Trying to take deep breaths. Planning an event in a pandemic is really challenging...
But it's important. Over the last two years I've heard from so many of you that your mental health is in a decline and that this is becoming a worse problem, in a way, than COVID itself. I knew we needed to do something. At some point we would restart the Main Event, but in hearing from all of you, it became clear to me that now is when we needed to kickstart things. To take that leap of faith - to help.
But I'll be honest. It's been challenging. Every week, every DAY, there's new information to take in and understand and more things we need to adjust and adapt to. It's definitely the most uncertain project I've ever done. And I think it's important to share that with you so you understand how we think, why we're doing things the way we are, and what we've been learning. The whys. The reality. No sugar coating.
THU isn't an event. It's a behavioural experience. That's always the way I saw it and what I try to bring to life every year when we gather. I started THU because I went to events around the world and was frustrated by how impossible it was to connect. People would attend talks, workshops, walk a showfloor, maybe go to dinners with a few colleagues, but they felt alone and isolated, lost in a new city and stressed out by the experience - of trying to network, of trying to build bonds, of always being "on." There had to be a better way. I developed THU so that over the course of a week you could actually be yourself and authentically interact with people, nurturing connections in an organic way. Any relationship is built on trust, so whether you were making business connections or lifelong friends, doing it this way had more impact and felt more natural. It felt real.
The other aspect to this is that human experience is a combination of so many different elements. Yes, we as a Tribe gravitate towards visuals, but there's so much else going on at the same time. When we craft things at THU, we're trying to take the whole spectrum into account. To create those special moments, I'm thinking about sound design, scent design, taste, touch, and yes, sight too. My mind is always racing and I have enough ideas to fill a stadium, but there's never enough time, money, or resources to get them all done. This year especially. And that's tough. Sometimes, even heartbreaking. But when that happens, it also helps me focus on what's most important. Which is exactly what I did this year.
When planning the very first edition of the Main Event, I had to rethink what was possible because I literally only sold 40 tickets. To move forward I had to make a lot of hard decisions, but that ultimately shaped a stronger future for THU. With almost no money and support, I focused on what was most important to me and to making THU a success. My list ended up being short:
Incredible venues with good sound and projection systems.
Tróia. At the end of the day, it's one of the biggest secrets to THU's success, a getaway where you can focus on what really matters - learning and connecting with peers.
You, our Tribe.
That list still stands true today. And some of the questions I asked myself back then still resonate. For one thing, I knew the scale of the event needed to be different this year, and that had implications. Our normal 1000+ attendees didn't make sense for physical distancing and keeping people safe, but half that did. From a financial standpoint, it never makes sense to host such a complex event at such a small scale. But I knew it was what's needed, so I moved forward. And in truth, I'm excited - to have that small family feel this year, something intimate to welcome us back to sharing space in person again.
And sometimes it's helpful to feel uncomfortable. I'd never wish this situation on anyone, but having to work with so many new constraints this year has pushed our team to get even more creative. Wanting more options for people to be outside, we've come up with new activities and solutions that we may never have otherwise. Looking to keep people feeling engaged, inspired and collaborative, we've revised our plans a hundred times and will likely keep doing so until the 11th hour. Because it matters. Because we give a sh*t. Because this is more than just an event, it's the spark to us rebuilding this new future together.
So yes, things are different this year, that's true. But that hasn't changed what makes THU special. We've worked hard to keep that magic intact. And we can't wait to welcome you home.