Shawn Tallard, Sound Productions

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Shawn Tallard, account manager, Sound Productions.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

I make my living connecting people through technology by providing audio, video, and lighting equipment anywhere people gather (i.e., the places we’ve been told to avoid for the past year). Despite the pandemic-related headwinds, I helped countless performance theaters, houses of worship, schools, and universities throughout the country transition from in-person to virtual. This allowed people to remain engaged with education, their communities, and with one another while the pandemic kept us socially distanced. I also used any newfound “spare time” to obtain various technical certifications, which have allowed me to help clients better navigate an ever-changing technological space. Indirectly challenging was balancing our five teenagers schooling from home while I was also working from home. Countless other working parents also struggled through similar challenges, and they have my highest respect for that.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

My father. When I was a young kid, he sold paper and packaging products to Madison-area businesses. He wanted more freedom, so he began educating himself on real estate, which eventually allowed him to invest in rental properties. The growing business provided him the freedom to focus on real estate full time where he eventually grew it into one of the larger, private, reputable student rental property businesses in and around UW campus neighborhoods. I’m grateful to have had a passenger seat view of how consistently focused determination can positively impact outcomes and communities.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

It wasn’t so much a point as a realization of personal growth. In my early 20s, I may have been more in the mode of “helping me,” but with time and maturity my priority has shifted to helping others. The high point so far is not so much knowing the moment it happened, but more the awareness that it has indeed happened. Helping people who are creating joy through gatherings and events, through education, and through spiritual and/or community connection brings more meaning to my work, and more meaning brings me happiness.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

I’d tell him, “Be humble, help others, and be useful, and listen to/learn from everyone you can. The rest will fall into place.” I’d recommend focusing on single-tasking instead of multitasking. I’d reiterate the importance of gratitude and suggest a daily gratitude practice, or maybe even a daily meditation practice to improve focus and clarity to be more effective under stress.

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

I enjoy the diversity of people and talents, and the ever-changing demographic landscape. I believe we’re better when we bring together various backgrounds to serve a greater good, and there are so many exceptional people from all races, religions, and orientations in our area. When everyone’s represented at the table, I think that’s a good thing. I love the many independent businesses and also the bike paths around the city. I use them both often.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I’ve been a songwriter for 30 years, and taught myself from a young age how to play guitar, bass, drums, and sing, as well as record, mix, and engineer recordings. Several songs I’ve written and recorded are currently playing in various Netflix programs both domestically and internationally. I enjoy performing solo — singing with my beloved acoustic guitars — and helping bring people together at various locally owned businesses.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I’m a podcast and audiobook nerd! I’ve consumed thousands of hours of TED Talks, podcasts, autobiographies, and personal development and psychology books. Certain books, like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey or The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey have been exceptionally useful. I still think of Stephen Covey’s four quadrants of time management several times a day.

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