At the GenUin Summit, a two-day event in the middle of the Special Olympics in Los Angeles, Carl Bendix is making his way through crowds of people to get to the stage. The event has gone well, and well-wishers are saying so, but he has the next event on his mind already and that’s his mission now – to find an emcee for an event for 5,000 people two nights away. In his sights is the actress Vanessa Williams. He waits. He asks. She accepts. And it’s onto the next thing.
This same approach of waiting until the right moment can be seen over and over again in Bendix’s actions. Where others might rush in, he hangs back, then steps forward and takes his moment. It might be stressful for some, but it works for him. This same method was used again at a wedding shower for one of his team members. As friends nudged him to the stage, he hung back until it was the perfect moment.
Finding the right moment is what Bendix has been doing his entire career, and not just his right moment, but those of his clients; those with big names such as Hillary Clinton and Maria Shriver and those without. It doesn’t make a difference who it is, everyone gets the same steady hand, and thoughtful treatment.
There are few people like Bendix who can move between logistical team meetings, the control booth in the loading dock and the Green Room with such ease. He interacts with the rigger about stage details in the same way he does with Hillary Clinton about her entrance onto that stage.
The life of an event producer such as Bendix is an ever-changing landscape of unique events that range from politics to art to film. For instance, months before the Special Olympics World Games, Bendix and team were designing a large wedding in Malibu, and a pop-up art gallery for world-famous Korean artists at an architecturally significant Case Study House in the Hollywood Hills, as well as smaller event for Maria Shriver.
Not surprisingly, Bendix entered this rarefied world of events and high-profile players through the film industry. Starting 25 years ago when the event and film industries were intertwined Bendix, began Ambrosia and began producing some of largest film premieres and private events in the eighties. From major film premieres and the Los Angeles Olympics to events at Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards Governors’ ball, Bendix made his mark as an award-winning producer and designer. They were on the cover of every major trade publication and inside all the top lifestyle and entertainment magazines.
Bendix parlayed these connections into areas of deep personal interest. In fact, he was on the front lines of the environmental issues long before it became trendy to be so.
AND SUBSTANCE …
Bendix can trace the moment back to when he began to change the way he thought about events to the moment that Al Gore, then senator, began to talk about greenhouse warming. Together Bendix and a group of powerful personalities in politics and entertainment came together to form the Earth Communications Office and he began to use events as a way to affect change and policy in not only his world, but the globe.
“I could see that they were an effective way to really connect with an issue,” Bendix says. “There was a shift and it became very important for me now to affect change through the events I produce,” he says. “There was a time when art and movies and events all existed just for enjoyment’s sake, but so much has changed in our lives …” he stops for a minute. “In my life,” he says with emphasis. “It’s become important to share this.”
Today, Bendix moves between the worlds of high-end events, such as weddings and private social events, and what he calls “high-thought events.”
In the past two months, Bendix has straddled both. Recently he produced several high-thought events in a row, starting with a fund-raising event for Hillary Clinton followed by the Special Olympics opening in Los Angeles.
The weekend began with a backyard picnic at Maria Shriver’s home at which she and her brother Tim Shriver debuted the ESPN documentary about their mother Eunice Shriver and her work to found the Special Olympics. For both events, Bendix and his team secured sponsors and coordinated the tricky ins and outs of political events.
That same weekend, Bendix produced the Special Olympics GenUin Summit. The two-day event held at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, was attended by 300 thought leaders in the intellectually challenged field who were in town for the Olympics. The mission of this event was to bridge the gap and find a way to inclusion.
Calling on his background as a producer of many summits, among them the Governors’ Summit and the Women’s Conference, Bendix put together a strong team of logistics people, graphic designers, and media and tech experts. The first day was called GenUin Conversations, a full day of inspiration speakers that followed a TED style format. The next day, five finalists from a nationwide search presented their ideas for inclusion to a celebrity panel of judges.
Later in the week, Bendix and his team were at City Hall with an event held on a world stage. They were putting the final touches on an event eight months in the making – the Family Reception for 5,000 Special Olympics athletes and their families. Following a picnic dinner featuring bites from LA’s top chefs and the region’s farmers, guests were treated to a star-studded show.
The show was emceed by Kathleen Shriver and co-emcee Vanessa Williams with speeches by Mayor Eric Garcetti, David Egans from the Sgt. Shriver International Global Messenger, Rosario Marin, Former US Treasurer, Kim Samuel, President of the Samuel Family Reception, Jose Huizar, Los Angles Council Member, and the entire Shriver family.
AND STYLE …
Just as quickly as one could say political fundraiser, it was back to events that were all about style, namely a stunning wedding at Gull’s Way in Malibu.
During the installation, it’s clear that Bendix and team can move easily from one milieu to another. Just as they were keeping top VIP officials on track during the week, they were on headsets, clipboards in hand, keeping an army of florists, caterers and rental dealers moving forward to produce a beautiful beach-elegant wedding overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The next week the team was back to Malibu with the product launch of a line of yoga clothes for Eloise DeJoria. The event featured an all-white palette with pops of bright colors. A pink step-and-repeat with Getty Images sending photos out to the press, and an amazing menu with something for everyone from pressed juices and gluten-free flatbreads, to decadent lobster rolls.
And, then there are the highly personal events as noted at the beginning … those sweet moments of celebrations with friends. Even those are tinged with style and substance: A DJ playing chill music overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a new restaurant with family style platters on the tables for friends with bottles of wine abundant and bartenders serving everything from pressed juices, to the very latest of cocktails.
Everything goes into the mix. Bendix doesn’t separate his professional life from his personal life. His Instagram account is proof of that – pictures of his dog Bodhi and hikes with friend, mix with pictures of him and the Dalai Lama and Maria Shriver at events. As Bendix himself notes at the end of a particular event “It’s an amazing life, and there’s more to come!” With that, Deepak Chopra was at the door, wanting a moment with Bendix on an upcoming event … style and substance coming together once again.
This post was first published on Medium