Events Expert: Jennifer Bassett of Bassett Events

Jennifer Bassett is owner of Bassett Events, one of the world's best event planning companies. Bassett Events is a boutique Event Management agency working primarily with premium brands, companies and NPO’s looking to create unique and memorable events.

How did you get into the events planning industry?

I was working for a company in their Live Events department and it unfortunately went bankrupt after 20 years in business. As it turns out this door closing opened one for me. I opened up Bassett Events a month later, 14 years ago.

What past events are you most proud of and how did they become successes?

Any event we produce is rewarding and usually quite successful but the events we produce for David Fosters Foundation are always highlights!

What industry do you most enjoy throwing events for and why? Why did you choose fundraising to specialize in?

We fell into the fundraising niche. Our first event was a fundraiser through a personal contact with the charity. We've been blessed as 90% of our business in through word of mouth and referrals. Recently wehave been planning some fabulous weddings and private events which are always fun.

What advice would you give a start-up event planner?

Keep your sense of humour. Be very organized and in the end, love what you do because it’s a stressful industry and service with a smile always goes a long way!

How important are partnerships/co-branding for hosting a large event?

Extremely. Brand alignment is key to making an event a success. Especially working with charities and non profit organizations. The bottom line is so important therefore establishing partnerships and sponsorships are essential

Describe a great night out.

We work so hard at what we do and are out so much with our events, we I get a free night sometimes it’s all about takeout, a glass of wine and a movie!

Favorite travel destination?

Four Seasons Punta Minta

Life motto?

Slow and steady

What literature is on your bed stand?

Ha! My daughter’s journal and Bazaar

What’s next for Bassett Events?

Another fabulous event with David Foster! How lucky are we??


Media Magnate: Andy Wiedlin, Chief Revenue Officer of BuzzFeed

Andy Wiedlin is BuzzFeed’s Chief Revenue Officer and is responsible for leading BuzzFeed’s revenue growth strategy. Since joining BuzzFeed in 2011, Wiedlin grew the company from zero revenue to profitability with over 500 employees. He has built a talented global sales team who works with world class brands to provide unique social advertising programs. During his tenure, no banner ads were harmed or sold at BuzzFeed.

Before joining BuzzFeed, Andy was the SVP of Sales at Huffington Post where he pioneered the idea of social news, built a successful sales team, developed a market strategy and defined social marketing products. He got his start in the social space in 2008 at MySpace as Vice President of Sales. From 2003 to 2008, Wiedlin worked at Yahoo as Vice President of the Northwest Region. Before diving into online in 1999, Wiedlin spent five years with AT&T International/Bell Labs. He spent 10 years working abroad, primarily in Japan and Australia. Andy has a Master’s Degree in Pacific International Affairs (with a focus on Marketing and Japanese Language) from the University of California, San Diego.

How did you get into the media industry?

Dumb luck. I was living abroad for 10 years, and when I moved back to California, the Internet was taking off. My first job was at Blue Mountain Arts, which got sold for $850MM+. Then the bubble burst and recession set in.

What drew you to BuzzFeed from HuffPo?

I've always been a news junkie but didn't think digital newspapers were the answer. The ideas of Citizen Journalism and Social Sharing made so much sense. Plus Greg Coleman (President of Criteo) told me to.

You grew the company from zero revenue  to profitability with over 500 employees - how did you do that?! What were the initial steps and current tactics?

I remember my interview with Jon & Jonah (Former President & Founder & CEO). It was supposed to be a 30 minute get to know you conversation, and it devolved into a 3 1/2 hour working session (complete with whiteboards and screaming). We were so passionate about social content and disrupting the Banner Industrial Complex. We believed completely, and it made building the organization to do it so much easier.

What are the most important traits of a great chief revenue officer aka salesman?

Hire great people. Have a bias for action. Relentlessly study and understand your client's business. Have an informed POV. Solve a problem. Give great meeting. Don't be a jerk. 

Your biggest successes and mistakes as CRO and what did you learn from them?

Most success stems from hiring well. We are building a great client-focused business team that is empowered to make our client's stars and disrupt status quo advertising. We make mistakes when we try and play someone else's game. If we aren't focused on being First, Best or Only, and we offer me-too solutions, we fail.

Rolemodel - business and personal?

My business mentor in Greg Coleman. He is the most talented sales and business leader ever...and hysterical too. Personally, I'm a big Phil Jackson fan; he's coached 11 different championship teams by allowing the players to thrive (and not being a grinder and a screamer).

Favorite travel destination?

I travel every week on business, so my favorite destination is my couch. But Hawaii and Mexico work well too.

What are the most frequented websites on your browser?

I still read HuffPost, and am addicted to BuzzFeed. I probably spend too much time on Fantasy Baseball.

One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

Kale Salad. I'm joking of course (my wife is a vegan, and I am seriously over kale). I'm a highly caffeinated individual, so coffee is essential. Vietnamese food is my go to staple...

What is your favorite recent article on BuzzFeed?

Anything that the Stopera Brothers (Two of BuzzFeed's most popular writers) do is a guaranteed hit: they're the best at pop culture and human neurosis. "26 Reasons why today is going to be the best day ever" is classic stuff.

What's next for BuzzFeed and Andy Wiedlin?

Three years ago we were a handful of people with the belief that the Internet is awesome and Internet advertising blows. We've worked hard with our clients to make fun content that people love and share with their friends. We started with lists, but now we are doing quizzes, infographics, videos, etc. I'm having a blast changing the advertising world for the better.

BuzzFeed is a company. Focused on delivering reporting, and viral content across subject areas. Our technology detects what is trending on the web, and connects people in realtime with content of the moment. Our site is rapidly growing and reaches more than 60 million monthly unique visitors. Jonah Peretti, founder & CEO of BuzzFeed, previously co-founded the Huffington Post. Ben Smith is its Editor-in-chief, Jon Steinberg is its President & COO and Kenneth Lerer is the Executive Chairman. - See more at:
BuzzFeed is a company. Focused on delivering reporting, and viral content across subject areas. Our technology detects what is trending on the web, and connects people in realtime with content of the moment. Our site is rapidly growing and reaches more than 60 million monthly unique visitors. Jonah Peretti, founder & CEO of BuzzFeed, previously co-founded the Huffington Post. Ben Smith is its Editor-in-chief, Jon Steinberg is its President & COO and Kenneth Lerer is the Executive Chairman. - See more at:

Power Philanthropist: Sir Ivan, Founder of The Peaceman Foundation

Banker-turned-singer, reality TV celebrity, philanthropist and activist, Sir lvan, has led a life that movies and dreams are made of. Ten years ago, at the age of 45, lvan Wilzig, the eldest son of Siggi B.Wilzig, legendary Auschwitz survivor, financier and philanthropist; turned his back on his family's multi-billion dollar banking business to reinvent himself as Sir Ivan and follow his childhood dream of pursuing a career in music. Now at the age of 55, ten years after resigning from Trustcompany Bank's Board of Directors, he has joined the Top 10 on Billboard Magazine's Dance Club Songs Chart, alongside others such as: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez. Sir lvan's dream is coming true.

It all started in 2001, when Sir Ivan played a few demo tapes for an acquaintance named Dave Jurman, who was then Senior Executive Director of Dance Music at Columbia Records. Dave was so impressed with Sir lvan's voice, energy, and love of music, that he decided to help him by finding him a record producer. He introduced him to Ernie Lake, half of the two-time Grammy nominated producer team known as Soul Solution. Ernie was eager to help Sir Ivan get started in the music business, but wanted Sir Ivan to select the song. Sir Ivan chose to remake John Lennon's iconic song "lmagine," not as a rock ballad, but as a high-energy pop/dance record. Sir Ivan, was struck by the lyrics and how closely they mirrored his own beliefs of creating a world without violence and hatred. As the son of an Auschwitz survivor and someone who had 59 relatives murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, Sir Ivan was inspired to be the first singer in history to bring "lmagine's" important lyrics back to life, 30 years after the original -only this time in a completely new style, for an entirely different generation. The single, released on Tommy Boy Records on September 4, 2001, broke the Top 40 on the Billboard Club Play Chart, exactly one week before the horrendous September 1 1th tragedy. 

How did you get into the non-profit industry?

My late father, Siggi B. Wilzig, was an Auschwitz survivor. 59 members of our family were murdered during the Holocaust. As a result of the trauma of human loss, life in the camps and death marches, he suffered from nightmares and severe headaches his entire life, which are both signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D). Therefore, instead of using my singing voice and songwriting ability to simply entertain, I decided to use those talents to raise awareness and money for the fight against P.T.S.D.

Tell us about The Peaceman Foundation.

The Foundation is a 501©(3) and donates to a large variety of other charities that relate to the mission statement, to help those suffering from P.T.S.D. as a result of buylling, hatred, violence or persecution.

What partnerships have you created with Peaceman and how has it helped your charity succeed?

The biggest recipients are The Trevor Project and Wounded Warrior Project. The Trevor Project provides a suicide prevention hotline to teen LGBT community members contemplating suicide. The Wounded Warrior Project also provides a suicide hotline to members of the armed forces contemplating suicide.

What is your proudest moment you've achieved while running Peaceman?

The proudest moment was joining Superheroes Anonymous, a group of young men and women who dress as real life superheroes and go out into the community and help people in need. When we fed the homeless, you could see the eyes of the recipients that what we were doing was deeply appreciated and made a difference.

How would you define a great philanthropist?             

A great philanthropist is one who gives as much as possible each and every year.

Who inspires you to be the best?

Sir Bob Geldorf has inspired me the most. The global concert he produced, “Live Aid”, did more for hunger in Africa than anyone in history.

Describe a great night out for you.

The best night out for me is 7th row center orchestra seats for one of the great musicals on Broadway.

What literature is on your bed stand?

Hugh Hefner’s Life Story and John Lennon’s Life Story.

What's next for Peaceman and Ivan Wilzig?

The Peaceman Foundation is about to enter a new level. I wrote an anti-bullying song called “Kiss All The Bullies Goodbye”, produced by Paul Oakenfold and featuring pop star Taylor Dayne. With this song and video, I plan to change the world’s attitude toward bullying and raise great funds for anti-bullying charities.


To promote peace through his music, Sir Ivan always performs in a cape adorned with a large Swarovski Crystal peace sign on the back, which has earned him the title "PEACEMAN”, the rockstar superhero fighting for peace. ln 2007 , Stan Lee, the most famous superhero creator of all time, personally selected Sir Ivan to star as a finalist on the NBC Sci Fi Channel hit series "Who Wants to Be a Superhero"? This coincided with Sir Ivan's performance on VH1's highly-rated "The Fabulous Life of the Hamptons". Around the same time, the Travel Channel was running "Grand Castles of America" (featuring Sir lvan's medieval-style Castle) and the WE Channel was airing his love life on "Single in the City -The Hamptons". The combination of these four major cable channels simultaneously including Sir Ivan in their programming vastly increased his popularity in America -while in France and Germany, he became a household name due to his unforgettable antics on numerous European television shows that reached millions of viewers.

All of Sir Ivan's recording artist royalties from full-length album sales of "l AM PEACEMAN" will go to The Peaceman Foundation, a charity which he established specifically to battle hatred and violence -especially to protect those who are perceived as different -and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; a terrifying mental problem which often results from exposure to violence. Sir Ivan is passionate about these causes and about helping those who might feel like outsiders, because as the son of a Holocaust survivor he was brought up with a heightened awareness of the harm that being perceived as different can cause. One cause he is particularly passionate about is the need to stop bullying, as he has seen the devastating impact this has had, particularly among LGBT youth.
An original documentary titled Sir Ivan: "l AM PEACEMAN" has just been completed for television and a reality show is in development, based on Sir Ivan's eccentric lifestyle and passionate quest to change the world.


Power Publicist: Stephen Huvane, Founding Partner at Slate PR

Stephen Huvane is a veteran entertainment publicist with over 24 years in the industry.  Currently he is a partner in the firm SLATE PR where he overseas the press campaigns for the following clients: Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Barkin, Amy Brenneman, Nicolas Cage, Giada De Laurentiis, Entertainment Industry Foundation (Stand Up 2 Cancer), Isla Fisher, goop, Chelsea Handler, Anne Hathaway, Bryce Dallas Howard, Helen Hunt, Eva Mendes,  Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicola Peltz, Meg Ryan and Liv Tyler.

Huvane started his career working as a Jr publicist at the firm Baker Winokur Ryder where he assisted in the press campaigns for Michael J Fox, Dylan McDermot and many others.  After three years at BWR renowned entertainment publicist Susan Geller recruited him to work at her firm Geller and Associates for another three years.  Eager to start his own firm, he partnered with Simon Halls and Robin Baum to form Huvane/Baum/Halls.   The newly formed company thrived and added high profile clients like Russell Crowe, Ang Lee and James Franco, USA Networks and many more to their roster.  After a eight year successful run Huvane, along with his partners sold Huvane Baum Halls to advertising giant IPG where they agreed to merge their company with competitor PMK to form a new company called PMK/HBH.  After a period of eight more years working at PMK/HBH, Huvane and his original partners (Baum and Halls) joined up with Ina Treciokas and Andy Gelb to form what is now known as SLATE PR.

How did you get into the PR industry and why?

I originally got into the PR industry by chance.  I had moved from NYC to LA basically to change up my life.  I was looking to take some time off to re-evaluate what I wanted to do career wise.  I was in the IT human resources and recruitment business prior to my relocation to Los Angeles.  After only a month or so of taking time off I started to get restless. I had a friend named Nanci Ryder who was a partner at Baker Winokur Ryder and she suggested I check out the publicity world in regards to actor representation.  I went to work for her as an assistant and quickly progressed to being a publicist after signing several new clients.

How does your firm utilize social media and stay ahead of competitors?

The unique thing about our firm is that we represent actors, actresses, directors, producers, films, events, charities, and corporations. With each client, social media will play either a huge part of their campaign or a very small part depending upon the comfort level of the client.  Since I personally solely represent actors and actresses, we can completely set up a client on all social media platforms and guide them through keeping content relevant and entertaining.  However there are some clients who refuse to engage in the social media world and we also support that position.  The very nature of an actor is to maintain a sense of mystery in their persona so that when taking on a role, the preconceived ideas of their public persona does not get in the way of the audience buying into them playing the role.  Additionally social media can contribute to over-exposure for hugely popular clients and its then that we recommend pulling back on social media interaction.

What brands do you rep and what is the niftiest PR move you have implemented for them?

I don't represent Brands – I represent people. 

Your greatest success and mistakes as a CEO and what did you learn from them?

I am not one to toot my own horn nor am I one to scream out my failures.  I have been fortunate enough to find success in this field mostly due to my instincts and ability to navigate dynamic situations.   Of course there have been mistakes along the way but each mistake has made me better in the end.  I wouldn't feel comfortable pointing out any specific successes but I am very proud of the longevity of my career and that I have represented many of my clients for over 20 years now.

What traits make a great publicist?

A good sense of judgement, taste and timing and an ability to know when to step it up and pull it back.  I can read people very well and I learned very early in my career that my instincts tend to be right so I will always follow them.

Life Motto?

Life is short so stop wasting my time!

What's the most interesting headline you read this week?

Each week when the weekly celebrity rags come out - I'm astonish at the nerve these magazines have with their ludicrous headlines.  There was a time when you would see about 20 percent truth in the tabloids, but now-a-days 90 percent of what you read is completely fabricated.  I think for the most part the headlines on the tabloids have made the readers numb to celebrity news.

Favorite travel destination?

Anywhere in Europe and Mexico

Describe a great night out.

I'm very boring in this regard as a great night out is Margaritas and Mexican food with my husband.  Keeping it simple.

Role model - business and personal?

Professionally I have a few role models.  Nanci Ryder from BWR (Baker Winokur Ryder) who gave me my first job in this industry taught me a lot about actor representation.  Paul Bloch from Rogers and Cowan is a legend in this business and I have always admired his gentle and compassionate approach to what can be a brutal business.  Personal role models are my family members.   My father has worked very hard to raise and support 6 children who are all successful in their fields.  My sister Denise was one of my first bosses coming out of College and I have learned so much about work ethic and professional integrity from her. My Brother Kevin is both a personal and professional role model in that I have seen him rise to the top of his field, yet he is one of the most extraordinarily loyal and generous men I have ever come across in my life.

What's next for your firm and you personally?

For SLATE PR we continue to be a leader in the field of entertainment PR and have enjoyed a comfortable level of expansion with each year we are in business.  I personally remain committed to representing my clients to the best of my ability while still having fun.  I promised myself a long time ago that when the fun in my job ceased to exist – that is when I would throw in the towel.  Fortunately for me - I'm having a blast!


Retail Tech Titan: Soraya Darabi, Co-Founder of Zady

Soraya Darabi is the co-founder of, a shopping platform and lifestyle destination for the next generation of consumers who care  about the origins of the items they purchase. Zady launched to rave  reviews in August 2013, and was featured on the cover of The Wall  Street Journal’s “Off Duty” section with an article entitled: Feel-Good Fashion: The New Black.

What Whole Foods has done for the organic food movement, Zady does for sourced products. Zady is amongst the first online retailers to  seamlessly integrate commerce, rich media content and social media to provide customers with a dynamic shopping experience. On Zady,  customers can learn about the conscious consumer movement and  purchase beautiful goods that were created with craftsmanship and artisanship – qualities that have been sacrificed in a world of cheap prices and fast production. Early this year, Zady was named one of The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Retail by Fast Company and one of 22 Instagram Accounts Fashionistas Should Follow in 2014 by

How did you get into the media/tech industry? 

I began my career as an intern at The Washington and it was so useful in showing me the ropes of an industry I came to love.  From there I worked for Conde Nast Publications on the digital side, before moving to and focusing on social media marketing and digital partnerships. I am, and always have been, a media addict - though media changes year after year, which is why it's such an exciting field to be a part of.  

What are you biggest successes and mistakes as a CEO and how have you learned from them?

As a Co-CEO you hear how important  it is set the right behavior by example. That said, sometimes you must be careful to set behavior that is healthy or repicable. For instance,  my business partner and I are up at 6 am daily answering emails to one another and our team.  We send our last emails just before we sleep at 11 or so.  If we expected every member of our team to adhere to these hours, we would all burn out very quickly.  So the biggest lesson to learn as a CEO is to be flexible with the rules, and to take in as much advice as you can handle, but ultimately to trust your instincts first and foremost.  

Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur? 

Remain confident in your idea.  Many will tell you it's no good, it wont work out.  Perseverance and determination are 90% of success.  Forge ahead with your passion and your dream! 

What products on Zady are consumers most interested in and what are your favorites?

Our customers live all over the country and range in age from early twenties to their mid seventies! So there isn't a one-size fits all product.  That said, our home goods are universally loved, like the Le Feu De Leu candles, made by hand under water in LA.  They smell divine.  Everyone loves our Ellepi Whale Staplers made in Northern Italy because the design is so beautiful and really makes an office desk pop with color.  My favorite item we carry are the Mercado Global Weekender bags made by artisans in Guatemala.  MG is a non-profit that celebrates over 10 years of helping women in central America.  They employee 300 artisans to make these bags, which I now use as luggage more often than not.  The textiles are gorgeous and the importance of the work of this ngo is never lost on me as I take the bag to a new destination.  

Life Motto?

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." 

Favorite travel destination?

Zanzibar,  I went for the first time with my sister while she was on a work trip in East Africa.  I fell in love with the people, the climate, the local spices, the jungle and the beaches.  And, of course, the food. It's my happy place. 

What literature is on your bed stand?

The Goldfinch. A Thousand Splendid Suns. My Life In France.  Those are the three most recent books I've read and I just loved each one.  My mother is great lead-gen for literature and my friend Melanie, who works at The New Yorker, and my friend Chrysanthe, who started Brooklyn Based and I are beginning a book club together.  I feel old having a book club for fiction - but it's really an essential luxury of life.  

Role model - business and personal?

I have formal and informal mentors.  I meet monthly with Linda Rottenberg, who began Endevour which helps high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. She's amazing.  Beth Comstock, the CMO of GE is a mentor who has helped my career enormously, as has Fran Hauser, a Zady investor and GP at Rothenberg Ventures.  My newest mentor is Carol Hochman, who began Danskin and recently founded Women in America.  We meet monthly to discuss our business and growth plans.  Each mentor offers invaluable advice and I feel pretty lucky to have them as a part of my network.  

What's next for Zady and Soraya Darabi

What's next for Zady is that our community is growing day after day and we are enjoying watching crowdswell.  What's next for me, personally, is my first vacation since our company launched. I'm going to Beijing with the World Economic Forum in September for the annual YGL conference and truly can't wait. 


Following her tenure at the Times, Soraya served as Product Lead for, a real-time online sharing, collaboration, and presentation service (acquired by Facebook). She then went on to co-found the
mobile application Foodspotting, named by Apple and Wired Magazine as an “app of the year” before
being acquired by Open Table.

Soraya was recently featured on the cover of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” issue,
and Brandweek’s “Hot Digital” issue, and was named one of Inc. Magazine's "30 Under 30," and
included in AdAge’s “25 People in Media to Follow on Twitter.”

Soraya received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Georgetown University.