About Rick LozanoRick Lozano is an energetic, unique keynote speaker who combines his work as a musician with his expertise in talent development to produce keynotes that audiences rave about. He specializes in helping people amplify their impact as leaders, individuals, and teams, he also helps organizations and teams elevate their performance, create customer loyalty, and build work cultures people crave.
“This totally sucks”
“This is weird.”
“Are they smiling?”
“Is this working?”
“Why am I doing this???”
All of those questions were racing through my brain five minutes into my first presentation at the ATD (Association for Talent Development) Conference in Salt Lake City last week.
I rarely get nervous speaking on stage these days, but last week – totes nerves!
Everything was different this year. What is normally a conference attended by 10K+ talent development professionals, this year was barely a couple thousand, all masked attendees. You wouldn’t even think it was that many, the giant ballrooms were largely unfilled, the chairs were spaced six feet apart, and it felt AWKWARD as a speaker.
Honestly, it seemed awkward for everyone at first. How do we do this again? Is this…okay?
My time slot was the opening act of the conference and it seemed like we all were a bit uncomfortable being around each other again.
(Many of you reading this were there…did you feel it too?)
And that feeling was exacerbated for me when I took the stage. It felt like something out of a dystopian sci-fi movie. Imagine standing there, speaking to symmetrical rows of faceless, quiet participants.
I swear this guy was in the audience staring at me…
I MISS ZOOM!
“Seriously…did I just think that?”
I did. At least there I can see people’s faces if their cameras are on, but here? This feels weird! What am I going to do?
I did what you do.
I did what those of you who attended in person did.
I showed up.
I did my job.
I can’t see their faces, but they can see mine.
They braved the Delta variant, traveled from across the globe to learn at this conference, they chose to be in my session out of numerous qualified choices in this time slot…
I have to show up.
So I did. (guitar and all)
As we got further in, all that subdued audience energy began to morph slightly. We loosened up, had fun. It never reached the typical levels that I’m accustomed to (we laugh softer with masks on), but people engaged, a few joined me onstage (socially distanced), and the show went on.
And it was great.
And as people left the room, I was encouraged that numerous audience members stayed behind to chat, exchange info, you know…the normal stuff.
As I was packing up my guitar the last person in the room approached the stage and I heard a familiar voice say, “Rick, that was awesome as always!”
I thought, “Wait…who is that? …I think I recognize that forehead!”
It was my friend Alissa. I had no idea she was in the audience. I hadn’t seen her since before Covid shut the world down. She had great things to say, we had a chance to catch up, which felt good.
And as the conference went on, my thinking shifted to…
…maybe this isn’t so bad.
It wasn’t, not at all.
It was just different.
A few days in, people were visibly more comfortable being around each other. Most everyone politely followed the mask and safety protocols during the event and I realized there were things I actually liked about this smaller, more intimate setting.
I had a chance to connect with other speakers that I’ve known for years but never had an opportunity to spend time with. I got to see some of my friends in action, lighting up the room with their presentations. I had an opportunity to have longer conversations than usual with some of you!
And I remembered something equally – if not more – important…
We are all in this together
And we are all just trying to figure it out.
We all have to show up for each other.
And we owe it to each other to extend a little grace, a lot of gratitude, to be responsible and get our vaccines so that we can all move the hell on from this Covid era.
To be there for each other. Even when it feels weird.
And sometimes, to remember that different is just that…different.
I couldn’t see them during the conference, thanks to the masks, but I felt your smiles. I hope you felt mine.
And, if I didn’t get a chance to tell you….you have a nice forehead.
Ps…HUGE thanks to the ATD staff and volunteers, the speakers, and the conference attendees. It was a fantastic event in very different times.
AND – to those of you who were there in-person at my sessions, THANK YOU!!!!
Had the great opportunity to chat with my friends, Austin and Taylorr at Speakerflow on their podcast, Technically speaking.
We chatted about numerous things including the new book, Acoustic Leadership, unlocking talent, and finding your “rickness”. (You’ll have to listen for context on that)
Great episode with lots of laughs, and yes, some music!
Timing is everything.
And yet, such a funny thing.
I remember when I smoked (which is a bad idea, but I did it for years anyway), I knew I wanted/had to quit, but…the “timing” was always an excuse. I had XYZ thing coming up, I didn’t want to be uncomfortable when I was going to ABC thing…
And, of course I was going to Vegas, can’t quit smoking before Vegas!
And then, on January 7th, 2007, I made the choice. The time was right, I had one last cigarette and I permanently quit. (By the way, I read Allen Carr’s book, “The Easy Way To Quit Smoking” and, for some reason, it helped.)
But the truth is, the time was always right. For some things, that’s just the way it is, it is always the right time to…
- Spend time with loved ones
- Hit the gym
- Send the thank you note
- Opt out of toxic relationships
As a matter of fact, do one of those things today!
Yet, with other things, you have to take your time, that’s the way the process works. My wife, Angela, is an excellent cook, and with some recipes, things have to simmer or marinate until it just feels right.
As a songwriter, I’ve had songs I sat on for years, and then one day – boom! – they just finished themselves. As an author, my book was ready a year ago, or so I thought, then I was forced to let it sit for a while and something magical happened – that space, that distance made me realize how much more it could be.
And a year later, turned out to be the perfect time.
So, what things do you need to take action on now?
What things need a little space to finish themselves?
I can’t answer that for you, but I think you might have a gut feel that will help point you in the right direction.
In addition to writing the first draft of my new book, Acoustic Leadership – Developing A Leadership Culture That Resonates, my COVID time was also spent on my 6th album of original music! Songs I Had To Get Off My Chest is now available wherever you stream music. Here’s a short video introducing it, I hope you enjoy!