ep 24 - Brandon Gilson

Brandon has held corporate roles from 2012 to 2017. With sports teams, PR firms consulting and more. He is currently the president of TBSVIP Concierge He founded the company as The Best Seats in 2012. As a Senior in college at Lasell University and went full time September 2017. Brandon’s company has over 10,000 clients worldwide with 80% of their business in New England and the rest of the 20% across the world with various hospitals, hotels, law firms, accounting firms, health care and so much more. TBSVIP is their concierge for entertainment for both personal and business requests. TBSVIP has customized meet and greet experiences in the past for clients with the Backstreet Boys, LeBron James, Michelle Obama, The Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, Andy Cohen, Ric Flair, Anderson Cooper, Trey Young, Billy Eilish, Mac Miller, Dwayne Wade and so much more.

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Pamela Bardhi 

Brandon Gilson.  Brandon has held corporate roles from 2012 to 2017. With sports teams, PR firms consulting, and more. He is currently the president of TBS VIP Concierge. He founded The Best Seats in 2012. As a senior in college at LaSalle University. He went full-time in September 2017. Brandon’s company has over 10,000 clients worldwide, with 80% of their business in New England, and the rest of the 20% across the world, with various hospitals, hotels, law firms, accounting firms, health care and so much more. TBS VIP is their concierge for entertainment for both personal and business requests. TBS VIP has customized meet and greets experiences in the past for clients with the Backstreet Boys. LeBron James, Michelle Obama, Patriots Celtics Bruins, Andy Cohen, Ric Flair, Khalid, Anderson Cooper, Trey Young, Billie Eilish, FGL, Josh Groban, Jeezy, Mac Miller, Dwayne Wade and so much more. Today, we welcome our super awesome guest, Brandon Gilson. 

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Underdog. We have an awesome, awesome guest here. One of my good friends here, Brandon Gilson. Brandon. Welcome.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Pleasure. Thank you for having me today, Pam.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Oh, it’s an absolute honor to have you. I know we’ve been following each other for a while. We got a lot of stuff going on. Were always supporting each other, rooting for each other on social media. So, I’m so psyched to have you here today. I want to actually hear your story in-depth for the first time, personally, myself, and then also to all the guests who are listening.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Definitely.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

So, Brandon here comes the million-dollar question. Who are you? How did you start?

 

Brandon Gilson 

That’s the million-dollar question. Right.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Yeah.

 

Brandon Gilson 

So, I oversee all the day-to-day operations here at The Best Seats VIP concierge. I’ll start you know, with how it all came to life, I guess you can say. And I was a senior, I was at LaSalle college. I was 21 at the time, and I started our current company back then on a very small scale. And I was like the go-to guy, Pam for premium tickets to all the hottest events, so concerts. And, and how I got there, you know, it was just simply from networking, and you know, from building up the people around me so that I could, you know, leverage all of my resources and all the access that I have my fingers on. So, I would help people go backstage at concerts, sit in the front row, sit on the 50-yard line in all the football games. It’s like premium, high-end unique access that you can’t just find online. So, I positioned myself as the go-to guy that could get anything done. But I then graduated college, I worked in the real world, as they say, you know. I had a nine to five, you know, for about five years, working in sports and entertainment, music sales, customer service, but it was through those experiences, and you know, those stepping stones in my career, Pam, and it opened up my eyes that I want it to be my own boss. I wanted to put all my time and all my effort into the company that I started back in 2012. So, over those five years, I built up even more new relationships and I met thousands of awesome folks. And I said to myself, listen my personal happiness lies within being my own boss not having any strings attached, and doing whatever I want with our company. Because of the access that I found myself having in my back pocket, that people were paying a premium for. And I was getting calls from companies and athletes, their families and just customizing everything from A to Z for them.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s so dope. So, your story fascinates me, and I love it. I love what you’re doing because I see sort of the expansion and sort of where you’re heading and where your market is, and it’s so exciting. So, how did you even get there in the first place? Like how did you become the go-to guy? What was the path that sort of took you down that route first to get you there?

 

Brandon Gilson 

First, I wish it was more sexy answer, Pam, because I get this question 100 times every day and I don’t know if you agree with this. Is there something sexy about entrepreneurship, because I don’t know if there is. There’s a lot of grit, like endless nights, like endless days but like you, just putting myself out there, just shaking everyone’s hands, kissing babies, networking my ass off. Everyone is a potential relationship that I can either help out or that I can you bring business to but just on a small-scale selling ticket. I don’t like the whole concept but selling tickets, working corporate, meeting some really cool people, just building up a book of business with businesses and corporations that were looking for this type of service.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Absolutely. So, tell me about like the first gig you ever did.

 

Brandon Gilson 

I don’t remember because we’ve done so many to date for the past seven years now.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Back in like what is a 2012 was when you started?

 

Brandon Gilson 

2012, during my senior year, is when I started this on a small scale. Yeah.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

What was like the first event that you were like alright, I’m going to start off with this one?

 

Brandon Gilson 

They were like so many. I was getting killed with phone calls and emails saying, hey, B, you know, I need courtside seats for the Celtics. I want to find my family out to Tampa for the Superbowl and I’m just like wow, I have the access to do it but it’s awesome that they’re putting their trust in me to do everything.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

It started in 2012, was when you started these events sort of from the ground up. You started doing the premium access at that.

 

Brandon Gilson  

Word of marketing myself as someone that can get access to premium and experiences.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

How did you get access to that?

 

Brandon Gilson 

Magician never tells her secret, right, Pam?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Right. You’re right. You’re right. You’re right. Networking.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Yeah, true. I mean, there’s no sexy answer. People always ask, Brandon, how you get that access? Listen, I just always put myself out there and I’m always asking what can I do for you and who you know.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Yeah, so it’s the trade secret. So, I can’t really ask you that. But what drew you actually, so this is the better question, what drew you to the event space more than like anything else. Events and like travel and that kind of thing.

 

Brandon Gilson 

The excitement behind it, you know. The uniqueness, the sexiness, the exclusivity, just the whole ‘wow factor’. I mean you’re living proof. Tell everyone about the experience that we helped you out with last year.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

The one thing that I think is brilliant about what you’re doing is that you’re investing in experiences and honestly, that’s where the business world is going. The real things can be found on Amazon, they can be found in like different things. But I will forever remember that experience for the rest of my life. My mom will tell you. And so, every single time that we think about it, it’s just like this was a great experience and it’s so well worth it. You really can’t put price tags on things like that you know what I mean. It was so well worth it. But it’s like where are you going to get that access, so thank you so much for that experience and I can see why it’s sort of blowing up for you. Because, I mean, this is the type of thing that people are investing in these days like I was just saying. I mean, you got amazon, you got all these different competitors in terms of the material market but like now everything’s becoming experiential marketing. Yes, so everything, even retail stores are adding that experience factor to all of their stores because you know the product itself no longer cuts it so I just think it’s so fascinating and it’s amazing to me that you’ve been in it for seven years. And you’re in the perfect position in the market right now, aside from COVID. But your positioning is perfect because you’re sort of leading yourself up to what’s next in the global marketplace. I just think it’s fascinating. I mean, what did you want to be when you grow up, though? Because that’s one thing that I want to know because I always talked to producers about this like before they got into this business like where did you think you were going to be?

 

Brandon Gilson 

I feel like what everyone else wants it to be when they were like growing up you know, playing sports, basketball player, a hip-hop artist because I just love rap and hip hop. I’m like I can freestyle. Honestly, Pamela, like just and I’m the first to admit this like I didn’t get that entrepreneurship bug in the until I worked corporate. And then, I was like seeing like, whoa this is like not how I’m wired at all. I mean, my father’s a business owner and I always respect the hustle that he has and what he does and I’m like it’s pretty damn cool being your own boss and being able to you know dictate what you can do with the company, what way that you can orchestrate it and just like seeing how things were wrong in the corporate world when I was working for someone, I was like that’s not for me.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s sort of what motivated you to get to the next level and just be like, I’m doing this on my own.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Right, like, seeing how happy we make our clients and like my friends at these experiences, that’s what we, that’s why we do it. Because of the smiles, the testimonials, the happiness, the experiences that are never going to forget, I’m like, this is what I love to do. And it’s my passion.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Right. No, I love that. Like, throughout the years, what was your biggest inspiration sort of growing up?

 

Brandon Gilson 

Ah, just being happy. Like, I mean, seeing my father happy with what he’s doing for work, I would always, like sounds like small things on the side, nothing crazy. And I was just like, seeing the success from as little marketing or promotion that I was doing, you know, for whatever I was selling. I was like, you know, the word is just taking off. And I’m not even like paying for advertisements. And people are just spreading the word about me as like the go-to guy. And I’m just like, This is making me so happy. Why not chase after that as a passion and as a career?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Right, right. Oh, my God. It’s amazing. So, it sounds like you’ve done a big influence on your life.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Yeah, no, for sure. For sure.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

So did he own a business as you were growing up as well, so he sort of entrepreneur?

 

Brandon Gilson 

Yep, still in it. So, he’s in the candy business. So, he owns a beauty company that manufactures and distributes it all over the world.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s amazing. So, you’ve seen the hustle from a young age to just have that always plays a part. I feel like it, especially if you’re a sort of grow up around that you’re just like, you know what it’s like, and so you’re stepping into it. That’s super, super cool. Oh, man.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Even folks like you in my inner circle, like my circle outside of clients and family is very small. I’m the first to admit that everyone’s like, I don’t have time to have 100 friends, right. But keeping folks like you, as someone I see from afar. And I always say this, obviously, but like, you’re also a huge motivating factor for me. Because I’m like, Forbes, Time. I need to catch up to Pamela. Folks like you are huge motivating factors, you know, first for someone like me.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Absolutely no, and I’m also motivated by you that I see, you know, I respect the hustle, and I see it right away, when somebody is just getting it and like for you, you can tell that it’s a passion of yours and that you’re just going to keep excelling. But I love how you were just talking about entrepreneurship that it’s like, I mean, there’s serious grit in this, like everyone says, the sexy thing. So, this is another one of the reasons why I started Underdog and everything that I’m doing, because it’s like, everyone sort of sees me now and hasn’t seen everything that I worked up to up until this point, right? Like, I started in the restaurant business when I was 10. And so, I was like 20 because then, I had my two restaurants after that. But it’s like, it’s a lot of like 18-hour days, 16-hour days, sometimes. That’s how crazy it is. So it’s like, what’s been your experience as an entrepreneur from like, the very beginning, because I know there’s a lot of people out there, especially in the startup world that like struggle in the way beginning. Because as you know, the first three to five years of businesses, like you’re just trying to figure it out.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Exactly.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

And stabilize and not bankrupt yourself at the same time. Because there are just things that you learn throughout the process. Like straight up, I’ve told people I’m like, you know, I’ve maxed out my credit cards, like at the beginning of my business who was going to fund me. Because I didn’t have a backup as a developer who was going to trust what bank was going to trust that Pam Bardhi was going to get this done when she had no track record of building. And then building so much can go wrong, right. So, it’s like, I maxed out my credit cards, to the tea, and like, screwed up my credit because of that, like years ago, it still affects me now, you know what I mean? And I tell people, you want to be an entrepreneur, this is not like I’m on my, like, life is great. Like, it’ll eventually get to that point. But I think like that especially those first five years, so tell me what it was like to sort of go round-up from like, your conceptualization of like starting your business, to really like launch and take off for you.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Yeah, and I mean, as you said, there are just so many unknowns. I mean, you can only control so much, but I had a whole business plan in my mind planned out during the time when I was working corporate for someone else, Pamela. So, I always like this vision of like, how I was going to make that jump from having a guaranteed paycheck every week or whatever it was to, you dictate what you take in and you know, how successful you’re going to be like. There’s no one that’s going to be managing you every day, B. So, I already had a solid core book of companies that were calling me and asking me for a, b, and c you know, and for whatever it was and like family, friends. So, I was very fortunate that I already had a solid whole list of clients that I’ve had under my belt for years upon years. So, it wasn’t like I was starting cold turkey, Pamela, which I’m very, very blessed for. Because I put myself in that position, you know, at some point, I was going to make that jump. I rolled out our internship program about three years ago now, and I bring on two or three interns every semester to help out social media, graphic design, video sales. So, that was part of my whole business plan was to help students like myself, when I was a student, that are hustlers, like us. Give back into, throw them into the whole live experience, because I’m a firm believer that you’ll learn way more outside of the four walls of a classroom by networking and doing what we do best like meeting people. But yeah, those three to five years, like you said, they’re a beast, and that they’ll dictate what’s going to be like for you after that. And we’re coming up on our 30-year anniversary actually in September of when I left my nine to five, my full-time role. So, yeah.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s amazing. So, it seems, was this a side hustle for a while before you? Yeah. So as I know, there’s a lot of people in that position right now. And this is what I always advise people to get into even just real estate them. Like, listen, if you’re thinking about something, you know, as an adult, you got to be realistic in terms of capital and cash flow coming in, like you said, you have a guaranteed paycheck, and so many people are scared to make that jump, right. But I’m like, if you establish your side hustle for a while, jumping off is not going to be as scary, will already have something established sort of throughout your time.

 

Brandon Gilson 

For sure.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

It sounds like it’s exactly what you did. It was very tactful and very smart of you.

 

Brandon Gilson 

And we’re very, very fortunate where in our line of work, Pamela, there’s no overhead because without a storefront, you know, we’re not selling like a tangible product that’s experienced. So, we’re very fortunate, especially during these times, we’re not sitting on anything. Its times like these that will make you appreciate, you know, how you’ve constructed the type of business that you’re in.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

So, the question for you, because you’re sort of facing the Underdog experience right now, during COVID. With events being canceled, and the travel business being down, I mean, of course, it’s only temporary. But yeah, you’ve been forced to pivot, right? All your experiences, because everything was based on events and travel? What have been some ways that you’ve had to sort of shift your business a little bit to keep up with COVID? And then just keep everything rolling? Because I know, you mentioned things coming up, you know, would love to hear all about that?

 

Brandon Gilson 

For sure. And with new challenges come new opportunities, right. We took some time. And, you know, we said how do we navigate these waters by transforming these in person, awesome experiences to now virtual, because we still have the same awesome access to people, that are some pretty cool people that people want to pay money to meet. So anyways, we’re doing virtual cooking lessons with celebrity chefs, we’re doing wine tastings, we’re doing virtual comedy shows, and, you know, virtual short, small concerts. Because companies now more than ever, you know, are looking for things to do, because there’s nothing else to do and people and, you know, all their team is working from home. So it’s like, how do we bring everyone together, Pam, you know, happy hours. You know, have everyone go to the, you know, store and device, you know, it’s like beer, but that’s boring, like, you know, so they’re like, brand new, you know, how can we spice up our zoom call, you know, because we do a zoom call every single day now. So we’re doing things like that, Pamela, we are planning for, you know, what’s around the corner, you know, our hope and our belief are that when this is all over, people will be itching to get back out to sports, concerts, travel, so that’s what we’re hoping for. We’re playing for all the concerts just got pushed out for a whole 12 months till next year, but you got to get creative, you know, like, we can’t just say all right, well, shit, you know, this is not good. And like, it is like, it is what it is. But how are we going to you know, work around it?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

You’re a true hustler by trade. I think entrepreneurship’s just in your blood, my friend because to have that sort of positive attitude. And to be able to pivot that quickly. In times like these where it’s a bit drastic, I would say, I mean, you’re on what you’re literally locked down. Like you’re like, how do we figure this thing out? And here you are doing virtual cooking lessons and doing all these amazing things. So, I give you props for that. Because sometimes, you know, I know during COVID a lot of business owners have had a really hard time pivoting, right?  So, what has been sort of your mind state throughout this whole thing? And how you’ve been shifting and sort of like keeping you in balance like with the business.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Would you agree, Pamela, that it’s all mental like if you talk yourself out of it, if you get yourself into that whole negative Nancy attitude, then you’re done. But if you go the other direction, and you’re just like, I’m not going to let this ruin my business, then you’re going to figure out a way. So, I asked that question, because I actually believe that right now, it’s a mental game. And we’re already, what, five, six months into it, and we’re still here. So, we’re not going to let this hurt our business. But we’re going to keep figuring out new ways. Because, come the winter season, when, when everyone truly is, you know, stuck inside because the weather’s not nice, and you can’t go outside. Again, more than ever, companies need to figure out a cool way to spice up the culture. So, we’ll be okay. Behind the scenes, we’re working on rebranding. So this is a huge project that I personally have had on my head for the past 12 months, and I’m saying, okay, Brandon, now, do you have more time because of COVID, you know, find the positive and this huge negative situation. Take the time that you now have, because there are no live events happening, and focus heavily on that. So, behind the scenes, in short, we’re working on a brand-new company name, a new logo, a new website, because we need a much better representation of what we do, Pamela.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Mm hmm.

 

Brandon Gilson 

So, would you agree, because you know who we are, like, we work together, we’re friends. Like what I mean, I’m the first to admit, like, our company name does no justice.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Right? Well, I think for you, I think it made sense when you started. I think it made sense where you started where it was, like, that’s what you were doing, you were selling tickets, that’s what you’re used to. So Best Seats VIP, you know, Best Seats Concierge. It makes sense, right? But now you have morphed into this beautiful business, Brandon, which is super awesome. You know, and I think that you create an experience on multi-level, so can’t wait to hear the new name and sort of everything you’ve got going on. Because you definitely need something that’s all encompassing, you know, with the travel with the meet and greets with the seats, because you do so much more than just get like VIP access seats. I don’t know if I told you this. But I interned at a premium club at a very prestigious venue in, in Boston. So, I’ve sort of been in that space for a little bit. And it’s like, it’s unbelievable, the level of service, at least at that time that I was seeing, literally, you’re sitting, you’re paying these crazy seat prices, and they’re giving you like, pizza that tastes like cat food and like soda. And I was like, I was like, in college, and I was just like, I don’t know. But like, if companies are coming here with their clients and stuff like that, like I would expect something a bit more upscale, and somebody so there’s a lot of opportunities. I think in the experience, while I’m correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t know what they’re doing now, but at the time that I was interning there, because that was actually what I was supposed to do. I went to college for marketing, and then pivoted sort of halfway and wanting to communications and entrepreneurship. But that was like my whole dream was to be like in big events and marketing, that kind of stuff. So, I sort of saw a sneak peek of the whole VIP world a little bit when I was seeing that. And I was just like these lacks, like such a personal touch. So, I think what you’re doing, Brandon is super amazing, super amazing that you’re taking to the next level, and you’re making it personal. And you’re creating these memorable experiences in ways that you just wouldn’t imagine. You know, that pretty much has every word in the world. Right?

 

Brandon Gilson 

For sure. For sure.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

So no, I find that absolutely fascinating. And a kudos to you. So, when do you expect that to sort of happen?

 

Brandon Gilson 

So our goal is to go live, like, I mean, hoping that this whole COVID craziness is over by 21, like early 21, I kind of want to line it up, you know, when things start to reopen, like fully so that we can, you know, do a nice crossover where I say, Hey, guys, you know, we’re finally you know, going back to all these really cool experiences and person events. And hey, by the way, you know, something happened to Best Seats VIP, you know, it got sick, or whatever. But here we go, and just have a really cool, awesome rollout of a whole new rebrand. And our clients, they’re going to say are, that’s great. We know who you are like, we’re still here, but it’s the new companies and it’s the new clients, you know, that we’re always looking to capture that will see this, and they won’t just automatically think, you know, tickets or seats. We’re excited.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s amazing, Brandon. That’s amazing. So now, did this rebranding idea sort of come and happen when COVID hit or was that sort of in your mind?

 

Brandon Gilson 

Yeah, it’s been on my radar. And honestly, like, I’m the first to admit, I’ve just been so busy because we had our best year last year and it was just crazy with just so much happening. But I said to myself about 12 months ago, you know now like, we need to shift our imagery in the public’s eye because we’re just getting falsely accused of being like just tickets and like just seats and I’m like, I know why you would think that but until you know and like, sit down and hear what we do, it’s a way more. But anyways, so like back in March, I said, our guys like we need to buckle in and just make sure that we come out of this whole thing with a brand new company name and everything else.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s amazing. So, Brandon, here’s another question for you. What’s your daily mantra, right? Because I know you definitely practice the mental game because I hear the way that you speak and sort of the way that you move through things that normal people would not shift so quickly to, you’re just like, Oh, yeah, we’re just going to pivot and just do this, like, people don’t do that, no matter.

 

Brandon Gilson 

There’s no other option. This is it.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Right. But it’s amazing to be how you have that, that hustling, you have that mentality? Which is fascinating, because I’m the same way, right? I’m like, people are like, what motivates you? And how do you pivot? When you do know when things go wrong with you? I’m like, this, is it. Like, there is no, you know, we’ll find ways to do it. But it’s going to get done. You know what I mean? Like, there’s no What if ands, buts about it. And I find that the most successful entrepreneurs have the same exact mindset, they’re like, they don’t freak out, when something happens. They literally just sit there, glass, and they’re like, Alright, we can’t do it this way. So, we’re going to figure it out.

 

Brandon Gilson 

I mean, as you can imagine, in our line of work, Pamela, we’re doing a lot of really high end and premium experiences. They have a very high value next to it. And we may be working with a celebrity where we can’t always control how he or she is going to act with our client, or how open they’re going to be. So, at times, it’s not, I don’t know, like the player, let’s say, might not give our client as much time as our client hoped. But we always have to, be on our feet, like we are right now. And figure out ways that we can smooth it out. Or if an artist is late to a meet and greet, because they’re on the tour, bus, eating and drinking and doing whatever else, like, we have to make sure that our client doesn’t get all upset and frustrated. So, we’re always thinking of, okay, if this does happen, how can we make it better? And, you know, what can we do to keep everything calm, and kosher. Now, it’s no different. This whole COVID, we have no control over, which lines up with a lot of what we do, for our work, but here’s what it is, like, we got to work around it.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Right. So, it sounds like that’s been sort of a lot of the obstacles that you faced throughout businesses. The biggest one has been called that obviously now. So, what have been some of your most successful moments? Like what was like your biggest moment?

 

Brandon Gilson 

Backstreet Boys meet and greet at the Grand.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Yeah, yeah. Was it that one?

 

Brandon Gilson 

That was the biggest one ever come on, Pamela. Honestly, knowing how much it meant to you guys, like that’s what makes even more special, like the value behind it. And like seeing how much you guys appreciate it. Like when our folks and like my friends like you, like appreciate experience, it makes it that much sweeter.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Right. So that’s just what keeps you going with the business and keeps the passion school flowing.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Yeah.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

The same thing for me, right. You know, like I drive by a house that I did, and like either remodeled or built or whatever. And I’m driving by and I’m just like, oh my god, there goes your legacy, right? And when I’m sure when you see those just go up where people post it. And you’re just like, I did that I made that connection, which is good. Super Amazing. And you feel like that’s your purpose in the world is to make create these experiences and you know, lift the vibes, I think I think that you have a strong role in that, my friend, you have a strong role in that. So now another question for you. What would your older self tell your younger self?

 

Brandon Gilson 

It’s a great question. Don’t waste your time on previous relationships with the females that you’ve dated?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Oh, no.

 

Brandon Gilson 

You don’t have to cut that one out of here. Pamela. I don’t know.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s okay with you. We get better at it. If it’s real, it’s real. I mean, that’s how you feel, honestly, I mean, I had an ex in my past that I’m just like, wow, I wasted so much time and for no reason, where it could have been dedicated to push me further to where I want it to be kind of thing.

 

Brandon Gilson 

This is what I tell a lot of students when I go back to speak in front of some classes is that I wish I knew even, like I knew Pamela, but I wish I knew even more back then the importance of just getting outside of the classroom and like not taking college, like the whole course and exam part of it so seriously. Because the value that I picked up from the internships outside and networking and I was like, Damn, if I had done like, twice as much as that who knows. But I’m doing it right now, obviously, but it’s like, it’s so important just to network your ass off when you’re younger, and I love doing it, too, so it’s like, I wish I started when I was in middle school.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Yeah, if you knew what you know now, right?

 

Brandon Gilson 

What about you?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Me? What are you telling yourself? It’s honestly extremely similar to what you just said.

 

Brandon Gilson 

No, no, you can’t copy it, Pamela. You can’t copy my answer.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

So I got to be authentic. Oh, my God sees all about VIP experiences.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Gotta be exclusive.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

For me, I mean, there’s business logistics that I wish I knew, you know, in terms of like financial projections and stuff like that. That’s stuff that I wish I knew sooner. Because that ought to helped me from a logistics standpoint. But for me, honestly, it was about I learned about energies and a lot of things a lot later in life, like I always knew about positive energy and like things like this sort of initially, but, you know, like, you were saying, being much more cautious of the people that I bring around me, which includes your intimate relationships, boyfriends, girlfriends, you know, any, you know, any scope of relationships, that one may have. LGBTQ. I mean, however everyone identifies with, but for me, it was like, I was always hustling, and I knew that from young age, right, since I was 10. And my big thing was always, I never knew how to say no. That was, I think my hardest thing, like, I gave my energy out so much, that it got to a point that I was draining myself for a long time, you know, like, throughout high school, college, like all this stuff, like I was, you know. Imagine you give yourself out so much. And you’re going through all these changes, you know, going through school and doing this and doing that. Because, you know, as I was helping my parents at their restaurant, you know, was going through college, and I was also DJing in college. And I was also in a super toxic relationship. This is like a million things happening. But had I known how to say no sooner, I think is, would have been much more helpful for me just as a person to grow faster. I mean, you know, I don’t regret my experience in any way, shape, or form. So, I really think every single piece of what’s gotten me here has been this. But knowing how to say no, is so important as an entrepreneur. I think that’s, that’s so tough, too, because you have clients that can be demanding, and there’s just a million and a half things going on, as you know. So, it’s like, definitely you learn to say no, how do you learn to say like, this client is not worth my time, even though their money may be worth it. But like, the mental energy behind it, you know what I mean? So, it can be translated with like, personal relationships, intimate relationships, and then not and then also, businesswise. Like, for me, I won’t settle for anything less than what I know I’m worth, right. So I’m just like, I mean, here’s what I charge if you want me to be your advisor, or help you buy this, or help you sell this, and it’s just what it is. And when people don’t agree to it. I’m just like, listen, I’m sorry, there’s only so much time that I have in the day. Right.

 

Brandon Gilson 

When did you, so because I’m curious, because this is a really good one that you just said. So yeah, when did it like click that you needed to start saying no to people? And when did it get easier for you to you know, find yourself saying no?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Well, you know, I think it’s because, I mean, there’s been many moments in my career that it’s like, I’ve, I’ve worked myself so hard to the ground, that it’s like, your work starts to lose. It’s not its authenticity. But I want to say like, it’s performance, right? And the minute that that happens, your name gets put on the line, right? And your reputation. So for me, Brandon, it was like that, Pam, if you’re not going to be the best at what you do, like stop giving people discounts, like, stop just taking everything in and trying to help everybody, you can’t do that. There’s one of you and even with my team, still, it’s like, we just got to be cautious of what we take on because we want to make sure our performance is always on par, and we deliver the best of the best results to those who do believe in us. And I’m sure it’s the same thing translates the same for you, right? You’re like, you put so much time you put so much thought and so much energy behind every single client for them to turn around and say to you and be like, Yeah, man, I think I’m just going to pay you half and you’re like, No. Like, in your mind, you’re like, No, of course, you want to help the client. But at the same token, like, you know, you got to, you know, it’s almost like that cliche know, your worth stuff, right? And then, you know, the real people will respect you and value what you do. They won’t even think twice about paying for your services. Right. So, that was one lesson. I think, for me, that was, you know, learning how to say no, and I think is the hardest thing for entrepreneurs, especially starting out, right? You know, because you are working yourself to the ground in the beginning. And you are just like, I mean, you have to say ‘yes’ because you’re just building your name. So, it’s like, that’s why the first three to five years are so hard because you don’t have that baseline. And in your case, it was brilliant, what you did to sort of line it up and you already had that but, you know, especially for people who are starting from ground up so yeah. That’s what I would say. That’s what I would say from now on. You know, it’s it it’s difficult it really isn’t even to this day it’s like, but you got to maintain your energies right you got to be around people that are like minded. Clients that are you know happy and positive energy, because I’m sure you’ve dealt with ones that are just like… That’s what I would say honestly that would be a piece of advice and I mean I love yours as well than anything else pop up in your mind, pieces of advice. So, I know there’s going to be a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs listening and entrepreneurs listening to this right now, so, what would be your biggest piece of advice to startup entrepreneurs?

 

Brandon Gilson 

Make sure that you’re passionate about it. Because if you don’t truly love it and I’m sure you agree with this like, if you don’t love me like you’re doing, why are you doing it. And that’s why I jumped like I was doing very well in corporate, and I was you know crushing it but I’m like I’m miserable. I go to work every day; I’m killing it but like my mental is not right. So, if you’re going to make that jump to being like your own boss and have your own company, that’s awesome. Do it, but just make sure that you love you know what that whole concept is. And like you said earlier, don’t fall for this whole misconception of like what entrepreneurship is and being your own business owner. So much goes with it, like I don’t know where to start. There’s just so much that goes on behind the scenes that we know about that people that don’t have the full scope of it think they know, but they don’t. So, it’s like, just make sure that you do your homework on you know what it was going to take and that you also love what you’re about to jump into.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

I love it and oh thank you so much

 

Brandon Gilson 

What about you?

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Me?

 

Brandon Gilson 

Yeah.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Oh Lord. For me, I think it ties into a lot of what you said. Know what you’re getting into. People expect all this glamour and all this glitz and it’s like at the end of the day, I mean, there’s times that you know especially if you have a team right. For me, it was I had my two restaurants at the same time, then I had my development projects. And there was time where I was like I don’t know how I’m going to pay my employees. I need to figure this out you know as I’m maxing credit cards here, I’m pulling out loans here, doing everything I possibly can to make sure that businesses are keeping going and that everyone who counts on me. It keeps going so that was for me, because I had two brick and mortars at the time. And then, I had my development company so I’d play like three sets of a lot of sets of employees but the ones at the shop both stores and then on my projects everyone has you know all the subcontractors have their own company so it’s like a whole slew of people that I was paying. So it’s like, everyone wants to get into real estate development but at the end of the day, there’s a lot on your back and even just in business in general, so know what you’re getting into right. That’s it. That’s the first thing and like you said, you got to be passionate about it because there’s days where business doesn’t go the way you want it to, your proposal gets rejected with this client or you know the zoning board of appeals doesn’t build this project for me and it’s like you got to learn the art of pivot because if you don’t, you will never survive. And what I always say that the best prerequisite in business ever possible is waitressing or anything in the restaurant world. I say that because the pressure, if you’re used to pressure and if you’re used to pivoting, it becomes like habit to you. You’re just like, you know for me, because I did waitress in the past and I did have the restaurant, I’m used to the fast paced. I’m used to things going sideways all the time so getting into construction, it was like second nature. I was like, oh that’s not working. Alright, fine. We’ll do it this way. I realized that that’s not a trait that’s really easy to attain and the same the same goes with you I’m sure. and so that’s another thing that I advise. I’m like, if you want to be an entrepreneur, just maybe try that out and like try waitressing job sometime. See how well do you do under pressure because as an entrepreneur you got to know how to pivot and improvise on the spot because if you don’t, you’re going to either kill yourself with stress or we’re just going to go sideways and you’re going to be just stressed out all the time. And like for you, you’re so nonchalant with the whole COVID thing. You’re like yeah, I’m rebranding and we’re doing this and we’re doing that which I think is so awesome. I think that’s so Brandon. I can’t even tell you how much I respect that, and I admire that and support that more than anything like it’s so amazing to see people like you doing that because it’s hard. You’re facing a hard time right now and you are literally taking it with a grain of salt and just kind of keep art, we’re going to keep moving we’re just going to do you know which is a very hard skill to develop. So, there’s a lot there’s a whole line of things that I say to entrepreneurs, but it ties in very closely with what you mentioned.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Also they have to be able to embrace rejection and failure and just ‘cool, no’ and this is like consistent for whatever you’re doing. To me, I love being turned down, I love rejection. I don’t love failure obviously but i learned so much from when I do fail, I’m like sh**. Yeah now I know for the next time and I know, what does work because I’ve got that one person say yes to this and that’s what also motivates me you know being personal and happy you know seeing my dad you know be so successful but also failure is what motivates me to be a beast.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s awesome and the way that i say that like there’s no such thing as failures, just lessons right

 

Brandon Gilson 

Exactly. Touché.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s it and on that note my friend let everyone know where they can find you.

 

Brandon Gilson 

so, they can find us currently as we’re in the process of rebranding our social media and our sites are all still alive so thebestseatsvip.com. We’re very active on social media. So, Instagram, it’s @thebestseats, snapchat and twitter it’s @thebestseatsvip. But again, I’ve been saying I love just to talk to new people so I’m sure you’ll put in my number my email and they can reach out to me at any time just to have a nice conversation and chit chat.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Awesome and they got you on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, all that good stuff.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Everything’s out there, you can just search for Brandon Gilson. Forbes and Time won’t populate on Google, but other news and publications will have us in there. Not Times and Forbes.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Will be very soon though and then you’ll be an entrepreneur, you’ll be in all these different things.

 

Brandon Gilson 

It happens, it happens. As long as I’m still cool with Pamela B, and she doesn’t forget about me, talk then I’m damn fine.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Absolutely, Brandon. Thank you so much for being here today. I loved your story and thank you so much for sharing it. Everyone, you guys got to follow him and of course if you need some memorable experiences you have to hit him up like that’s just not even a question because you’re not just exclusive to the New England area. I think this is important for people to know right. All over. So Brandon is international, friends, so hit him up anytime. Brandon, thank you so much.

 

Brandon Gilson 

Pamela, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Big time

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Thank you.

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the one and only Brandon Gilson!