As the event industry once again faces uncertainty, we asked event producers how they're staying focused, motivated and optimistic.
Tiffany Allen, founder, AEA Consulting Firm, Baltimore
“When the Delta variant started to rear its ugly head, I thought to myself, ‘Here we go again.’ Ruined plans. But I immediately had to shake that ominous feeling. Unlike when I was blindsided in 2020, I feel much more prepared this time around. I know that hybrid events are here to stay, so every meeting I plan can easily pivot to a 100% virtual platform. Also, I know what clauses should be inserted in venue contracts to protect my clients. To keep a positive mindset, I take daily morning walks while listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes and other motivational speakers. My favorite mantra is, ‘Each day is a gift.’ Before COVID, I used to think it was such a blessing to wake up in the morning. Now more than ever, each day is gift has a deeper meaning for me. So, when I start feeling down, I keep in mind I'm alive. I still have breath in my lungs. I have the activity of my limbs. I'm still here. I want to use my gift of life wisely.”
Sarah Cissna, owner and event producer, The Side Lobby, Washington, D.C.
“I started training for a fall half-marathon in June. I find that the structure is something I thrive on—it’s reliable, and the results are 100% up to me. My family also shares one thing we’re each thankful for at dinner every night. That helps to put things in perspective a bit. Finally, I try to eliminate as many small decisions throughout the day as possible—even figuring out what to have for breakfast takes a little out of your mental reserves. I choose what I’m going to wear the night before (never done that before!), I have grab-and-go lunch items for in the fridge and I eat the same thing for breakfast. It’s like the half-marathon training: Knowing what to do in advance makes the doing easier.”
Shawn Shapiro, event planner, Redstone Agency Inc., Vaughn, Ontario
"I start and end each day with a positive thought or quote, and try to find a way to incorporate it in my actions."
Tiffany Sondergaard, founder, ts PR & Event Planning, Bethlehem, Pa.
"Event planners like myself are currently producing two years of events in one year. What we are not saying is that we are literally treading water, staying just above (or ahead) of our event responsibilities and managing to keep event clients calm. In order to maintain and keep clients from freaking out, I myself have hired two new staff members and adapted what I like to call 'Turn-Down Mondays'—I take the day completely off and get spa treatments, nails done, even a standing reiki appointment to keep my chakra levels in check. And the ultimate professional event-planning mantra that I stand by: 'Always have a rain contingency!'"
Ankush Gupta, founder, Eventible.com, New York
"It has indeed been a crazy time, and more so a period where I've realized the importance of just stepping back and taking a breath or two and winding down. I accomplish this by taking a little time off each week to help out a local organization that works for the care of street dogs. I find the whole process of helping make my neighborhood a better and safer place for these animals a rewarding experience. It's also very important to get some physical activity—and preferably one where you're not able to check your phone for that amount of time."
Jessica Campos, president and chief experience officer, Wicked Experience Design, Houston
“Johanna Basford coloring books! They have become a great source of destressing for me. I can sit at my desk and color to decompress and refocus between meetings/tasks, or lay on the couch with one and unwind at the end of the day. It’s a great solo activity for those of us who need some alone time after a long day, and a great way to let out your artistic side.”
Ann Netzley Hollins, chief experience officer, Events Outlined, Columbus, Ohio
"Memes and humor. I’ve definitely raised my 'meme dealer' status in 2020-2021 and stay well connected to other #eventprofs meme dealers as we ride the roller coaster!"
Amber Mayfield, founder and lead producer, To Be Hosted, New York
“The past year-and-a-half has been so hard for event producers, hospitality businesses and all members of the event service industry. I've been able to stay optimistic by reminding myself that the uncertainty I am facing is not unique to just me—we're all in this together. For me, my faith, talking to God and prayer is what keeps me going because I acknowledge these circumstances are much, much bigger than what I can see or fix. This past year, I've looked for other ways to stay social, active and creative. At the start of the pandemic, I launched a magazine called While Entertaining, which helps people cook and gather at home. This keeps me creative. I work out daily during the week to stay active. And I schedule virtual coffee meetings to stay social. These are activities I was not always able to do while producing back-to-back events. So focusing on what I can do, rather than what I can't do, has helped me stay motivated and connected during these uncertain times.”
Mia Masson, content director, Swapcard, Paris
“At the end of the work day or week, I try to cut off and focus on what’s important: family, health and ‘me-time,’ and manage to forget about work completely until the next morning/Monday. A little perspective can work wonders.”
Barbara Moore, client relations account manager, Big Head Cartoon, Irvine, Calif.
"Games: Playing games is not just for kids. There are so many, from sports for physical activity to get those endorphins up (lately that is tennis), to video games (I'm a PC Gamer), to even board games. There are so many games to choose from to connect with my favorite people near and far, challenging me to strategically think outside the box."
John D'Adamo, head of sales, USA, VenuIQ, Cape Coral, Fla.
"Mental health focus is so important. I try to meditate for 10 minutes a day using the Calm app, and go onto my balcony daily to listen to the water. Having my dog, Gizmo, around helps a lot too."
Stephanie Douglas, account manager, CORT Events, Boston
"During these challenging times, I often think about the incredible struggles humans have endured throughout history. Today most of us enjoy incredible comforts, technology and privilege in so many areas. My mantra has been, 'This, too, shall pass.'"