This Is Why I Started AV Educate

AV Educate is a concept I came up with through many years of self-training and technical discovery. To explain why I’d like to share some of my life experiences in this industry. 

I was born into this business; my family was already running a successful AV company by the time I came into this world. My dad traveled the world and brought back a lot of stories from his trips that intrigued me. My mom would sometimes bring me to the office where I’d visit with my Uncle. He was a lighting engineer, and he’d let me play in the shop. I visited my brother in Puerto Rico. He was working in film and had amazing sets and scenes he would work on for movies. It was all around me so naturally, I gravitated toward it.  

When I was in middle and high school, I always signed up for the AV electives. I was the lead tech in high school for two programs – theater and broadcast. We put on a play every three months and had a show every other Friday. I spent more time at school after hours than I did during regular school hours. After high school though, I went into the military. I did very well and gained a lot of training and skills that still help me today. I took a lot of educational classes about weapons and combat training, and since I volunteered, I was able to become an instructor. Through its ups and downs, and meeting some of the most brilliant people, I decided after my last deployment that I would leave. I sacrificed a lot and decided it was no longer for me. 

After the military, my family encouraged me to return to my AV roots with my father, so I did. I spent almost three years in the warehouse learning how to identify and pull gear, prep for shows, predict necessary additions and eventually made my way into the video department. I had to learn everything from cable types to high-end projection and processing. At the time there weren’t any educational resources. AVIXA (InfoComm) offered some, but not enough. I had mentors, but there are a lot of different ways to accomplish the same thing, so I never really understood the fundamentals. My father encouraged me to read manuals, which I did, but it still wasn’t enough for me. I looked for all kinds of educational reading material, learned from some of the most experienced specialists, and little by little I made my way to being the video lead.

I realized that a lot of people want to take all for themselves to advance in their careers, but don’t want to help their colleagues do the same.

At this point, I decided I wanted to go into freelance. My father gave me some of the best advice, which was not to rest on my laurels and to make my own way. What he meant was not to tell anyone where I came from, he wanted me to make a name for myself based on my skills, not his reputation. I started working as a stagehand and quickly advanced. But when the time came to start my family, I needed more stability, so I took a full-time job to be home with them for support. I had a great crew at the Fontainebleau in Miami, FL. They just needed some additional training, and I could see the crew wasn’t very motivated, so I started teaching them more on the basics of audio, video, and lighting. The more they learned, the better we became. They moved into assist positions, started traveling to other properties to run their larger shows, and eventually moved into lead positions. I became the lead trainer and created monthly PowerPoints for the company newsletters and all the employees.  

As time moved on, I went back to freelancing, but this time it was easier to move to the top because I had already established myself. I also became a point person for people looking for advice with video technology, which was different. One day, a close colleague whom I’d always looked up to, asked me why I stopped publishing my PowerPoints. It was then I realized my training had reached further than the hotel av crew for whom I had created it. I also met a producer who I established a great rapport with, he showed his interested in my training material and asked if he could see everything. We agreed to share our files; however, I never got his despite sending him mine. At that point, I realized that a lot of people want to take all for themselves to advance in their careers, but don’t want to help their colleagues do the same. It was this encounter that led me to created AV Educate.  

The Facebook group came up after a friend of mine, and I were having a discussion one day, and the page grew overnight. The only purpose was to post the content we already had, and hopefully, other people would follow. One of the benefits of the group is that when you post a document, it saves in the files section, and anyone can access it to download. We started tagging posts for A1, L1, V1, etc. to distinguish which department they were for, and now you can search by these tags to find what you’re looking for. We continue to expand our reach by creating a YouTube channel and Pinterest accountfor our followers who use other platforms. We’re trying to be something like the Google of AV to provide all the resources for you so you can gain the knowledge I had to hunt for over the years. I suppose you can say, after all these years, the group came about because of my frustration from seeing a lack of information in the industry, I wanted to fill that void. We already start running networking events and actual hands-on training opportunities in Miami and Orlando, we even created a webpage for the none social media followers could receive emails updates with the most important information but where still small and have more we are planning to do. 

We are small but mighty, and all we want to do is help others find the resources that they need to further their careers. Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge and experience someone has, the more likely they’ll be hired, the happier the client will be, and the safer the crews will be. That’s who we want working beside us, trained and motivated techs. In this age of information and technology, there shouldn’t be any reason why someone can’t have access to learn and grow without spending a fortune. We want to open the doors for people, not close them off. We are confident enough in our skills and abilities not to feel threatened by someone else that wants to learn something new, improve their skills, and hone their craft. We welcome anyone who wants a place to find that and contribute to others as well.

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Omar’s daughter is an AV technician in the making.