Once upon a time, way back in Q2 2020, I’ll admit I wasn’t convinced by ‘virtual’. I found it clunky and awkward; surely a sub-standard transition solution and wholly unsuited to our style and ethos. “It’s just not how we want to operate or bring people together – it won’t be the same. Let’s wait it out”, I remember wailing.
Marcus wisely said nothing and nodded quietly in agreement.
Fast forward 3 months.
Me: “Okay, what the actual f*k. This thing isn’t going anywhere, but neither are the problems our clients are trying to solve, or the fact that people need to see and talk to each other in some way that isn’t a godforsaken WEBINAR. I don’t think we can just sit around and wait anymore”.
Marcus: Yes, dear – I think you’re right (on the inside bashing his head against a brick wall of ‘I told you so’s).
Narrator: This is the story of Marcus’ life.
The moral of this short story is two-fold:
Sometimes your battles win themselves, you don’t even have to pick them.
For the love of Pete, don’t sit around and wait for in-person gatherings to come back. Yes, super local events might feel like they’re back on, but even they are plagued with unexpected lockdowns (Melbourne, you got this), poor vaccination roll-outs and nervy participants.
If you haven’t done it because “our people won’t like it” or “it won’t be the same” you are doing yourself and your community a huge disservice.
To get personal for a second, many of you know I’ve spent the past 15 months in a long-distance (largely blurry FaceTime) relationship - see image above - with my partner Fabian, of a different nationality in a third country (i.e. I can’t go to him and he can’t come to me), so what I’m about to say, is not easy for me to say, but this thing could be our continuing reality for a while yet. So the question is, what are you willing to do? Keep hoping we’re about to turn an imaginary corner? Or put your big person pants on and take the plunge?
The part that stuns me about folks still resisting virtual is that they often have the best communities, the best people – and they are going to benefit hugely from adopting virtual as a long-term strategy. Not a transitional one, but one that can be powerfully woven into the overall strategy of gathering, even when we get back to meeting in person.
Gather your people. Especially if you’re lucky enough to have a global community. I guarantee they miss you; they miss each other and they miss getting together – virtual is just fine. Repeat after me: Virtual. doesn't. have. to. suck.
Details coming next week. But if this impassioned appeal has awakened something and you want to chat about it, you know where to find me.
Here's Part II.