Transformation and adaptation are the buzzwords for this last quarter of 2021.We are headed into 2022 and some pathways are emerging for business owners who are wondering what’s next. I don’t have the answers but the past few weeks has me at least asking the right questions.
If you’re thinking that these pictures mean I’m back to travelling and seeing people in person…you are right! I looked back on my post from April 2020, which marked the start of the lockdown and the end of seeing people in person.
In that post I talk about cash, community, and connections. I didn’t know then how much I’d miss doing the latter two in person. In fact, I’m not sure I knew exactly how much I missed it until I went to two women’s business conferences in September and October. Seeing people in person definitely boosted my spirits, and once again, women business owners, and the organizations that support them, came to the emotional rescue. Not to mention that October is National Women’s Small Business Month so there’s a lot to feel good about.
I should start by saying that I felt very safe at both conferences. The Go for the Greens conference was held at a Disney property which required masks indoors and everyone complied. I have been double vaccinated since April (no booster yet) and felt confident that the conference organizers put safety at the top of their priorities. The WPO conference in Nashville required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to be there and they were providing COVID tests on site. That said, I completely understand the many people that typically go to these conferences and didn’t feel comfortable showing up this year.
For you and for them, here are some of my key takeaways from my time away. Maybe it will help you make a decision if you’re thinking about going to that industry conference or maybe you’ll just feel glad you didn’t go because this was a great summary! Either way, here we go:
- There’s been a lot made about introverts and (versus?) extroverts during the pandemic. From what I saw at these conference, both filled their soul’s cups at these events. It was just so nice to see people and connect in a meaningful way. I know that people have done this virtually. I’ve encouraged it! But there was a distinct energy shift.
- Energy is going to be the key word because among the business owners, corporate representatives and organizational leaders – these were the first conferences they had attended in 18 months. Everyone brought an energy to re-connect and re-energize along with a lot of time for meeting new connections. We weren’t worn down by being road warriors again – yet.
- Everyone loves an X/Y axis!
- There was a definite emphasis on the new normal, the transformation of the workforce, and the premium people are putting on finding and keeping the best people. This is a major challenge for most of the small business owners I know and will continue to be one as we adapt to the new normal.
- WPO’s annual international conference is consistently one of the best conferences and this year was no exception. Speakers focused on how to connect differently, how to manage, simplify and stand out.
- If you have a sustainability solution, people want to hear about it! Go for the Greens emphasizes the need for sustainability and how it links to business solutions. I love a differentiator and this is a great one.
- We may not know what the future will look like but the “old days” are not coming back. Key words were transformation, flexibility, change and adaptation.
- Everyone wants flexibility but no one can find the time. We did an exercise from Lisa Bodell where we said where we got our best thinking done then we said what we did all day. The contrast in our answers was telling. We think best walking, exercising and when our mind is at rest (even if our body isn’t). Instead, we spend most of our time “doing” – emailing, zooming and in the dreaded meetings. How to change that dynamic?
- The world is changing faster than humans can adapt. To solve problems we are going to need to make sure not that we have the answers, but that we ask the right questions.
- Even if you think you’re not good at golf, you should at least try it. Go For the Greens was a great place to get started.
- Being in Nashville reminded me how much I missed live music.
If you’re ready to be a road warrior again, happy and safe travels. And if it’s too soon, I’ll see you on zoom!