We had an amazing team that put together our Culture of Story event on November 13, 2014 in Los Angeles. Aaron Howard, a senior film student at Biola University, was over-the-top in the way he took on his role. Here's why I would hire him again in a heartbeat.
For the seminar, we needed someone to manage the audio / visual side of the event. I reached out to Biola University film professor Michael Gonzales to see if he had a student that might be able to help. Within a few days I got a phone call from Aaron. He said that he had never run a/v before, but was happy to help. Aaron is the student selected to direct the Biola student film this year.
The role required gathering PowerPoints and Keynotes from presenters and making sure they were ready when it came time for each presenter to speak. Based on our email interchanges, it was apparent Aaron was concerned about getting the job done well. He went through each of the presentations and found an error in one of them and was able to bring that to the attention of the presenter in advance.
Two days before the event it became obvious that we needed to do a test at the venue to make sure we had all of the technology dialed in. With one day's notice, Aaron drove an hour to meet me and spent several hours making sure we worked through all the details. This was not a part of our original agreement. That was bad on my part.
In our communications, I didn’t make it clear that the venue had all the sound and video equipment we would need (two strikes against me). Aaron thought we might need AV equipment so he managed to beg, borrow or steal a trunk-load of equipment. I was embarrassed to find out he went to such trouble when all of that was already provided by the church.
In one of the emails circulating among the event team, I made a comment about having a five-minute countdown before each session started. This was so our producer would make sure he knew to begin to get people seated after each break. Aaron took the idea and ran with it. He created a countdown clock in After Effects on top of our logo for the big screen so everyone knew we'd be starting soon. I never thought of this, but it turned out to be a great idea.
With 10 different presenters, including Brian Bird from Congressman Stutzman's office in Washington, D.C. via Internet, there were a lot of things waiting to go wrong. Aaron came up with a system to make sure we had all the elements in place and ready at the right time. He reviewed and re-reviewed the timeline to make sure we didn't miss anything.
The program proceeded very well but there were a few touch-and-go moments when we were bringing Brian in via Internet. Aaron stayed cool, helped solve the problem and kept us on track.
Here are six reasons you should hire Aaron (or someone like him). It really is about getting the right people on your bus.
1. He had pride of ownership in his work. He cared about the work that he delivered. He knew it was a reflection on him.
2. He cared about the end result. Even though I had no prior relationship with Aaron, he took on our event as his own. He wanted the whole event to work. It did work and he was a key part of it.
3. He was a great team player. Aaron was easy to work with. He went the extra mile. He quickly fit in to the team.
4. He anticipated needs and found solutions before problems arose. The trunk load of equipment, the countdown clock, checking every slide of every presenter (and finding an error)...wouldn't you want this kind of person covering your back?
5. He was willing to learn. He hadn't really done this kind of role before but was willing to take it on. Most smaller teams need utility players who can take on a variety of roles and come up with wins. Aaron hit this out of the park. A lot of people only want to do their specialty role, but it is rare to have a position that allows you to only do what you like and what you're good at.
6. He was willing to do work beneath his skill set. I've never seen his work as a film director. He must be good if he was chosen among the many talented film students at Biola to direct this year's school-sponsored film. He never gave the hint of an attitude about his role on our team. It's people like this that get opportunities to take on bigger roles..."you've been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things."
By the way, Aaron doesn't know I'm writing this about him. And I don't think he's looking for work...yet. You may contact Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once this post came out, Aaron called me to thank me. He graduates from Biola this week, so as it turns out, he is available for work.
2/11/16: Aaron is now a graduate student and working part-time. The email above is still good if you want to reach out to him.