The ticket office manager at the Minnesota State Fair is an avid music fan who values giving back to her own community and to INTIX. Gail loves being in the business of fun and helping people forget their troubles as they pass through the gate. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, connecting with friends on social media and learning how to grow her own food. Here, Gail reflects on the joys of her job, two countries she would love to visit and the camaraderie of INTIX.
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Whom do you admire most and why?
My parents. They gave me a great work ethic and taught me right from wrong.
Professionally, I would say my first mentor, Marlene Anderson. She ran a multi-purpose arena and was one of the first pioneers for women in this industry. I was very young and impressionable. Some of the lessons she taught me I still remember to this day.
What is the quality you most like in a person?
Honesty. Just tell me the truth.
What is the quality you most like in a colleague?
Availability. What I mean by that is to be open and available when someone needs advice, which is one of the things you get at INTIX.
What qualities are important to you in a leader?
Integrity, a sense of purpose and respect.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
The “who” is my partner of many years, Brad. The “what” is music. My life would be completely lost without music and Brad, of course.
What do you value most in your friends?
A sense of humor.
Which talent would you most like to have?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
At an International Association of Fairs and Exposition (IAFE) convention, I heard a wonderful speaker talk about giving back and doing good things. Afterwards, I spoke with our CEO, who was also in the room for that talk. He allowed me to create the MSF Gives Back Group. Our employees go out on employee time to do good things in our community. We’ve done everything from food, book and pet supply drives to working with Habitat for Humanity and river clean-up events. Our staff has grown closer by getting out of the office together and seeing their co-workers in a different light.
Where would you most like to live?
I love Minnesota. I was born and raised here. If I couldn’t live here, maybe Hawaii because the weather is the total opposite.
What is your most treasured possession?
My pets. No matter what kind of day you are having, your pets love you. They don’t care if you screwed up or had the worst day ever. Currently, I have two cats and three dogs. I only planned on having one of the dogs ― the other four are rescues.
Who are your favorite writers?
I’m a hometown girl and I love reading Vince Flynn. I also love Nelson DeMille because I learn something historical in his books. When I’m depressed, I read Janet Evanovich because she’s hilarious.
What’s the best live event you’ve ever seen and why?
Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). This was before there were music videos and all of this stuff that is computer generated. They travelled with a full orchestra and had a laser light show. I think they were one of the first. I walked in after the show started, looked up and completely stopped because of the incredible production. The Bee Gees would be a close second because of their harmonies.
What is your favorite place to visit or place you’d love to visit and why?
I’ve never been out of the United States, but I would love to go to Norway and Ireland. I have a grandfather in each of these countries. Both of them died before I was born, so I never had the opportunity to meet them. The grandfather who came from Norway was the youngest of nine children and I still have relatives there today. I don’t know anybody in Ireland, but it would be an interesting place to visit.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
Have more fun and don’t take yourself or anything else too seriously.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I bought a farm about eight years ago, so I am slowly teaching myself how to grow a garden. My plan is to try to grow most of my own food when I retire. I also do lots of reading and like to keep up with friends on social media because I don’t get to see some as often as I would like.
If you were granted three wishes today, what would they be?
Number one, I would like to cure all the horrible diseases that people suffer from these days. Second, I would like to get people back to a place where they were always respectful and kind to each other. Third, I would ease people’s pain ― both physical and mental.
What brings you the most joy/greatest meaning in life?
Professionally, it’s so much fun to have opening day here at the Fair. You watch people come in, forget their troubles and have a good time. We’re fortunate because very few people get to sell fun. It’s not food or clothing ― it’s just a chance to leave your troubles on the other side of our gate and come on in.
Why are you a member of INTIX?
I became a member in 1987. I was working in a multi-purpose arena and was the only ticketing person. On my second day of work, my supervisor had a nervous breakdown and never came back, so I was looking to learn about the industry. Marlene, whom I mentioned earlier, got a flyer from what was then Box Office Management International (BOMI). She gave it to me and said maybe BOMI could help. It became everything I expected it to become and more, which is why I’m still a member.
What do you get from INTIX?
An amazing resource for networking and camaraderie. Nobody else in the world understands what we go through as ticketing professionals and no one else can give you the advice you need.
What are your favorite ways to connect digitally with colleagues, family and friends?
I use Facebook and email a lot. I follow people and read Twitter, but I don’t really Tweet myself. I’m actually one of those weird people that picks up the phone because sometimes you just want to hear the warmth in somebody’s voice. Phone calls are not overrated.
What does INTIX give you that is different from everything else you are doing?
It connects me to people who know exactly what I am going through and who have been through the same things. For example, if I have an act that I’ve never dealt with before and they send me ridiculous amounts of information on what they want, like no brown M&Ms, just being able to pick up the phone and find out if I really need to do everything on their list is so helpful.
Every single time I’ve reached out to another member of INTIX asking a question or piece of advice, they have responded. If they don’t know the answer, they’ve suggested where I could go to find it.
Who is your mentor?
It’s a whole category of people ― strong women, especially those in leadership roles. There are so many of them; I could give you 20 names for 20 things.
Who or what inspires you?
Our fairgoers. They inspire me every day to do a little bit better and to push a little bit harder to make their experience the best that it can be.
What do you love most about your job?
When I get out during the Fair, which I try to do every day, and see a family smiling and laughing. They may be wearing silly hats or have food smeared all over. There is joy everywhere. You can’t buy that.
What is your most memorable INTIX moment?
Being elected to the Board and being able to serve the members for six years was definitely a highlight. I’m in a different genre than a lot of the folks at INTIX, so I was happy and proud to represent the members and help drive the organization forward.