Interviews / Operations

Balancing the Grind with David De Cristofaro, Operations Specialist at AEG

David De Cristofaro is the Operations Specialist at sports and live entertainment company AEG, producing and promoting global and regional concert tours, music events and world-renowned festivals.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’ve spent the past five years working with the largest Artists, Tours, and Festivals in Music.

During that time, I met with members of Congress annually to discuss intellectual property as a member of The Recording Academy and served as an International speaker at Universities and Conferences on Live Event ecosystems, Tech and immersive fan experiences in Music and the Creative Economy.

I achieved National success during this time as an award-winning student earning a degree in Music Business & Tech and completing post-graduate studies with Berklee College of Music in Music Marketing and Media Economics.

Recently I’ve continued work with my hands-on study of the Live space, Marketing and creative fan experience in Artist Relations and as an assistant with acts like the Foo Fighters, the Jonas Brothers, Aerosmith and The Eagles, in Operations with AEG and in events like the Coachella, Firefly, Second Sky, Day N Vegas and Innings Music Festivals.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I set out to complete a project-per-day, along with a series of smaller tasks such as emails and scheduling calls, meetings and collaborations.

I try to keep my learning active by reading or watching a talk or tutorial a day, then also make it a point to get some exercise and rest in the evening. I spend a lot of time working on a computer, online and on devices so I try to scale down my digital activities to the most basic necessary amount and get outside for a run to ensure I’m not indoors all day.

In the morning I’ll warm my brain up then dive into my first call of the day, take some notes if appropriate, then work on articles I’ve been writing.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

For the time being my Event work has been on an understandable hiatus, so I’ve used this time to focus on writing, creative projects and innovative briefs for organizations and companies in Music with whom I have built a relationship.

The flexible schedule and remote work involved is something I grew accustomed to as a student during my degree program and post grad studies.

That work flow, keeping the practice of my devout research habits and work-ethic I developed, taking micro-breaks and using my free time to keep a work oriented lifestyle in pursuit of creative career goals and growth, is one I’ve had a familiar level of practice with over the past seven years.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I enjoy the advantages that having a routine allows for efficiency in planning and execution, although I treat it fluidly in that I believe having a plan is good, it is what allows you to be flexible when needed.

Work-life balance for me is finding the balance between doing the best quality of work possible in the time allotted. I love structure as a creative who lacked structure when I was younger, I see structure as something to learn and grow through as it presents opportunities to sharpen and develop skills.

You’re not bound by it, it’s optional, you have free will in how you manage it and make choices in response to it, how you operate in or out of it, these are things that directly determine your outcomes.

Some might see it as restrictive but I find it helpful in giving form to my creativity and work-life, helping me get my thoughts out and refining and scaling them down to their best and most well thought out form to share or present.

Even when you complete something you feel is of great quality, you might come back to it with fresh eyes and ears a day, few days or a week later and see how it can be improved. I prefer the structure of schedules and routines and the help they provide me with, so I’m adjusting to more open timeframes during this period to develop concepts or work by keeping the goals as the focus.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started/stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Absolutely, I’d just wrapped up a few months of Conferences between the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 and had long planned to use these early months of the new year to focus on pursing unfinished projects and career advancement.

When my event work went on hold, I took the opportunity to write up four categories (Creative Projects, Music, Tech, Live Events) on four different colored post-it notes. I stuck them on my wall and began writing down different projects and topics on post-it’s by category to add under each column.

I have been glad to have this window of opportunity available to devote work exclusively to them, this time is going to pass by and I want to look back on it and know that I was productive in using it resourcefully. It’s given me base-projects to research, work on and plan around daily calls, collaborations and consultations.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Danny Silk’s Keep Your Love On is one I’d recommend, his Loving On Purpose resources helped to change my life’s course and gave me the tools I needed to mature and take the necessary steps forward in growing into someone who could pursue my dreams and callings in life.

Bob Goff has a new book out that I have been fortunate to gain a preview of as part of the launch, Dream Big. I’m a very big proponent of dreaming big, mapping all your dreams and callings in life out and having a practical plan of action to pursue those dreams. Bob is a great person, I got hooked in by his book Love Does and would certainly recommend both (I also really enjoy Seth Godin’s newsletter.)

Admittedly I’ve spent more time writing and working than reading during this timeframe thus far, though I did use part of the stimulus we received in the US to buy a number of book resources I’ve had saved on my Amazon wish-list, and I am looking forward to diving into those.

It’s important to have a strong moral compass, to feed your growth, and to be willing to mature and adapt in ways that do not compromise your core values. So while I could recommend any one of a number of books, one of the best recommendations I could make would be to invest in resources that grow you in the direction of your dreams, both personally and professionally.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

No, there are ones we live with as an integrated part of our day-to-day lives, but I’m happiest spending time with people, having meaningful conversations and enjoying big beautiful views in nature and the peace and quiet that comes with it. I can’t live without relationship and connection.

Those are more the types of things I can’t live without. I do really enjoy technology, it’s been a major focal point of my studies and work, and its role in enhancing and streamlining communication, workflow and the new consumer hybrid economy between digital and physical commerce in which consumers can also be producers cannot be overstated.

My favorite platforms are Instagram and LinkedIn, I use and iPhone and Macbook for most of my work, I enjoy making playlists on Spotify and adding to watch-lists on streaming platforms for when I have some downtime to watch something. I’ve actually found I’m spending less time on Apps, platforms or devices lately due partially to digital fatigue.

I’ve spent a lot of time working the past seven years, and I value real life engagement and connection more anyhow, so I’ve cared less about notifications or things like that.

There’s been too many anyhow now that so many people are doing live streams, the digital space has been overcrowded for years since it became a more open and participatory media ecosystem where anyone can be a content creator with global networks and distribution platforms via social media.

It’s gotten a bit noisy with the most people online in history, but the data from this timeframe will be incredibly valuable to economic recovery periods.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Jesus. Something that often goes overlooked in the Bible is God’s attention to detail. He gave people vision for things but also metrics and units of measure, provided symbolism and useful insights for life navigation and task prioritizing from all types of things from agriculture and people group migrations.

Jesus was an embodiment of that who had an incredible practice of healthy focus, prioritization and boundaries that allowed him rest and quality relational times with different size gatherings of relationships along with high-functioning service to very large groups of people.

In many ways we already have those interviews in scriptures, though I’d gladly read more. Someone who I’ve also been interested lately to learn more from vocationally as to work life and productivity would be Thomas Edison, he had an amazing gift for creativity and rate of culture-impacting productivity in his work.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

While it’s important to be true to yourself it’s equally important to be true with yourself, it’s the balance of those too things that can give you the long term vision to set a course in the direction of while having the humility to learn and grow forward, onward and upward in that direction.

Doing your best can build a momentum in the direction of your goals and dreams as well as awareness and objectivity as needed to in order to sustain it. That all begins with taking honest inventory of anything standing between you and where you want to go.

Cycles, patterns, perspectives, attitudes and anything else stifling your growth, keeping you in a holding pattern or stuck living out the same year over and over again.

It’s important to remember that passion alone does not equal progress, and to practice being a good listener and learner, that will serve you well throughout your process- Learn from successes and failures be it your own or others past and present.

Be willing to grow, and willing to sacrifice to do so, and be willing to stay anchored in family and relational foundations. Don’t lose sight of the people and things that truly matter in life, holding onto them will help keep you grounded during times of transition.

Remember that doing things based on the way they’ve been done previously will yield similar results. You must be willing to do things differently if you wish to see different results. Renowned Event Marketing author Leonard H. Hoyle said as much in one of my favorite quotes from his text: “Reject the notion that things should always be done as they have been done before.”

As human beings, we often rely too much solely on our own standards of experience which creates very siloed or narrow and perspective that is restrictive to our own creativity or progress. Focus on what you can control, not on things you cannot, letting your passion translate into action this way will help scale down focus away from things we have no daily control over or influence on and instead invest it into more meaningful things in life!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.