Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

Female Disruptors: How Emmy Award Winner Tracey Shappro Is Shaking Up How Live Events Are Produced

“Begin with the end in mind” — This is something that I’ve built my entire company on. VISIONary thinking and our ability to enable experiences and communities to live on is our superpower. The question I ask at the start of every project is “what’s the vision’? What does success look like? Knowing what you want to achieve paves the way to get there, and then, to exceed the goal. VISIONary thinking is so ingrained in the way we do things, the word itself is the inspiration behind our company’s name, VISION Production Group. Having a vision is the lifeblood of possibility and the fuel that drives us. Strategy drives creativity. Strategy drives everything.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracey Shappro.

Tracey Shappro has produced hundreds of live events and video productions for some of the world’s leading brands, professional sports teams and associations. Her prestigious client list includes Toyota, CBS Sports, ESPN, ExxonMobil, UNICEF, Baker Hughes, Equinor, Meeting Professionals International, Boston Celtics, Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee and the World Petroleum Congress.

She is a two-time Emmy Award winner by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She has been honored twice as one of the “Top 100 Producers in America” by AV Producer Magazine. She has earned more than 179 marketing and advertising awards including “Best of Show” and “Judges Favorite” from industry associations such as the American Advertising Federation, the Business Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association.

Founder, producer and head visionary of VISION Production Group (, Tracey works with clients to capture vision and strategy, while also setting the direction and standard of excellence for the company.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I started out, I worked in video production. As I advanced in my career, my responsibilities and skills as a producer grew to include producing hundreds of live events and video productions for some of the world’s leading brands, professional sports teams, and associations. Now, with my own company VISION Production Group, we handle not only video and live event productions, but also virtual events, augmented and virtual reality, as well as 3D projection mapping and interactive.

With regard to live events, VISION specializes in what we call ‘Experience Design’. From 360 degrees, we look at all stakeholders in an experience and shape an event for maximum engagement and connection with target audiences. We understand the power of visual storytelling and we use strategy with creative content to share brand stories. We work with clients to craft effective communication strategies and assess the right presentation technologies for the intended experience. Our goal is to create events that live on…and on and on, in the hearts and minds of attendees long after the event, the season, or the marketing campaign is over.

Our live event production and virtual event experience includes corporate meetings, national product launches, town halls, conferences, opening general sessions, capital campaigns, and fund-raising events as well as annual meetings and virtual experiences.

We have planned and executed live as well as virtual events for a long list of clients including Toyota, UNICEF, Equinor, NFL Hall of Fame, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Kinder Institute, Holocaust Museum Houston, the Rotary Lombardi Awards, the Girl Scouts, Super Bowl 51 Host Committee, and the Greater Houston Partnership.

The road to becoming a business owner is much more complex and sudden than my career progression. Starting my own business was not something I ever envisioned for myself. I founded VISION ten years ago simply out of necessity. I had been working as a Senior Producer at a production company for 13 years when the owner of that company announced that he was closing the doors that very same day. I, like everyone else at that company, suddenly found myself unemployed. At the time the company closed, I was in the middle of producing several projects which were suddenly at the risk of not being completed. I may have been out of a job, but the work wasn’t done. Letting those clients down was not an option for me. Those projects were going to get done, even if it meant not getting paid and even having to put my own money in to do so. So I scrambled to set up my own production company within a few days to be able to finish their projects with the help of a very talented producer from that same company that closed who agreed to join me at VISION. What started back then as a two-woman operation is now celebrating our 10-year anniversary. VISION has grown into a 10-person strong team of talented producers, editors, animators, creatives, and digital artists with long-term clients who trust us with their important projects time and time again.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

During the beginning stages of the Coronavirus pandemic, we were in the middle of producing many largescale attended live events for a variety of clients. Our clients, like many other businesses and organizations around the world, faced having to cancel or postpone their events that they really depend on. However, these companies still had a need to get their messages out and they still had a need to engage their customers. None of that went away with the pandemic.

The social distancing mandates due to the pandemic presented an opportunity for VISION to really showcase what we do best. We help companies engage their target audiences in innovative and effective ways. And at a time when face-to-face gatherings aren’t possible, we were able to quickly pivot to use our expertise in video and live event production in a new way, by creating immersive virtual events for organizations that may have otherwise been forced to cancel.

At VISION, we’re forging the path for companies and organizations to shift their thinking and reshape their in-person experiences into visual and sensory experiences that connect and resonate with their audiences through the power of visual media, similar to producing a broadcast television show production. I call it producing ‘business theatre’, which is really entertainment designed to achieve an organization’s goals and objectives in a different way. Virtual events can give brands much larger audiences, certainly larger than what can fit in a ballroom or convention center, as the reach potential of virtual audiences is phenomenal. That in itself is going to increase a brand’s ability to grow brand awareness, engage new customers, garner additional organizations’ support as well as increase visibility for sponsors.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Steve Jobs. Anything Steve Jobs. He was such a visionary with a true spirit of innovation. One thing he said that has stuck with me particularly in my own company is “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. I’ve always believed that you should hire smart, talented, like-minded people and let them do their thing. That is how innovation and great ideas happen.

Anthony Robbins. It may sound silly, but I think I’ve listened to every one of his audiobooks and really admire his simple yet strategic approach to success. His fundamental teachings to create a massive action plan and to really know your outcome before you start is how I created VISIONary thinking.

Executive Women. I’m blessed to know so many talented, smart, driven, amazing women leaders in my life who inspire me every day. Not only with the incredible things they are doing within their own companies and organizations, but in who they are, their character, how they carry themselves, their kindness, and leadership skills. I’m lucky to be surrounded by amazing women leaders that I’m also proud to call my friends. Their energy, support, wisdom, and advice is something I cherish.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Begin with the end in mind” — This is something that I’ve built my entire company on. VISIONary thinking and our ability to enable experiences and communities to live on is our superpower. The question I ask at the start of every project is “what’s the vision’? What does success look like? Knowing what you want to achieve paves the way to get there, and then, to exceed the goal. VISIONary thinking is so ingrained in the way we do things, the word itself is the inspiration behind our company’s name, VISION Production Group. Having a vision is the lifeblood of possibility and the fuel that drives us. Strategy drives creativity. Strategy drives everything.

Start with why” — Simon Sinek has it right. Starting with why you want to achieve something, or why you want an audience to feel a certain way, gives you the power of understanding and the ability to inspire others to achieve remarkable things because they understand the purpose and the reasons to achieve it. Understanding a company’s ‘why’ gives all leaders the ability to inspire others and weave together a clear vision of what collectively they are trying to achieve. Many organizations can explain what they do, and how they do it — but understanding why you do it is what people follow and are attracted to, it’s what drives success through a shared vision.

“In order to be a successful communicator, you have to listen more than you speak” — A person who is talking is giving away the information that they know. A person who is listening is receiving new information and learning. Who gets the best deal in that exchange? Listening is the key to successful communications. Always let your clients speak first….and then listen. At VISION, we don’t sell, we solve.

How are you going to shake things up next?

At VISION, we are always thinking forward and testing the boundaries of what is possible for our clients. Technology is constantly evolving and changing the way we tell brand stories. While we are fearless in pursuing innovative ways to connect our clients with their audiences, we don’t use technology for technology’s sake. Each of our projects starts off with understanding the vision and what success looks like. We then utilize creative and effective audience engagement strategies to reach these goals with presentation technology that helps get us there.

Right now, VISION is actively helping our clients produce engaging and successful virtual events. I predict that the demand for virtual events will continue long past the need for social distancing. Meeting and event planners are going to be much more selective in their decision making whether to put on an attended event or a virtual one. All aspects of live events are going to be reviewed, especially with regard to costs. Virtual events are cost-efficient as there are no venue rental fees, no food/beverage minimums, no need for décor, travel, valet parking, and so on. But even beyond the virtual event space, we’ve seen more and more clients adopting our immersive technologies service offerings like augmented and virtual reality. I foresee those types of experiences taking off even more.

New solutions, innovations, and immersive experiences are appearing at a rapid-fire pace, and VISION’s heartbeat contributes to the pulse of these changes as we continue to incorporate the latest innovations into our projects. Looking at the situation we’re in with COVID-19, all of these technologies will be even more valuable to clients. At VISION, we will continue to leverage all of these ways to communicate that are not based on attended group experiences. We will continue to help our clients make the right decisions and present them with innovative production options along with unique ways they can continue to communicate with and engage their audiences.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

As I mentioned earlier, “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek has really helped shape my thinking process for both client projects and with my own company. This is the basic principle of why we start every project with identifying the vision. The vision (reason) we are even doing what we’re doing for our clients sets the stage to make the best decisions moving forward for the project. This book, along with “Built to Last” by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras has really helped pave the way for success within my own company. At VISION, we regularly take time to do some big picture thinking to set big goals for ourselves as well as for the company. We call it “VISIONary Thinking.” I think it’s important to take time to step away from the day-to-day and set those reach-for-the-stars type of goals.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Outside of our work in production of live events, videos, and immersive experiences, VISION is also known for our love for animals. My sweet dog, Ivy, brings so much joy in my life and I know that happiness from pets is true for many people all over the world. So, if I could inspire a movement, it would have to be in animal welfare. It’s important to me that the world gives back that same happiness to animals that they bring to us. At VISION, we’ve always had a ‘bring your dog to work day any day’ policy. Our employees all share a love for animals and we consider all of our furry friends to be a part of our VISION family.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“There is no work-life balance, there’s just your life.” I don’t believe in a company culture where work feels so separate from your actual “life.” A great company culture is one where employees love coming to work, where they feel appreciated and respected, and where the creative level and positive energy of the environment is conducive to creativity and innovation. Because my VISION team is filled with extremely talented creatives, it has always been important to establish a work environment that is relaxing, stress-free, and full of positive, uplifting energy. Woven into our everyday work life are taco Tuesdays, creative viewing parties, birthday celebrations, team building activities, and Friday afternoon happy hours. We have a tradition of celebrating our successes with champagne and French fries. We allow our children, spouses, and pets to join us at the office anytime. Additionally, we’ve always allowed teleworking, so when the world transitioned to a stay-at-home life, our employees already knew how to remotely work as a team. Working remotely efficiently as a team is important, especially as employees are balancing working from home now with kids, family members, and the stress of the Coronavirus itself.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store