I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

“I have hope for the future of my business and that big live events will eventually be possible again”

“I’m still standing, yeah, yeah, yeah,” proclaims my friend and event management colleague, Marcus White, in this blog post. It’s his victory shout about dealing with the changing world of events management, and life in general, since COVID-19 hit. He offers brilliant insight that I agree with completely. (And good luck reading the title without Elton John singing in your head!)

As a lot of us are saying, it feels like my world has been turned upside down since March. I feel like I’ve been shoved into a washing machine on a continuous spin cycle with soapy water still pouring in.

I started 2020 totally optimistic—and full of beans. I had just rented a flat in Boston after two glorious years as a nomad, running my business from whatever place I landed for a short while. I was settled and ready to hit the ground running! Then came March, and there went all my business. Live events were all cancelled, as quickly as blowing out a candle.

Things looked grim. I had just committed to a rent. My small business didn’t make the cut for the first round of PPP loans. I felt like things had completely bottomed out. I spent the early weeks in complete denial about COVID 19—going through the stages of grief and the change curve multiple times. Thank heavens for my Mum. I called her at least three times a day. “You’re a great survivor,” said Mum. “Everything will be ok – you have many strengths”

Then…enough’s enough! Enough fighting the water in that washing machine. Time to get out of the spin cycle. A friend recently told me I had grit and that I’m resilient. It was time to put those attributes to work. My superpower is planning, so it was time for a plan. Time to focus on controlling the controllable.

Here’s what I’m doing personally:

  • I have kept to a routine and for the most part I stick to it. Even getting out of bed at a standard time helps. (Though there have certainly been days when even getting up was just too much and I hid under the duvet.)
  • I’ve taken up meditation and yoga. These never seemed like my kind of things, but I find they really help in keeping me steady and calm.
  • I love to travel (check out my travel blog, Have Fizz Will Travel.) Since we’re all on pause with travel, I’ve been traveling virtually by creating travel plans of all the places I want to visit or re-visit.
    And I love the website WindowSwap which lets you peek out windows across the globe. A similar vicarious experience on Facebook is View From My Window. I might not be able to visit these spots right now, but I get a glimpse of life through other windows, other eyes. It’s the next best thing to traveling there.

Here’s what I’m doing professionally:

  • The concept of virtual events isn’t new, but it’s obviously the new normal. I’ve been creating and managing virtual events for quite a while as organizers of live events wanted to extend their reach. That experience is invaluable now. I’m working with several clients to transform the live events they had planned into online experiences.
  • I’m constantly learning about virtual event resources and best practices. I’m consumed with researching technology platforms, engagement tools and techniques, streaming services, and more. It’s like the Wild Wild West out there!
  • To channel that experience and resource knowledge, I created an Event Coaching service to guide clients in creating their own virtual events.

Luckily, the events business is a social one. I don’t see other people in my industry as competitors, they’re possible collaborators. We’re colleagues who support each other, co-create, and partner to provide clients with additional skillsets. In the constantly changing world of virtual events, having an abundance of expert resources on hand is a godsend. As my friend Marcus says, “Community is key…if you’re running, do it with people that inspire you and can teach you.”

After all of this, my word for 2020 is “hope.” I have hope for the future of my business and that big live events will eventually be possible again. In-person events will be different: in their size, the way they’re set up, and the way guests interact. But we’re social animals. We will be back!

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