Christina Matteucci (a.k.a TeucciMama) on her 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two
Describe your business in a few words?
I’m Christina Matteucci, Executive Director of David Beahm Experiences and proud “Number Two” to celebrity event designer David Beahm. I’ve produced legendary soirées all around the globe, but it’s my unique, 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two that qualifies me as a sought-after speaker and coach. In this entrepreneurial role as “TeucciMama,” I help emerging professionals develop new definitions for professional success and aid CEOs in creating synergistic cultures.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I responded to the demand. Throughout my career, both Number Twos and entrepreneurs have always asked me for insight and advice. The more people I helped, the more it became clear that an under-appreciated community of Number Twos needed an advocate, and a host of entrepreneurs needed an honest pair of eyes their businesses were lacking. That’s how “TeucciMama: The Number Two You Wish You Had” was born.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Before I began my corporate career, I studied musical theater at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. My original dream was to become Broadway’s next big star and while I took a markedly different path, I am eternally grateful for that training. It continues to be put to very good use during my speaking engagements on both domestic and international stages.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
As a natural “kingmaker” I earned my professional recognition by masterminding the success of another, so I never imagined myself as an entrepreneur! However, in response to the plethora of requests, I decided it was time to take my hard-earned knowledge and pay it forward by inspiring others. And what a joyful surprise it was to discover you can be both a Number Two and a Number One at the same time!
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
While perhaps not the most au courant strategy, and certainly not ideal for mass marketing, I do believe there is much to be said for word-of-mouth referrals, especially in the luxury marketplace. They immediately engender a high-level trust and confidence that even the best sales pitch cannot. So, while the market came to me, admittedly at times I do help it along a bit. After a job well done, I am never ever afraid to tell a client that the most valuable compliment they can give me is a referral!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
During the planning of an outdoor Caribbean wedding, I was working with a very headstrong client insistent that the sun would shine on their big day, so much so that no discussion surrounding a rain plan would be entertained. Despite my gut CRYING out that this path would surely lead to disaster I acquiesced, only to have the skies open up and pour down the day of the wedding. While my team managed to cobble together a solution in record time, the lesson? Insist on what you know is right, even when it is unpopular or unpleasant. Instinct will never fail you.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Without a doubt, my TEDx Talk: On Second Thought: Lessons From A Number Two, is the accomplishment of which I am most proud because I labored tirelessly to merge and encapsulate my 41-years of life experience (both on stage and in the corporate arena) in a 16-minute tour de force. The exhilaration of stepping into the red circle of TED with hundreds of hours of work and preparation behind me and the thrill of delivering a powerful talk ahead of me is a feeling I will treasure forever.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I am a huge believer in developing talent. While TeucciMama is still a one-woman show so far, at David Beahm we have a blessedly low turn-over, with most employees staying for 5-years or longer. While that is due in large part to the culture we foster, it is also due to the fact that numerous employees began their career track with us as interns, and through their own hard-work and some strategic guidance, have developed into amazing event professionals.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Sadly, the special event industry was devastated by the pandemic. However, I’m proud TeucciMama has been instrumental in collaborating with numerous event professionals to inspire, prepare, and implement their teams’ strategies for the coming wave of gatherings.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
For David Beahm Experiences: bigger and better events that stretch our creative and logistical prowess.
For TeucciMama: diverse audiences and grand stages that demand innovative content and jaw-dropping deliveries.
For a post-COVID corporate America: clients and colleagues that transform the way we as a society collaborate and recognize success.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
While growing up, I heard the stories of my grandparents’ life struggles—from arriving at Ellis Island, to the Great Depression, from WWII, to the polio pandemic. The strength that I witnessed in them came from living through particularly difficult times; it’s that same strength that’s now been forged in our generation and forged in me. I’ve learned that I am, and we are—and the world is—stronger than we think, more resilient than we think, more tenacious than we think, more resourceful than we think, and we persist. My hope is that we as a human collective are able to channel that brilliance and bravery into a better world for us all.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
When the concept of TeucciMama came into focus, I feared that by reallocating a portion of my energies toward its success, my remaining resources would be depleted for David. I wish I had known earlier that my victories do not decrease someone else’s chances of winning, they double them!
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Gut-busting, full-throated, genuine laughter. There has been so much over the past year to cause sadness, anger, fear, anxiety… the list goes on and on. However, I’ve made it a point to surround myself with a (mostly) virtual community who continue to find levity in the dark days and who do make me cry… from laughing so hard! Those moments have been a welcome salve for a soul wearied by the pandemic.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
As an event professional and coach, it is often hard to maintain a work/life balance because I often find myself deeply entrenched and emotionally invested in the lives of my clients with few limits on a traditional “workday.” One thing I do to maintain equilibrium is to take one month every year, unplug from my phone/email, and enjoy the quiet in rural, Southern Italy. When I return, I’m not only tanned with a belly full of delicious food, I’m also inspired, relaxed, renewed, and better able to be of service to my clients.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a huge Tudor history nerd! I can tell you almost anything you want to know about Henry VIII, his wives and his children. I am particularly fond of Elizabeth I; I consider her a personal role model for female strength and leadership (not to mention some divine fashion)!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1) Read, listen to, or watch something that inspires and/or educates—sometimes, you just need a little spark to light the fire.
2) Commit to doing one thing each day that benefits someone else—it feels so damn good, you will move through your own work faster to get there!
3) Refill my energetic tank with rest and self-care—your car can’t race without gas, and neither can you.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
The mark of a great Entreprenista is the caliber of colleagues brought alongside and left behind you as the business guided by your ethos is built. I intend to lead by example, creating a new model for what a premium, service-based brand (and its team) will look like in the 21st Century.