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Behind the Scenes with our CEO, Michael Buckley
By Gabbi Tiangco August 14, 2020 12 min read
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Michael's unwavering leadership, eminent optimism, and love of Nicolas Cage continues to inspire our vagabond team of wanderlusters to transcend and elevate how the world can experience every moment with Cadence.

Let's start with what's topical, when Covid-19 hit, how do you think Cadence was not only able to survive but also thrive?

As an event technology company, I wish I could say that we were destined to have tremendous success, because the entire world will now go towards virtual events. However, that was not clear to me when COVID started. Like many, I unfortunately thought, 'What happens now when there's no in-person events?' It dawned on us around April/ May that this was the worst case scenario for the industry. Luckily for us, and strangely enough, it ended up being best case scenario. Even if in-person events don't come back until the middle of 2021, this 600+ billion dollar industry will still need to have events, because it's one of the best marketing outlets for any brand or company. In fact, events may be even more important now in the virtual world. People are yearning for the ability to socialize and connect, because everyone has been staying at home for months. That's really allowed our platform to shine during this time. It's just beautiful to see all these different industries, all these different types of events, all these different event sizes and use cases, find their way to Cadence. And fortunately, we're a platform that's able to support most of these event types and new spaces. It's been an incredible ride and journey for our company from February until now.

What makes Cadence different from any other event platform?

With in-person events, organizers are always in full control over their brands by controlling the lighting, sound, signage, and overall experience when you are in person. Now that no longer exists. They're still going to want to have their events, which will all go virtual and their brand is going to be beholden to the virtual platform that they choose. Cadence is one of, if not the best technologies in the industry, because an organization will have total control over extending their brand through the imagery, the logos, the color scheme, etc. It feels like it's a website that may have taken weeks or months to be customized to that brand, but it's all able to be configured directly through our platform. We also focus on the ability to have 1-on-1 and group appointments between attendees or with a company and their customers. Once Covid happened, we shifted really quickly to be able to easily facilitate these appointments for the individuals integrating it with online meeting platforms. An attendee can see available dates and times converted to their time zone wherever they are in the world. And once they confirm the appointment, the online meeting link is automatically generated and added to their calendar. To be able to allow hundreds to thousands of appointments occur globally with ease was a huge accomplishment for our company, which we have received tremendous positive feedback on thus far.

Alright, let's get into the good stuff! What does a normal day Michael Buckley's life today look like?

It changes quite a bit, but the themes remain relatively the same. I try to make a commitment to own my morning, ideally writing in my journal ✍️, reading 📖, meditating 💆‍♂️ or some form of physical exercise 🏋️‍♂️ so that my first hour is not too focused on work. Then when I do begin my work for the morning, I really try to embody the idea of you know, eating the frog 🐸 or focusing on your most important task by trying to have identified one big thing that I can work on that will thrive for the company the most.

Eating the frog? What does that mean?

Eating the frog is the most uncomfortable thing. Oftentimes, the most important thing you can do is the thing that's most difficult to do. You know, we're busy working, be-it taking meetings, answering e-mails, doing granular work, basically just busy work, which is much easier work. Eating the frog would be trying to start your day by doing the most difficult thing. For me, eating the frog might be writing. Writing is very difficult for me. So I'm really focusing that 90 minutes to two hours to really just sit down and collect my thoughts and try to write.

'Eating the Frog': Identify your most important task of the day and get it done first. No distractions!

What else do you do to stay productive?

I try to time-block or batch tasks together. If I'm going to answer emails or do some of that busy work, I'll try to do that three to four times a day. Much easier said than done. You tend to get decision fatigue and the cost of switching tasks so frequently doesn't allow you to perform at your highest level. I'm also very weird with my eating habits. I do very much focus on intermittent fasting. I have a feeding window, which all the team members always make fun of me for! I'm also kind of compulsive about sleep, so I'll try to do as much as I can to optimize sleep. When I'm ready to completely close out the day, I just kind of shut everything else off so that I am ready to have that same level of energy the next day. And that's where I'll then try to really focus on play or fun or socializing with family and friends in the evening or just read and relax, things of that nature as well are really important to me. Oh! When I'm looking through my day and there are opportunities that you get to walk, I always try to take advantage of it to get 10,000 steps in 🤷‍♂️.

Can you tell me one thing that that you find true that almost no one would agree with you on?

Well, that's a great question. One thing that does come to mind is that to others, it seems crazy to try to do so many things in one day or in a week or a month. People constantly say, 'it must feel overwhelming' or 'that must be anxiety inducing' or 'you must be so tired', but it honestly never feels that way. I just don't believe in the word busy. I think everything you choose to do in your life is just about prioritizing what's most important to you. It's all about how you choose to structure your day and then filling your day with as many of those moments and experiences as possible.

I just don't believe in the word busy.

You know, our company is about experiencing every moment, and we really try to have all those experiences at an event. And I try to live my life the same exact way where every day something special or magical can happen. Everything you do can be an experience.

What would your ideal day-off look like?

I haven't had one in almost a decade, so I'm probably not the best person to answer this 😂. I love spending the mornings (especially on a Saturday when I can really tune out) kind of learning, especially because I do tend to still wake up earlier than anyone I'm with. And then I love doing some sort of physical fitness, then brunch with family or friends is my everything, to then have some sort of, again, sense of play or adventure throughout the day. I'd love to just go into the city or go to a museum or doing a show or go to see music, have a romantic dinner and then end with a relaxing night. That would be my ideal day where no work was involved whatsoever.

With three adjectives, how would your best friend describe you?

Oh umm lovably annoying.

And maybe bad at directions LOL. Lovably annoying.. that's two... Want to add a third in there?

Lovable, annoying and energetic.

Where was your first job?

My first job was the day I got out of college at World Wrestling Entertainment in their digital media department. It was my dream job! I really loved the products and the entertainment they were providing, and I wanted to be able to contribute to it in some way. It was a huge learning lesson for me, because I disagreed so much with how the company was being run. It led to me becoming one of those employees that maybe became a negative energy or contributed to a negative culture, because I was always so frustrated by the way they were doing things. All the customers and users were saying 'we want this and that' but they weren't giving it to them. Each day I would go in with this frustrated, negative vibe and maybe I stayed there a little longer than I should have. After about 18 months, I realized I didn't factor myself in at all because I'm an eternal optimist. Thankfully though, I was working in digital media with streaming video and creating platforms, which I loved. It was a wonderful teaching moment for me. I realized if you are passive aggressive or getting frustrated and it's still not improving, you need to be real with yourself about why and how can you help create change. Stop complaining. And if you can't, then maybe it's time for a new job.

If you could relive a moment in your life, what would that be and can you walk me through that?

I have to think about the PG answers 🤣.

I'll let you go up til PG-13 😶.

When I started a company and thought about what I wanted, one of the dreams I had was to be able to take the company to Coachella. I dreamt for the day that as an events company, we could bring all employees to Coachella and we did that. To me it was one of the most magical, if not the best moment we had as a company. Our dream was to do that once again this year, because when we first went, there were about six to eight employees and now we have 16. Having that magical moment again with the company now twice the size, that's the single moment in my memory I'd love to re-live again.

On your very best day, a day where you come home and think to yourself, wow, I have the best job in the world. And based off our conversation I'm sure that has happened many times, what happened that day to make you say that?

Something I've thought so actively about during leadership trainings and coaching workshops is one's approach and attitude towards things. And again, it's much, much easier said than done, but I try to actively apply it to my life. For example, I can say 'Well, I have to do this prospective customer call at 10:30,' and instead looking at it like 'I am blessed to be able to have a customer interested in finding out more about Cadence at 10:30.' That shift in mindset and approach can make all the difference in the world. I remember a day pretty recently where I had existing customer calls that went incredibly well and it led to new business. But truly, the best moments that I have had are with our Cadence team members when I helped guide them, give advice or got to really engage with them. I always come out of it feeling super inspired and motivated for what's next. I consciously acknowledge that that is where I feel most happy and feel like I've done something of true value. So I'm trying to shift the way that I work currently to do that as much as possible and be there much more as a guide to my team.

What do you think of garden gnomes?

I think they're delightful! They they create joy in my life whenever I see them.

Have you ever had one yourself?

No, I don't think so. But my family on my father's side are all from England and gardening is their passion. It's funny how in New York, L.A. and other places in the world, success is defined by your achievements, your financial wealth or your physical looks. But in England, it's based so much on what your garden looks like, how beautifully trimmed it is and what flowers or vegetables you have. So being around my family planted the thought that to have garden gnomes, well that's a staple of success.

Who or what has shaped who you are?

My mother, without a doubt. I unfortunately didn't find out how similar our careers were until after she passed. She was as a female trailblazer in technology, achieving significant success at large corporations. She was a CIO which meant that she was great at communication, distributing information, and a master delegator, all of which might not be my greatest strengths. So I try to live up to those lofty standards and/or surpass it. Once she passed, I learned that she had left those large corporations to join startups to help formulate and shape the trajectory of a company that was growing in the tech space. Outside of her success within technology, she also focused on empowering females within business to believe that they can find the corporate ladder, join advisory boards etc. She's always been calm under pressure, and never once complained, even in her five year battle with cancer. She always thought about what the potential solution can be, how she could bring people together, and was so conscious of how other people might feel. Her outlook and positivity in life is so inspiring. She is my inspiration and so much of what I think has made me a great leader.

Before we close out, final thoughts on filling in this sentence, I came out of quarantine....

Excited about the possibilities.

Gabbi Tiangco
Gabbi Tiangco
Marketing Strategist
Gabbi is a Marketing Strategist at Cadence. She loves purposeful branding, can survive on cheese alone and uses the phrase “tinkering around” way too much. Her dream event is a boat-in concert (think drive in movie but with boats) and she'll never get tired of listening to Seth Rogen’s laugh.
Gabbi is a Marketing Strategist at Cadence. She loves purposeful branding, can survive on cheese alone and uses the phrase “tinkering around” way too much. Her dream event is a boat-in concert (think drive in movie but with boats) and she'll never get tired of listening to Seth Rogen’s laugh.