A personal message from Shawn Ellis, Founder of The Speakers Group
These are interesting times we find ourselves in. Not only is the coronavirus spreading rapidly around the world–now officially being recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization–but fear and panic along with it. Did you stock up on toilet paper yet?
For those of us in the events industry, our world is especially being rocked because we’re being told not to do the very thing that we exist to do: bring people together. When the NBA suspends their season, you know things are serious.
Yet, at the same time, while isolation is a key strategy to contain–or slow the spread of–the coronavirus, it’s also dangerous in that when we are discouraged and afraid, the last thing we need is to be left to wallow in it alone. In times of adversity more than any other, we need to connect with one another for encouragement, guidance, and support.
This is why we all love live, in-person events so much. Whether it’s a meeting, conference, convention, sporting event, or concert, magical moments are created when people gather together.
But right now, we have to consider the greater good. We’re seeking the guidance of medical professionals (not news reporters, by the way) for advice on how to responsibly handle live events–because they are qualified to advise there and I am not.
Where I do want to offer some advice right now, though–which is in my area of expertise–is how to take care of YOU and your team so you can not only survive, but thrive, in the face of this crisis.
Here are my five P’s that are critical to help you and your team rise up in this season of uncertainty:
- Purell. Yes, the hand sanitizer. But that’s for bacteria and this is a virus. I know, but I had four items that started with P on my list and I needed a fifth. So, I thought of Purell, and that reminded me of something that really is important right now: keep a sense of humor! Coronavirus is no laughing matter. To the contrary, it’s very serious, which is why we need to be intentional about injecting humor into our day. This may be here for a while. We can still have fun along the way!
- Perspective. This is my 21st year in the live events business. During that time, I’ve seen two events dramatically affect the events world–and of course, the entire world, just like the coronavirus: 9/11 and the Great Recession. During 9/11, I was a VP at another speakers bureau. During the Great Recession, I was about five years into leading The Speakers Group. We saw business revenues drop over 50 percent, and frankly, it took nearly a decade to fully recover. But you know what? We’re still here. You’re still here. Let your history be your evidence to walk in faith rather than fear. We’ve faced challenges before, and we’ve made it through. We will get through this, too.
- Patience. While it’s certain we will get through this, it’s also certain that it’s going to take some time. While we live in a “make it happen NOW!” world, this will not be resolved overnight. After the coronavirus runs its course, we’re sure to be feeling the after-effects for some time. We must cultivate resilience to persist and persevere.
- Practices. Resilience doesn’t just happen. Hearing all the news stories–which seem to be injected with more doom every day–and working long hours to navigate this current crisis is exhausting. It will eventually deplete you… unless you have consistent practices in place to take care of yourself. The practice everyone is talking about right now is washing your hands, and that is good to take care of our physical health, but we must not ignore our mental health. As I say, “We must attend to state before strategy.” If you’re exhausted, depressed, or burned out, constantly operating in a state of fear, you’re not going to be in good condition to come up with–or execute–the necessary strategies to rise up in the face of this challenge. What can you do to keep yourself in an empowered, resourceful state? Meditation, yoga, exercise, time in nature, journaling… In one way or another, it’s important that you have a practice to help you come back to center every day.
- Positive Input. Speaking of practices, the practice of getting consistent positive input in your life is critical. As noted, the news seems to get darker and darker every day. That’s why it’s so important to dig beneath the headlines–which, let’s face it, are designed to scare us and keep us tuned in–to find what medical professionals are advising. The medical professionals tell us that the fear and panic running rampant is really not necessary. Take this virus seriously? Yes. Panic? No. And beyond getting accurate, non-sensationalized medical input, make sure you’re consuming content with inspiration, encouragement, skills, and strategies to support you in rising up–especially when we’re surrounded by so much messaging that will beat you down. Much of that messaging is inside your own head, by the way! That’s why it’s critical to inject positivity into your life regularly.
Recognizing how important positive input is, and also recognizing that this is one of the big reasons we create–and people attend–live events, we’ve been thinking and talking a lot at The Speakers Group about how we can continue to support you, and help you support those you serve. The key question we’ve been asking is:
How can we be responsible in limiting the spread of the coronavirus, while also not robbing those we serve of what they need now more than ever: wise, encouraging, expert guidance in how to rise up and thrive, so as to not slip into survival mode?
If in-person gatherings are going to be postponed, we must find other ways to deliver inspiration, training, and interaction to those who depend on us to bring it to them… and there are other ways.
Thankfully, technology is on our side and we can work together to effectively bring positive, practical, transformational content to your people through one-off virtual sessions led by a single speaker (maybe they just need a quick “boost” for the day), and virtual summits that feature multiple speakers (an alternative to a multi-day conference). On the bright side, virtual sessions are available at up to 80 percent off standard speaker rates since there is no travel involved.
We may not be able to do things the way we normally do them right now, but we mustn’t put life and business “on hold” until the virus has passed by. Today it’s the coronavirus. After that passes, we know there will be another unexpected challenge around the corner. Whatever we face, the call is always to learn new ways to live and work–and serve–in the midst of it.
Challenging times don’t have to be dismal times. Remember, thriving is not a destination where you’re always happy and circumstances are always perfect. There is no such destination. Rather, thriving is a state of being where you’re living as the creator of your experience rather than as a victim of your circumstances.
We’re here at The Speakers Group to help you rise and thrive… one moment at a time.
Reach out and let’s work through this together.