes from Columbia today. And in the car on the way here, you did a thing together. You were telling me as you came in through the garage to sit right here. What you're a singer. I'm going to get you in a studio and you're going to sing that song. And every mother's day, you're going to send that to her.

And his reaction was my brother. That's great. My brother's going to hate me. This is the best. He's got a twin brother.

So maybe a month later, he comes over. We set up a studio in our house. We do a little autotune. I present it at the wedding and just say, mom, we're going to play your favorite song. We know your son did the Phil Collins version, but this is going to be your favorite version. And even he hasn't heard it.

Cause I wouldn't let him listen to his own work to over critique it before the moment. I want him to be all about his mom, not about did this recording sound amazing? So I wouldn't let him listen to it. And mom was a little bit confused, but she was caught up in the moment. She's dancing with him for 30 seconds.

I'd tell the photographers where to get the awkward to get, she pulls away and goes to you. And he's like, she buries her head. Her shoulders start shaking. They're happy tears. And. They get done with the song. I look over at the brother. I was like, I told you I was going to get you. So after they're done dancing, I go, mom, was that your favorite version?

And she's like, absolutely. And I said, no, some people don't know who the artist was that's saying that. Would you tell him that was my son. He recorded that for me. And collectively the whole room goes, oh, that vulnerability, that he was glowing, she was glowing, the brother was in awe, like, I cannot believe you did this, this was really great and nobody was focused on was this not Phil Collins? Was this not the perfect version? It was for her mom. What a better way to honor her and then have that, you know, every mother's day, like, Hey, here's. Here's that recording my son did.

Chris Do: That was the most meaningful version. That's the difference. It might not have been the most perfect, but it was the most meaningful because it was done with love and from someone that you care about.

Paul Hoke: Yeah, I've done that before and it's always like, it doesn't matter. It could be karaoke. Now, the audience is not going to get it until they get it, but we'll have the reveal later. I had a dad do a voiceover for his daughter, an instrumental part of that. He was in video production. When I said voiceover, he was like, his eyes lit up.

It's like, what would that look like? I was like, go in the studio, talk for eight minutes and send it to me. I think he talked for 12. I was like, tell me your favorite moment with your daughter, the most fun moment, the most memorable moment. He gushed on and on for, for 12 minutes. I used less than 12 seconds, just put stuff in the instrumental.

She was in happy tears. I waited, I think it was her first or second anniversary. And then I sent her the full 12 minutes. I actually might've sent it to her on father's day. And then I said, by the way, you don't know, there's another year for you. Listen to this. This is your dad glowing about how proud he is.

What daughter doesn't want that? But I think the time in between. made it a little bit more significant because it wasn't all bundled up in that one idea. It was another memory that was pre post, you know, B roll. But, but what, what, man, who doesn't want to hear their parent gush about them on, on audio for the rest of their life? You know, share that with their children. We have tools, man. They're not being used.

Chris Do: I'm starting to get a theme from you that there's a little bit of a mischievous boy inside of you. That you like to tease people a little bit, like you like to give them a little bit of information, get them leaning in and it's like, but wait, there's more.

That you like to like, send little surprises, there's a little easter egg that you may or may not know that's coming, that lives beyond the service in which somebody's hired you for. That there's a lot of thoughtful intentionality behind the things that you do. And I think that's a great way for us to end this episode, to ask all of our listeners to, to do something.

I don't normally do this, but I'm going to make a habit of doing this more often. We'll listen to things, we watch videos, but then we're inspired, but we don't do anything. So I'm going to ask you right now, every, every person who's watching or listening to this, Take a moment, reflect on the stories, think about the one lightbulb moment for you, and then write that down.

And then think and ask yourself, how might I apply this in my line of work to create these memories for my clients and people I serve? What's one thing I could do differently about how I approach sales or how I might become detached from the outcome? What is one thing I can do after the service has been paid for that I can do to deliver it to light?

Commit to just one thing and then create a plan of attack. What is your plan? Like, how will I implement this and then do it in the next week? And that way we can carry the lessons and the stories, but we can actually improve our lives and our business. And that's what I want you to do. If you can commit to that, I think you have a bright future ahead of you.

And on that note, Paul, it's been a pleasure talking to you. And for people who don't know, Paul and I were strangers. We went on a fishing trip at, at Oli's in British Columbia, and we're going to do it again come September. So I look forward to hearing your line scream, your, your real scream and seeing who's, who's brought in the bigger fish.

Paul Hoke: Small fish though. Catch and bait, catch and, catch and bait this.

Chris Do: That did happen.

Paul Hoke: You did catch the largest, the largest fish.

Chris Do: I did catch the largest fish. So let's just, let's just clarify that. We can't always control what gets on the line. Paul, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for doing this. Thanks for pouring it into us.

Paul Hoke: Thank you, sir. Thank you. It was an honor. I, uh, I've gone from not knowing you, uh, just admiring you from afar to building a great friendship. Thank you. It's been an honor to share my story. I love telling them and, uh, I, I. I have notes from how I might serve you and your family at your son's weddings that I gleaned over last August. I, I put these nuggets back in just in case they're used one day. You never know.

Chris Do: I want to encourage you to do something, to perhaps do some consulting outside of your industry, to teach people how, if they're, if they sell donuts, or if they're a retail store selling clothing, how they can create these memorable experiences, big and small ideas.

I would encourage you to do that. I would also like to challenge you a little bit in going out there and giving your version of a TED Talk and using the tools and techniques to bring your audience into it and getting them to participate. That would be something to behold. I don't know if you've already done that, but that's a challenge I'm throwing out at you.

Paul Hoke: I spoke at a DJ convention and there was crickets. So maybe, maybe there's an audience out there, but, uh, the music guys definitely were, were, it didn't resonate. So. We'll see. I like that challenge. I really do.

Chris Do: If you've enjoyed this conversation and you kind of like the weird mind that is Paul, and you think your business and your service can use the breath of fresh air. Worth the risk, worth the risk. Give Paul a call and see what he can do for you. So Paul, people are curious about you and want to enlist you in helping them to think differently, to break out of their box, to come up with something that's never been done before in their line of work. How might they find you?

Paul Hoke: I have a couple of different businesses. So the easiest way would be the Facebook page that we already referred to. That's Heirloom Entertainment. And if you can't spell Heirloom, Somebody said, there's going to be a problem. You're probably not my client.

Chris Do: Like the tomato, everybody. There's a silent H in there.

Paul Hoke: Only thing I noticed is heirloom is a tomato. And I'm like, you're not my client. If you don't know how to spell it and you think it's a tomato, you're not my client. But these, what I wanted to create was heirloom memories was heirloom video audio. So yeah, Heirloom Entertainment on Facebook, message me through there. Read some ideas. If I'm not in your part of the world that I can come and help, which I do love travel. So I would absolutely come help.

Chris Do: Yeah. All right, Paul, thank you very much.

Paul Hoke: Thanks, buddy. I appreciate it. And I look forward to seeing you in September on the boat. Hi, this is Paul Hoke, and you are listening to The Futur.

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