XLIVE caught up with Louise Glasgow, Executive Producer of Maker Faire. Maker Faire coins itself as “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth”, by creating a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.
Tell us a little about Maker Faire and some of your latest initiatives.
Maker Faire has experienced tremendous year over year growth. We started in 2006 with 20,000 attendees at our Maker Faire Bay Area event and now it has over 125,000 attendees. In the past 12 years, we have grown internationally to over 48 countries with 221 events. This year, 1.58 million people will have attended Maker Faire worldwide!
Maker Faire provides a platform for the local community to come out and showcase what they make. Our new initiative “Mission for Makers” stands out where we work together with collective groups to find solutions for current day challenges.
For example, MakerHealth is a group of health makers leading the charge in creating Makerspaces in hospitals, where you can work to be the designers and makers of your own healthcare solutions.
Future of Food is a worldwide initiative pushing the envelope on food production, focusing on alternative proteins, indoor & community gardens, waste reduction, and super foods in hopes of creating a more sustainable future for us all.
Last, but not least, education is one of our main initiatives. MakerEd works with schools and libraries to create Makerspaces where people with shared interests can gather to collaborate on projects by sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge.
What was the first event you ever attended and what was your impression?
Early in my life, I attended Playland at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver, Canada, which my father managed, and I was inspired. I learned the ropes at a very young age by helping out and when I was legal, I worked 12 hour days for 17 days straight at the end of each summer for 21 years. Definitely, one way to break into the industry!
My first concert experience was Traffic at Winterland! I was really lucky to live in the Bay Area when Bill Graham was creating the concert scene and developing “the business of rock.”
What were the most memorable events you attended last year, and what made them exceptional from your point of view?
It is hard to top Maker Faire for me because I love the glee & wonderment I witness from people of all ages participating in the event. Working on an event that is showcasing the cutting edge of emerging technology is extremely exciting. My favorite comment was from two young kids exclaiming “it’s ok to be smart here!”
What sparked the idea to expand and franchise Maker Faire to become a global brand?
The globalization of Maker Faire happened organically. People make things all over the world and providing a place for them to come together and share is the essence of the Maker Movement. We created a playbook so communities could produce their own mini-Maker Faire. Each mini-Maker Faire is independently produced and celebrates the area’s local maker culture. A Mini-Maker Faire can grow into larger featured faire.
At the (flagship) Maker Faires, we always have a global producer meet-up where we share the behind-the-scenes lessons and best practices. We also have an embedded producer’s program, where a select number of global producers work as crew in our flagship events so they can experience a larger show, bond with our team and learn all our systems. These exercises are building a solid base of Maker Faire producers that keep the making spirit alive and foster the growth of the Maker Movement.
What do you view to be the most exciting experiences at your event that sets you apart from others?
We are changing lives on a global scale. Makers are creating and developing solutions together, and this is exciting. To witness the creation of amazing products that are changing the way we live and watch the makers interact with each other to make this happen, is extremely satisfying.
Our community of teaching, learning, making and interacting with each other provides a unique experience for all, and these connections remain long after the event is over!
How are emerging technologies impacting how your organization approaches the market?
New technology has been a game changer in marketing and producing the event. Social Media platforms, ticketing systems, productivity software and open source team collaboration tools are so effective and have produced amazing results.
For example, since its launch in 2009, over $3.3 billion has been pledged to support makers and startups through the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. Making has become a driving force within the global economy due to many of the open source technologies available today.
Looking back on your career in the industry, what has been the biggest learning experience for you personally?
How important it is to develop systems that elevate your team. I believe that this is what ultimately creates the magic on site! Your team is so important to the success of your event: value them; empower them with a collaborative plan; and give them the tools to excel.
My personal secret to keeping the team motivated is to truly respect them by actualizing their talents and feeding them healthy delicious food!
Can you share a current project you’re working on that you’re excited about?
You know, I’ve given a few talks over the past year about the concept of self-directed teams. So many of our systems developed over the past decade–out of necessity, and due to the nature of the event I’ve been producing–are easily transferrable to many types of events with a variety of production team structure. It is amazing how adapting some of the low cost tech tools currently available, that didn’t exist 10 years ago, in the right framework can dramatically increase productivity and the bottom line.
I’m passionate about learning and sharing knowledge. It feels great that Maker Faire has grown and made such an impact as an integral part of the Maker Movement. The systems are in place so I can now explore other interests as the Faire continues to expand globally. I will continue to consult to help others learn the business, learn how to streamline the process of producing and growing their events and developing ideas.
If you weren’t involved in the live event industry, what job or field would you attempt?
I love learning the way the mind works and creating effective strategies and finding solutions. Some of the techniques used in The Kaizen Way, Art of War and military training for the Special Forces resonate with me, as I love learning tips to develop mental toughness and physical strength. In my wildest dreams, I think it would be thrilling to be in the espionage arena, someone selected to carry out specific missions; or a lawyer, as the law tends to be a puzzle that intrigues me as well.
Who from the industry have you deemed your role model?
Bill Graham! And, Fred Glasgow, my father, as I value most that he taught me “the street.” He had a shrewd mind and was a quick thinker; an ounce of his wisdom is golden.
To learn more about Louise Glasgow and her participation in this year’s annual conference, click HERE