More Than Just a Mobile Event App

EPISODE 21|More Than Just a Mobile Event App

CrowdCompass has been an integral part of many in-person events. But how is it possible to utilize an event mobile app during this time without in-person events?

Linda Meunier and Jennifer Sosiewicz from Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits share some incredible tips on using the CrowdCompass app for more than just events! Using the app, they are able to keep their employees engaged and connected while everyone is separated.

From dog grooming videos to cooking classes, listen in to hear how they used technology to create an innovative and exciting environment for their entire company, including their president!


  • Linda Meunier, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits 
  • Jennifer Sosiewicz, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits


  • Brooke Gracey, Senior Manager, Demand Generation, Cvent
  • Cody Liskn, Team Lead, Event Quarterback Team, Cvent

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Cody Liskh: All right, Linda and Jenny. Thank you so much for joining the podcast. Can you just give us a little bit of background on how you two ended up at Deutsche family wine and spirits. 

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Chris Costello: Of course we can. So I have been working in the wine and spirits industry for over about 25 years but I've always had a passion for these event side of the industry, even though my day job for many years was crunching numbers and analyzing sales. 

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Chris Costello: Upon coming to George failing wine and spirits and around 

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Chris Costello: One of my roles was to execute their sales meeting and 

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Chris Costello: Or so I was searching for part time help with the event side of my job and my daughter told me to hire her friend Jenny Sasha what she said that we would be a perfect blend of creativity hardworking and a team built on honesty and trust 

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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah, so I joined to H family wine and spirits. About five years ago.

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Jenny Sosiewicz: And my first day on the job was actually at a cvent connect conference in Las Vegas. And I thought that was just so fun. I had no idea really what the events world was like, and 

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Jenny Sosiewicz: Walking around in Las Vegas. Linda was like no, honey. This is not exactly what you'll be doing all the time. There's a lot of hard work. 

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Jenny Sosiewicz: And she found out the hard way that you know we do a lot of incentive events. And I was like, Oh no, I don't do winter I don't do dirt. I don't do that. And she was like, why did I even 

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Jenny Sosiewicz: Get involved with this, but it ended up all working out, you know, I didn't even own a ski jacket back then and now I learned how to ski. 

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Jenny Sosiewicz: And, you know, just being enjoy traveling wine and spirits. We've grown together as an event team and these past five years have just been awesome. 

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Jenny Sosiewicz: And Deutsche is just such an amazing company to work with because we just have such a great group of people that we get to put these events on 

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Brooke Gracey: sounds amazing. And actually, Cody and I are big fans of wine and spirits as well so 


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Brooke Gracey: That is great and starting off at cvent Connect is is really just kind of like throwing you right into the d 


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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah, I can imagine what that was like. It was really fun. It's always a good time for sure and Cody was actually telling me because I know he had talked to you guys before and before this whole pandemic situation came about. You guys were actually using a mobile app, but 

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Brooke Gracey: In a really creative way I want to tell you, I want you guys to tell us a little bit more about that. If you can 

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Chris Costello: Um, yeah. So, you know, George as a company is his family owned. So I think that's one of the reasons why it's so good to the employees because we are a big family. I'm so one of their company wide initiatives was wellness. 

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Chris Costello: And because Jenny and I are always coming up with silly and creative and sometimes not doable. 



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Chris Costello: Experiences like the wellness committee came to us and said, hey, we have all this money. Can you guys think of something to do with this, with this money. And of course, we love money and we love to play with other people's money. 



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Chris Costello: So we began to brainstorm and we thought, you know, we're at these live events. We have this great tool called crowd compass. So, you know, perhaps there are some challenges we can run that we can use the platform. 



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Chris Costello: To kind of get people interactive socially. So we did some brainstorming and we came up with things like sunrise yoga and fun runs and you had a post pictures to the app and 



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Chris Costello: You know, people would like it or make comments and those that got the most 



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Chris Costello: uploads, we'd be entered into a contest and we gave away some pretty cool prizes, like a peloton bike, which was the big one workout mirror 



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Chris Costello: So, 



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Chris Costello: It just became such an easy tool for us to socially. 



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Chris Costello: A sense of community. 



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Chris Costello: As a company and some fun and you know give prizes. Everybody loves prizes. Right. 



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Brooke Gracey: I want that peloton bike. 



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Brooke Gracey: Can you someone near that one hanging around so so 



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Chris Costello: Yeah, so it 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Really, it really motivated. A lot of people 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah, we were we were focusing on just physical wellness. To start off with you. We're just encouraging people to eat healthy and take a photo and post it to the app. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Every time you go to the gym every time you're doing a workout. Take a photo and posted to the app. So we were really just focusing on that physical wellness. To start off, and it was really, really fun for people to use this app in that way. 



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Brooke Gracey: So that was pre pandemic now that people right now can't go to gyms and things like that. Are you still using the app. And then, how's that going, how did you kind of have to shift that focus 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah, so we're still using the app, like you said, now it's post pandemic, or we're still in this pandemic. So what can we do to keep everybody engaged and 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Keep this sort of momentum running. So we leverage the success of this wellness challenge and kind of transformed it in a little bit of a different way. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: We now we're focusing more on emotional wellness and social wellness and environmental wellness and really just trying to keep people 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Showing us what they're doing to stay tuned in with their family. What are you guys doing to stay stress free. How are you, relaxing take photos of that put it on the app. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: It didn't matter what you were doing at this time, you know, we just wanted to keep everybody together. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: posting photos showing us what they're doing and get through this. It didn't matter if it was your family if it was your pets. You know, one of our companies taglines is characters. Welcome. So we really wanted to encourage 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Our attendees our employees to post anything and everything to our app and just use the hashtag April, just to keep everybody connected 



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Brooke Gracey: That's fun. It's a really kind of a sense of community there. I like that bringing everyone together. 



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Cody Liskh: Yeah, I love that term characters. Welcome. Like I feel like that's kind of a seamless thing to 



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Cody Liskh: I just think it's so cool. Do you guys use the mobile app and like an internal way to keep everybody engaged. 



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Cody Liskh: Just a super creative way to think about using crowd compass. I know. BROOKE started out in crowd compass when she many, many years ago. 



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Cody Liskh: Started this event. So this is probably really super cool for her to hear. But I guess the question I have is, you guys mentioned earlier that you guys love money. I mean, how much did all this cost you. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: This didn't cost us anything. 



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Brooke Gracey: That's a surprise was that 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah, so all of our central budgets were frozen due to the pandemic. So we had no dollars to spend and all that Linda expand a little bit more on this. 



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Chris Costello: Yeah, so, um, you know we we created on top of using crowd compass and looking through all these pictures. We also created a another wellness live classes. 



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Chris Costello: That we sourced instructors from our company to come and on Tuesdays and Thursdays for one hour, go ahead and create a class. Now, the way we found these instructors and this is how we kind of help with the zero budget is that 



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Chris Costello: We didn't have any more live events because of the pandemic. Great. So we already had crowd compass. 



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Chris Costello: And so that was really zero cost because we already had it. So it was just sitting there, one of our app. So we turned it into this 



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Chris Costello: Wellness initiative and 



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Chris Costello: One thing people like if they can't have money. They love recognition. Right. They love to be bragged about. So what we did is we created the contest for those that posts. The most and get the most likes and get comments like get chattering going 



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Chris Costello: Who ever has the most of those initial hits during the month will then be recognized by the President of our company. 



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Chris Costello: And that in itself created many, many, many photos that we needed to go through 



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Chris Costello: And so, you know, one of the things that I think all meeting planners have is they have great 



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Chris Costello: Ability to turn around on a dime. Right. We are we are faced with many things as event planners. 



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Chris Costello: And so you just have to transform your roles, which I think all of us can do really quickly and you'll be you find another slot. 



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Chris Costello: In your company. And for us it was to lead our company on this wellness initiative and virtual engagement and we were able to do that with the tools that we already had and so therefore zero dollars spent 



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Brooke Gracey: And I like what you said there because I mean meeting planners, or any meeting professionals just have this inherent ability to 



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Brooke Gracey: think creatively. And I think that that's really what's happening right now. We have little to no budgets to work with the we're 



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Brooke Gracey: You know, just trying to figure out how to keep our own teams engaged and this is such a cool way to do that or is it working. I mean, are you seeing a lot of engagement from the Jewish family. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Right now, my God, yes, an unbelievable amount of engagement, we never really expected it to become this popular 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: We have over two thirds of the company signing up and using the app and posting photos and commenting on each other's posts. We have over 4000 posts. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: And it's only been going for two months you know it's it's crazy how engaged. Everybody is and how much they're looking forward to. I have people sidebar emailing me. Hey, how many posted. I haven't. I have a competition with my friend, it's just, it's incredible. 



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Brooke Gracey: It's so funny how people just want to win. No matter if it's not a peloton bike. It's just that. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Acknowledging right 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah, I love that. I'm very competitive. So I like 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Who's on the app. What are you guys doing. I want to do that, I want to run more miles on you, you know, that sort of thing. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: To really exciting. 



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Cody Liskh: I think about some of the things you're doing to keep people engaged and we talked earlier about. You know how you have some WebEx sessions going on. 



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Cody Liskh: And you're really kind of surprised about some of these WebEx sessions and some of the subjects that people 



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Cody Liskh: Came up with, you know, what are some of the sessions that you've seen so far and how do you recruit volunteers to run those WebEx sessions. 



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Chris Costello: Well, I'll address through the 



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Chris Costello: Recruiting so Jenny and I, you know, people will post all the time and Jenny and I spend probably every evening of our life going through the pictures, kind of just fun, you know, 



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Chris Costello: For us to see how everybody's engaging and to kind of look at what's popular and we pinpointed the people that were posting the most, the people that were posting the most exercises, the people that were cooking and putting all these wonderful dishes up there. 



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Chris Costello: Well, the wacky people that were posting, you know, their cat hanging from the curtains what whatever it was. 



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Chris Costello: And we targeted them targeted mean by we called them very nicely and said, hey, we noticed that you're really into all this 



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Chris Costello: You know, work out and polities and do you think that 



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Chris Costello: You would give us an hour of your time and do a class for the whole company and they and everybody. I really don't think we had anybody that said no we have somebody that had a conflict that was going to try to do it. 



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Chris Costello: But we were able to get all our volunteers. We did have one or two outside employees that volunteered. One was a sister. 



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Chris Costello: Of our employees have one of our employees who just happened to be walking by, why we were on a WebEx with her sister, we found out that she was doing mindful meditation classes for her company. So we said, Hey. Hey. Hello, we have 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Our class come to our class. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: And it ended up working out, you know, we had everything from meditation to basic dog grooming to these cooking classes, we had no idea that some of our people are culinary trained chefs. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: You know, these are people who are obviously a food and wine company very interested in food pairings with wine and you just never really know what kind of talents, people have and utilizing our crowd compass and all the photos. People were posting we kind of just tapped into that. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: And reached out for these people. 



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Brooke Gracey: The dog grooming really hit home for me because I have a white fluffy dog that I usually 



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Brooke Gracey: Very regularly and I have had to learn how to 



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Brooke Gracey: Give him baths grooming. 



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Brooke Gracey: Myself. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: The recorded session. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: We are recording every single one of them. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: So yeah, it's really great. We even had the president of our company leader workout class. 



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Brooke Gracey: That's cool. So everyone's getting involved. 



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Brooke Gracey: Even everyone you level. I'm like, everybody is engaged. Is it is it catching the attention of the C suite. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: It is, you know, they're becoming very engaged in this app. We see them posting pictures and commenting and liking other posts. It's really exciting to see them. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Getting involved. You know who doesn't want to see them sweating on their peloton bike attempting to groom their dogs doing pull ups in their backyard. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Just things like that. It's, it's nice to see them engaging in the social aspect of this, but it's really, really exciting to have them also bring it up on our bi weekly virtual town halls. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: You know, the head of Human Resources highlights many of the posts that she's seeing and she always gives us a shout out for the classes upcoming for that week. She's 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: highlighted some of the really special posts that we've seen like the very heartwarming ones we had a whole family do a drive by parade for their grandmother. We've seen a lot of different virtual happy hours. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: A lot of families, putting together puzzles or doing something really fun like tie dying, you know. Each week we send out an update to the executives telling them like this is 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Our topic for the week and things like that, just so we can highlight it and the more we engage them, the more they want to become engaged and see how strong this community is. And just like the company wide togetherness, when really nobody can be together. 



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Brooke Gracey: Kind of like that good news and sort of the doom and gloom that we're in right now. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah, everybody wants a little bit of 



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Brooke Gracey: Good news in their life. 



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Brooke Gracey: Cody and I are actually going to try to do a virtual escape room this weekend. 



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Brooke Gracey: Maybe add it to your agenda. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Absolutely. We are going to continue this in May. So we are certainly looking for a new classes to offer that could be a fun one. 



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Cody Liskh: Yeah, I'm so excited about that. I love this whole idea of you guys not having a budget and finding a way to still keep keep people engaged. 



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Cody Liskh: You know, using the tools that you have that is so inspiring. I love hearing stories like this. I gotta ask if you had to leave our event professionals with just one takeaway or piece of advice when you know pivoting to a wellness committee role, what would that be 



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Chris Costello: Um, so, you know, as meeting planners and they said before, we have a diverse set of skills right we always have to think out of the box. And when you need to learn how to evolve your present roll into a new need for your company. 



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Chris Costello: Jenny and I have used technology that seep and had to offer. Along with good old fashioned creativity, you know, help us create and implement our wellness and new initiative, this has become so fun for us. I mean, yes, we spend a lot of hours, but we're really having a good time. 



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Chris Costello: And so we're continuing the sun may, I'd like to remind everybody that there are resources within your company that you may not think about on a day to day basis. But when you are challenged with things like this. 



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Chris Costello: It makes you think about it. So one thing I wanted to highlight was, you know, we have these instructors get their time, but we also have and I think many companies have an initiative for employee recognition throughout the year. So for every instructor, we had 



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Chris Costello: We put in for an employee recognition Award for them so they will eat. They don't know this yet, but they will each receive 



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Chris Costello: Recognition at the next major town hall, as well as a monetary gift. 



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Chris Costello: But again, that wasn't part of our initial event team budget right but it was a resource that was in your our company that we figured out how to kind of backdoor and tag into so 



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Chris Costello: You just keep your eyes open your ears to the ground. Don't be afraid to ask for things, you know, you can go to a million knows but that one. Yes, you can go really far with 



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Brooke Gracey: Agreed. Yeah, just keep asking think creatively you guys certainly had, you know, you 



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Brooke Gracey: Had this app. You were hoping to use for an event. But now you've created into this amazing engagement tool that I mean honestly, it sounds like this could go on. Even after this whole pandemic is over. It's a really great way to bring people together. 



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Brooke Gracey: I have to imagine that you being in the wine and spirits. There are a lot of other 



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Brooke Gracey: Initiatives that you guys are involved in or very passionate about out there. So I wanted to give you guys a chance to kind of talk about some of the other things that you guys are working on or working with anything you want to promote or share to our list. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. You know, we're really, really proud of what Jewish family wine and spirits is doing during these really hard times, like you said, we are wine and spirits industry. We are in the beverage world. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: We care about the restaurants. We care about the bars, you know, nationwide shut down. We're partnering really closely with these kind of restaurant businesses restaurant. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Like communities. And a lot of our brands have donated back to a lot of the companies that help this situation like our yellowtail brand. They are involved in Jose Andres world Central Kitchen. 



00:19:26.460 --> 00:19:35.430 

Jenny Sosiewicz: Who is running a pilot program, putting restaurants. Back to work by preparing fresh meals for those in need. It's a whole chefs for America initiative, which is really awesome. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Our Josh sellers brand and our redemption brand. They're both going and giving back to the restaurant workers Community Foundation. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: We have some of our spirits brands like redemption and Gray Well Jen, they're hiring virtual bartenders for out of work bartenders, it's really, really exciting. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: There's so much information about what they're doing to give back on our website, which is Dorie trailer calm but it's it's really nice. And it's something to be really, really proud to be a part of. 



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Brooke Gracey: Yeah, absolutely. And for our listeners will put that website in the description for this episode. So if you would want to check it out. And I encourage you to please 



00:20:14.640 --> 00:20:27.300 

Brooke Gracey: Go to the Jewish family website. And thank you guys so much for joining us. I mean, this was just a really fun, cool story about how you're spending your time and we really appreciate you taking some time to talk to us about it. 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Yeah, of 



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Jenny Sosiewicz: Course, you know, it's something that we've had a lot of fun doing and if other meeting planners can find some of these tools helpful and create some of these really fun communities and their companies. We are excited for them to try 



00:20:42.780 --> 00:20:52.740 

Brooke Gracey: Agreed. Agreed. Well, thank you guys so much. And again, for our listeners. If you want to get some of those links, we will get those to you in the description. And we will talk to you too soon. 



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Brooke Gracey: Thanks, guys. Thank you. 



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