Tracy Judge – Soundings

Tracy Judge

Founder and CEO, Soundings

San Diego, Calif.

Describe your job.

I am the founder and CEO of Soundings, an innovative talent platform connecting event and marketing professionals with companies that are in search of the most relevant talent for their organization, either freelance or full-time, in the event, hospitality, and nonprofit industries.

What made you choose the meetings and events industry?

I studied hospitality and tourism management in college and learned about the meetings industry. I was drawn to it because I love to travel and I enjoy working in an environment where every day is different.

How did you get started and what got you from there to today?

I started as a travel director for Maritz Global Events. After holding many operations roles with the company, I joined another firm in a sales and account management role and was promoted to lead their meetings and incentives division. During that time, I also was in graduate school at San Diego State University, and I became interested in the freelance economy. I saw an opportunity to make freelancing a career path for event professionals, so I resigned from my role and founded my own company, Soundings.

How do you keep up with industry trends, changes, and cutting-edge developments?

I am fortunate to have a strong network of professionals from different areas of the industry, and we communicate regularly to share our insights and perspectives. I also attend industry events in the United States, as well as internationally to get a global perspective of what is happening in the industry. This is more important than ever given how fast the industry is changing.

What essential skills should every industry professional possess?

I believe diversity is imperative in the events industry. By this, I mean diversity of thought, strengths, and skill sets. Essential skills should align with the role and what is needed on individual teams. I do not believe every industry professional needs to possess the same skills; however, in the last few years, I believe the essential skills for survival have become resilience, adaptability, creativity, willingness to learn, decision-making, and effective communication.

What is the philosophy or approach to work that gets you through stressful times?

My approach to dealing with stressful times is to listen to my body. The World Health Organization defines stress as “any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain.” Being in tune with the nervous system can help us identify what is triggering stress. Once we know the trigger, we can focus on the why. Sometimes, this is obvious, but often the why is not directly related to the what. The why can be related to past experiences or traumas that still feel threatening to your nervous system. By separating yourself from the stressor, you can see the actual problems more clearly while simultaneously working on your own self-development and growth. Other than that, I like to say, I give it all I’ve got, then I trust the universe!

What is the best professional advice you ever received, and what advice do you have for others in the industry?

The best advice I received was to get involved in industry groups and associations. Industry involvement changed the trajectory of my career. David Peckinpaugh, president and CEO of Maritz Holdings and president of Maritz Global Events, encouraged me to engage with PCMA and championed me within the organization. Since then, I have been actively involved in many industry associations. These experiences have provided me with diverse industry perspectives, education, and the network to give me the knowledge, confidence, and support to start my own business.

I give that same advice to others in the industry and remind them that “authenticity sells.” We often feel like we must act the part in the role or position we are in. The truth is that people appreciate authenticity. By being yourself, you will attract the people you want to be surrounded by and create a career that is authentic to you.

Describe your biggest professional success.

After only being in business for two years, my company made it through a pandemic in an industry that was decimated, while growing our revenue by four times.

Share an anecdote about a meeting or event that did not go as planned and how you handled it.

At one event at a Mexican resort, we had an event palapa, a traditional shelter with a palm-leaf roof. During the final night’s awards dinner, the group’s fireworks display lit the palapa on fire. Luckily, we had a lot of onsite travel staff who helped calm the guests and get them to safety. The hotel also did a fantastic job mitigating the situation. The funny part was, before it happened, I kept telling my team I was nervous about how close the fireworks were to us; they all laughed and told me I was crazy!

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is making synergistic connections with companies and talent, both for freelance and full-time roles. There is nothing better than making the perfect match that both the talent and the client are excited about. Plus, as an entrepreneur myself, I love helping freelance talent grow their business.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to use my free time to be introspective. The events business requires a certain level of extroversion that we may not naturally possess. While I love interacting, collaborating, and having fun with my team and other professionals in our industry, I become overwhelmed and anxious when I don’t have the downtime to process how I think or feel about what I have learned or experienced. Because of this, I enjoy giving myself time and space. I prefer to let things flow rather than make plans. I enjoy spending time at home and on the beach with my dog, low-key gatherings with friends, and learning about and practicing spirituality. When I am not spending time at home, I love to travel to spend time with friends and family and to immerse myself in other places and cultures throughout the world.

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