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Stress Matters presents Once Upon A Pandemic

Once upon a pandemic: Rupert Bassadone

The first in a series by Stress Matters, who have been asking those across the events industry - how are you doing?

Rupert Bassadone shares how he has found the last 8 months. 

I’m Rupert Bassadone and I’m probably best known as the CAD man, I do CAD designs for event sites, mostly outdoor, large and medium size events. Professionally I’ve been in the industry for 15 years, but I’ve always known it as I was born in from the circus.

Recently, I was heading into a bit of an anxiety hole, but I’ve been able to refocus and I’m pulling myself out of it. The whole business uses a project management tool called Asana, and I’ve been using it personally to help plan my time. I implemented the method from the book, ‘Getting Things Done’ into Asana; I record information and tasks so it isn’t just stored in my brain. The brain should just be dealing and managing information, instead of storing it. But, I also need something physical, so I started time blocking on a whiteboard, writing out what I’m going to do each day, and once I’ve completed the task, I tick it off on the board and on Asana. Although I love technology, I do need to physically write down things instead of just looking at a screen the whole time.

My lowest point has been more recently, as opposed to during the summer where I was very lucky to have some work, but Christmas is always our quiet period.

It’s like there are plenty of things in the oven, but the oven door is broken, and I can’t see if there’s anything cooking, or if the oven is even on.

I believe there will be some challenging days to come and 2021 for me is uncertain. While some clients are full steam ahead, some are worried and they’re holding back. My hunch is we will have a really busy mid to end of season, although this isn’t based on anything, so maybe take it with a pinch of salt. Long term though, I’m 100% confident the events industry will boom. I haven’t been involved in any virtual events, but they’re not a replacement. People want to create incredible live events and it’s going to be quite exciting.

The high point was at the beginning, becoming a teacher to my two children. I started with colourful timetables but it only lasted about a week before reality hit, and I needed to be working. Lockdown gave me the time to create webinars and online courses, things I had wanted to do but never had the time. I also helped out a client who was in need of support, this was a real high for me, it was my first time onsite - I saw grass, it rained and I got the tape measures out, it was joyous and beautiful.

This year I forced myself to break my old habit of not finishing things, instead getting things done. It’s interesting to see how different people in similar positions have approached this situation, some with a negative attitude, and some seeing it as an opportunity. I tried to surround myself with the latter and create a support network of people to push me through. I’m part of a business coaching group with 60 other business owners, and I’ve spent time talking to friends which helped. I’ve been able to share ideas and have had conversations, which led to creating my online courses.

In the evening, we will have dinner, sit down, watch the TV and then go to bed. It’s nothing special, but we do try to stop screen time by 9pm. I’m not great at sleeping, so staying away from the screen makes a difference, I’m also doing breathing exercises and meditation which I integrate into falling asleep. But I am an early riser, I like to be up before the rest of the house. I used to try to get two more extra hours of work in, but I’ve realised I was procrastinating for two hours over the same amount of work so my mindset has now changed and I have a routine. I exercise, meditate, plan my day, and there’s time to spend with the kids before they go to school. I’ve also started daily fasting, which is actually much easier than it appears, I finish eating at dinner time and I don’t eat until lunchtime except for tea, black coffee and lots of water. It gives me an excuse to not have to worry what I eat for the day either, I’ve been able to maintain my weight, and I feel much more alert too.

My advice to myself a few months into lockdown would have been to focus on some of the more important areas of the business earlier on, ensuring the long term cash flow and income was thought of. I think that would have prevented some of my anxiety. At the beginning, I wouldn’t have changed anything, I focused on the opportunities and went full steam ahead, and tried to make the most out of the situation. Although I don’t regret what I did, having since read Essentialism by Derek Sivers, I now only say yes if it’s a 'hell yeah!'

My advice to you is talk to people. Every few weeks, I go on WhatsApp or LinkedIn and send a “hello” to a load of contacts – personal, professional, clients, suppliers, friends. They don’t all come back to me, or it may take them a few days to respond, but I’m finding people need to talk, and I’m loving helping other people. So keep talking, keep helping, if you think you need some help, there will be someone out there who would love to help you.

If you would like to share your story, please visit www.stressmatters.org.uk/pandemic-stories for more information.