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Even With Corona Virus, the Show Must Go On

When I was in Houston recently for our National Speakers Association (NSA) Winter Conference, one of the topics discussed was the corona virus. For professional speakers, it is a big concern since speaking at conventions or conferences is a major source of their income. Canceled meetings mean lost revenues.

A panel of experts told the attendees to expect many meetings to cancel out of caution, especially international meetings. They also gave us hope. Several years ago, one of the panelists had been to the region of China where the virus initiated. He told us the population in that region is over 20 million.

The number of reported virus cases in that region is approximately 200,000.

A person in that high-risk region has a very small chance of getting the virus and an even lower chance of being killed by it. We probably have a higher chance of getting the flu. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned or take common sense precautions.

The panel made the point that speaking is a delivery system. This is a time to be creative. There are other ways to communicate information, such as webinars or video conferences, to name just two. The point is, we can’t control the spread of the corona virus and we can’t control the decision of an organization or company to cancel a convention or conference.

We can’t control the actions of others. We do have control of our own actions and how we react to a problem.

Lynnda and I left Houston on a Sunday and flew to Orlando. We went straight to Epcot at Walt Disney World for a test run. We are both recovering from knee surgery and are coming back to Disney in a month with our youngest son and his family of four children. We wanted to make sure we could navigate the parks and rides without the need of a wheelchair or other assistance.

There is a lot of walking involved. Could we do it? Waiting for Lynnda to get her purse inspected at Epcot security, I got a call from my friend, Ben at IHSMarkit. He told me that out of concern for attendee safety, the World Petrochemical Conference in New Orleans the week of March 23 was canceled. As predicted at NSA, I was impacted by the corona virus.

WPC is a big deal for Shale Crescent USA. We have been preparing for months. We are a major sponsor. We were doing a lunch presentation. Last year our lunch presentation was packed to standing room only. I had meetings set up with six major companies — all prospects for coming to our region. Historically WPC has been our best source of prospects and leads. All of this gone with one phone call we had no control over.

The panel of experts told us at NSA that if a conference is canceled, the reasons for people attending remain. That creates opportunity.

Most likely if WPC had been held, attendance would be lower. There would have been an increased risk for us of being infected, especially from a foreign source.

A number of other meetings have already been canceled. Some companies have restricted travel. We were going to meet our son in-law from Baltimore at the Orlando airport hotel. He was flying in for a one- day meeting. It was canceled.

At Shale Crescent USA, we have a choice. We can do nothing and feel sorry for ourselves or we can do something.

The WPC attendees have needs. We can help. We believe the show must go on. We decided to take control and seize the opportunity. We have begun to reschedule our WPC meetings with U.S. companies. We are still working on our presentation to turn it into a webinar or video conference. We can reach out to the same people and companies that would have been in attendance at our luncheon.

Asian companies will be more difficult, since we can’t meet individually right now. There is a 12- to 14-hour time difference, so some of our webinars and video conferences could be at some odd night time hours. We may be able to get some of these companies to attend Select USA in June and meet with them at that time. There are always other possibilities we haven’t considered.

What does this mean to you? Life and business are full of surprises, some of them bad. There are circumstances and people we have no control over.

We have 100% control over our attitude and our actions. Doing nothing or having a personal pity party is not an option if we want to succeed.

We will all be impacted by the corona virus in some way. We are seeing lower gasoline prices due to reduced Chinese demand. We are also seeing lower stock market prices impacting our net worth, 401K or retirement. Business travel is already being restricted. Companies and individuals depending on China for products are impacted. We can’t change these macro impacts. We can decide how we choose to react to them.

The corona virus is like any other problem we have no control over. We can choose to take control of our attitude and our actions. We can use our creativity. Some of what we do will fail. We can try something else. We can choose not to quit. I don’t know what the result of our actions at Shale Crescent USA will be. The show must go on.

We will move forward.

I do know Lynnda overcame her surgery and I overcame my injury to have three great days without needing a wheelchair at Disney World. The show did go on. We believe we are ready for the grandkids. All things are possible.

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a master’s degree in environmental engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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