By Olivia Brooks Allan
When I joined Landmark Ventures, I was immediately struck by a long-term firmwide ritual called Gratitude Circle. After each Monday morning planning meeting, event debriefs, or holiday gathering, the team, while sitting around the ‘table’ (or in today’s world ‘Zoom Room’), is given the opportunity to thank another team member. It is simple, fast, and thoughtful on so many levels, as you will hear junior people thank senior executives, senior executives thank each other, and so on. You learn about someone who pitched-in unexpectedly, checked-in on a team member, or about a new cross-team collaboration that not only created success for the company but brought the team itself closer together. This Landmark tradition has always reminded me of how important teamwork and camaraderie is in the events space.
In the spirit of appreciation, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays as a table set for thanks and gratitude is at the core of the ethics I try to embody every day. As I reflect on Thanksgiving and GivingTuesday this week, I wanted to take a moment to share out publicly my gratitude specifically to my team, The Events Practice at Landmark Ventures. In a year in which we stopped physically seeing one another, I’ve ironically never felt more connected and grateful to have been on an incredibly long journey together throughout 2020. At the beginning of quarantine, we renamed our standing all-team Monday morning alignment meeting from Workplan to ‘Bunker Workplan’ to signify a recognition that we were in fact about to go to war together – to fight for our business, to fight for each other, to fight to have jobs, to fight to have a purpose, to fight to make sense of the uncertainty happening around us.
Here are my top 5 moments of Gratitude to our Team in 2020:
Grateful for Work Ethic
There are a million different excuses we all rightfully could have given for not giving it our all these past several months – my team didn’t use any of them. From technology & connectivity issues, to illness, to moving states, to babies being born and babies on the way…when someone needed a moment to breathe and personally focus, another stepped-in. We initiated ‘reach out to one’ early on, encouraging everyone to check in on at least one person each week. This compassion allowed us to never miss traction with our event portfolio or each other that included 10 in-person and 67 Virtual Events.
Grateful for Pushed Boundaries
The team not only pivoted from in-person events but also completed our most complex, high-profile event yet last month in a fully virtual format. I am continually amazed by each team member’s ability to push the boundaries, tackle every new challenge, and never cease to drive innovation for each and every client. This event marked a new milestone for our practice, and this was done while we were all miles apart.
The new virtual events environment brought us the exciting endeavor of new partnerships (think 350+ first dates, seriously…) and virtual technologies we had to become accustomed to quickly. Not only did the team push ourselves to grow and learn, but we pushed our partners to be better along the way too. Through these partnerships, both parties continue to gain insights to support heightened business success and evolve with the marketplace.
I am monumentally grateful to say that we did not lose any clients throughout the challenges of this year’s global pandemic. In fact, we gained unimaginably new amazing clients, you know who you are, and thank you for your trust and riding with us through the bumps along the way! This is a true testament to the hard work the team put in to ensure that we adapted to our client’s needs and the new events landscape, while still providing the most excellent quality of work along the way.
With new event formats came new processes and learnings. The events team continues to refresh our process plans, working documents, run-of-show, cue-to-cue, and setback schedules and how we interact with each other daily to increase productivity and efficiency. As a leader, I am extremely thankful to have a team that sees the importance of the details and has been patient along the way. I assure you not every meeting has been effective—I’ve made a ton of mistakes!
The new virtual events environment brought us the exciting endeavor of new partnerships (think 350+ first dates, seriously…) and virtual technologies we had to become accustomed to quickly. Not only did the team push ourselves to grow and learn, but we pushed our partners to be better along the way too.
Grateful for Experts vs. Generalist
One thing I love about our Events Team at Landmark is that we are always looking for new and exciting ways to innovate. Multiple times throughout the week, I will see on email, Slack, text, comments like “Pretty cool, a new trick to learn” or “I’m calling you in 5, I just figured something out”, or a simple, “Love it!” – these simple moments of enthusiasm keeps it fun! With the unexpected switch to virtual events, the team had to adapt their roles to match this new landscape, many of us learning entirely new skills. We no longer needed flights booked or F&B planned, but new tasks arose like who will manage all of our Landmark Event Shelf technologies? Without hesitation, team members stepped-up and mastered new roles that enabled us to execute flawless virtual productions.
Grateful for Inspiration Everywhere
Work for me has always been personal – I’ve never been able to unbundle my passion for my work. This year, the connection points between my professional and personal life have never been more melded together. Whether it be joining a Zoom call holding my daughter or handling 1×1 calls with my direct reports while walking around my neighborhood for a ‘walking 1×1’, I am so grateful to be able to feel a sense of family both at home and at work. I am learning that you can find inspiration everywhere, and there is no better team to do it with.
These past few months, Landmark’s events team has grown and welcomed three new team members. Each day, I am appreciative of the fresh thinking and inspirational ideas that our newcomers bring to the team and their fearless jump into helping our team with some of the most complex events we have executed yet.
Grateful for Executive Support
As Head of the Events Practice at Landmark Ventures, I am honored and grateful to be part of the Senior Management team and for their trust in me to lead this remarkable team during delicate times. It has been a defining moment in my career to lead us through this unprecedented time in not only the events space but in history. The team put their trust in me to guide us along this 2020 journey and I am appreciative of the support and unwavering dedication I have felt throughout these past months, humbly, thank you, Landmark!
An easier option would have been to furlough or pause the Events Practice and ride out the Pandemic, waiting for the return of in-person events. However, the Senior Management team and Partners saw that, although we didn’t have all the answers, we were not giving up – there was unwavering support for our Practice to be nimble and try it all. We ‘experimented’ with events, formats, and topics and I will forever be grateful for the commitment to our Practice in the early days when there was so much unknown.
Sitting around the table during a very small Thanksgiving last week, I reflected on how far our events team has come and felt a sense of strong optimism for where we will still go. The challenges that 2020 brought are far from over, but in the end, I am convinced there is nothing that connected teams can’t conquer when they work together, genuinely and authentically. So again, thank you to each and every person that came along for this journey, I can’t wait to see what we can do in 2021 and beyond!