What a week it has been.

Like many of you, I have been forced to hit pause in so many ways. It’s felt like an exceptionally hard pause as it relates to my business.  Seeing as my business is focused on in-person, live events, it all came to a screeching halt over the past week.

I don’t share a lot here that is specific to my event business, even though optimism and events do go hand-in-hand. But one of the things I’ve heard over and over again this week is “how can you be so optimistic about events and your business with all in-person events and gatherings being cancelled for the foreseeable future.” So I wanted to share with you here something I wrote in response for my events community, because optimism doesn’t apply just to my business, or the hospitality industry. Our lives are comprised of events of all shapes and sizes every single day. And I’m still optimistic about what they will look like going forward, and what gathering together will look like going forward. 

Hitting pause has looked different for each of us, but at the same time we’re sharing in many common experiences. For my business, and by extension my life, it has meant that every professional and personal event has been cancelled, or postponed, or turned into virtual events. I know you’re seeing this in your own ways – whether it was that dinner party with friends, or the upcoming work conference you couldn’t wait to attend, or your child’s prom or graduation.

There have been A LOT of hard conversations about the best way to move forward as it comes to events and planning gatherings again. There’s also been a lot of fear. Especially as it relates to gathering in person, and what the future of coming together might look like.

And at the same time there has been amazing resolve, resiliency, and pivoting. As a result of our physical distancing, there are more virtual events and gatherings than ever before.

Also at the same time, I am more optimistic about live, in-person events than ever before. Because so many of the most memorable aspects of our lives are comprised of gathering together, in-person.

Do you remember…

The way it felt dancing in celebration at your best friend’s wedding?

Sitting with your girlfriends waiting to find out if Ross and Rachel finally got together?

The inspiring energy in a room when you first heard Tony Robbins or Brene Brown speak on stage, right in front of you?

Sharing peace and praise with those next to you at church?

The collaboration that occurred when you went to a seminar and completely revolutionized your business?

Meeting a new best friend randomly at the coffee break or in line for the bathroom at the last event you attended?

The way you were moved by a mouth-watering, awe-inspiring meal that you shared with a friend at the communal table in that hip new restaurant?

We are beings who love to gather, to commune, to share in hospitality, to connect together. And while we are finding ways to do this virtually, I know without a doubt that we are still aching to come together and do this in-person. We love the collective energy that is shared when we experience a motivational speaker together, when we celebrate or mourn together, when we solve problems together and collaborate with one another and experience life together. And yes, this can still be done virtually in many ways, but nothing will ever replace the collective experience of sharing in something together, in-person.

So, for now I am sharing in the collective virtual experience. I am attending my friends’ virtual happy hours and workshops and meetings and coffee dates. I am supporting clients who are transitioning their events to virtual and we are finding ways to create magic and WOW the attendees in as many of the same ways as we would have in person. And I am loving my community as deeply as I can from a physical distance – with phone calls, emails, virtual dates, mailed letters, and anything else I can think of.

At the same time, I am dreaming about what my next in-person event will be. I’m planning for the experiences I will create for my community when I can once again tap into all 5-senses with them. I’m longing for the moments when conversations will be shared as I pour coffee for a friend sitting at the table next to me, instead of through a computer screen. I’m strategizing about how I can make my community feel loved when we can all come back together. So that once we receive the all-clear to stop physical-distancing, I’ll be sending out invites for that retreat that I’ve been dreaming about, for the workshop that I’ve been planning, for the dinner party I can’t wait to host, for the deep dive conversations that are better shared in-person.

So this, this is why I am optimistic about live, in-person events. Because there will never be any substitute. And when they return, they will be more cherished, more epic, and more meaningful than ever. Just you wait and see.