That's a Red Flag: Building and Managing Trust in Relationships.

Season 4, Episode 6

Featured guest: Connie Cay-Santos, Senior Director of Growth & Engagement, Quest Audio Visual

What defines trust? Connie Cay-Santos, senior director of growth and engagement at Quest Audio Visual, shares her perspective on identifying red flags, managing trust and building meaningful relationships in this Dare to Interrupt podcast.



Podcast sponsored by Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Myrtle Beach Convention Center

Listen to more Dare to Interrupt podcasts:

Photo of Connie Cay-Santos.Meet our guest:

Connie Cay-Santos is a seasoned professional with over two decades of management experience across various sectors, including corporate, associations and tech start-up entrepreneurship. She is a master of cultivating strategic partnerships, utilizing a human-centric approach to foster trust and drive operational excellence. Connie is also adept at crafting creative experience solutions.

Connie's accomplishments have earned her a place on Courtney Stanley's prestigious 2023 #WomenToWatch list and Bizzabo's Top 55 Event Experience Leaders for 2022. Additionally, her outstanding contributions were honored in 2022 when she received the Future Leader of the Year award from the MPI Toronto Chapter.

When undertaking projects with clients or leading a team, Connie prioritizes the "Be Human first" principle, emphasizing mindfulness and empathy. Her remarkable emotional agility enables her to deeply understand the motivational drivers of stakeholders, fueling her strategic approach. Connie's mentoring, empowerment and inspirational abilities have consistently yielded successful outcomes, solidifying her track record of achievement.

Connie's social media links:
Instagram: @Connie.Caysantos

More about our host:Photo of Courtney Stanley, standing.

Courtney believes that transforming past experiences into impactful conversations through raw, authentic storytelling challenges the status quo, connects people from all walks of life and results in great change for the world.

  • Courtney is the youngest member to have ever been elected to Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) International Board of Directors
  • She is the recipient of Smart Meetings’ Entrepreneur Award, MeetingsNet’s Changemaker Award, the Association for Women in Events (AWE) Disruptor Award, the MPI Chairman’s Award and MPI RISE Award.
  • Named Collaborate and Connect Magazine’s 40 under 40 and a Meetings Today Trendsetter.
  • Recognized as one of the event industry’s most impactful change-makers.
  • Serves on the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force, AWE’s Board of Directors, MPI’s Women’s Advisory Board, is a Meetings Mean Business Ambassador and is the co-founder of the award-winning movement, #MeetingsToo.
  • Named as a 2020 Meetings Trendsetter by Meetings Today

Connect with Courtney:


Editors note: The following transcription was facilitated by AI program and proofed by our editors. Although it is very accurate, there inevitably will be some mistakes, so please consider that when reading. Thank you.

Courtney Stanley  
This podcast is brought to you by Myrtle Beach Convention Center. 
Hello everybody. This is Courtney Stanley, and welcome to another exciting episode of Dare to Interrupt, a listening experience where you have the opportunity to sit in on honest, unfiltered conversations with leaders who are considered to be the most influential, inspiring and innovative leaders in the world of events, hospitality, business and beyond.

Throughout their careers, these leaders have dared to interrupt conversations, their own comfort zones, and sometimes even societal norms to hustle toward their greatest levels of success. 
I am so excited to introduce you to today's guest. Here with us we have Connie Cay-Santos, senior director of growth and engagement at Quest Audio Visual. Connie, it's so great to have you here with us today. What is the most exciting thing going on in your world these days?

Connie Cay-Santos  
Well, Courtney, thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure knowing you and being on this podcast. And I would say the most exciting thing as a career highlight was the recent announcement of my promotion at Quest Audio Visual, so being the senior director of Quest of growth and engagement is extremely exciting to me. 
And one thing that I would share as well as, technically, this title should be sales and marketing. But when we change our mindset and be really innovative of how we want to present ourselves, I was able to share with Al and with Rob--great guys--please, not this title, because we can do so much more than this. So, we had this great conversation about positioning and titling and branding.

So, senior director of growth and engagement, that's the brand-new title. And I'm super excited to lead the sales team at Quest as well as the engagement strategies that we continuously evolve in with regards to how we brand ourselves and communicate with our clients.

Courtney Stanley  
Well, I love the title. Kudos to you for getting creative, and also choosing something and asking and advocating for something that you think delivers more value to the experience that your customers and that your team have with you. And congratulations on the promotion. And that's super exciting. 

I know you whispered in my ear a couple of weeks ago that this would be coming. And the announcement that you made on social media was super, super exciting, too, so Quest is lucky to have you. And I'm excited to see what you can do in the role. 

What are you most excited for in the role and tell us a little bit more about what you're going to be responsible for.

Connie Cay-Santos  
I'll start with what I'll be responsible for. So, I think in the last nine months that I've joined Quest as just a director of engagement strategy, it was about branding. It was about repositioning and helping the audiovisual company, likewise, to really have a voice. 

Often, they're behind the scenes, not really having that bravery or that confidence to share what they do. So, having the opportunity to step in and recreate the whole marketing campaign and strategy and voice was amazing. 

And now stepping into this role. I think the most exciting thing now is not just engagement from marketing and awareness in terms of branding, it's now also helping our sales executive team have better conversations with our clients--really deeper...dig deeper to say we are your audiovisual partners, how do we connect with each other? How do we get in front of all of these, you know, surprises—like, there was a podcast talking about how expensive AV is, but there is a cost to service, there is a cost for quality. But we can avoid those by avoiding surprises. 

So, the biggest encouragement that we have for a sales team is like, 'Hey, let's make sure our clients are coming to us early. We can plan ahead and really be creative and innovative with what we use and how we deliver. So, I'm super excited with this new opportunity to lead the team with those better conversations.

Courtney Stanley  
I love that you talk about how brand and brand building and development was such a big part of your role. And I have to say, over this past year that we've been getting to know each other we're now friends--fast friends, and really good friends. 

For those of you who haven't met Cody, definitely take the time to do so whether it's virtual or you're at an industry conference, because she is wonderfully genuine and authentic, and just a great person to get to know. 
And so, when I think of you, I do think of branding. And I'm sure that that's intentional, because you've done such great work promoting the things and the values and the projects and the people that you care about. And one of those opportunities to build something special was this Circle of Trust that you developed. 

Can you explain a little bit more about how you came up with this? And if it's evolved into something different today?

Connie Cay-Santos  
For sure. So, for the Circle of Trust, I did this last year when I was trying to restart who I was. And during transitions, often you kind of look around you and you wonder, who can I tap into? Who can I trust and who can support me in my time of change, in my time of need and support, and I really reflected on the amazing people that I trusted. 

And often, especially in the sales environment, it's transactional; people are connecting with you because there's some type of a gain, and those types of gains that are transactional or not, honestly, genuine at all. It's a one-time thing. And maybe sometimes it might be secondary. 

But for me, Circle of Trust was an opportunity for me to highlight the amazing people that I've surrounded myself with that I trust and that have supported me. Now, I have stopped using the Circle of Trust from a marketing perspective, because there were situations where I thought I trusted someone and it wasn't what I wanted. And I really took a step back from that opportunity to say, “Hey, how do I make sure I still protect myself, still protect those people that I trust and adore and want to support but not make it so much of a marketing or a gimmick, because it's not a gimmick, it's really for me; it's those relationships I adore, and I want to highlight and spotlight and support them?”

So, I've changed it this year to be my legacy pin. So, not sure if you can see that, but you'll probably see it in my marketing and my social accounts. I've created a legacy pin, that's [unintelligible], and it has a couple of different Roman numeral numbers. One is 1978. It was the year that I was born. 

So, I was given life, an opportunity to really find my... live joyfully. And I think at the end of the day, the legacy pin, if you think about legacy is it's about the stories. It's about the people that we've touched. It's about the journeys that we've had and what people will remember and tell about you. 

So, my legacy pin is a new way for me to privately share with some individuals that I truly admire, support and adore, and want them one day, when the time comes, for them to help share my story. 

So, I'm starting to give one or two of these away as I build and really trust those individuals. And the invitation as a next step is for them to record a video. And this recording will be private as well, and it's going to be stored for my children. My children one day will actually hear all of these wonderful stories, or messages from the people that have my legacy pins; tell them, "Your mommy was amazing. She was able to connect with me. She was genuine. She was kind and she did this. 

So, in many ways, my legacy pin is a way to collect and curate the stories of my life and my journey

Courtney Stanley  
That is so fascinating. And just to give the audience a little bit of clarity and context, so, the Circle of Trust that Connie developed really was an opportunity to shine a light on other people that Connie had built relationships with, that she felt were people that were deserving of a shout out or related, like, genuine shout out. 

And so you put together some marketing materials, you would do a post on social media highlighting these people that you had built these relationships with. And I believe you had a website to write where you would list out, you know, the bios and showcase photos of these people who were in the Circle of Trust, really in an effort to support them. And I thought that that was so beautiful and so meaningful. 

But hearing where you've taken this and made it more of an intimate experience, where you're building a personal one-on-one relationship, sharing something with them, that then becomes part of your story, and really the legacy that you would like to leave behind in a way that's meaningful and connected to those people that you really do trust in and appreciate and admire. I think that that is an amazing approach. 

So, I just think it's cool. I think it's very cool. I can also see Connie's pin on camera right now, and it's beautiful. So, I just imagine that we will eventually live in a world where I will be at conferences and somebody is going to be wearing that pin. And I'm going to know what it means. And I just think that that's so special and so meaningful. 

Something that you said, as part of your reasoning for transitioning from the Circle of Trust into this new era of legacy, is that you felt that maybe some of the people that you had selected to be those trusted people that you wanted to promote and support did not necessarily have that same level of trust after a certain amount of time. Maybe that trust was broken. 

For you, I mean, what is trust? What does that look like for you? And how do you think we build trust with people?

Connie Cay-Santos  
That's a really great question. And I think that's often a question that is questionable, even though you think you have the right way of measuring trust, it may evolve. 

And for me, I think trust is when you have a relationship... that if you need help, you can reach out to that person and that person will help you the best they can. And sometimes, it may not be, and it's okay to say, "No, I'm so sorry that you're in this situation, but I'm not the right person to help you. But how can I connect you with someone else?" 

So, I think trust is really making sure that we can do our best in our capabilities of providing that effort of support. Or maybe it's that connection. And I think connection at the same time is also with trust, because who we connect others with has a lot to say, though our integrity and our relationships with others, as well. And to be able to extend that relationship where you're connecting someone else with another friend that you trust--that's power. 

So, I may not have the resources at this time for what you're asking me for, but I'll connect you with someone else I can, that may be able to [give] support. So, trust is really about being able to help someone in a time of need. 
I think it's also really important to say that trust should not come with expected expectations, I often feel like sometimes there are expectations that are out there that are beyond what a relationship, a normal relationship, should have. And in those cases, and there's extra pressure of "wait a minute, I thought we're just friends, now you want me to do this and this? Where is this all coming from?" 

And I think it's not about mutual benefits. It was, and I don't want this to be transactional in terms of trust, but it should be very free flowing. It should be natural and organic, and we should be able to be ourselves without expectations that doesn't deliver value for anyone.

Courtney Stanley  
I think it's so difficult when people do let you down, especially, you know, if you feel from the beginning that you are establishing a really positive, healthy relationship and that was mutually valuable, because that is important. And so, it is difficult when people behave in certain ways or show up in certain ways that surprise us and disappoint us. 

So, it's not a surprise and a delight, but it's a "Oh, wow, that is not what I expected based on the foundation that we've built." 

So, when that's happened to you in the past, when some of these relationships maybe haven't gone the way that you would have hoped or anticipated, how do you handle that?

Connie Cay-Santos  
It's, you know, the disappointment. Unfortunately, it's on our individual, but it's also on myself to say how did I let this happen? This should not be happening. So, I think identifying, realizing and accepting that you've misjudged someone or relationship is one, you have to recognize it. 

And the second point, once you recognize it, you need to stop it, especially if it makes you uncomfortable and it creates an unhealthy environment for you. 

So, being able to communicate honestly, but also firmly, to say, please stop whatever this is that you're expecting, It's like level-setting, the expectation is what needs to happen, basically. And if relationship can still be carried on removing some of those unfound expectations, then great, there's a friendship that can still be nurtured. If it can't, then you have to be brave enough to walk away and say, "Thank you, I wish you well, but I need to move on. And you're not part of my journey anymore." And that's it.

Courtney Stanley  
What a difficult conversation to have. I don't know about you, but I have had to really intentionally work on my confrontation skills. And it's that as a part of communication--you know, I would say in some ways, I'm an excellent communicator. And in other ways I really struggle. 

And one of those areas of communication that I've had to really work on is confrontation. I think it's those moments where you have to hold someone accountable, and also outline and hold true to boundaries that you're setting for yourself, that can be very, very difficult for people. 

Is that something that you feel like has come naturally for you, or that's something that you've had to work on?

Connie Cay-Santos  
It's definitely something I had to work on. And I'll share a bit of a personal story as well. In high school I was dating someone who had manic depression, and you know, at that time, it was a five-year relationship. I thought I loved him, and there were so many things that were triggers that I should have known, but there's that, you know, "I want to care, I want to support and I want to love." 

But when I had a moment, or a year, actually, when he went back to Hong Kong to get better, I had a year all by myself to realize like, my life is so different if this was not here, if I didn't have to take care of this person and I did not have to take all these guilt trips or manage all of these, you know, ups and downs so drastically. 

So, for me, I think it was a learning moment that hey, I can do things without this relationship. I couldn't be stronger, healthier and better. So, why am I not giving that to myself? 

So, I think learning that, in my younger years, really empowered me to understand that relationships--it's not about high expectations and pressures or guilt trips, I do not accept those. And as soon as I have those trigger points where you're reminding me of some situations that I was stuck in for a very long time, I have to stop myself. And I'm like, "Oh, stop, please, let's pause for a second, let's evaluate." 

So, it was definitely a learning moment for me, I think, to realize what has gone through in my past and how I continue to evolve to make sure that I create a safe environment for any relationship I'm in whether it's with a friend, with my children or with clients or partners, I think it needs to be mutually safe. 

And this is how you build trust. This is how you build partnerships and long-term opportunities for each other.

Courtney Stanley  
Let's talk about these trigger points. And I, for my trendy listeners out there, I'm going to call them red flags. 
So, if you've seen people use the red flag emoji on social media, if it's like, oh, red flag, like, watch out for that. So, let's talk about some of those. 

What are some key indicators that there is a red flag in a relationship where whether it's a friendship business personal, where you're beginning to get to know that person, and you're starting to identify some of those questionable things? What are some of those red flags that you identify?

Connie Cay-Santos  
I think the number one red flag is being consistently asked to do something where the expectations are like, "Oh, you want me to do this, this and this, but I'm not asking you to do this for me. If you're doing something for me, and you're doing it not Because I asked you, why are you making now an expectation for me to do it?" 

So, I think it goes back to level-setting expectations. What do you expect from me? What do you expect here for you? But I think when it's uncalled for, then it's like, okay, not really, I don't think so. I can't do this. Sorry. 

And then I think the other red flag is, I think naturally, sometimes we highly respect a lot of people who receive a lot of awards. And for me, awards are about being recognized and being nominated by people who truly believe you deserve it. And when you're being asked to nominate someone, and it's all because you think that person is awesome, no problem, happy to because there's a lot of things out there, platforms out there, that allow you to do that.

But when it comes to a situation where it's like, wait a minute, you don't even like these people, and you want me to nominate you for this, then that's the biggest red flag for me. I think it's to be put in a situation to uplift someone that doesn't deserve it yet.

Connie Cay-Santos  
Maybe they do in the future. And then you'll help them get them there, when it comes to the right time and opportunity. But when it's uncalled for, that's a red flag for me, too.

Courtney Stanley  
Yeah, and for me, what it sounds like you're describing is a level of self-service, where it's that person asking for things for their own benefit over and over and over again, where maybe the other person is not asking for anything at all. 
Or it's asking to be promoted and nominated for things when they may not actually truly believe in the group that is hosting an awards program, or it's more a self-serving moment than it is in alignment of values. 

And for me, I think two of the biggest red flags would be...well, actually that second one that you brought up, it aligns with one of mine, which is an inconsistency between how somebody shows up around certain people, whether that's, you know, online or it's on stage, or whatever, and how that person shows up one-on-one in conversations. 

For me, that is one of the biggest trigger points, because if there's such a great inconsistency in how this person is treating people, how they're talking to people, that for me lacks integrity. And so that's a big one for me, and I would say second to that would be gossip. I am not a fan. And listen, I love my trash TV live reality shows like I love the Tea. I love the drama. 

However, you're not going to find me speaking poorly about other people. And that is a very important value to me. And if--and this happens all the time, you know whether it's in passing, whether it's an actual intentional conversation--to talk smack about somebody. If somebody is speaking ill of others, that is a huge no-no to me. 

That to me tells me a lot about their character or potentially insecurities, and I immediately find myself distancing myself from that person because it just does not align with my values.

So, for me the inconsistency of authenticity and the gossip, those are two of the big no-noes.

Connie Cay-Santos  
Yeah, I 100% agree with you. And I think sometimes the gossip for that individual may be their truth. And I think for them to have that perspective and share it. 

So, kind of like to cite it in some ways, like they're hugging you in public, they're so friendly with you in public. And then as soon as there's a private moment, will turn around and say something else about that individual. And it's like, completely opposite. 

Connie Cay-Santos  
Like, you just hug that person and said "They're amazing." Now you turn around and tell me that they're horrible. They're not great. They're, they're not going to be accomplishing anything. It's like your mind is blown. I'm like, wait a minute, I still respect you, because you're seen as a mentor, or you're seen as someone that is so credible, and you're supposed to help someone when they have opportunities that could be coached and guided, not the opposite of throwing them under the bus and talking negatively about them. 

This is not the environment we need to be in or should be in. I think we have a huge opportunity to continue to change because there's not just one or two individuals, there's still a lot of people out there, unfortunately, that have that type of behavior still, too. Mm hmm.

Courtney Stanley  
So how do you build trust? I mean, what does that look like if we're looking at the other side of the coin? How do you establish trust in your relationships?

Connie Cay-Santos  
I think for me, it's being available and being responsive. So, if someone reaches out to says, "Connie, I just lost my job. Can you help me?" You know what, I don't know what you need right now. But.... let's listen. 

I think the most important thing about trust is being able to be available and to listen to what the potential opportunities that you can help them with. That's huge for me, and then being able to follow follow-through with your words and your commitments. If I said, I'm going to introduce you to someone to help you, I'm going to make sure I do that. If I said, I'm going to post a... I often do this as well. I'm going to put on social media as like, "Hey, this person is available. She's amazing." And because I know and believe you're amazing. I'll do that to help you. 

So, I think trust is follow-through, like, be available, listen, understand what the opportunity is that you can step in and have permission to help, because often some people offer help that's not needed or asked for. 

So, asking for permission to support is important, too. And being able to actually follow through on what your support commitments are. That's important.

Courtney Stanley  
Mm hmm. Yeah. And it's unsurprising, but interesting, that you are talking about service. You're talking about servanthood, and support and servant leadership, which is the opposite of self-service, which is that breakage of trust or lack of trust. And I completely agree, and I would say for me, it's building trust, is really being consistent. It's showing up as who you are over and over again, authentically and consistently. And you know, for me, that's that servant leadership is very much a part of what I believe is important and also important to my legacy. 

I would love to be remembered as somebody who truly does support consistently and genuinely those around me. So, I think we're very aligned in what we're saying. And it's unsurprising that how to build trust is the opposite of how to break trust. Makes sense to me. I want to talk a little bit about your career journey. 
So, before joining Quest, where were you? What does your career history look like?

Connie Cay-Santos  
Oh, where do I start? This is a hard one, because it could be really long, it could be really short, but I'll do a really high level to stay I had 14 years with Hudson's Bay Company, an amazing company that I literally felt like I grew up in, was able to be in their future executive training programs, so hands-on experience. I think it's huge in terms of the vast skill sets that I've learned from analytical, strategic, but also engagement and how do you support a community, all from Hudson's Bay. 

But I got to a point where Connie wants to do something different, wants to take more control. So, I left in 2019, started my own business as K Seven, had a couple new clients. And unfortunately, that was just around the corner of COVID. So, had to pivot, had to change, and I still had a lot of expenses--a home, a mortgage and kids. 

So, I was able to volunteer at MPI, as well as with Tourism Burnaby's Burnaby Connect community that we built. And I think through those opportunities of volunteering, I was able to gain exposure with more people, more connections. And I quickly joined Nextech AR Solutions as their VP of special projects. From there was one-year, rapid, rapid growth and fast in and out. And then I decided from that experience that I really needed to refocus on what it was that Connie wanted and needed. And luckily, I found [unintelligible] who just started a startup company and I loved what he was doing. It was light, it was engaging, and it was playful. And it added a lot of value that enhanced experiences if we knew how to properly integrate it into event design. 

Unfortunately, it was a time where not a lot of people had time, everyone was really stressed, really time-starved, and stretched to the max. So, unfortunately, the business was not as fruitful as we needed it to be. So, I had to step down. And as soon as I stepped down, I whispered to a couple of my Circle of Trust friends. And that's how I got into the wind of Quest Audio Visual. 

So, I think if anything, just saying the journey is, I would always need to take a step back to find out who I am. What am I looking for as my next step? And then does it make sense, whatever the opportunities are? And I've been very lucky that there were multiple options out there. But finding your next career journey really has to not be the next steppingstone, but what can you always have value to add. 

I shouldn't share this, but my password has something-slash-for-life. So, wherever I go next, it's always whatever that password is, for life. Because I think for life, it's like a constant reminder: When you log in, you're committed to do this with your excellence, with your best ability, and you want to do well for the company that you choose to be part of, right? 

So, when we did that core values exercise, like what's your favorite song? What's your favorite music? What does that all mean? I'm like, everything is awesome. Because I love working in the team. I love being collaborative. My favorite movie was the Sound of Music, because Maria, she found her chosen family. 

And so, if you think about careers and core values and what you want in your life, you choose your family, and you can hope that this family is the one that fits you, you can contribute, you can grow together. And I found that with Quest.

Courtney Stanley  
And for the audience, what Connie is referring to is an exercise that I run in some of my keynotes and workshops to help identify what your core value or your core belief is. 

So, we go through a couple of different exercises, identifying your favorite song, movie, there's a couple other things, too. And what's interesting about this exercise, and you have to book me to bring it to your audience--I think that is literally the only promotional plug I've ever done on this podcast. But it's a cool exercise. 

So, I definitely think that it's worth exploring for sure. But what's really, I think meaningful about this exercise is that we don't just identify your core belief, your core value, but we also tie it back to the life experiences that you have had as an individual, and how that influences your behavior today. What drives you? What are you afraid of? What has caused you distress, stress or pain that now maybe could be turned into something where you're passionate about certain things because of the experience you've had. 

So, it's a very cool exercise. And I love that you also talked about commitment, and how when you walk in the door and you signed the contract, and you say, "This is my home," you're really saying, "This is my home, and I'm fully committed to this work experience in this work family." I think that that is beautiful. And I think that that is something that in our industry specifically is very special, because we are a transient industry. We're hopping, you know, from company to company, we're trying new things. We've had some of the same coworkers at different places, because we're always wanting to grow. And we're great at connecting and networking with other companies and people. 
But I love that no matter what door is opened or what door you decide to step into that you remain committed and present with that particular company.

Connie Cay-Santos  
Yeah, I think 100%. And I think it's an interesting topic to really, if we want to dive into it, is like commitment is so important. But often a lot of event professionals, they also have their side hustles, right? They're trying to figure out, I want to and I did this as well with K Seven. I'm like, I want to own my business. I want to choose which events I work on or what clients I work on. And it's like me, me, me. But to be honest with you, the me also ends up to be multiple events, multiple clients and that relationship, those energies to foster and build your own business. 

That's a lot of work. It is a lot of work you're trying to build like, as an individual trying to build everything around you is tough, but if you can find a company that already has all of the foundation setup and the cultures, right? The team members are right. I'm like, What's the difference? And people challenge me and I encourage you to, but for me the big question I had in my mind is like, what's the big difference between me on my own with my own company and my own decision versus joining a company that I can still have the same great values, less hustling in terms of me having to define myself so much, but really focus. 

So, when I say there is this, you know, "blank for life," it's like, I'm committed, I'm here, I'm present, you don't have to worry about me trying to chase something else. And maybe I will still have some clients that do this and that, but there's total transparency of what that relationship is as well, and how we go about it. 

So, different topic altogether--I think could be different podcast altogether--but it's important for us to whatever we commit to whether it's a client or a project or a long-term position, we have to make sure it goes back to that trust. How can we trust Connie to be in the role that she's going to have this big accountability to lead. Don't have that trust, we can't give her that role. Because she's going to be out in two or three weeks or months. And everything that she started to build, maybe had some traction, will be lost. 

And we know for a fact that a lot of new employees took over six months to onboard engage and really, truly immerse themselves into a role. I've already invested nine months as a contractor, now I'm a full-time committed to do what I'm doing and I love.

Courtney Stanley  
I do feel like this could be a whole other conversation about entrepreneurship and side hustling, and I'm looking at the time and like, "Do we have time to get into this?" 

There are so many people who I provide one-on-one coaching, and a lot of the coaching that I provide is for people who are in our industry in the event space, who are interested in starting their own business or starting a side hustle or turning their side hustle into something full time, which is my story. I started out working full time. I worked full time for a variety of companies for about a decade. And throughout that decade, I side hustled pretty much from day one. And it just grew and grew and grew and expanded and evolved into something that felt worthy of pursuit. And there were so many lessons that I learned, especially in the first year or even the first six months, which was 2020, January. 

So, it was a really great opportunity to learn, for sure. But there were so many different things that I learned. And I don't encourage everybody to be an entrepreneur. If people are having a candid conversation with me and I'm asking them, "Why do you want to start your own business?" Or, "Why do you want to go full time on your own?" Listen, I'm a huge advocate for it, because what I'm doing is what I love. And as of today, I wouldn't change it. 

But there are very real pros and cons that come with owning a business and running a business full time, specifically as a solopreneur where you really are responsible for every task under the sun that a full company would also be executing with an entire team of people. 

So, we don't have to get too much into the conversation. But I loved that you touched on it. Because I think that that's a unique story, to have worked for people then gone off on your own and then decided, "Hey, I found the right fit that meets my needs and went back to working for a really awesome employer full time."

Connie Cay-Santos  
For sure, I think it's a journey as well, right? So, I know we're running out of time, but there's just so much to add. And when you find a company and a team and leadership that supports your success, as much as I think often for jobs or careers or companies, it's a job title. And there's a list of things that you have to do. If we can look beyond that and really add value and feel that we can contribute in meaningful ways. 

And there's that professional and personal growth. You've unlocked a key to open a door that is more amazing than you could probably imagine. And I think often we forget that when we're just trying to hustle, hustle, hustle to not know exactly why, so I'm really happy, to hear that you hold on to the big why before someone jumps out, because if you don't understand that why, you're not going to be able to stand as long as you might think you can as a solo entrepreneur. It takes a lot of integrity and grit to be who you are.

Courtney Stanley  
Grit. Grit for sure. Blood, sweat and tears. And I think you know it's easy to lose the why along the way, and for me personally, I think I this year I've really revisited my why and done work with coaches to make sure that that purpose is really centric to all of the work that I do. 

And also, just my own mindset, because it is a grind. And there's always you know, a higher level to reach and a greater goal to aim for. And that type of ambitious energy is really valuable. And it's also confusing, and can lead to a lack of clarity around why you're actually doing ,while you're walking on this path, why you chose this journey in the first place. 

So, audience, we're gonna table this conversation for now. But if you are interested in doing a deeper dive into what it takes to become an entrepreneur in the industry, let us know--post on social, tag me tag Meetings Today, tag Connie. And we can dig in and do a part two, or some version of this conversation to really dig in more. 

Connie, I would love to ask you one final question. Before we wrap up. We've talked about so many incredible things today. And I really appreciate our open conversation around trust and what that looks like. If you could leave our audience with one final piece of advice for them to ruminate on, what would you like to say?

Connie Cay-Santos  
We talked about so many things that I think I'm going to change, actually. I'm going to keep this original last thought is... Raise your hand. I think for me, I've often raised my hand to myself to say, "Connie, stop. Pause for a second. What are you doing, asking that constant why reevaluating? Are we on the right path?" 

That's really important, but also raising our hand to say if there's an opportunity that excites you, that makes you full of joy in your heart, that might be the right one. 

So, raise your hands to have an opportunity to be considered for those rules as well. But raising your hand is just really the act of knowing that there is something that you want out there and get it. 
Raise your hand and get it.

Courtney Stanley  
Raise your hand and get it. I love that. Connie, thank you so much for being here with me today and for sharing all of your insight and your wisdom with our audience. And of course, audience, thank you all for listening. 

Please share what you learned from this episode with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following @Meetings Today and @CourtneyonStage, and be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing to Dare to Interrupt on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google podcasts and more. 

Be bold, build trust and keep Daring to Interrupt my friends. Until next time.

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About the author
Courtney Stanley

Courtney is a keynote speaker, writer, podcaster and career success coach with a background in experience design, community engagement and leadership development. Courtney is the host of Meetings Today’s “Dare to Interrupt,” a podcast that provides a platform for the event, hospitality and tourism industry’s most influential and successful women to share their stories of adversity and success, unfiltered.