​Calm Within Chaos: Our CEO Emily Lyons on How She Has Survived a Hellish Pandemic.

Enter 2020, enter Covid and the event world stopped. Within 48 hours we had hundreds of bookings cancelled. I was at a crossroads, but the great thing about such situations is they allow us to reinvent the wheel. Entrepreneurs are innate problem solvers skilled at looking at a problem from different angles and finding ways to do things differently. That's exactly what I did. Mind you I did have a panic attack, but I quickly redirected my focus to the question: okay how can I work WITH these restraints rather than let them work me? So I introduced safety staffing, meaning staff for large corporations to help maintain physical distancing, maintain safety procedures on-site and so on. We utilized online business and introduced virtual sampling campaigns, and I was also able to focus my extra time to funnel my energy into new ideas and my other businesses which have paid off immensely! The fact that I had other businesses to fall back on is another thing - this is why I encourage entrepreneurs to scale their businesses and start another that is very different, to prepare for situations just like 2020. A situation that seemed disastrous has been in fact a deeply fruitful professional period for me, all due to where I chose to put my mind. See challenges as creative opportunities rather than opponents.

Despite COVID, last year was actually going very well, but - Murphy’s Law - that's when life likes to throw in yet another curveball. In July my Mom was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, the added insult being that she had been a non-smoker her whole life. Once again I was at a crossroad I obviously did not want to be at. Without hesitation, I packed up my life in Toronto and moved to Stratford to take care of her. Sadly she passed away in November. Again, from the ashes of total devastation I’ve had to re-discover post-traumatic growth. What the human spirit is capable of enduring is truly herculean. But here is the thing about life and business (and I say them together because they are so often intertwined, personal is often business, even when we try to separate them): we often have no choice with what will happen to us, all we have control over is how we respond. Like I said before, bad things are going to happen, we're gonna have loss and setbacks, and no's, and failures. These things are absolutely inevitable. We can fall apart or we can use these experiences to fuel us. And oftentimes, we have to do both.

Cognitive restructuring has been a saving grace through many of my life’s most trying times. To practice cognitive restructuring to change the way you perceive things or think about negative situations is the most powerful tool you can have. We always have a choice with how we respond to things. We can't always control what happens to us, but we CAN control how we respond to it. So consciously choose your response rather than being reactive. It’s a skill, it needs practice, but it’ll truly save your life and your career. We can choose to react with panic and negativity, or we can choose to remain calm and logical in order to to find a solution. Top athletes are taught this important skill - ‘calm within chaos’ - if they keep their mind completely calm even though they are pushing their bodies to the extreme and are in extraordinarily stressful situations, they are more likely to achieve phenomenal results.

Calm within chaos.