A promotional photo for 2004’s “Mean Girls”​ movie

I want to tell you a secret I haven’t shared with many: there’s a Harvard Business School case study written by my former professor and mentor, Brooks Holtom, about an unfortunate incident that took place at Social Tables four years ago.

While the company’s name (“FtT”) and employee names (“Erik” is me) were obfuscated in the case study to protect everyone’s privacy, the situation it describes is very real. This is the first time I’m publicly sharing not just what happened but also how I screwed up and what I would have done differently.

I’m sharing this now because culture…

📺 Many of the virtual events we’re seeing today are really pre-recorded broadcasts. Pre-recorded means canned. Canned means inauthentic. Inauthentic means not real. And something that’s not real can’t be an 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭 at all.

🤝 What makes an event worth attending is the energy (chi) of attendees learning together, mingling, and doing the same thing. The screwups, unplanned moments, and thousands of decisions that participants make in nanoseconds.

❌🎥 If more than 10% — maybe even less (?) — of an event is pre-recorded, it’s not an event and certainly not live.

🛍 The rapid expansion of virtual events threatens…

Downtown Boise during sunset from Table Rock

I’ve told this story to everyone I’ve talked to over the past six weeks so I figured I should write it down. It’s a quasi-follow-up to my quasi-viral LinkedIn post (40k views compared to the typical 5k I get) where I shared that I moved to Boise, ID… just with a bit more detail. 😅

After spending all of March 2020 quarantining in my Washington, DC apartment waiting for COVID to pass (I’m an optimist, OK? 😂) so I could move back to my hometown of New York City where an East Village condo I had just purchased was waiting…

Since I moved to Boise, I’ve been thinking about the importance of belonging. Without it, imposter syndrome creeps in: we feel like frauds. To cope with it, I try by working backwards, claiming a title before it’s a thing.

This started at nine, when I moved from Israel to the US. I was wracked with social anxiety. Online, however, I could interact with people behind an alias that obfuscated my real identity and represented who I wanted to become.

And when I switched high schools from a large/elite one to a small/normal one, I had a chance to present myself…

We use the word “community” so much, it has lost its meaning. It’s synonymous with neighborhoods (NYC’s Chelsea), loose associations (world Jewry), and whole industries (#eventprofs). What’s missing is the sense of belonging it once provided its members.

Today’s circumstances are ironic. Digitally, we’re more connected than ever, but our need for authentic connection remains unfulfilled. The following are my thoughts on where this will lead us…

  • In 2019, 52% of employees worked remotely at least once a week, which has obviously increased since the pandemic.

Virtual events will be additive, not reductive, to a planner’s program portfolio, elevating our profession’s strategic importance to sales, marketing, and HR. But before converting a live program to a virtual one, recalibrate via these steps:

  1. Remind yourself why you chose the profession: for the love of bringing people together. This is still the primary goal — just in a different package. (In fact, there’s more opportunity without a geographic constraint.)
  2. Deconstruct your traditional program so it can function in a digital medium. What is an event, really? Isn’t it a meta-container of activities with different objectives? Consider an event…

Informing my coworkers on Friday, November 1st, 2019 of my decision to leave Social Tables.

A few months ago, I decided it was time for me to leave Social Tables, the company I started 9 years ago, and start anew. I informed my teammates of my decision this past Friday, a week or so after the one year anniversary of our acquisition by Cvent.

The decision wasn’t hard because the timing felt right — Social Tables was all grown up and my impact started to have diminishing returns. I leave behind a dedicated and talented group of people that will continue to grow the business and help our customers succeed; a parent company that is…

I often describe my professional life in three chapters:

Chapter I: Technology (1990–2004)

Chapter II: Government (2004–2011)

Chapter III: Entrepreneurship (2011–Present)

Over the past several years, I’ve been trying to figure out why, despite the fact that I have not been in government for nearly a decade, I’m still the consummate student of politics who is following campaigns and studying the every move of elected officials.

Chapter I: Technology

Ever since I was a boy, I was interested in computers. It all started with video games. That got me interested in building computers so that I could have a higher performing machine. Then…

On September 12th, 2018, I had the honor of speaking at my alma mater’s convocation, the welcome ceremony to the class of 2022. Here are my unedited remarks.

President Raab, Distinguished Faculty, Hunter College Staff, and Class of 2022:

Thank you for the inviting me to address you today. It is a great honor.

If there is one message I want to send you off with today is that you should believe in yourself.

Now that we got out of the way, I want to spend the next few minutes telling you why by sharing my own story, which I…

About a year ago, I got together with 6 other brilliant #dctech minds to start the Capital Tech Coalition. We created a mobilization platform for small and mid-sized tech companies in the DC region.

Our first action was on the current administration’s immigration ban.

Now, having seen the incentives DC has offered Amazon to entice them to bring HQ2 to DC, we’re asking our Mayor to for same considerations. This is a copy of the letter that went out to the Mayor yesterday. It was signed by 10 CTC member companies headquartered in DC.

Disclaimer: We are not experts in…

Dan Berger

Founder/fmr CEO @socialtables (acq by @cvent Oct ‘18). Community organizer, event believer, Israeli, NYer, raver, traveler, developer. 📍 Boise, ID

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