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#NewNormal Struggles: Re-Networking & Muscle Memory 

by Paco Collazo

Yes, we as an industry are starting to get back to almost normal. Everyone is super busy with tons of quotes, renders and projects for the last leg of 2021 and the first one of 2022. It feels like an avalanche of work, everyone is understaffed, we have supply chain issues and, on top of that, I found two more struggles that no one is talking about: muscle memory and the fact that our network and contact lists need some updating.

Muscle Memory

 I am not sure if this happened to everyone, but the time we did not have projects and tons of work, days were shorter with less stress and rushing. We learned to be more at home with the kids, the dog and chilling. Now that we are back to full-steam, I had some trouble at first adjusting back to 10-12 hour days at the office or even at home without lunch or time for anything else.

Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone missed and wanted the long days, stress and getting back in the saddle—cashing checks and sending invoices. But, for me, it took a little while to get used to the pace again, more with having a kid at home who I used to play with every afternoon, go on walks, have a proper hour-long lunch at home, cook dinner and help around the house. It has been a challenge for everyone in my house, but now I am happy to say, I think I am on the right track and with the normal (no-so-normal) hours of our live events life.

Another muscle memory pain is getting back in the same laser focus mode with the travel. Before the pandemic I could pack like a wizard—my carry-on and backpack was done and ready to rock-and-roll in ten minutes. Now, I am having a tough time packing as light as before, exercising while away, eating good—the routine was lost, but also, I’m getting back there. Packing is getting easier each week.


If you changed jobs, please send me your new contact info ASAP! LOL.

A lot of people are changing jobs, new positions, consolidating teams, etc…. have you found that your usual contact is not there anymore? This is part of the new pains of the reset of our industry. This presents a challenge itself but I think it is a good thing that we need to re-connect, get those business cards and try to get and give business to new people.

It is important that we continue to invest and attend industry events like ExhibitorLIVE, Experiential Marketing Summit, EDPA ACCESS, IFES SUMMIT, etc., so we can find out who is where, make new friends and refresh that clients and suppliers spreadsheet.

Besides the issues we have as an industry and players, I think the best thing about this new re-start is we now know what balance really is in our life. We are getting used to working around the supply chain issues, the logistics problems, lack of employees, etc. I really think we are all choosing our projects, clients and RFPs better—with more in our mind than just dollars. Our organizations will not grow without a smart plan, slow and organically, so be happy, we made it, the struggles will continue, but we are in it together.   So, if you need anything from a supplier contact, want to talk about a new-normal issue or just to chat, please don’t hesitate to contact me. See you on the tradeshow floor!

Paco Collazo is the owner & CEO of Atlanta-based Happy Projects, where their passion is “to collaborate with the planet’s top standbuilders, event production companies, agencies and brands to solve all your face-to-face marketing needs from concept to seamless execution.” He worked 13 years in the family business, ending as a sales and project director at SISTEXPO (Sistemas de Exposicion), a full-exhibit/event house based in Mexico. Contact him at paco@happyprojects.us.

This story originally appeared in the Q1 2022 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 18. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_Q1_2022


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