By Cosette Strong

In this new interview series conducted monthly across a virtual platform, I will give you a window into chats with Clem as he shares his thoughts about a number of things: 2020’s impact on his industry of Live Event Production, the relevance of why CLEMCO is moving in a new direction, and lastly, where we should be directing our focus in 2021. 

Cosette: So… you’ve been in this business for a while now. You have many ways for people to engage with you and for them to get information about the industry. If I wanted to learn about you and CLEMCO and all you’re doing, I could check out your blog or a podcast. I could connect with you on social media too. But – this newsletter is new, a bit of a departure from what you’ve done thus far. [I raise an eyebrow.] You know I have to ask: Why now?

[FLASHBACK | May 2020:

I started thinking back to the first time I officially met Clem. As a Learning Architect, Executive Consultant and Project Manager, I design and produce a number of Live Virtual Trainings (LVT) from a content perspective. Clem works on the technical side of these LVTs, and that’s how our paths crossed. Working together as part of a team during COVID, we first met while he was on the other side of the screen during a virtual training call. Small talk led to me asking him about his journey and his path to get where he is today. During our first time meeting in-person, Clem’s passion and positivity was inspiring! His natural coaching style is evident – I now understand why peers, clients and others in his industry come to him for coaching and consulting. He asked about my journey and my past freelance experience, as well as my current role and future aspirations. He talked with me about his mission, his vision, how he’s meeting this unique moment in time, and he also gave me some wisdom to help my own business thrive, not just survive.]

Clem: Why now? [Clem laughs.] I say, “Why not?” [Clem leans closer to the screen. His face lights up.] In 2019, just before the new year, I noticed that some people saw 2020 as a year to have or see a vision. I saw 2020 as the year to start to really execute my vision – not just seeing it and believing it, because I always say that, but to really start achieving it. [Clem looks away from the screen for a second, and off into the distance.] For me, 2020 was that hard reset – that CTRL+ALT+DEL, or Force Quit. That fresh start. [His eyes meet the screen again.] Executing on the plan was my way of taking advantage of that opportunity.

Cosette: [I nod slowly.] Okay, okay… Interesting. For a lot of people in 2020, the Force Quit that COVID created made them stop and stall. [I lean back in my chair and squarely face the screen and Clem’s eyes, considering.] But you – you went in a different direction – you did the opposite. When did you start planning to execute the vision?

Clem: [Clem looks up at the sky, then back at me] Really, in 2016. But, in 2019, I needed to plan to provide the framework for this big idea. You could say, I had the idea for a show in 2016, but I truly started the pre-production in 2019. Yeah, that was really the start – see the structure, then create the infrastructure. My big idea was to help people learn how to approach their whole selves – life, work, family – from a different perspective. [Clem puts his hands up and becomes more animated] But how? How do we do that? How do we build a strong foundation and go from there?

[FLASHBACK | June 2010:

My own entrepreneurial experience was, in a word, accidental. Personal circumstances found me creating full-scale culinary pieces: cakes that looked like shoes, purses and football stadiums, cupcake trees and wedding dessert buffets. What started out as a small hobby and love of dessert creation quickly bloomed into a full-scale business. All homegrown without formal business or culinary education. The lessons I learned from that time were valuable and remain with me even though I am no longer a culinary artist and business owner. Now that I know what I know, I often think it would have been nice to have a resource like Clem to assist me so I could have avoided some of the missteps and been more successful.]

Cosette: [I smile.] I love that idea. [I lean in, eyes level with his through the screen.] I’m going to ask again, though: Why?

Clem: Because it’s my mission. [Clem’s expression turns serious.] It’s what I have to do… my calling. It’s because of what I’ve been through as I’ve tried to navigate the life of an independent contractor/business owner. I’ve learned so much – learned from my wife, learned from people in my network, and learned from my own missteps. And I wanted – no, needed – to take this 20 years of professional working experience and use it to help others.

[FLASHBACK | November 2020:

After hearing this, I recall my initial in-person conversation with Clem again. At that time, he said something that stuck with me: “Don’t get caught flat-footed.” When he first said it, I laughed. My feet are actually very flat. But as he explained the meaning behind it, it resonated with me on a deeper level. Clem never stays put; he never rests. He’s always trying harder, bringing one more person along, and climbing higher to achieve greater. His energy is incessant and infectiousNot getting caught ‘flat-footed’ is part of his DNA.]

Cosette: And that dedication and passion – that resolve – you turned it into something tangible, how? Where did you start?

Clem: Well… it’s really a number of things. But where I started was writing in 2019. I published my first book, Career Projection 101, on April 3, 2020 at the start of the pandemic. The funny thing is – that wasn’t supposed to be the first book in the series, but [Clem laughs.] that’s how it turned out. I guess you could say it was something I feltled to do… Have you ever had that feeling? Something you can’t explain, but something you felt so driven to do that you were fearful of what would happen if you didn’t? That’s what I felt. I had to do my part to help others learn the things I wish I knew when I started in this industry as an independent contractor. It’s really about a small part of my holistic journey – what that has looked like – all in 9 chapters. But like I said, it’s only the first book of three.

Cosette: And your goal in writing those books – what role does this newsletter play? What will be the focal point?

Clem: This is my way to reach out and help people in the only way I know how – through my own experiences. I also want an opportunity to show others what we should all focus on to make success in this industry, shoot, in life, attainable, not just aspirational. It’s also a way to share important information – things that are needed to make thatsuccess possible from a business standpoint.  [Clem smiles and his eyes shine.] If you see it and believe it, you can achieve it! I say that all the time. My experience tells me it’s true.

Why now? Because it’s time. It’s past time. Time to learn from missteps, connect with and help others, and achieve success as independent contractors and small business owners, together. Look for my next connection point with Clem, as we talk about why it’s absolutely necessary that we pause and go back in order to go forward.


By Clem Harrod

There is a Zulu word that Nelson Mandela often used to inspire the people of South Africa: Ubuntu. The most common translation for it is I am because we are. It is a philosophy for teamwork at a different level, one where everyone is being the best they can, for the greater good. If you happen to catch the interview with Coach Doc Rivers on the Netflix show, Playbook, you’ll hear him talk about how he and the Boston Celtics lived by the Ubuntu philosophy, in good times and bad.Ubuntu recognizes and celebrates each person’s uniqueness, their skills, their talents, and sees them as part of a universal effort. It’s about belonging to every person around you, and them belonging to you, so that you are collectively working to make the world a better place. Then by extension, we are all giving others grace in their humanity.Ironically, Doc Rivers was the head coach of the Orlando Magic when I first started working there. This philosophy took root in his coaching a few years later, but I have believed in Ubuntu from my first day in production. You have to. Many of us travel to work events, and on those trips, we inevitably build relationships and friendships with one another. Sometimes our home lives suffer, and sometimes we take our own frustrations out on people at work.When you come from a place of Ubuntu, you look at each other as not just a fellow technician or team member, but more so a brother or sister. With Ubuntu, your compassion for one another is immeasurable. “Where you may have fallen short, I will take on your load, and where I am falling short, I pray you will be my support.”When I was in college and pledged my fraternity, we had a ritual where we carried our line brothers on our back and ran across campus chanting, “He’s my brother; he’s not heavy!” This taught us to support one another, and that the load we carry is not our own. It is bearable because my brother is there with me.When we work an event, we all have a common goal to accomplish. We are going to do it together, and we should all look to do it with the best possible attitude. None of us can take this journey alone, and the more we support each other, the more we are supported in turn.No one in the audience knows the amount of work that went into creating the masterpiece they are experiencing. They can’t comprehend the hours of prep and labor that was put into that one event for that one client, and they don’t realize it was a massive team effort. There’s no way I could walk into a ballroom and build a complete show from audio, video, staging, rigging, and lighting by myself. Nor would I want to. We are all dependent upon one another for our individual success.When you understand that, you will approach and treat your job differently. People will then approach and treat you differently because they know you are going to do what it takes to help others succeed. You will find more satisfaction and pride in your craft, and every day you work, you will feel blessed.When you are in an industry that you love, and you feel passionate about your work, you will naturally execute everything to the best of your ability. When I got into this field, I had no idea how much money I could make. I was here because I was excited to use the gifts and talents God gave me. Because I was focused only on doing my best, serving others, and taking ownership of what mattered, the money followed. With every single job, I put my heart and soul into the work because the image on the screen is just as much a reflection of my love for this industry as it is for my client.