Event Planner Leah Block Talks Life After “The Bachelor”

Event Planner Leah Block Talks Life After “The Bachelor”

Ready for a reality TV twist? After a stint on the 20th season of “The Bachelor,” Denver-based Leah Block redeems herself after a disparaging warning Ben Higgins about his now-fiancee Lauren Bushnell—angering fans of the show—by turning out to be a hardworking, delightful millennial in the meetings world. (Oh, and don’t worry; she made up with Bushnell.) As an entry-level corporate planner, Block had recently finished working on Urban Land Institute’s biannual conference in San Francisco when we talked to her, is busy taking care of her poodle, is getting ready for a turn on "The Bachelor in Paradise" and learning from her mentor in the industry, all of which means she doesn’t have time for the haters. Here’s why there’s more to Block than what reality TV could ever show you.

Leah Block doesn’t feel well. The 25-year-old Denver native has been sick with the flu for a week. Even though she’s a bit throaty and stuffed up, it doesn’t stop her cheerful Midwestern accent from bubbling up when she talks about events—or from posing for a selfie with a fan. “I ordered takeout because I was so sick, but it was going to be two hours for delivery,” she says, relaying the dilemma. “I thought: I’m just going to run in and pick it up. I looked awful and was in sweatpants. There were a few people paying for their order in front of me. One guy turned and looked at me and said, ‘I have a question.’ [He recognized me] and wanted to take a picture. I said, ‘C’mon, I look terrible!’ But I took the photo anyway. Thankfully, I never saw it posted.”

Such is the new reality for Block, a self-described “normal girl.” Born and raised in Colorado, she returned home to her poodle, Darla, and her job at The Bastian Group, a Denver events company, after filming “The Bachelor” with Ben Higgins and 27 other girls earlier this year. 

 

She has been trying to get back into her old routine, which includes indulging her DIY craft obsession (“I make a lot of things from scratch, distress furniture and enjoy creative projects,” she says) and planning events for corporate clients. Senior and midlevel planners may recall the early days of their careers, and newbies will feel kismet as the meeting prof talks candidly with Connect Corporate about how she used her fashion merchandising degree from Colorado State University and a side gig as a promotional model while in school to get into the meetings industry.

On how she got into the corporate events industry…

Leah Block Bachelor
Behind the scenes of the photo shoot at The Crawford Hotel in Denver Union Station.[/caption]

Ten days after graduating college, I moved to Los Angeles. I interned for a wholesale apparel manufacturing company and then stayed in California for a year looking for a job in fashion. I thought I wanted to be a buyer or stylist, but I had always loved working different events during college. Then I went to this Whatever, USA event presented by Bud Light in Crested Butte, Colorado, with a friend. It was the craziest thing—really out there and creative. They painted the whole town blue; there was a hot tub in the middle of the road and a large tent with performers all weekend long. Every person was given an LED jacket to wear inside, so the entire tent glowed. The event had awesome food vendors—my favorite were delicious sweet waffles with chocolate on top. There was a 7-Eleven Slurpee truck all day and an app where you could have 7-Eleven food, drinks and swag delivered to your hotel room for free. They also organized outfit try-ons for a disco party, and attendees were able to try on amazing vintage clothing. Whatever outfit you selected you were able to keep. I enjoyed it so much and knew I wanted to be part of a team thinking of all these out-of-the-box ideas.

In 2013, I moved back to Colorado and reached out to 20 event companies to find an internship. A few companies reached back out. It was between two jobs, and I went with the one that felt right. I interned with Alexan Events for 12 weeks, working 20-hour days for free and learning so much. Their main business was with weddings and special events, but I was able to work on a corporate event for Taco Bell in Cherry Hills too.

On how she got her first industry job…

I was still looking for full-time work when I volunteered at a charity event for the Denver Polo Classic. Some of the girls I was with knew Pam Bastian [owner of The Bastian Group]. It was the end of the day and we were watching the polo match. Pam was sitting right next to me. My dad had met one of her former employees [previously] and I had corresponded with her over email, but I never heard from Pam. We started chatting and I told her I wanted to be in event planning. It was awkward and funny when I found out who she was, but I felt like it was destiny. We set up a meeting, and at the time she needed somebody.

Photo by Jeff Nelson; photographed at The Crawford Hotel in Denver Union Station; hair and makeup by Ashley Smith Beauty

On when things go awry on-site… 

I’ve learned being new in the business that something will go wrong with AV and lighting at an event. For example, we’re in a tent and the power doesn’t work. Or, there will be 20 tables, and three will have ivory linens but the rest are white. There also have been issues with food—something isn’t there or we have to run out. For instance, we don’t have enough vases [so we] have to run to the dollar store and get some. You always need a plan B. Most of the time, there’s time to get it fixed.

On telling her boss she was cast on “The Bachelor”…

I had just landed this perfect job and didn’t want to ruin it, but it could not have been a better job for me with going on the show. The company was about to book my flight for a conference, but I knew if I got on the show, I wouldn’t be able to go. I was so nervous, but I finally told my boss over lunch one day there was a possibility I’d get on the show.

She could not have been more supportive. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she said, “You don’t have a job when you get back.” Instead, she said, “Of course you have a job. I want you to end up with the guy, and I also don’t… because I selfishly want you to end up back here!”

On finding a mentor when you’re new in the industry…

It’s important for everyone who is still developing their career to have a mentor. Being able to go to Pam for anything I need relating to the event industry or even outside the industry is wonderful. You know someone like her truly wants to help you succeed when they continue to share advice and guidance. I know I still have a lot of learning to do. I am trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can from everyone I work with and from every experience I have.

On how “The Bachelor” is kindred to event planning…

“[The show is] like incentive planning in that it takes you on luxury excursions and they do everything VIP. Eventually I realized there was a person [with ABC] who handles all the hotels and booking. After the show, I thought: Maybe I should look at the production team and see if they [have an opening]?

For example, there was one excursion to Pig Beach in the Bahamas, where pigs are swimming in the water. Someone had to go find this place, do a site visit, book a catamaran to take us there and handle the F&B. I made lists on the plane home of what they could have done for other excursions.

Photo by Jeff Nelson; photographed at The Crawford Hotel in Denver Union Station; hair and makeup by Ashley Smith Beauty

On returning to work…

I came back in October 2015 from “The Bachelor” and started working again, [but the show didn’t air until January]. [Our company had] some exciting, big corporate event projects come up, and I became a project manager on several Texas-based events for a luxury venue space with locations around the country.

At my last corporate conference, I went to Las Vegas. We did a gala and there was a big presentation going on. Some attendees came up and asked if I was Leah from “The Bachelor.” They wanted a picture. I would not normally say no, but I was at work so I had to. You have to keep your professional life separate.

Now more than ever people recognize me, but I’m just a normal girl trying to do life.