If I had to sum up 2021, it would be chaotic stability.
As a business, we at The 180 Group knew in-person events weren’t coming back fully this year, and we made the call early to plan for mostly virtual productions. That plan not only helped us continue to innovate for our clients and provide them with flawlessly executed shows, but it also gave us a sense of stability and direction as we continued to navigate an uncertain world.
Success, however, isn’t achieved from just having a good plan in place. It’s also cultivated from equal parts grit and gratitude. I’ve seen so many people — from my family to our team to other industry professionals — embrace both of these mindsets over these past several months. These attitudes guided key life and business decisions and helped turn pandemonium into purpose. These are also mindsets the meetings and events industry as a whole will need to embody over the next five years, at least, if we want to continue to grow.
So, what exactly is grit? It reminds me of the old adage to “rub some dirt on it.” Science has shown us that certain elements in soil, if applied to a wound, may help with healing when other means aren’t available. If we apply this to a business mindset, grit is doing what we have to do in the moment when other options aren’t planned for or present. It’s rolling up our sleeves and getting it done. It’s rubbing some dirt on it mentally — and that’s exactly what many of us have done and continue to do when faced with new challenges.
It has been said that grit is a mixture of passion and perseverance, and I’ve witnessed both from my team at The 180 Group. When the world shut down in March 2020 and we were confronted with the task of figuring out how we’d move our business forward, our team immediately came to the table with their full, creative selves. We didn’t want to just pivot our in-person meetings and events to a virtual setting; we saw it as an opportunity to think outside the box and design new, intentional experiences that could still wow and engage audiences inside a virtual environment. Even though the circumstances were outside of everyone’s control, how we reacted to them was within our control. We seized the moment and made the most of it. It was a good reminder that innovation comes in times of crisis, and it’s grit that makes it happen.
Grit absolutely matters when it comes to both short-term and long-term success. In fact, researchers say grit is more important than brains and brawn for surviving and thriving. Of course, there are always going to be setbacks and detours on the path to success, and as such, more reasons to harness grit down the road. For the meetings and events industry, one looming speedbump is the immense talent shortage. The people who stuck around and made it through the last 21 months, like producers, graphic designers, technical engineers and A/V technicians, are powerhouses; they fought through the uncertainty and found a way to survive in our profession. They stuck around because they care about the industry and the work.
But now, we’re all grappling with the stark reality that the labor force we once had is no longer there. While we’re eventually going to be back in ballrooms and conference halls, we in the industry will likely be working with fewer and potentially less-seasoned talent than we have before. It’s going to take grit to attract new people to our profession and patiently train them, taking care of their needs and those of our clients at the same time. We’ll need to tap into a whole new level of grit and stewardship during the next few years in order for our industry to forge ahead stronger.
Grit, however, can only get us so far; we must also balance it with gratitude. Gratitude is an appreciation for what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve learned. It’s being thankful for every person who’s gone on the journey with us and acknowledging their efforts and sacrifices along the way. Gratitude, in essence, boosts grit and reminds us we are all striving toward the goal together.
It has truly been a group effort to get us at The 180 Group where we are today. I would be naive to think I could have done any of this without my wonderful wife, amazing colleagues and their support systems. Everyone found ways to build one another up these past few months and to rebound when things got tough. When March 2020 hit, nobody on my team paused. There was a lot of fear and anxiety, but they were all willing to get it done so we as a company could still grow and succeed.
Thank you, Elaiza, Lucy, Caitlin, Chad, Eric, Sydney, Jill, Ashley, Megan, Taylor, Ben, Ryan, Arne, John, Emilio, Taylor, Shanna, Mike, Jeffrey, Lauren, Howard and Astin. Your passion and perseverance have gotten us through the chaotic stability of 2021 and will make 2022 and beyond more stable and bright. I know by tapping into the real power of grit and gratitude, our industry can experience the same.