Fathers Day 2019: Celebrating The Family Business

Happy Fathers Day
Dave Reginek/Getty Images
– Happy Fathers Day

The live business, much like every industry, has many examples of parents and their progeny working together in this same incredible business. This Father’s Day, Pollstar celebrates that familial bond with a survey asking children in the concert biz to give us their take on that personal and professional relationship. Celebrating their paterfamilias this 2019 Father’s Day are: Austin Nealwho books country acts at clubs and colleges in the Southeast for WME and is the son of WME’s Kevin Neal; Louis Messina, Jr., whose dad is Louis Messina, Sr,  both of Messina Touring Group; WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, whose dad is WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon; MG Management CEO Michael Belkin, son of Live Nation Cleveland’s Mike Belkin; Jarred Arfa of Artist Group International, whose father, Dennis Arfa, is founder and chairman of Artist Group International; Alex Cardenas, talent buyer and Zaidy Cardenas, CEO of Maestro Cares, son and daughter respectively of Henry Cardenas, CEO of Cardenas Marketing Network; and Feld Entertainment executive vice presidents Nicole Feld and Alana Feld, and COO Juliette Feld Grossman, daughters of Feld Entertainment Chairman Kenneth Feld

What is the most important thing your father taught you in the live business? 

Kevin and Austin Neal
– Kevin and Austin Neal

Austin Neal: Hard work pays off. The live business is all about putting in time and there is no substitute for it.

Louis Messina Jr.: It’s hard to pinpoint one as every conversation with him is essentially a master class of the business. It’s a blessing that I can take his experiences and guidance to any project or show I’m working on. The list of his accomplishments stands on its own, but one thing that always sticks with me is to also learn from his mistakes.

Stephanie McMahon: To always provide the best possible experience for the audience, from ticket purchase to transportation to and from the arena, the ease of walking through the concourse, and of course, the event itself.
Michael Belkin: The harder I work, the luckier I get.

Jarred Arfa: He has taught me that it can never hurt to ask for something. You would be surprised at what people will say yes to. Also, he has a great marketing instinct for making shows feel like events that can’t be missed. Whether it be his artists playing iconic venues, opening and closing of venues or unique residencies etc, he is always thinking of hooks that give a show/shows the perception of being extra special and thus elevating his artists’ live business as a result.

Alex Cardenas: The biggest lesson has been to never assume anything. When you take the time to double-check it saves you a lot of headaches in the long run. The second most important lesson has been to always put yourself in the shoes of others when approaching an issue or negotiation. When you consider the other side’s stance on 
an issue it puts you in the best possible position to finding solutions that benefit both sides. 

Alex and Henry Cardenas
– Alex and Henry Cardenas

Zaidy Cardenas: My father taught me the value of hard work, the importance of consistent and persistent follow-up and no matter what happens, in any given situation, win or lose, you must keep your word.

Nicole Feld: The most important lesson I learned from my father is that the guest is always right and to listen closely to what they have to say. The value of the fan experience is pervasive throughout our company culture. We have been successful for half a century by really listening to and learning from our fans about what their expectations are for a live event experience. We have continued to evolve each Feld Entertainment event to meet the values of today’s modern consumer.

Jarred and Dennis Arfa
– Jarred and Dennis Arfa

How are you similar and different from your father in your approach to business?

Neal: I feel like my dad and I are both driven by passion. We truly love what we do and it reflects in our work. The only difference is the wealth of knowledge he has attained over 30-plus years in the business that I have been fortunate to learn from. 

Messina Jr.: He is old fashioned with a splash of holy water and I’m a spicy margarita with no salt, but he’s constantly in my ear (and everyone’s) to pick up the phone and discuss things out versus texting or emailing.

McMahon: We both share an “audience first” approach to business, in fact, it’s one of our company’s core values. I’d say our biggest difference is with regard to communication style. My dad built WWE from the ground up, taking it from a regional promotion to a global media enterprise that is now in 180 countries and 28 languages. He is the reason for our success, and I’m privileged to be a part of it.

Louis Messina Jr.
– Louis Messina Jr.

Belkin: He was more creative and daring. He flourished in the wild, wild, West of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Arfa: We are similar in that we both like to analyze and strategize every situation and talk things out until we reach the correct conclusion. We differ in that he tends to think more creatively and has more of a natural marketing feel whereas I am very business-oriented and am more adept at interpreting legal contracts, reading financial summaries, etc.

Alex Cardenas: This is a tough one, but I would say our approach to business is hands-on. Leading by example and being involved in the day-to-day tasks, no matter the size, is very important to the success of any project. Never be too big to get your hands dirty. The biggest difference is his ability to solve problems and find opportunities where most don’t. 

Zaidy Cardenas: I am similar in my work ethic; I work hard and even when I don’t know something, I find a way to figure it out, like my father. We are different in that he is an entrepreneur and a visionary, he is a born leader and I am learning about leadership and the responsibilities of management. I tend to be low key and conservative and my father is a risk-taker. He takes chances and confronts the challenges and moves forward. 

Mike Belton, Elton John and Michael Belkin
– Mike Belton, Elton John and Michael Belkin

Juliette Feld Grossman: We always keep what is best for our customer and best for our business as the lens through which we make decisions. I am very collaborative in my approach and process whereas my father has 40 incredible years of experience to rely on.
Would you ever recommend your son and daughter get into the live industry? 

Neal: It’s funny. My dad told me never to get into the music industry, so I got my degree in chemistry and was on my way to medical school when I had a change of heart and ultimately ended up in the music industry, which he fully supported when the time came. I guess you can’t fight your genes. If and when I have children, I want to give them the opportunity to chase any dream, just like my father did for me.

Messina Jr.: We do have five Messinas working in the office so of course, it’s a family business.

Zaidy and Henry Cardenas
– Zaidy and Henry Cardenas

McMahon: Absolutely. I have three daughters and I would encourage them to do anything they want to do in life; as long as they work hard and have passion, they will be a success. Plus, in the live events industry,  you have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. It is impossible not to have a broader perspective when you work with so many different types of people and get to hear about all of their different experiences.
Belkin: I’m not touching this one – yet.

Arfa: Yes, with the caveat that in the current climate of big business and consolidation in the live business I would advise him to work somewhere that had the financial resources that would enable him to compete on a high level.

Alex Cardenas: If they wanted to be in the industry, absolutely. I think the best thing you can do for your kids’ careers is help them find their passion and support whichever path they choose. 
Vince and Stephanie McMahon
– Vince and Stephanie McMahon

Zaidy Cardenas: Yes, I would recommend my children to follow in their grandfather’s shoes and work in the live music industry. I would make sure to let them know the music industry is a rollercoaster ride, one filled with highs and lows. And, the importance of working hard and being prepared – if they are anything like their grandfather, they will do great in it. These life skills will serve my children well.

Alana Feld: My children are still young, but they have the unique opportunity to grow up around this business. I think I’ll let them decide for themselves, as I did! 

What would you like to wish your father this Father’s Day?

Nicole, Alana and Kenneth Feld, and Juliette Feld Grossman
– Nicole, Alana and Kenneth Feld, and Juliette Feld Grossman

Neal: I would like to wish my father continued health, happiness, and many more under par days on the golf course. Love ya, Dad. Thank you for all you do for me.

Messina Jr.: Happy Father’s Day, I love you and thank you for the opportunity, guidance and confidence to work with you and the industry I love being a part of.

McMahon: Thank you for giving me so many incredible opportunities in life, thank you for always believing in me, and thank you for being my dad. I love you more than you will ever know.

Belkin: Good health.

Arfa: I would like to wish him a very happy Fathers Day and wish for many stadiums shows for his artists in the year ahead.

Alex Cardenas: I would like to wish him continued success in all his upcoming pro-jects, both personal and business related. More importantly, I’d like to thank him for all the guidance and love he gives to our family. His example continues to inspire us to achieve more every day. Thank you. 
Zaidy Cardenas: Dad, I wish you happiness, rest and relaxation. You work so very hard every day. I want you to enjoy your family who loves you very much! Above all, I want to thank you for ALL you do for our family. We love you deeply. 

Juliette Feld Grossman, Nicole & Alana Feld: Happy Father’s Day to our dad and all of the dads out there! We look forward to many more years working together and creating the best live events and experiences for millions of other families around the globe!