Leadership / 10.21.21
Life Is Anything but Grim for This Ticketing Professional
When it comes to life choices, you might say Mandi Grimm is the apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. Her parents were both in the travel industry but enjoyed small-town living. They moved from Texas to Raleigh, North Carolina, when Mandi was 12 years old to be closer to the new American Airlines hub. Today, Mandi still lives in the Southern city where she is the training director for Etix, a global web-based ticketing provider for the entertainment, travel and sports industries. Although she spent her teenage years in Raleigh, she says she did not really appreciate its quiet charm until she tried living in Los Angeles for two years.
“I do not think I realized that I liked wide-open spaces and nature until I moved to L.A. and I discovered that it is just a totally different type of jungle,” she says. “Raleigh, on the other hand, is a great place to live — not far from the beach and the mountains, so I can get all sorts of nature depending on what I need.”
Mind you, sometimes traveling is necessary, both for work and for pleasure. Mandi did it often before COVID-19 struck.
Mandi in Squamish.
“I love going back to visit my family in California or Texas,” she says. “I do not get to see them enough. My brothers have been out in L.A. for the past decade or so, and my family has a lake house in a little-bitty town in Texas called Possum Kingdom Lake. My grandparents found the property way before the area was really developed, and it is still a really small town. The lake house has been in our family for over 50 years now, and we are one of the last original owners. It is a little cabin on a gravel road, but we just walk out the front door and we are right there at the water. It is a small little place in the middle of nowhere.”
View from Mandi’s family lake house.
Family means everything to Mandi, who can trace her ancestry back to distant relative Daniel Boone, among others.
“I would say my most treasured possessions are the family pictures I have,” she says. “When I can look back and see members of my family from 100 years ago or more, that is kind of cool. I also have some family jewelry; it is not fancy or anything, but costume jewelry that is special to me because it signifies different time periods. I can look at it and visualize the history and the story around those pieces.”
Mandi’s own story saw her getting into the ticketing industry early on, even as she struggled to get through university. It took her a decade to get her undergraduate degree while working full time. Today she considers that to be one of her greatest accomplishments.
“I am also really proud of what I have been able to accomplish at Etix because I have been with the company for so long,” says Mandi. “We were a much smaller company when we started, and I have been able to create the training department and start some new things within the company. What I have been able to accomplish here is another one of my prouder accomplishments.”
Mandi started working as a ticket seller at what was then the Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh, now the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek.
“My mentor was Leslie Bradford,” says Mandi. “She was my first box office manager. So much of my foundation to go into ticketing as a career came from her. I still use so much of what she taught me in my own career, and I have been fortunate enough for her to become one of my closest friends, too.”
Mandi has remained in the ticketing industry ever since. Looking back on her journey to date, she says it has been one big learning experience.
“Our industry is amazing, and I love to learn new things,” she says. “I have been able to wear multiple hats, create different projects and work on different things. I have also had such great fortune to meet so many fantastic people because of my job. I have been able to build wonderful client and colleague relationships, and I have been able to learn so much about the different types of venues and different things within the industry. With my role right now, I oversee our training department, so I get to work with all sorts of clients based on how they need to use our ticketing system. I can learn so much about what they do, and I am able to communicate that with venues of different types and sizes. I also oversee and co-manage the fraud and chargeback department. Learning all about that has been amazing too.”
When it comes to friends, Mandi says she favors those who can help her stay calm, especially with all the drama around the pandemic.
“I really value those friendships,” she says. “I love being around friends that I am on the same wavelength with, someone who is a good listener and gives good advice. I am very fortunate that a lot of my friends are very generous with their time.”
In a more general sense, when it comes to what she values in people overall, Mandi takes a slightly different approach.
“I admire people that are strong and able to overcome challenges. They really resonate with me,” she says. “I have thought about this because of the pandemic, and I think being able to show strength in adversity is a great quality.”
As for leaders and her own colleagues, Mandi says there is nothing like a great communicator.
“It is easy to misunderstand one another,” she says. “I have had conversations with colleagues, especially during the pandemic, where we have both read the exact same email and taken the content very differently. When we ended up discussing it later I would say, ‘Wow, that was such a different, unique opinion and perspective that you had.’ Really thinking about your communication when you put stuff out there is a great quality. Also, I like people who want to teach and motivate others, leading by example.”
Mandi feels fortunate to have met and gotten to know so many people like this through her involvement with INTIX. She has been a member since 2005 and is currently co-chair of the Member Connections Committee and a member of the Education Committee. Mandi has also previously served on the Mentor Committee.
“I have been lucky enough to be a member of INTIX since I got started in the industry, which was about 20 years ago now,” she recalls proudly. “It has always been important to me to be a part of INTIX and to maintain [my membership] because it was something that helped me get my career going. It is such a great resource, network and place for education, so it has always been an important part of my career and my professional life.”
Mandi continues, “INTIX is where I go when I want to know and hear the most about what is happening in the industry because it is such a wide group of ticketing professionals. There are other associations and networks that I can go to in order to hear industry-related things, but they are going to be specific to their type of venue. INTIX is ticketing specific, so because I am able to drill in with ticketing, which is really where my love is because that is where I started, it is always my go-to.”
There is also so much to love about the ticketing industry, says Mandi.
“I think the one thing I love the most is show day, because you worked so hard leading up to the event so the event is such a reward. It is just like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae,” she says. “Being able to see the patrons have a good time and know that they are making lasting memories for those events, that is really the best thing about our industry. There are so many wonderful things about our industry. So many people say it is in your blood and it really is.”
Having been in the ticketing industry for over two decades, Mandi has of course had plenty of opportunities to visit some fantastic venues and take in some great performances.
“I have been able to see so many great events, so it is hard to pin down a favorite, but I love Broadway musicals,” shares Mandi. “It sounds so typical, but I loved ‘Lion King.’ I was able to see that during INTIX (2020) in New York; that was actually the last show that I was able to see on Broadway before COVID-19. I am a huge Disney fan, so being able to see the show on Broadway was truly amazing. I would also say ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’ Those shows are both so iconic, and being able to see them on Broadway was almost surreal.”
Mandi’s last visit to New York City during INTIX 2020; she loved this gorgeous view from Central Park and had to take a photo.
She continues, “I also really love historic theaters. I think my favorite venue is the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia. It has such a fascinating history, and it is a beautiful venue. Since I became familiar with it, they have renovated and restored it. They did a lot of the restoration and the decor to match the original paintings of the building, so it makes you feel like you are going back in time, and it is truly breathtaking.”
While the pandemic has put some things in her life on hold, Mandi says she still has plenty to do in the comfort of her own home. She reads (Janet Evanovich and Dan Brown are among her favorite authors), and recently she took up crafting as a hobby.
Mandi’s Halloween mantle with a Mickey Topiary and Haunted Mansion luminary, two crafts she created a few weeks ago for fun in her spare time.
“I have found that it is actually a wonderful way to prevent burnout and to avoid being on technology all the time. I end up finding all sorts of crazy projects on Google, various things I can make or projects around the house. I was definitely one of those people when COVID-19 hit and everybody was at home that decided it was time to reorganize some things in the house, so I have definitely tried to do a lot of that,” says Mandi.
Baby clothes Mandi made into cupcakes for her youngest nephew's virtual baby shower last fall; he turns one in late October. Mandi’s oldest nephew turns 2 years old the week of Thanksgiving.
As for advice Mandi would give herself if she could go back in time?
“This is going to totally sound like an old lady comment, but if I had my life to live over again, I would really try to take the advice of those who say find something that you love and do it, but make sure you find that balance.”
And, if she had three wishes, what would they be?
“I think probably what a lot of people would say, along the lines of health, wealth and happiness, because it just kind of covers everything for everyone.”
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