Conferences and EventsAHLA’s ForWard Hosts Virtual Fireside Chat on the Challenges of Working from...

AHLA’s ForWard Hosts Virtual Fireside Chat on the Challenges of Working from Home

Like many industry conferences, the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2020 ForWard: Women Advancing Hospitality conference was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, and plans take place face-to-face from May 11-12, 2021.

In the meantime, ForWard has launched a series of online fireside chats, the first of which took place on June 30. The first ForWard virtual chat was hosted by ForWard Chair and Senior Vice President of Development for Marcus Hotels & Resorts Andrea Foster, who talked with Randi Braun, executive coach and founder of Something Major, to discuss “Surviving While Remote.” More than 400 people tuned in to watch live.

Foster explained that this webcast was to be the first of a series of digital ForWard events.

Braun kicked off the chat by saying that everyone has been thrown by the global pandemic. “There’s just no book on how to lead in a COVID-19 world. It’s less a question of what’s different, and more a question of what’s not different… What makes this moment really exciting is there’s a real opportunity to step into an authentic level of leadership,” Braun said.

Foster noted that Braun has dedicated her life to educating on women’s professional development, and for her clients in 2020, she encourages them to take advantage of a moment of innovation. In times of need, she feels that creativity and invention can thrive when there’s no time to wonder, “what should I be doing?”

Braun recommended viewing less time, fewer people, and a smaller budget not as disadvantages, but as moments to take a step back. Before getting into some top tips for remote work, she established that leaders should take time to better understand their current situation and mission before getting purely tactical.

This sentiment led to her first mantra: “Get intentional, get aware, get tactical.” Braun noted that, especially now, it is important to set your intentions straight from the very beginning, and keep that a clear focus going forward.

Next, she encouraged her clientele not to shy away from asking big questions, for instance, “What can I control right now?” and “How do I want to live my values right now?”

In completing these tasks, she encouraged remote workers to not judge themselves by pre-COVID accomplishments. This is a completely unprecedented time, Braun said, and aligning your values predicates feeling comfortable in the decisions that you are making, which is especially crucial in stressful situations like these.

“Now that you’ve gotten aware and intentional, and figured out what the priorities are, you know what the core needs are,” Braun continued.

Feeling “stretched thin” is something that Braun also mentions often in her seminars when discussing trying to balance all of the responsibilities at home in quarantine with other looming obligations. Whether it be taking care of a loved one, a child, or a pet, Braun senses that clients are feeling an untimely clash of the personal and the professional.

“We have this myth that if we ask for help, we’re doing something wrong,” Braun said on the judgments women put on themselves as leaders. In response to these harsh myths, ForWard and other collaborations stand even more important to becoming a part of the change. Asking for help, delegating, and taking a step back to establish morals can be vital to preserving a brand, even in a pandemic.

“What can you delegate? Who can you deputize or what can you just flat out skip—so that you can dedicate all of your attention to the resilient, agile, authentic leadership that is calling you and the things you really need to do?” she asked.

In using Braun’s ideas, and collaborating with other leaders, the industry is equipped to, as Braun says, not only survive but thrive in the new normal.


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Lara Becker
Lara Becker
Lara Becker is a LODGING Magazine Summer 2020 intern.