I love roller-coasters!
It’s the thing I looked forward to most when travelling to amusement parks. Sure, the deep-fried corn dogs and colourful trinket shops have their allure, but nothing beats a thrilling (and somewhat terrifying) ride to get your adrenaline pumping.
Roller-coaster rides usually start slow, and lull you into a sense of calm and security.
But as soon as you start to think “I’ve got this,” they jolt you into sheer panic and unpredictability.
I love them!
But nothing prepared me for the roller-coaster that was March 2020. No amount of training done on Space Mountain could have helped me through that jolt and sheer panic that was March 13, 2020 – the day when COVID-19 gripped our nation and plunged our meetings and events industry into a pool of obscurity.
And so, as the story has gone the past two years: twists and turns, cancellations, postponements, rebook, rebook again, pivot, pivot, pivot.
A roller-coaster if I ever saw one.
But like I said, I love roller-coasters. They are always changing your perspective.
I have loved change as much as I have loved roller-coasters, and the past two years have been the ultimate test as to how much I actually love change. Change can evoke so many emotions for us, and for me, it evokes possibility. Change leads to innovation, and boy did we innovate the past couple of years.
In no way can I minimize the great losses that we have endured through this. Like many industry professionals, I lost my business that fateful March. And that loss pales in comparison to those that lost family members, household incomes, the deteriorating mental health, and the forced separation from our loved ones and friends.
That jolt brought loss but also gave birth to a completely re-imagined industry. That jolt may have just been the push our industry needed. And that is what I am so proud of.
Our professionals re-imagined how we can learn, how we can network, and how we can host events. Our planners embraced event design like no other time in our history. Our partners found new inventive ways for the industry to use their products and services. Hundreds of companies and small businesses were born, and our people re-imagined their own careers.
Change leads to new beginnings.
That jolt was what I needed in my career, in the same way I feel it was what our industry needed.
And now we’re reaping the benefits. We’re sharper, we’re creative, we’re continually innovating and testing, and our industry is so much better for it.
This column will explore all the various changes our industry has seen and will continue to see in the months and years ahead. It’ll be about challenging the status quo, and white-boarding new and better ways of doing business in meetings and events. My hope is that it’ll make you think, or at least incite you to add to the discussion. It will introduce you to some of our industry’s best and brightest “change creators and challengers,” and maybe introduce you to some ideas that require more input – YOUR input.
This column will also challenge you to re-imagine many things. #LevelUpWithLeanne will provide you with the encouragement needed to elevate and change the way you view your own career contributions and your personal brand as a hospitality professional. I’m here to support you, listen to you, and help you get past the limiting beliefs that may be keeping you at the start of the roller-coaster ride. It’ll be a slow calm climb, and then we’ll plunge and turn into new beginnings and fresh starts. I hope you’ll join me, my friend, you’ve got this.
Leanne Calderwood, CMP, believes developing a personal brand is the key to setting yourself apart in the meetings and events industry.
Serving as a ConferenceDirect site selection associate for the past 14 years, Leanne used the industry’s hiatus in 2020 to help other sales professionals to find their voice and create a brand that attracts business and opportunities.
Through this work, her true passion was ignited! Now, Leanne serves hospitality professionals and teams through her online courses and consulting services around LinkedIn and personal branding to help move #hotelprofs and #eventprofs from being unknown, to being recognized and trusted.
When she’s not talking branding and hospitality, you can find Leanne drinking tea, making jam, and gardening at her home in Kelowna, B.C. with her husband, two teenage sons, and her dog, Farls Barkley.