No doubt most of us have seen an episode of Friends at one point or another. One of the episodes that made me laugh harder than most was the one when Ross and Chandler were trying to move a new sofa up the stairs of Ross’ apartment building.As you can imagine, they faced some challenges with the unexpected size of the sofa and the winding staircase, which resulted in huge laughs and a lot of Ross screaming to Chandler to “Pivot!” I can relate to Friends’ episodes quite often, but I have to say this one resonates on a whole new level given the recent turn of events during the COVID-19 pandemic.As a Corporate Event Manager, I spend most of my time trying to identify what gets employees excited and engaged about coming to work. A big part of that is planning social events for them where they can take a break from the work stress, connect and feel appreciated. As anyone in events knows, you spend a good 3-6 months (at least) planning ahead. For me, that meant I was knee deep in 3 upcoming employee engagement programs when I received the news about the Shelter in Place order, and inevitably, they were all cancelled.Disappointing? Of course. When you work hard on something you want to see it through to the very end, but in life you have to adapt and it’s no different in the corporate world. So, what was next? Taking a cue from Ross, I “pivoted” into virtual events.Webinars and virtual events are new territory to me, but much like Ross and his oversized sofa, I had to learn to pivot. There have been many hiccups for me, even frustration, and I’ve leaned heavily on people who have more expertise than I do in the arena. Fortunately, through the journey, I’ve discovered a lot of grace is being given during this time.I’m lucky enough to work for a leadership team, that is understanding of the fact that we are all entering uncharted territory right now and trying to make the best of it. That what we are “good at” isn’t necessarily what we are able to do right now, and I’m slowly learning to accept that.I haven’t nailed virtual events, yet. In fact, I spend most of my days feeling like I am trying to cram an 8 ft sofa up a narrow staircase. However, with some grace and determination, I’m working on that pivot.
Valerie Barlow is a Tech Ladies® founding member & marketing professional. Currently the Corporate Event Manager at Five9, she is focused on creating authentic brand awareness and exceptional employee experience through through internal event programs.
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