We had the good fortune of connecting with Avital Lassow and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Avital, what are you inspired by?
People. There are a lot of people who find socializing, or large crowds and long stretches of human company to be stressful, or even exhausting and draining. But for me, being around people fills my cup. I find energy in new conversations, relationships, and meaningful connections. I love that each person I meet often has a new perspective, differing advice, and attitudes on life that I hadn’t considered. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I agree with everyone and everything I’ve ever heard, but I believe that I’ve been able to navigate uncomfortable, challenging, and maybe even awkward situations where differences of opinions came to a boiling point, simply by listening to the stories told by those I’ve chosen to surround myself with. I realize that for this question, “people,” might seem like a generic answer, however, as humans we have the wonderful capability of being inspired by many things around us. I can remember the moment I decided what the start of my professional career would look like.
I was 17 years old, tasked with the ever dreaded “senior project” and relatively clueless as to what I could accomplish as a high school senior. Several of my peers and I decided to band together and utilize our entire school space for a massive fundraiser event. The goal was $10,000 in one day all proceeds would benefit the nonprofit that was close to home for our town, Roots of Development. We spent countless hours/days/nights fundraising, planning, learning, communicating – making waves in ways we never allowed ourselves to deem possible at the age of 17.
The event day came, which was likely the most stressful day of my teenage life (which is surprising as I was in the habit of always being in or causing trouble) and we shocked our teachers/parents but mostly ourselves by more than doubling our financial goal. I remember feeling elated that we had pulled it off, and thinking how cool it was that we were able to rely on our community and our relationship-building skills to benefit a population that knew nothing about us. Hard work yielded more than desirable results and that’s what solidified for me that this was the work I was meant to do.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
This question comes at an almost perfect time in my life as I’ve spent the last few months questioning my career. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the industry in which I’ve been so passionately engaged these last 10 years, has disappeared. I realize that hospitality is just one of many industries currently — and hopefully, only temporarily— decimated by this pandemic.
As an event planner, I’m aware that there is often a frivolity associated with this job. And while I do pride myself on knowing the delicate difference between a peony and ranunculus, there’s a lot more to this job than picking flowers and arranging balloons. To me, being an event planner means a few key things. You have to be extremely detail oriented while being acutely aware of the big picture, the experience you’ve worked so hard to create. You have to be a therapist for the client and a mediator for the vendors which is wildly stressful and yet extremely rewarding. But mostly, you have to love what you do because any planner will know that the job is exhausting as you spend months or maybe even years working towards the perfect evening, or day, or hour, and things will go wrong (trust me on this).
In my opinion, if you’re doing it right, during the entire event you will present yourself as calm, cool, and collected, rolling with all of the unexpected punches, while underneath you often feel like a headless chicken quadrupling your recommended daily steps count. What sets me apart from others in my field? My ambition. Luckily, I grew up in a house filled with hard workers, so being highly motivated and committed to a task, job, or passion, whether sports or schoolwork was a part of everyday life. I’ve always had jobs that centered around helping people, specifically in customer service (which can be absolutely thankless, so please remember to tell someone thank you when they’ve helped you).
Every opportunity I’ve had in this industry I’ve taken seriously. I have always wanted to be my best, not the best, and that has made me extremely good at what I do. That sentiment in itself is what I’m most proud of. When I look at my resume I’m proud and excited to share all that I’ve been able to accomplish thus far. But I’m more excited to dig into the opportunities that I know are in store, the kind of possibilities that come after hard work and dedication. Let me also say, that enthusiasm isn’t without some healthy trepidation – and then I’ll wrap this paragraph up, promise! I don’t think, in most professional circles, we talk enough about the fact that pushing yourself to that next level is scary. It’s overwhelming, ridden with self-doubt, and anxiety. But I know now that feeling is growth.
I’ve learned that when I lean into those growing pains that’s where you make big things happen. Circling back to COVID, I was part of a massive layoff due to the pandemic this past April. And even though I was one of millions of people who have lost their jobs, losing this job felt like a gut punch. After ten years in this industry, that job had represented what felt like a pinnacle moment in my career thus far. And it was a job I deeply loved. And while it was a big loss, after a little self reflection (and 4 weeks of on and off sobbing), I’m ready to bounce back into the next opportunity – not because I have to, but because I want to. So now you want the comeback story…I’ve started the process of looking for my next opportunity and I was talking with a friend about applying for jobs and the concept of messaging people on LinkedIn who you don’t know but have mutual connections with in reference to a job posting. I mentioned that I felt both awkward and overly cocky reaching out, to share my struggle and asking help from a complete stranger. Her response to me was that most people aren’t confident enough in the first place to send messages out like that, and she’s right. I may have lost my job, but I haven’t lost what sets me apart from other candidates.
For anyone in this same boat, just remember that you’re not alone. My therapist told me at the beginning of the pandemic, we’re all in the same boat but each one of us is weathering a very different storm. Be confident, regardless of where you’re at in your career. Whatever it is that you want to set your sights on we all usually need a little bit of help to get there, so use it. If you’re not confident in you and what you have to offer to a job, a company, a relationship why should anyone else be? Once you decide to own your success others will follow suit.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I love this question. I love to show off Dallas to friends and family. It’s the place that I choose to call home and I’m so proud of all the change and growth that continues to lift up this melting pot of a city. One of my favorite things about Dallas is the way it’s broken up into neighborhoods, and that they are all just a little bit different. I think a lot of people from other parts of the country believe Dallas lacks culture because that’s exactly what I thought before moving here from the Northeast. What I’ve learned is that this city is just the opposite, it’s rich with culture and history. It just looks a little different from the cobblestone streets in Boston or the museums in New York City. The perfect city tour — and the one I like to roll out for visiting family and relatives — includes many stops, and LOTS of food. I love to start downtown at the 6th floor museum as it’s my favorite museum in Dallas. While you’re there you can’t miss the JFK memorial, the Perot Museum, an El Fenix margarita, and a selfie with the eye exhibit across from the Joule. Then we’d move to Bishop Arts, a mecca of artistry and good food. Park the car and walk through the streets observing where old meets new and stopping along the way for a delicious true southern inspired meal at Hattie’s and a slice of the best pie you’ve ever had from the original Emporium pie location. What is it they say? Eat the freaking pie. So now you’re full, for now anyway. Moving right along to probably my favorite place in all of Dallas, White Rock Lake. No offense to White Rock Lake, however, if you’re visiting from out of town this lake is not the most amazing lake, but in Dallas, it’s a slice of heaven. It’s about 10 miles around filled with biking trails, walking paths, picture-perfect picnic spots, kayaking, boating, and even a local rowing club. My personal favorite way to enjoy the lake is to grab a delicious charcuterie board from fount table and board, a bottle of wine from Foxtrot Market, a blanket and host a happy hour from one of the many docks on the lake — or go for a walk, because health. Next up is the nightlife, which for me looks one of four ways. My favorite big night out in Dallas is either at the Wyly theater catching an amazing performance, located in the arts district downtown or at American Airlines arena watching and freezing through a stars game with a AA margarita in hand (please drink responsibly as these are very strong). Being from the North and growing up in the hockey world being at an NHL game feels a bit like home and boy do the Stars know how to host a game. Just remember to shout “STARS” as loud as you can when the word pops up during the national anthem. Don’t forget or you’ll stick out as a newbie. The next two planned evenings feed my 98-year-old soul, which makes sense given that I’ve already recommended a picnic and museum tour, doesn’t it? Option one is where you’ll find me enjoying one of my favorite meals in the neighborhood I called home for five of the six years in Dallas, HG Supply on Lower Greenville Ave. You will not be able to find a dish or a beverage that isn’t delicious and more health centric than the average restaurant, however, the main event is the rooftop bar. Centered in the heart of Lower Greenville the rooftop overlooks the Dallas skyline and is perfect for any casual night out. I’ve outgrown the whole fighting for drinks at the bar and the “not being able to hear yourself think” scene and HG melts casual and trendy into one. The last thing you should do in Dallas is my personal favorite spot, which I’ve frequented more times than I can count: Eatzi’s. While a DFW chain, this bodega style grocery store is absolutely iconic. They host a pizza night every Friday and grabbing a flatbread and one of their many bottles of wine for an exquisite night in, is a perfect way to end the week — trust me on this. The last recommendation I would offer for anyone visiting Dallas is to explore the fitness scene. I’ve dragged a number of my visiting friends and family to multiple group fitness classes as I am wildly passionate about the Dallas fitness scene. Here are a few of my favorite studios that offer the best instructors, programming, and most importantly, positive vibes: Fit Social Club – Spin/Strength Classes, go for the burn stay for the insane energy F45 Dallas Main Street – HIIT Classes, some of the best instructors in the city Lync – Spin/Core Classes, all around challenging classes with the best playlists Session – Pilates Classes, burn baby burn Cyclebar Uptown Dallas – Spin Classes, Hip Hop Humpday class is a MUST Mvement – Variety of Classes, best boxing class/coach in all of DFW Just remember, everything is bigger in Texas. Enjoy!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Without a doubt in my mind, this shoutout goes to my family. There are definitely individuals in my professional life who deserve mention, too – the non profit that helped me discover my dream career at the age of 17, the gym that took a chance on me and let me teach spin classes, the bosses I’ve had along the way who didn’t just teach me professionalism by their example, but helped me to mold my own. But of all the people who’ve had a lasting impact on me during my 27 years, the ones who grounded my life outlook and the ones I’ve always shared these milestones with, are the ones who deserve the credit – my family. The best way that I can describe the last few years of my family life is challenging. My family has faced a variety of mental and physical illness and most recently, an overwhelming cancer diagnosis. It’s a lot of crap to deal with in such a short period of time, and yet my parents’ love and dedication to one another – and our family – has never faltered. I’ve talked about my mom and dad on my blog but it’s worth saying it here, too: my parents are the original power couple. Though they are completely different people, together they’ve created a beautiful life for themselves, my brothers and me, as well as a massive, intentional circle of friends with their wealth of kindness, generosity, and passion. Each time I’ve struggled in my life, my parents have been there, not to catch me, but to guide me in the right direction and to remind me that sometimes it’s enough to just put one foot in front of the other. As they’ve faced their own adversities over the last few years, I feel fortunate to have absorbed 27 years of their illuminating advice and to now be able to share those lessons with them, from my own perspective.
Shannon Wright Photography & Beckley Photography