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    GGBA Member Spotlight, Business Tips and More…

    GGBA Member Spotlight

    Blueprint NYC

    Blueprint NYC is a full-service events and communications company that specializes in audience engagement with unbridled creativity, relentless drive and years of experience. For the San Francisco Bay Times, we interviewed the managing partners at the company: DJ Hanson and John Sideris. Keep on reading to learn more about them and how to make your next event extraordinary!

    GGBA: Please tell us about your business, its mission and values as well as what kinds of problems you are helping your customers to solve.

    DJ Hanson and John Sideris: Blueprint NYC is a full-service events and communications company that specializes in audience engagement. We help our clients to connect with their employees and customers by producing engaging and innovative experiences through live meetings and events, cutting edge training, and internal communications.

    “What’s your differentiator?” We get this question a lot! First off, we bring the “wow factor” to every project we do! Big or small, we believe that every audience wants more and deserves more. We are fierce audience advocates and that comes through in the results of our work. Second, in our most recent client satisfaction survey, we were proud to see that we outpaced our competitors in being strategic, creative and adaptable.

    When you see your clients respond by saying that you are a strategic partner, creative powerhouse and a fun, dedicated team to work with, you know you are doing something right!

    GGBA: Why did you decide to create Blueprint NYC?

    DJ Hanson and John Sideris: We created Blueprint NYC six years ago because we saw a need in the market. We saw companies hiring one agency for production, one for training and one for creative. There were so many inefficiencies in that model—time, money and, often, the quality of the work—that we knew there was a better way. We wanted to approach things differently.

    Bringing all of these different areas under one company enabled us to bring more value to our clients and really upped the creativity that we brought to the table because we had strategy, creative and execution all under one roof.

    GGBA: Do you have any specific policies in place that benefit the LGBT Community?

    DJ Hanson and John Sideris: As a small business, our approach to recruiting and retaining talent is one way we support the LGBT community. A good portion of our team members are with us as a result of our internal team’s personal network. The second way is through a community focus. For years, we have been doing pro-bono work for organizations like TAG (Treatment Action Group), and this year we formalized our employee efforts through our Give Back program. We host 2 company-wide volunteer days, 4 volunteer socials, and 2 paid days off that enable our people to support an organization that’s near and dear to their heart. For many of our team members, this includes supporting national and local LGBT initiatives.

    GGBA: Do you have any specific policies in place regarding workplace equality?

    DJ Hanson and John Sideris: First and foremost is diversity of thought and experience—we have people on our team who have grown up in this industry, and people who spent years doing something completely different. We strive for a mix of gender, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation, but what’s most important to us is fit with our culture. We look for people with drive, a desire to learn and contribute, and those who are self-motivated.

    GGBA: How did you hear about the GGBA and why did you decide to join?

    DJ Hanson and John Sideris: We are a bi-coastal office. Our East Coast office joined the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) New York about two years ago, which is around the time we had created our West Coast office. In New York, we’ve been able to connect with 30+ different businesses each quarter through things like social events, biz pitch forums and direct access to the local chapter director.

    As we started to build our team base on the West Coast and began to see the value in the local connections we were making with the New York chapter, we realized we needed to get engaged with the GBBA!  It is uplifting to surround yourself with other businesses that nurture and grow the culture and community you live in.

    GGBA: You are an LGBTBE certified business. How has the certification helped your business?

    DJ Hanson and John Sideris: Completing our certification with the NGLCC enabled us to approach companies in a new way in regard to supplier diversity and accelerated our ability to connect with procurement in companies where we had no connections. It’s also helped us to connect with other LGBT business owners and to identity ways that we can support each other.

    GGBA: What has been your biggest reward during your journey as an entrepreneur? And your biggest disappointment or nerve-wracking situation?

    DJ Hanson and John Sideris: One of the biggest rewards has been building our amazing team! We bring in people with different backgrounds, so our team members have worked in theatre, television, healthcare, food & beverage, financial services and more. They bring a unique perspective from their experiences and help us to look at our clients’ needs from multiple angles. This makes us a better partner. We started out as 5 people, and here we are six years later with nearly 40 people on our team!

    The nerve-wracking part is keeping the balance between what we need for our business today, and what we will need for the future. We love the work that we do and we love our clients, but all good businesses know how to be thinking about “what’s next and how do we get there” in order to stay ahead of the competition.

    GGBA: What advice would you give someone who is thinking of starting their own business?

    DJ Hanson and John Sideris: Pick something you are passionate about and create the vision. Starting your own

    business is hard, so you will need people around you who believe in you and challenge you. Being able to share your vision and how it fills a gap for something that is “missing today” helps you to pull together the right confidants, colleagues and potential investors to make your passion come to life.

    For more information:


    Business Tips from GGBA

    Spend More Time Determining the ‘What’ of Your Business

    By Collaboration Business Consulting

    In partnering with Bay Area companies, those of us at Collaboration Business Consulting have been impressed with the strong work ethic placed on how a business expects to accomplish its goals. Outstanding reputation, exceptional talent, diverse service offerings and impressive customer service are all key strengths that we have identified in our recent clients. Solving problems is what they know how to do really well. Their commitment to their customers and employees is remarkable.

    However, a number of these companies describe that things still aren’t clicking right—they seem to be spinning their wheels and are exhausted from the long hours spent on their business. Why is this? Shouldn’t intense focus on selling your product or service be enough? Working hard and trying new tactics lead to better results, right?

    Our experience as consultants taught us that producing real results requires a focus on opportunities rather than on problems. Ask yourself questions like: What is your specific target audience? What is your real competitive value proposition? The answers are the “what” of accomplishing business goals and require an adjustment of your spotlight. Start by determining the customers who are the right match for your business, and those who are not.

    Bottom Line

    The shift from a tactical mindset to making real business choices may lead you to substantive long-lasting results. More importantly, a focus on the “what” may provide you with more time to finally take that vacation you’ve been talking about.

    Visit the Collaboration complimentary business resource center for a library of webinars, white papers and case studies focused on helping organizations to lead, scale and succeed:


    GGBA Calendar

     Register for all of the San Francisco events listed here at

    September Make Contact & Annual Meeting
    Tuesday, September 11
    6–8 pm
    GAP Headquarters
    2 Folsom Street

    EDGE Master Class for High-Performing LGBT Businesses:
    Goal Setting for Increased Business Performance and Long-term Professional Growth
    Tuesday, September 18
    1:30 pm – Registration
    2–5 pm – Workshop
    5–6 pm – Networking Reception
    Hosted at ZillowGroup
    535 Mission Street, Suite 700

    Stand Up & Speak OUT!
    Bi-Weekly Workshop on how to be a more effective Speaker and Communicator
    Featuring National Award-Winning Speaker, Gina Grahame
    Wednesday, September 19
    3–5 pm
    Offices of the U.S. Small Business Administration
    455 Market Street, 6th Floor

    October Make Contact
    Tuesday, October 9
    6–8 pm
    Perform 4 Life
    61 Gough Street