|Posted by Jon Lannen on December 31, 2020 at 8:00 AM|
As 2020 comes to a crashing close, I reflect not only on the dumpster fire that it was, but also grateful for the beauty of the flames; bringing light and warmth in the most unexpected of ways. I wanted to take some time to give this blog some love and write about 2020, in hindsight. The style of this post is— and I'm aware— very self-absorbed. It's all about me and my 2020. If you are interested, I want to tell you about this year. If not, that's OK, too; thanks for stopping by. Think of it like that really weird long update letter you get around the Holidays from the strange family member. Here is Hindsight is 2020.
Beginning of the Year
The start of the year started with much momentum for me, professionally. I continued to crank out content on my YouTube channel and was working on two different podcasts; What It Do Podcast and That Podcast with LPiddy and Jon Jon.
My bestie and I started a podcast a few years ago. You may have heard about it— it's called #ThatPodcast. I host it alongside LPiddy, also known to many of us as Laurie. At the beginning of 2020, Laurie and I were in full-swing on our production of the #ThatPodcast Docuseries. We were joined by our friends Ashley and Madison for this ride. Madison produced the series and is also my editor for my YouTube videos. The Docuseries culminated in LPiddy and I's first live show, the That Podcast Grammys Party on January 26th. We produced and hosted a live watch party for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards from the Clocktower Cabaret in the heart of Denver. We even got some amazing press for it; thanks Judy! You can view the 5-part #That Podcast Docuseries on my YouTube channel, as it premiered in March. This Docuseries is something I am so grateful for and proud of.
In February, That Podcast joined the Queerbots for the Academy Awards Viewing Party, again, at the Clocktower Cabaret. The show included me, Laurie and our friends Ashley and Chris. We rocked the goooooooold and the show was a hit. Little did I know that would be the last time I would be on a stage performing in front of a house... and for me, that's nuts, because I've been doing comedy regularly since the age of 15; when I started with my high school improv group, Spontaneous Combustion.
Along with wrapping up live shows, I was a co-host on the What It Do Podcast, out of San Diego. I had an opportunity to work alongside the amazing What It Do trio; Anna, Aurora Savage and D$. In April, the show changed direction and I left the show— but not before I snagged the title of Spring Fling Queen; as voted on by the WID listeners. In May, the What It Do podcast aired its final episode. The experience with these three was magical, we had some hilarious episodes and good times.
Personally, I had some adventure, as well. In the early months of 2020, I traveled to Chicago and Tampa. Then in March, I had the opportunity to catch my first AEW wrestling show. AEW is a new professional promotion in the US and stands for All Elite Wrestling. My boo and I saw AEW Dynamite and AEW Dark at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado. Many of you know that since I was a young child, I have had an affinity to professional wrestling; catching every live show, watching every pay-per-view and even dabbled in it, too, with friends in my younger days. That's a story for another day. With that said, I am glad we took the opportunity to catch the AEW show as the face of live sporting events has since changed forever.
Then, Miss Rona happened. The Coronavirus pandemic halted every single one of our lives at the end of the first quarter of 2020, leading the United States into state-wide quarantines and lockdowns.
Some of you know, but many are often surprised to know that— along with the businesses I own, projects I participate in and ventures I invest in— that I work an adult job. I am a senior leader overseeing hundreds of associates that produce millions of dollars in sales. It's an incredible position that enables me to lead a team with purpose. I don't often speak publicly about it, but I am passionate and grateful for the work that I do. The way we work and the way many Americans work has changed tremendously since COVID-19 hit the country. I, alongside an awesome group of leaders, developed the first work-from-home program for our organization. I am lucky enough to continue to work regularly (and safely) and I am thankful for that.
In April, I missed connecting with people. Most of the feelings I feel are followed by action. The longing for connection led to me bringing back the Jon Jon Happy Hour and starting my Discord community. The Jon Jon Happy Hour premiered in 2011 as a variety show with a live audience and was revived in the form of a weekly show, airing on Twitch TV, this year to digital viewers. Shorty after premiering the new #JJHH, I was accepted into the Twitch Partner Program, which is wicked cool. The Discord family I've had an opportunity to connect is something special (even in the midst of a pandemic!) and you are welcome to join us.
The Discord group and an app called Marco Polo has enabled me to cultivate life-long friendships with two of my dearest friends; Sam and Ryan. Speaking of dear friends, I had to say bye bye to my bestie during the quarantine, too. LPiddy moved to Arizona and the four of trips I had planned and booked to the Dominican Republic, Los Angeles, North Carolina and San Diego were subsequently canceled because of the virus. The world shut down.
Summer Got Hot
Despite Miss Rona putting the brakes on our lives as we knew it, I slammed onto the gas pedal. Zoom Zoom.
As we entered the hot months of Summer, the world was still reeling from the virus; many countries learning as they go. The Summer of 2020 saw many Americans stay inside responsibly, but there were some outliers; the fuckos that were packing bars and beaches. I applaud all of us that have taken this virus seriously, so that we can normalize our lives again... & to the frontline workers, thank you. Truly.
I stayed in. A lot. Speaking candidly, COVID-19 scared and scares the piss out of me. Much of my Summer (and Fall and Winter) involved quarantining in the comfort of my home. Now, as much as I hate to say it; it was good for me. This is the beauty of the dumpster fire. As I've shared on my podcasts, I am an introvert by nature. Although I have extroverted tendencies, I find much of my peace and re-charged energies when spending time with, well, me. Many people who don't know me well find this surprising.
One of my favorite events during the year is Pride. This year, I had the distinct honor to be one of the co-hosts, alongside the incredible Debbie Scheer, for the Denver Pride Parade. By the time June rolled around, however, Pride would morph into a digital pride show, airing online and locally; no one was marching, we celebrated Pride at home. I was honored to be included in the telecast speaking about the History of Stonewall; which was eerily similar in our fight for equality nationwide. Queer POC Lives Matter; Black Lives Matter; Black Trans Lives Matter. Period.
The shift in energy made the thought of creating difficult and insensitive. I asked the Universe and my friends for guidance. In an effort to show my solidarity with the BLM movement, I made a statement; a promise to keep creating and using my platform for good.
Directly following Pride and Digital DragCon, that's what I did. Feeling inspired, I decided it was time to highlight creators in the form of the very first Jon Jon Happy Hour Live Show online. The JJHH was going back to its roots and welcoming incredible guests and performers. Sam and Omar, thank you. Dixie Krystals, thank you. Christian Reeve, thank you. Andy Sydow, thank you. Methodikal, thank you. Everyone who watched, thank you.
Wrestling being one of my passions, I decided it was time to leap into something I've always wanted to try; a wrestling podcast. In June, I not only produced a live variety show, but also a Jon Jon Happy Hour special Wrestling Episode, discussing the legendary Wrestlemania X-Seven. I welcomed guests, and now friends, from around the world. It was a smashing success! Thank you to Adam, Christian and Methodikal; who not only provided the theme song for the episode, but was also at the actual WM X-Seven event. I look forward to head-diving into more professional wrestling content.
In my personal life, it was time to "spark joy" as Marie Kondo says. I made a conscientious effort to declutter, re-organize and get my belongings (and life, girrr!) to a state to be loved and appreciated. I accomplished this with baby steps; making our place more homey, downsized to one storage unit— yeah, I know— and focusing on new projects that, well, sparked joy.
Falling into Fun
Autumn was upon us and I was so close to one of my dreams manifesting. Despite it not becoming a reality, I know that I will circle back to be on the cast one day— and, that's all I can say. As the leaves began to transition, so did the need to reinvent the Jon Jon Happy Hour. As much joy as the 'Happy Hour gave and gives me, it was time to let the leaves fall into a new season.
Since I was young, I listened to the radio a lot. On my way to school, on way to work; any time I was in my car, I had the radio on. Most notably, in the AM. I dreamt of being a morning radio host. Instead of just daydreaming of it, I wanted to make it happen. Organically, it came to me when I was chatting with a friend in the morning on Marco Polo, making a cup of java. I morphed the JJHH into the daily Cup of Jon Jon podcast. The #cupofjonjon is a motivational show that I publish, mornings at 8am, while having my daily coffee. Even the theme jingle makes my heart sing. The Cup of Jon Jon has been one of my favorite things to come from 2020. I would love it if you joined me daily with your coffee or tea for the Cup of Jon Jon, available on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and other major podcasting platforms. The newly invented podcasts led to my first merch launch, available on the Jon Jon & Co. Spreadshirt Shop.
Recording new daily episodes of the #cupofjonjon enabled me to do something for my health, too. Most of the episodes, I took to the neighborhood and took a morning stroll. Yes— while recording the Cup of Jon Jon podcast. I started to lose weight, eat better and live more healthily because of a podcast. That's pretty neat.
As the Fall months came to a close, I decided to take my very first flight since the lockdown. I, safely, flew to Dallas to attend my sister's elopement. I hear this is what you call a very small wedding. My sister and her now-husband had a much larger ceremony and reception planned, but Coronavirus changed that. Instead, the elopement ceremony took place at the courthouse, then their beautiful home. It was a magical day. Jannette and Alex, congratulations. I am honored to have spent the day with you; love you big.
As the colder months approached, after three years, I made the decision to end the lease on the Jon Jon & Co. studio. The studio was the birthplace of #ThatPodcast, my YouTube channel and so many more important things in my life. It served its purpose and I am grateful for the space it provided me to grow with other creators. My squirrelfriend Sam said it best, "bigger and better things ahead."
Winter Is Coming
The only cold thing was the weather because my momentum in 2020 was heating up. Alexa, play "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys.
As I continued to focus on the aforementioned projects, I took the leap into Poshmark. I am a huge designer bag collector! It's true, my Coach collection is valued at around $15,000. Know that it took years to have a collection that's worth $15K. I digress. In an effort to continue the de-cluttering of my life, I felt it was time to begin selling some of my designer handbag collection. I've sold a handful, which is a delight and I am continuing to sell more items in my Poshmark shop. I'm so thankful to be able to give these luxury items new homes that will love them. This will be a focus of mine in the new year, as well.
I also had an opportunity to drop a few more items in my merch store! This winter launch was a special Jon Jon unboxing logo, dedicated to my YouTube channel— I even unboxed all my merch a few weeks ago for a YouTube video.
The entrepreneurial bug bit me and I was on a roll. On November 1st, I announced the launch of my newest venture. On December 1st, I successfully launched Jon Jon Mystery Box Co., exclusively on Etsy. This was a massive undertaking. I curated the boxes personally, prepared the shipping, marketed the launch and fulfilled every last order. This was one of the most difficult businesses I've ever launched, but it was a smash! In less than five days, every single box sold out. I say "thank you" a lot and here it goes again: thank you.
As my birthday approached, my "Good Judy," Ryan surprised me with an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas for my birthday. This would mark my second flight since COVID-19 froze the world. I will say the Paris Las Vegas and the airlines followed safety protocols, ensuring peace of mind and health for everyone traveling. I felt safe on the flight and inside the resort. The act of kindness from my friend is something I am so, so, so thankful for. The trip was much needed and I'm so grateful. Thank you, Ryan, Justin and, of course, Alex for spending my birthday with me.
It was the season of new. I also chopped off my hair. It's true, all gone. Buzzz.
December concluded with the Christmas Holiday. We socially distanced and celebrated Christmas with my boo, brother, his boo, sister, her, mom and, her boo, dad. If you celebrate, I hope you had a safe and Happy Holiday. Now, it's on to 2021, Happy New Year, my friends.
As I reflect on this year, I am astonished all that I was able to accomplish, while navigating the uncertainty of the new world. I do not make that statement to boast, rather, truly take in the dreams I made a reality in 2020. I am going to take some time for myself and soak in the successful things I did this year. Rarely do I reflect on this level; I usually move on to the next thing. This time is different. This fruit is going to enjoy the fruits of his labor. I know the young immigrant kid from Germany would be astonished at the life I've manifested.
2020 was a dumpster fire, but it was my dumpster fire, and despite being arson in a trash can, the year brought me unexpected beauty and warmth.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and that, my friends, was 2020 in Hindsight.