I was in the bathroom when the phone rang. The bathroom phone. At ten o’clock at night.

(You know you’re in a four star hotel when there’s a phone on the wall in the bathroom.)

Who, I wondered, would be calling my hotel room line, let alone at 10pm?


“Melissa. It’s [name].” The retreat leader.

I was in Colorado for a 2½-day in-person business retreat. Tomorrow was the last day.

Something was up. I could tell from the sound of their voice.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“[name] just tested positive for COVID.”

Oooooh… $#!&…

This was a very small retreat. Just 8 of us in the meeting room, plus the retreat leader and their partner. And a handful more joining in on a big screen on Zoom.

Everyone in the meeting room was vaxxed and boosted, and had tested prior to arrival.

And still someone got COVID.

That’s the thing with this virus: you can test negative today, and still come down with COVID tomorrow.

COVID is nasty that way.

I had been extra-cautious: I wore a mask anytime I was indoors, and insisted on eating outdoors only.

Which may be why I avoided getting sick. But then again, one of the other two consistent maskers tested negative when they got home, so who knows?

So what can we learn from all of this?

My biggest takeaway: virtual and hybrid are here to stay.

Much as I loved being in the meeting room in-person with everyone for the first two days, after the positive COVID test I opted to Zoom in from my hotel room for final half-day.

So did the retreat leader, and all but three participants (all of whom chose to mask in the meeting room).

I missed that in-person energy, but I had my spotlight/hot seat moment on that last day, and it was definitely one of the highlights of the entire retreat for me.

Despite being on Zoom.

Because here’s the thing: while it’s true that nothing will ever replace some of the specific ways we’re able to connect when we’re in-person together — sharing meals, walking together, visiting physical sites like Garden of the Gods (in the photo above)…

…we can still not only connect, but create incredibly impactful transformation in virtual spaces!

Is it different? Yes.

Can it be awesome? Yes.

If you’d like help making your virtual moments better, you know who to call. 😊


This month is your next (and possibly final) chance to try out brain-friendly exercises that activate learning while building connection in my Non-Boring Virtual Meetings Learning Lab — I’m running my last monthly Learning Lab on August 18th!

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