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How to survive your $2M event being cancelled due to Covid19, 14 days before more than 2,300 people are due to arrive, after a year of planning

Written by Elijah & Talita

“No events/gatherings with more than 500 people” that was the first punch, we were expecting almost triple that amount! Before we knew it, the world was closing curtains before our eyes- flights were being cancelled, travel even inside your country was restricted, restaurants , public places, malls were closing and in the blink of an eye, #stayhome became our new normal.

When you’re in the final stages of preparing for an epic event that’s going to host more than 2,300 students, and you hear that the Australian government has made gatherings of more than 500 people illegal, the immediate weight of disappointment, worry and powerlessness is indescribable.

Disappointment for our students, as well as for our team who had put their hearts and souls into this year’s student Summit. Worry for the health of our families, for our friends and for our livelihoods. Powerlessness over our seemingly sealed fate. Even though we’d invested millions, and spent the best part of a year planning this event, ‘illegal’ wasn’t something we could possibly fight against.

The declaration by the government was the first punch, and the hits just kept on coming. Borders began to close, flights were cancelled and regional travel was restricted. And then another wave: restaurants shut, malls closed their doors, public gatherings banned. In what felt like no time at all, our world stopped turning and #StayHome became our new normal.


Like all Reliable Education summits that have gone before, the 6th student-only Summit was pitched, developed and built around it being a live gathering. A gathering that would fill up Australia’s Gold Coast Exhibition Centre with thousands of enthusiastic students from around the globe. The jewel in Reliable Education’s crown, our annual Summit was meant to be this year’s highlight for us all.

During the 12 months leading up to March’s scheduled live Summit weekend, the Reliable team poured everything they had into creating an event that would galvanise our students like never before. From planning educational talks and hiring inspirational world-class speakers, to organising a wealth of networking opportunities, the team sought to create an unforgettable experience for our students. In addition, Reliable Education had invested well over $2 million on event management companies, full-time event staff, flights, accommodation, and all the extra bells and whistles that our Summit attendees have come to expect.

What happened next took us by complete surprise. A new year and a new decade, like you, we were buoyed by the possibilities. Who on earth could have predicted that ‘pandemic’ would become part of our everyday lexicon only a few months into 2020?

Each day saw more and more of our intricate plans collapsing around us. With only one week to go before the exhibition hall doors were scheduled to open, it felt like the fate of this year’s Summit was beyond our control.

So, what could we do in this situation? The answer was simple: we needed to do the same thing that all successful entrepreneurs do when faced with a crisis. Practising what we preach, the Reliable Education team didn’t waste time complaining about the hand we’d been dealt — it was time to play our card and throw everything we had at making a huge pivot. And like other enduring businesses will attest, big pivots bring big lessons.

Against the backdrop of an ever-changing global crisis, we worked at full throttle and around the clock to redefine and rebuild what we had been working on for so long. We focused all our energies on lifting spirits, renewing strength and providing a bright vision for the future, all via a live online video stream. No stone was left unturned in our mission to deliver a truly inspiring, albeit very different, student-only Summit, at a time when our students needed it the most.

This is the short story of our company’s firm belief in community or tribe, and the lengths we were motivated to go to in order to deliver an uplifting and inspiring virtual gathering, in only seven days.


Whether you prefer ‘tribe’ or ‘community’, what’s not up for debate is the level of esteem we have for our Reliable Education student family. But why does it play such a pivotal part in everything we do?

First, let’s look at the power of community and social connections. According to UCLA professor and neuroscientist, Matthew Lieberman, “there’s something inherent in humans that causes us to crave and seek out social contact.” His book, “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect” explored the evolutionary basis for the social pains and pleasures we experience. “Being socially connected is our brain’s lifelong passion,” says Lieberman, “it’s been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years.”

Lieberman believes that the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water and shelter. At Reliable Education, we see our community, or our tribe, as a crucial component of normal, healthy living, but also as invaluable for success in business. Being part of a tribe elevates each individual and expands their horizons.

How far you go in life, whether it be in the business world or the realm of personal well-being, is limited by how big you can dream and by the people you can count on when it truly matters. And those special people? They are your tribe.


From the outset, our founders, Adam and Joe, knew that placing the Reliable tribe at the heart of the company would confirm both internally and externally the values they held dear. Yes, they wanted to provide world-class business education, but how would they do it? Through fostering connections, building an empowered community, and making it a daily practice to elevate those around them — by assembling and nurturing a tribe.

As a student, you’ll experience these values throughout your learning journey. No matter where you are in the world, you can connect with fellow students online, as well as in-person from time to time. Whether it be in our private Facebook community, in a student mastermind, or at one of our live events, our students are always ready to lean in and lend a hand. And it doesn’t end there. With our Platinum Partners programme and charity outreach work, some of our students have forged lifelong connections through transformative and meaningful opportunities.

Previous Reliable Education Summits were held in conference venues around Australia. At first, we hosted events for hundreds of students. Then it quickly became thousands. Our events fill our students with such anticipation and excitement, that ever since the company’s start in 2016, the Summits have long been referred to as the highlight of the year by both students and the Reliable Education team.

The raw energy, enthusiasm and passion that emanates from our expert speakers and business leaders inspires and motivates our students to attack their business goals with renewed clarity and vigour. Add business networking to the mix, a social part of every Summit, and our students leave each weekend with a bevy of new contacts, and more often than not, new lifelong friends.

It’s this person-to-person connection that’s the ‘not-so-secret’ secret to our success. Because let’s face it, business is damn hard sometimes. And having friends and allies to offer help, share advice or to help you see the funny side, can be the difference between you digging deep and moving forward, or throwing in the towel and giving up.


Okay, so let’s get back to our team trying to pull off the biggest pivot in Reliable Education history. We had seven days until the scheduled start of the live Summit. Global updates on the rapid spread of COVID-19 spurred governments into taking swift action to protect their citizens.

After declarations by both the Australian government and the local Queensland authorities effectively made any public gatherings illegal, we made the difficult, but sensible decision to pull the plug on our live, in-person Summit. Prior to Australian officials stepping in, we had considered the possibility of cancelling the Summit in order to protect the welfare of our students, but the overwhelming response we received was that our students wanted us to do everything in our power to make this Summit happen.

So, with only seven days between us and showtime, we made a commitment to deliver what our students had asked for. As our students couldn’t come to the Summit, we brought the Summit to them. With plans to broadcast live over the Internet, our students would be able to stay safely at home while they still got to experience a three-day event packed with value and inspiration, as well as opportunities for community and connection.

The task before us was immense. And you might not know this about us, but our team is quite small. Instead of feeling daunted by what lay before us, we drew strength from our Summit’s tagline, #StrongerTogether — a hashtag that was serendipitously chosen in 2019, before any of us knew what a coronavirus was.

Here’s a brief breakdown of our run-up to the Virtual Summit:

7 days to go

The commitment is made to turn the in-person Summit into a virtual event. We created a ‘Summit War Room’ in Zoom where the Reliable Education management team, including Adam, Joe, and the CEO Steve, could meet to coordinate the development of this never-before-attempted pivot. Some of the War Room meetings ran up to 18 hours long. It soon became clear that some of the management team had decided to postpone their sleep until after the Summit was wrapped. Simultaneously, other Reliable team members began work on producing the Virtual Summit workbook.

6 days to go

We created a registration page for our new virtual event, and in a matter of hours, thousands of our students had registered. Our hearts swelled knowing that so many of our tribe were backing our new plan. Our technical team began the in-depth work needed to ensure that we could offer a seamless live stream experience.

5 days to go

A series of post-coronavirus afterparties with Adam and Joe were announced, scheduled to take place in several Australian cities once the restrictions on in-person gatherings were lifted. All of the speakers who were originally booked for the live Summit had now confirmed their attendance for the virtual event.

4 days to go

Summit swag packs were sent out by snail mail to all of our attendees. The packs included commemorative wristbands, a letter from founders Adam and Joe, as well as the hot-off-the-press Virtual Summit workbook.

3 days to go

More keynote speakers were confirmed, including Australia’s former Prime Minister John Howard and Australian icon John Bertrand. Making the Summit an even more compelling proposition for those students who had not yet registered to attend. Additionally, the full Summit line-up was released, and all technical equipment and Internet connections at the studio were tested.

2 days to go

Channelling ‘measure twice, cut once’, we doubled down on our technical testing so we could be confident in the big weekend going ahead without a hitch.

1 day to go

A true highlight of the weekend, our mega-thread was prepared on our private Facebook page. This would be where students could upload their pictures and comments over the entire weekend using the hashtag #StrongerTogether.


We went LIVE! Reliable Education’s first Virtual Summit saw thousands of our students coming together for a weekend of learning and inspiration from the safety of their own homes.

After all the blood, sweat and tears, our Virtual Summit delivered on its promise: to provide much-needed education and to elevate our members to the next level.Students showed up in droves, not only to support us but because they yearned for human interaction at a time of extreme uncertainty and chaos.

Alongside the event’s live stream, students were able to share and interact in our private Facebook group, providing them with an instant sense of connection and community. We received over 4,700 comments in the event thread and many of our students said it was our best Summit yet.

Here are a few words of support from our students:

Among the highlights of the Virtual Summit were presentations by some of our most successful students. These talks allow our students to feed off each other’s strengths and positive energy — to remind each other of our collective potential. We simply had to do an encore!

The success of this three-day online event has birthed the possibility of more virtual events in the future. With our tribe’s fortifying support and love, we can truly achieve the impossible.



Acting in line with your values and staying true to your mission should be a priority every day, but it becomes even more vital when navigating such unpredictable and turbulent times as these. We believe that prioritising our sense of tribe and delivering our Summit virtually was just a case of expressing our Reliable DNA.

The Reliable Education team lives and breathes the Reliable DNA — it’s who we are — and that’s why we were able to work round the clock to deliver what originally felt like an impossibility. Every one of us knows our why, and we know that we are not alone.

As the global pandemic continues to unfold, it’s clear to see that the world will be changed for the foreseeable future. The quicker we can all adapt, the quicker we can find solutions. And how do we do that? By getting creative, reaching out and engaging with our tribe.

We have inexpressible amounts of pride and gratitude for our tribe of students around the world. They are our inspiration and motivation when it comes to providing world-class Amazon training and exemplary business education.

As Adam Hudson said, “In this time of challenge, do not let go of the human connection. It is who we are. It is where we grow. And, it is where we serve one another. It’s also good for our health.”

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