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Written by NWES Strategic Advisor, Jonnie Halstead


Jonnie Halstead is a New Zealand-born, Seattle resident, executive producer of events, and subject-matter-expert in sponsorship and marketing strategy. He has produced large-scale consumer events across APAC and AMER including the X-Games, Rugby World Cup, America’s Cup, Jim Beam Homegrown, Burton Open, and many more.

Jonnie currently works at Seattle events marketing agency SHW as a senior director of business development, he also serves on several leadership boards including TEDxSeattle and the Northwest Event Show. Connect with him at

What does it mean to ‘Survive and Thrive’? Well, at the moment, it means to have a career in events. At least a career that strives for greatness, for with that target success also comes the risk of failure. One does not exist without the other.

The Northwest Event Show I attended at the Washington State Convention Center in 2019 gathered our industry at a peak time. It was an amazing showcase of many of the best suppliers, venues, caterers, production vendors, event partners and leaders in the region. It also connected 2800 event professionals with over 200 exhibitors and 30 speakers, with an educational showcase of what to expect in 2020. Well, at least until COVID-19 changed everything just few months later. Allow me to offer you a single staggering data-point. An aggregate of recent research reports (from across 60 countries) that over 40% of the global events industry has suffered an average 25% furlough of full-time employees, and as high as 13% total job cuts. Appling that average indicates that of NWES2019’s attendees, it is possible that 1000 or more have since lost their income. You may be one of them.

Over my 20-year career in major events I have experienced many successes, and also many failures. Like all producers, I have worked through my share of acts of god, local market fluctuations, lack of funding, global destabilization, and even terrorism. Such as the historic events of 9-11 in 2001, SARS in 2003, the GFC in 2008/09, and a myriad of freak storms, forest fires and earthquakes that have damaged venues and cancelled entertainment. None of us, despite previous experiences, even thought of, let alone had prepared for our industry to go to ground zero.

What do we do now? We work harder than ever to survive this and go on to thrive in the new post-pandemic event world. Whether you are lucky enough to have an in-house corporate or agency role, or out there hustling as a freelance or vendor, we, the #NWEventProfs, can all rise together. We are learning how to climb technology towers and master the craft of “virtual events”. We are seeking the latest education and new inspirations so that we grow as individuals, teams and a collective industry.

I have been through a lot in my career, and what I have come to realize, is you learn more from failure than success. You grow stronger through hardship than easy-streaks.

We at the NWES invite you to join the conversation about how our industry and region can best survive this pandemic and go on to thrive afterwards. And, that is not just an invitation to attend our upcoming virtual experiences. We’d also like to hear from you, learn from your experiences, and if you’re game we’d like to tell your stories. 

Tell us what it means to you to survive and thrive in 2020. We can’t wait to read and share!