2021 TAG Summit: Why Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Consider Joining a Network of Their Peers – Christina Critzer

Recently, the Atlanta Small Business Network was on-location at the 2021 Georgia Technology Summit where anchor Jim Fitzpatrick spoke with Christina Critzer, Co-chair of this year’s event.

Stay tuned for more coverage from the 2021 Georgia Technology Summit.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Christina Critzer, thank you so much for joining us on the show. You must be a very busy woman right now.

Christina Critzer:
It has been a little bit busy, but thank you for having us today.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. Talk to us about the importance of events like this, especially during times like these.

Christina Critzer:
Sure. It’s been really a pleasure to have an opportunity to interact outside of the traditional office. Network in the community, which is really what TAG is all about. Being able to provide career opportunities, networking events, exchange of thought leadership. And that’s what these summits do for us, they inspire, innovate and to give impact in the community.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. And this one is the first virtual one that you’ve ever done, right?

Christina Critzer:
That’s correct.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Will it be the last?

Christina Critzer:
I have a feeling it won’t be the last. We’ve learned a lot. The platform’s really good. I do think people miss that in-person interaction. So we’ll definitely still have live events when we’re able to do so. But I think we’ll see virtual here to stay.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, for sure. So many people and so many companies here in Georgia, count on TAG to provide events like this and just the overall support. I mean, anybody that I’ve spoken to, that’s in the technology field here in Georgia and Atlanta, they’re all about TAG. Talk to us about the importance of an association like TAG and how it helps so many entrepreneurs and small business owners get started.

Christina Critzer:
Absolutely. You’re meeting people that have deep industry expertise and wide networks. That is invaluable when you’re trying to get started in a business for our entrepreneur community. And when looking to get ideas or have somebody to bounce ideas off of, it’s really a community of people that care unlike none other around the country, frankly. And that network allows you access to things from simple all the way to really complicated as you’re scaling. So at all stages of your company’s life cycle.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, sure. And so many companies, I just spoke to David Cummings and I was surprised to hear, I don’t know why I was surprised, but he’s been with TAG for 20 years. And it’s so much about not just taking from TAG, but also giving to TAG. And I know a number of the companies that have been started along with TAG do give back, right? Talk to us about that.

Christina Critzer:
Absolutely. You want to expand your networks and be able to have an opportunity to have impact, and you can do it on a social side with the diversity and inclusion and the social justice committee. And that really lets you feed your personal passion to make a difference in people’s lives. You can do it professionally by learning niche skills, like the digital marketing, FinTech, digital health, there’s a lot of different ways to interact. And it really becomes a network instead of professionals, you develop friendships that are going to last. And as you move through the corporate tide, as we say, of Atlanta, from startup to large company that mid-size and back, we all trade talent. And it’s a great way to keep that spirit alive and keep the access within the community.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. And now we see companies like Microsoft and Apple moving in a very big way. I mean, I think that’s a huge feather in our cap here in Georgia. Is it not?

Christina Critzer:
It is a tremendous value and really keeps our economy vibrant and keeps the innovation because anytime you get those big companies, you’re also going to see a startup community around that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. I spoke to one company president that started here, TAG member five years ago, got into the association. You talked a lot about those networking opportunities, he benefited in a great way from that. Started his company. And today, he’s doing phenomenal. I said, “Well, what brought you to Atlanta though? What brought you to Georgia?” And he said, “What I saw was not just the support of organizations like TAG, but also the great university system for talent.” Is that pretty much what other companies are finding that the university system incredible.

Christina Critzer:
The university system is really diverse. You’ve got your top tier schools, as well as even rich technical and community colleges to draw talent. We’re all in a talent war trying to secure those smart, bright individuals that are eager to work. So the more you have opportunity to tap into that and really you end up providing internship opportunities and those interns may stay a couple of years. They may stay for a lifetime within the company, but having that access is so important about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, there no question about it. And in terms of, now we see because of COVID, we see a remote remote workforce. And I know that’s something that you guys have addressed today in a very big way here at the summit. Talk to us about the future and what that means. This, everybody working from home.

Christina Critzer:
I think there’s going to be… As any of us have observed, it is possible but the human spirit does want some interaction. So we’re finding that people while they like the convenience of working from home, they do miss that face-to-face smile and interaction. It may not be every day like it was previously. And we’re seeing companies close up shop in terms of their physical location and saying, “Hey, maybe we’re only going to have people come in on necessary meetings.” So I think we’re going to see a readjustment in that arena and we’ll see what that has in store.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, sure. Do you think that we’ll have a… Could that have a negative impact on trying to build a great culture in a company when everybody’s working remotely?

Christina Critzer:
I think it’ll present some new challenges for sure. But I think it also provides some opportunities because you’re going to have to be much more intentional about when you do get together and make it meaningful. And I think people miss those spontaneous elevator chit chats or water cooler chats. So there’s still some of that that you need to have flexibility and allow for. But I think we’ve all learned that it is possible to adjust and adapt. So we’ll see what happens.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. I asked the president of one company here in Georgia that same question, what kind of impact will it have on your culture? And he said, “Oh, all employees love me five times more now because they can work from home. So I have a great culture.” He goes, “I’m not really worried about that.” You think that’ll be one of the byproducts that we see, that people are like, “This is great.”

Christina Critzer:
I do think people are excited about it. But on the flip side you do hear people say, “Oh, I miss seeing Susie in the office or Joe. I don’t know what’s going on in their family anymore.” So there is a bit of adjustment to the electronic life. So I think there’ll be a balance somewhere that we have to figure out. But definitely having the ability to have that flexibility it changes the workday. Is your workday nine to five? Is it seven to four? It just gives a lot of flexibility for people with families or caring for elderly. There’s just a lot of options there that people now realize are possible to balance. And that gives you even greater access to talent, if you can take advantage of that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, sure. I know that your virtual event has been a huge success. Did you think it would be when you decided, when you sat down and said, “We got to go virtual on this.” Will as many people show up? Will we get the cooperation of everyone? But yet it’s been a great success, did you anticipate that?

Christina Critzer:
So I think we hoped for that for sure. But it’s been a pleasant surprise to see the rally of our sponsors that have given back to see our membership really want to come to the table and share their insights and expertise. So it definitely has exceeded expectations. It’ll be interesting as we continue in leveraging the virtual platform to see if that momentum continues. There is a little bit, frankly, of Zoom fatigue. So people do get tired. But we’ve got sessions prerecorded, so people can go back as, again, back to the flexibility of being virtual. So there is some benefit there as well. So I think we’ll see more of it. But there’ll be a balance. We need some in-person again, too.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s fantastic. Christina Critzer co-chair of this incredible TAG event, TAG Summit 2021. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule here to join us on the show to share your thoughts.

Christina Critzer:
Well, likewise, thank you for having me today. I appreciate it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thanks.


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