Leadership / 09.21.22
Liz Kelley’s Ticketing Career Is a Roaring Success
Some people will recall the old television commercial for ESSO with the slogan: “Put a tiger in your tank!” It was so popular that the phrase entered our general lexicon. To have a tiger in your tank means you have a lot of vigor, determination, enthusiasm and motivation. And that pretty much describes Liz Kelley.
“My favorite time of day is 4:30 a.m. to about 7 a.m.,” she says enthusiastically. “I wake up, wash my face, and get to the gym. I have a good core group of CrossFit buddies. We are working on our deadlifts, kettlebell swings, box jumps, snatches and everything that goes into CrossFit. I absolutely love it. I have been doing it for about six and a half years and if I don't go, I miss it. It is an important part of who I have become. Then I come home, and my dog and I go for a 45-minute walk. I come back and compose myself for the day because once you get to work, you have your schedule.”
Liz and her dog Presley Jane.
Liz has been with Paciolan for the past 18 years and is every bit as passionate about her job and the industry today as she was in 2004 when she reported for her first day of work as a senior business consultant. She spent nine years in that position and then quickly climbed the ladder to become Manager of Sales Consulting, then Client Partner. Liz was elevated to her current leadership role two and a half years ago.
“I manage the client partners team, which is the day-to-day account manager of each of our clients,” she says. “Each client partner has anywhere from 25 to 35 clients that they manage on a day-to-day basis. We help [from] an operational [perspective]. We [also] try to take it above that and help from a strategic standpoint as well … What I love about this industry is the passion that everyone has for it and for their particular venue, team or product.”
Before joining Paciolan, Liz spent four years as ticket manager at the University of California in Santa Barbara and another year as assistant director of ticket operations for Texas Tech University.
“I grew up in ticketing. I started when I was in college, carrying roll stock at UC Santa Barbara softball events. That was my entrance into ticketing,” she says with obvious pride. “When a winning team is selling a lot of tickets, there is nothing more fun than being in the box office. It is hectic, it can be crazy and sometimes it can be stressful, but it is awesome.”
Liz is quick to give a nod to those who have helped her in her career, beginning with Jane Kleinberger, one of the founders and, at the time, president of Paciolan. Jane gave a presentation at the Texas Tech campus in 2003, just a couple of months after Liz started working there.
“I do not even know why I was invited to the meeting because I was super low in rank, but I remember sitting there and thinking, ‘Wow.’ Then I said out loud, ‘I will work for that woman someday.’ Less than a year later, I got my job at Paciolan,” Liz says.
“If you know Jane Kleinberger, you know how passionate she is, not just about Paciolan, but the industry as a whole. She is just fantastic. It was great for me to see this woman running the company. Jane and I came to work closely together as I took on more of an outward-facing sales role later in my career. She and I traveled together, and we were up late at a hotel working on our presentation deck and our talking points. This is the president and founder of this company, and here I am in my pajamas and a hat sitting in the hotel lobby working on this together. I cherish those memories.”
Liz also considers two other Paciolan leaders as mentors. “Dave Butler is a fantastic human being. He would walk around the building and high-five; ask how you are doing and give you a hug. As he started to sunset his career Kim Damron (the current president and CEO of Paciolan) started to elevate … She is the pinnacle of what a working woman can be, and she is so supportive of work-life balance. You have to be accountable, and you have to get your work done, but if that means that you can pop over and see your kid’s soccer game or be at your kid’s open house at school, she totally encourages that. I think that is what makes the Paciolan culture as special as it is. So, from Jane to Kim, I think they have [all] really helped form my professional persona.”
Liz and Kim Damron at PACnet.
When it comes to leaders (herself included), Liz says she values authenticity above all else. “Do not tell me what I want to hear,” she says. “I also do not want to be that to my leader. I want to be able to tell my boss what it is, here is the real deal.”
As for her colleagues, there is nothing she admires more than team spirit. That team spirit extends to Liz’s experience as a member of INTIX, which she says embodies the word community better than most.
“INTIX is community,” she says. “It is all about understanding the ups and downs of ticketing. Being able to talk to somebody and laugh about it, right? People find out you work in ticketing, and they say, ‘Oh, you must get free tickets to any event you want.’ No, I do not get free tickets to any event I want. It is not just putting people in seats. It is a lot more complicated than that and being able to commiserate with a community about that kind of stuff is invaluable … INTIX also really gives me a wider industry vision. It makes the broader industry accessible to me.”
From left to right: Bob Beatty, Liz, Russ Stanley and Jesi Bullrich at INTIX in Anaheim.
That extensive community of entertainment ticketing professionals includes a wide range of contacts, and some great friends Liz has made along the way. She also has a core group of girlfriends who are always there when she needs them and vice versa. Anyone who knows Liz knows she has a great sense of humor. She says that is also something she values highly in all her friends.
“I am not going to be friends with a stick in the mud,” she says. “I think laughter is the best medicine. It is so helpful, not just [from a] personal [perspective], but from a professional standpoint. Being able to have some inside jokes with your team members or the clients that you work with, being able to laugh, and finding the humor in everyday occurrences, I think is absolutely imperative.”
Liz’s sense of humor really came out when we asked what talent she would most like to have.
“I am going to say sing,” she says, drifting back in time. “When I was in second grade trying out for the school chorus, I have no idea what the song was, but the chorus teacher said, ‘You know what, Elizabeth? I do not think the choir is going to work for you. It sounds like you have a lump on your vocal cords’ … I think it was just her nice way of saying, ‘Kid, this is not at all for you. You are not going to be a singer.’ Then you realize everyone sounds good in the shower or the car, blasting Wilson Phillips. They have a couple of really good songs!”
“Hootie and the Blowfish is one of my all-time favorite bands. I grew up with them. I love those guys. They were playing at FivePoint Amphitheater out here in Irvine [a couple of years ago]. I took my mom and my two sisters … So, we go, and we are singing, just having the best time. I recorded one of their songs with my cellphone. I have since learned that when you are recording a video, your phone is right next to your face. You should not sing along with the singers because you cannot really hear the singers, but you do hear you. I played it back the next day and said, ‘Oh, yeah, that was not pretty.’ So, lesson learned.”
It seems like a sure thing then that Liz does not spend her free time singing, although she has been known to sing karaoke from time to time. “I am a big Blondie fan. ‘The Tide Is High’ is one of my favorite songs. Do you know how high some of those notes get in that song? I did not realize it until I was on stage at karaoke. I just stopped midway because I could not breathe. I could not [sing] anymore.”
These stories aside, Liz loves music. Her favorite artist of all time is none other than Elvis. “I don’t know how it happened,” she says. “I was probably 11 or 12. I started listening to his music and then I saw a couple of his movies. I was like, ‘Wow, these are really bad movies, but he is really cute!’ He died a year after I was born, so I just started watching documentaries and I thought, ‘Wow, I don't know what it is [about him].’ To this day, I still love Elvis Presley.”
She says, “Everybody asked me about the new movie that came out, they asked, ‘Are you going to go see it?’ I said, ‘I don't know. I know so much of it. I know so much about his history and his stories … But I went and I have to say that I was blown away by the actor, Austin Butler. He was amazing, and I know he worked for a couple of years on research and voice lessons. I cried in that movie. There were a couple of scenes that were just very, very heart-wrenching for me to watch, and I was like, ‘Wow, I get it.’ This guy was amazing.”
So amazing, says Liz, that if she’d ever had a daughter, she would have named her Presley. Instead, as she does not have children, it is the name she has given to her 7-year-old toy poodle. “She is my person,” Liz says. “We are a match made in heaven.”
When she is not walking Presley, or maybe even when she is, you are apt to find Liz in a fictional world from the past. “I am an avid reader,” she says. “And, by reader, I mean listener. I love audiobooks, especially historical fiction. I can get through two to three books a week by listening to them at a higher speed. While I am doing laundry or if I am cleaning the house, or if I am cooking dinner, I have my book going. People have asked me, ‘What language are you listening to? It sounds like aliens.’ I say, ‘It is English. The voice may have an Australian accent or a British accent depending on the narrator, but if you listen, it is just going very, very fast.’ It gets me through the book very, very quickly.”
Liz’s favorite author is Ken Follett, but she also loves Philippa Gregory who wrote about the Tudor Times in Elizabethan England. “I love that era,” she says.
Surprisingly, when asked what she would do differently if she could go back in time, Liz did not want to be part of the Tudor or even the present-day Royal Court. Her response was far more conventional.
“I would probably say something along the lines of, ‘Be sure to make time for yourself,’” she reflects. “When I first started at Paciolan, again this is pushing 20 years ago, I was a road warrior. I was on the road every week. I would stay over weekends to the point where I was paying rent back in California, my car was in the garage, and I was not using it. I think that may have hindered some of my social interactions. I missed a lot of stuff with family too. I missed Father's Day four years in a row … I was super ambitious, I wanted to do and see as much as I could, but I wish I had told myself to get home once in a while.”
When speaking of her family, Liz also mentioned her Aunt Marilyn. When she passed away, Aunt Marilyn left Liz something very special.
“Her wedding ring was very, very unique. It was a big diamond shape with a lot of smaller baguettes in it … For my entire life, I remember saying, ‘Aunt Marilyn, I love that ring. I love that ring.’ She said, ‘Oh, you'll get this when I pass away. This is going to you.’ Forever, when I’d see her, I would say, ‘Oh, Aunt Marilyn, how's my ring?’ She would say, ‘Oh, you will get it one day.’”
In recent years, Liz learned that Aunt Marilyn’s ring was designed to include some of her grandmother’s wedding ring diamonds too. So, the ring that she now has as a cherished reminder of her beloved aunt is also a keepsake from the paternal grandmother who passed away before Liz was born. “It will keep me close to Aunt Marilyn for the rest of my life. I do not put a lot of importance or emphasis on physical things. You need some clothes to get by. You need a car to get to work. You need some food, stuff like that. But this ring means a whole lot to me.”
Bringing her personal and professional life full circle, Liz harkened back to earlier days when she began working in a college ticket office. The gal who grew up at Dodger Stadium and is to this day a huge Dodgers fan became a college athletics fan too. With that in mind, besides cheering on the Dodgers with her family at the World Series, what is the best live event she has ever seen?
2020 Los Angeles Dodgers World Series.
“I went to the Red River rivalry, which is the Texas versus Oklahoma football game in Dallas at the state fair. I have been working with these schools for years, and they have always talked about what kind of an event this is and how crazy it is, so I went last year for the first time. There are 250,000 people on the grounds; about 90,000 of those people go into the game. We were there to help make sure that things went smoothly, and they did, which was great,” she says.
“Half the stadium is all Texas fans and then the other half is all Oklahoma fans. We happened to be standing in a Texas section when Texas ran the ball back for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, and the place erupted. It was so loud. I got goosebumps. I was high-fiving and hugging people I did not know. I just happened to be standing around all these people in burnt orange and it was so fun.”
And so, this story comes full circle yet again, this time with the color orange, and then a tiger and an aquarium. It may not make sense yet, but it will as Liz reveals her most memorable INTIX moment.
“Paciolan usually hosts an event for our clients that are at the INTIX conference. In Denver, we hosted a dinner at an aquarium … and there was a tiger at the aquarium. I was with Jane Kleinberger and a bunch of us were just standing there looking at this tiger, and we were like, ‘Why is there a tiger at this aquarium?’ I still do not know the answer to that.”
Liz (center) poses with ticketing industry colleagues, including Jane Kleinberger (second from left), during INTIX 2015 in Denver.
What we do know is that Liz’s positive energy both at work and at play is both fierce and contagious. She truly does have a tiger in her tank.
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