By John Kregler, StartOut
Our Programming Board member Joe Mode is a really inspiring entrepreneur. Originally from Los Angeles, Joe’s always considered himself a performer. He danced in college, started acting, worked in public access shows, and eventually landed in New York to really pursue his dream. As Joe will say himself, “performance has always been my driving force.”
Today, Joe is the CEO and President of Way Out Worldwide, the umbrella company that includes Way Out Productions, Way Out Events, the Spread the Love Campaign, and Integrated LGBT Marketing. And after surviving cancer, Joe found a component in himself that could be used to inspire people and it’s been his mission ever since.
Joe, can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with StartOut?
I’ve known about StartOut from the very beginning when they first launched. I remember going to a StartOut event at The OUT NYC hotel and got introduced to the organization. Fast forward a couple of years, I received an invite to join the programming board this past January and with my experience in running programs for LGBTQ+ people in TV and film, I thought it would be a great match. I’ve been motivated by the platform and the opportunities to network with people. I also have a long history and friendship with Alex Breitman, StartOut’s events coordinator, so it felt like an obvious decision.
What are some of your defining moments as a member of the programming board?
I actually just got done with my very first event on August 4th — Upgrading the Inner World of the Entrepreneur After Burnout. I was so proud because we hit our goal of 200 RSVPs and I got to work with panelists who I’ve known for years. This topic also meant so much to me because I really wanted to provide a resource to entrepreneurs who are dealing with stress and managing themselves during tough situations.
What’s the experience been like for you and the other board members on your team?
It’s great when you can connect with people who aren’t physically with you. Everyone on my team is from a different area and they have different perspectives on certain things because of their location. We’re different and unique people and that’s something to celebrate. The more variety of opinions we have, the more we can tailor our programs to the founders who need them. So if I’m planning an event with a New Yorker in mind, I’ll get feedback from someone in the South or on the West Coast and it really elevates the level and delivery of our programming. From a business perspective, it’s opening my mind up and helping shift my strategy to design a product that’s appealing to everyone.
What are you most excited for with the future of the StartOut Programming Board?
You know, the majority of my work in life has been solo and it’s forced me to be my own critic. Being someone that’s so used to working with myself in my own space, it was a bit of a challenge transitioning to working in this team setting. But then it became a benefit because it helped me work collaboratively which happens so much in the entertainment industry. I’m looking forward to where this union keeps taking me. Now that I’ve got my first program under my belt, I hope to keep catching attention. I feel so humbled and proud to do something that’s not about me in any way, shape or form. It’s such a treat to provide a resource for these founders and just watch the results come in.