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  • Writer's pictureNicole Peck

From Sh*t-show to Life in Seven Hours

The power of human connection

ConnectUs Global Check-in pods came complete with thermal scanner.

2020: A tale of two norms..."S**t-show, shocking, depressing, confused, numb" - All words used by colleagues and industry veterans to describe the past seven months. "Normal, real, happy, alive, connected, content" - descriptors used by those same people, when asked, after spending seven hours together at an in-person meeting at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

On October 21, I attended Info & Interviews Live: Expo Recovery, produced by Martha Donato and Marty Glynn of MAD Event Management. I even helped out a bit and in doing so, fed my creative and operational juices (which have been a bit idle for a while). An in-person meeting of people who had been gathering almost weekly on Zoom since March. A day to remember, a day I sorely needed and a day filled with dedication, happiness and life.

Alive - that was my word when I answered, “one word to describe today,” at the bar after the official program was concluded. To recap a bit, I arrived a day early and along with industry colleagues and friends, Rich Curran of Expo Convention Contractors and Danica Tormohlen of Live and Unfiltered, attended the pre-con meeting with the Mandalay and MAD Event Management teams. We reviewed our safety and arrival protocols with partner ConnectUS Global and the room set-up and plan for breaks and food with the in-house teams. We were ecstatic to be doing what we loved doing and couldn't contain the smiles under our masks.

The event proved a hypothesis I have written and spoken about many times. In summary, I believe that connections can be made with consistent meetings online over time and consummated, if you will, in-person. If warmth could be achieved between two people in the rectangle, it would only blossom in person. True. 100% true. So much so, that it was hard to physically restrain from shaking hands and hugging people that I had met only previously online. I went to the event with the following goals: reconnect with known industry friends, really connect/bond with two to three new people never before met in person and walk away with some new nuggets of knowledge. All goals achieved.

It is absolutely possible to develop meaningful relationships over zoom calls and meetings as it is just as possible to close deals online. However, the endorphins released in the presence of other humans are powerful and hard to replicate in the same way. The camaraderie of drinks and meals enjoyed together was remarkable in every possible way. I have always considered myself fortunate to have forged deep industry relationships with so many I have "grown up with" in my career. And, despite the pandemic, I have remained connected and spent much time this year fostering those bonds and making significant new ones.

That's why it took me a bit by surprise with how much the laughter was needed and the depth to which it filled and nourished my soul.

Till our next time clinking the bottom of our glasses together, I look forward to seeing you all in the rectangle, while seated alone at my dining room table in my tiny NYC apartment. L'Chaim!*

*L'Chaim in Hebrew is a toast meaning "to life"

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