12 Weeks Without Applause:  7 Lessons Learned During the Stay-at-Home Order 


Anyone who performs their work in front of others where applause is customary after completion will understand this immediately. We thrive on strangers noticing us. Athletes, actors, entertainers, and speakers are all cut from a similar cloth. We spend tremendous time alone perfecting our craft, followed by the adrenalin rush of performing, and ending with affirmation that we done good. Get paid, rinse, and repeatThat’s our story.  

When we, along with other non-essential workers, were all swept up in the stay-at-home order, we scrambled to make adjustments just like everyone else. However, the applause-based workers have one of the longest runways back to “normal,” and we are unlikely to see any large crowd engagements this calendar year. That leaves us with LOTS of time to think and cope. My way of feeling productive during a difficult time is to ponder and write. Here are the seven things I learned in the past 12 weeks.  

Our dog loves this new way of life. 

Meet Otis Campbell Guest. He is an 11yearold schnoodle. No matter where I go in the house, I can hear the click-click of his nails following behind me. I have been with him almost 24/7 during lockdownDon’t let his cuteness fool you! He can be a bit much. However, he is wicked smart and if we had spent more time training him, I am confident he could balance my checkbook. But, one thing we haven’t ever insisted on is staying out from under the table during meals. Now that we actually EAT three meals a day at home, this was something we HAD to fix. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but thatsimply not true. In three days, we taught him that “footstool” means go to the living room—three giant steps away from the kitchen tableand sit on the footstool while we eat. (By the way, I make the whole family verbally “applaud” him every time he does it, “Good boy, Otis, good boy!” That is what makes him repeat the behavior.) Why did it take a pandemic to put that command in order? It makes me wonder if there are other things that have never bothered me quite enough to change, but would vastly improve my life.  

What new rule can you put in place at home or work that is long overdue? Now is the time.  

Ellie and Otis

Our 19 year-old doesn’t love this new way of life. 

Allow me to introduce our daughter Ellie. She was enjoying her first year as a college student at a wonderful art school in Milwaukee. Packing up her stuff to return home early and finish her year online was disappointing, as it was for many students. She went from the freedom to control her daily activities to instantly having to follow our house rules, especially those associated with wake vs. sleep hours and time spent on homework. I quickly realized we needed middle ground for our very different lifestyles. After much consideration, we found a perfect solution. The second floor of our house includes her bedroom and a spare room turned into an “art studio.” When she is in either of those rooms, she is “in Milwaukee,” so I pretend she isn’t even here. Her choices are her own. When she comes downstairs for meals or social time, then she is “home” and I can get all up in her business just like any mom does. This concept saved our family. Once we established these boundaries, we have had very few disagreements and she was left to her own devices to finish her school year strong. It’s required each of us to give a little. But isn’t compromise what makes the world go round? 

What adjustments do you need to make in your workspace in order to decrease confrontation and help transitions?  

 Hair stylists are essential.  

Nuff said. 

Some tasks won’t get done no matter how much free time we have. 

This lesson surprises me a just a bit. There are so many things we say we would like to do if “only we had time.” I had 12 uninterrupted weeks of time, and there are still a few things I didn’t do. Work out, organize hundreds of photos, and learn to cook better are all things I really thought I wanted to doif only I had time. I was wrong.  

What surprised you during these 12 weeks? What are you wondering? I would love to hear about it and make it part of a future article. Surprise and wonderment are such interesting topics. 

I made the right choice with the big decision.  

There is no doubt that doing life with someone you love and respect is vital to happiness. It is even more important when you are locked down with that partner. Thanks to Tom, my husband of 29 years, for being a joy to be with, even if it is every minute of every day. I’m including this on my list not for you, the reader’s sake, but for mine. When I reread this post in the future, I want to be reminded that I am very lucky person and that should never be taken for granted. 

Is there someone in your life who deserves some praise and applause from you? Don’t delay, do it today. 

We are a resilient and creative human beings. 

Sitting back and watching the really unique and fun things that others created, either out of necessity or boredom, was amazing. In order to keep my own energy and enthusiasm alive during a challenging time, I would look for one creative thing to watch every morning to jumpstart my day. Like the Mark Rober, the guy who created a squirrel obstacle course that over 23 million people have viewed. I realize the video is more than 20 minutes long, but you must watch the whole thing. I laughed and I learned. It is excellent. 

I even tried my own hand at a DIY project. It failed, but I turned lemons into lemonade when my friend Kay Frances interviewed me on her new series “How Hard Can It Be?” She cracks me up. Last I checked, it had 61 views so we are catching up to Mark fast. 

What new thing did you try? Whose creative spark made you laugh, learn, or feel something? Did you reach out to tell them how much they inspired or entertained you?

Real friends appear when you need them. 

Staying in touch with friends through regular Zoom chats, text messages filled with funny memes, or LSD (Let’s Social Distance) parties boosted my spirits up on challenging days. In April, I made one phone call a day to a colleague in my industry to support each other. In May, I did the opposite. I tried a personal sabbatical and only connected to those who reached out to me. Here is the part that makes me very happy. The number of conversations each month were equal, meaning I “got as much as I gave.” Thank you to those who took the time to think of me and care enough to reach out.  

How are you giving to others? It is so true that our cup refills faster when we keep pouring out what we can to those who are thirsty. During this rough season of our lives, there are many kinds of thirst. I believe that EVERYONE needs applause in one way or another and it is our responsibility to put our hands together for each other every chance we get.  

Lets go do some clapping people! 

Meet Laurie Guest

Meet Laurie Guest

An entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author, Laurie Guest, CSP is a “go-to-resource” for customer service excellence. For more than two decades, she has shared her practical point of view on customer service and staff development with audiences and companies across the country, blending real-life examples and proven action steps for improvement. Her latest book, The 10¢ Decision: How Small Change Pays of Big, presents her most sought-after and impactful strategies to find and retain the best staff and highest-quality customers while delivering exceptional guest experiences.

Other articles by Laurie you may like...


Invest in Rest: What Happened When I Took My Own Advice


Bust Out of Service Fatigue: Invest in Rest

Book cover final BOSF

Busting Out in Real Life: How One City Reenergized Customer Service Delivery


Bust Out of Service Fatigue: Crave More Joy

Make your next event

a standout experience

with a keynote from Laurie