I Miss Normalcy (and My Industry Friends)
In any normal year, this would be the time we are all making final preparations for Industry Week. Hotels secured, flights booked, calendars filling up fast. But alas, 2020 has not been a normal year. Under normal circumstances, I would personally have attended in upwards of 12 or more tradeshows and conferences, counting the five that 10 Missions Media produces (including what was supposed to be the premiere of ADAPT: Automotive Technology Summit, which was derailed not only by COVID-19, but by a tornado in Nashville). However, the last significant event I was able to attend was in early March, at the VISION Hi-Tech Training & Expo, which feels like ages ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still had the opportunity to travel out of Minneapolis-St. Paul a bit, even during these abnormal times: a few trips to the 10 Missions Media Ohio offices to see our Auto Service Professional and Modern Tire Dealer colleagues, a few days in Kansas City, a nice respite in Northern Minnesota, and even a brief day trip to Las Vegas where I managed to never set foot on the strip and also failed to consume a delicious Double-Double (w/onion) from In-N-Out Burger (and for those who know me, you understand that this is very abnormal).
All the credit in the world goes to my colleagues at FenderBender, National Oil and Lube News, and Ratchet+Wrench, who have adjusted to our current normal, and have thrived in many respects. We’ve found new ways to communicate, revised our processes, and found a new recipe for success. Together we’ve found a “new normal” way to help our audiences and our customers win.
Like any other company, our team has conducted thousands of hours of video calls, and even attended a few virtual events. Admittedly, I’ve struggled with virtual events. The tactile act of the handshake, the always hot-and-ready convention coffee, the energy of being in the same place at the same time with hundreds of industry professionals has always been my understanding of what an event should be. I’ve struggled with virtual events not due to a shortage of coffee, but because I haven’t dedicated myself and have allowed other pressing work to steal mental bandwidth during these events. When you’re there, in person, it’s easy enough to put everything else off because you’re there, in person. But when you’re virtual, it can feel like just another browser window in a sea of open tabs.
To combat these previous failures, I must dedicate myself as if Industry Week was in person. For our team to have a successful week during the Virtual AAPEX Experience, we must focus like we’re there in person, like normal. As an industry-leading media company, we owe it to our audiences and our customers. Our team will be there for every moment of this event, and we thank the many people who put in countless hours to create a conduit for us to connect with the industry.
Although there is no bag to pack, no drinks at the circle bar, and sadly no In-N-Out Burger to be consumed, we should all be super stoked about the great opportunities that the industry has to connect through these virtual platforms. If you struggle like me, consider attending the Successful Virtual Meetings Webinar put on by AAPEX, but whatever you do, don’t miss out because there’s only one Industry Week.
I’m still missing normalcy, but looking forward to connecting with my industry friends at the Virtual AAPEX Experience!
Chris Messer is the vice president and publisher at 10 Missions Media, which publishes Ratchet+Wrench. This column also ran on the AAPEX website.