One Year Later: Gratitude for My Industry and Community
When you look back, how will you describe COVID-19’s impact on you?
It’s hard to envision at this moment, but eventually, Covid will be years behind us. When you look back, how will you describe its impact on you? We already measure so much in our lives as pre- or post-pandemic. Our businesses grow because we adapt — what feels like survival-mode at the time is really innovation, then eventually the new norm. As we pass the one-year mark of physical distancing, I reflected on a few of the lessons I’ve learned this year and how they will shape my business — and me — forever.
Virtual events are here to stay.
In our industry, the future is a hybrid live-virtual event model. Nothing can replace an in-person experience, but instead of losing the old ways, this period has given us additional opportunities, and a whole new set of tools to make our events more accessible.
Our job is to execute a vision on behalf of our clients — but in order to be effective in that mission, that symposium, that fundraiser, it’s critical that we relate to our audience by meeting them where they are. Of course I’m counting down the moments until we can gather together for an in-person experience, but I’m excited that the events we produce in the future can include broader audiences, not just those who can physically join.
We have to foster more socially sustainable workplaces.
Covid upended everything we knew about traditional workspaces, propelling us to work remotely when possible. The distinct lines that once separated business from personal faded away, allowing for new opportunities and areas of difficult change and growth. I’m grateful that my team at The Dufour Collaborative came together, delivering innovative solutions to challenges we never could have imagined just a short time before.
When I look back at this time, my memories will be forever punctuated by their commitment to our partners and each other, all while facing the reality of a global pandemic, protests in support of our core belief that Black Lives Matter, and the most enthralling election we’ve ever seen. We were clearly reminded that the work we do must always represent our values and support our communities.
Community is the key to success.
In a year where the only constant seemed to be rapid change, what was the driving force that kept me and my team moving forward? Community. A successful business isn’t merely about your personal gain, it’s understanding the community you are a part of and adapting to your industry’s immediate challenges. Our responsibility as event professionals is to curate spaces where every attendee, vendor and employee is able to be their authentic selves. Every event is also an opportunity to strengthen our community. Those who used to vie alongside us for RFPs are now our fellow members of the DC Events Coalition, working together to advocate for the thousands of event professionals we represent.
Now imagine it’s years from now. When you look back, how do you describe the impact Covid/physical distancing had on you? Much of what changed last year was a return to business basics, but our primary takeaway should be the importance of community. Following a year of isolation, I hope we all commit to establishing meaningful relationships in the workplace — those that challenge us professionally and encourage us personally. When things have fully re-opened, I hope to see other small businesses leading with their values — not out of partisan loyalty or as a marketing tactic, but because you recognize the power you possess as a small business owner, that is the opportunity to build something while simultaneously creating a safer, healthier and more inclusive community.