Silver Linings, No Playbook

December 16, 2020
Written by: Wendy Mann, CAE, CREW Network CEO

sun behind clouds

When life turns upside down and you must rethink everything, the potential for chaos can ensue. Reflecting on 2020, each of us may have experienced our own turmoil—whether at work, home or with family. I keep coming back to the same thought: Even with the surprise of the pandemic, the need to pivot quickly and the widespread impact, there are indeed silver linings to this unexpected year. And clearly, there is no playbook for a pandemic. 

 The movie Silver Linings Playbook came to mind when thinking about this year. At one point, Pat Sr., played by Robert DeNiro, states, “You gotta pay attention to the signs. When life reaches out at a moment like this, it’s a sin if you don’t reach back.”

 A very insightful perspective from a betting man. The signs that struck me were immediate and opportunistic: What do members need right now? Information, insights, and understanding of the situation. Within a week, we had Spencer Levy, Chairman of Americas Research and Senior Economic Advisor at CBRE, in a virtual session helping members grasp the magnitude of the situation and giving his best estimate of the timing and impact of the pandemic. He had no playbook.

As the events began to unfold and we had a clearer understanding of the pandemic, we saw other signs: Our members needed to stay connected, share information, offer support and learn from one another. We delivered 56 new virtual programs—including business networking, industry webinars, professional development and knowledge exchange—to over 13,000 attendees. We tripled our programming and engaged three times more members than we typically would in a regular year.


In Silver Linings Playbook, Pat Jr., played by Bradley Cooper, says, “You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, you have a shot at a silver lining.”

I believe that CREW Network worked its very hardest this year for our chapters and members to deliver on our commitment to support and serve members. Like you, without a playbook, we took risks and continually provided opportunities for members to communicate through our online community, Virtual Conversation Corners and networking sessions. We created meaningful content such as our Workplace Re-entry and CREW Cares series, and leveraged the expertise of our members with our In Briefs. We also delivered virtual summits and a convention that were exceptional given the circumstances. 

What are the silver linings to this tragic year?

  • Increased engagement across our global membership

  • Amplified recognition of CREW Network and our offerings in the industry

  • Increased understanding of the capabilities and power of the network

  • Collaboration between chapters for opportunities to exchange business and market knowledge

  • Opportunities to experience a variety of events across the network

These are just a few of the silver linings I’ll carry with me into the new year. I’ll end with one more quote from the movie from Pat Jr.: If you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.” I’ve taken my shot this year. I’ve chosen to stay positive, to lead positively and to take the silver linings wherever I can find them. As you reflect, I invite you to find and celebrate your silver linings this year as well. 

P.S. – Don’t forget to renew your membership to stay connected to your CREW in 2021.

Wendy Mann, CAE

Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.

Twitter: @crew_wendym

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