Three Lessons I’m Carrying into 2021

When we think back on 2020, we will likely remember living in lockdown, breathing through masks, and a sobering mortality rate. But hopefully, we will also reflect on the life lessons we carried into 2021. Here are three takeaways that will stand out for me as a byproduct of an overwhelming year:

1. Prioritize the things that matter most.

I went from taking multiple business trips every month to traveling no further than the boundaries of my home. The change in routine (and constant fear of catching a life-threatening virus) spurred more quality time with my wife and with my little brother (eleven-year-old Arrod, who I mentor through the Big Brothers/Sisters of Los Angeles program). I spent more energy guiding and managing my team. I put more effort into our business strategy, discovering ways we could work smarter instead of harder. I checked in with the people I love at least every couple of months, and I read a lot more fiction. I also lost any taste I might have had for the people and activities I don’t truly enjoy. I plan to prioritize accordingly in 2021.

2. Keep an open mind.

Until 2020, I had never attended a virtual conference, and if you had asked me, I would have told you they are a waste of time. But two of the ones I attended last year were pretty satisfying, both in terms of content and networking. If you had asked me whether we can run our company effectively without a physical office space, I would have scoffed. It turns out a virtual team is just as productive, and in some cases, even more so. I also held the belief that the only way to develop business is face-to-face. A thousand zoom meetings later, I’ve come to the realization that you can build a book of business virtually. Yes, it’s harder to create meaningful connections remotely, but it’s still possible, and the travel tradeoff is worth the effort. I’m sure 2021 will provide even more opportunities to question my assumptions and expand my horizons.

3. Double down on client relationships.

Like many B2B firms, it was our client base that saw us through 2020. Prioritizing their needs deepened our relationships with them and put us in a strong position to understand their evolving pain points. It also ensured more regular communication so we could work together more closely throughout the year. If you’re one of our clients and you’re reading this, thank you. We’ll be checking in again soon to see how we can be of further help.

I’m sure you’re eager to move on, but before you flip off the lights and close the door, I encourage you to scan the room and make sure you haven’t forgotten any lessons that you might want to carry with you into 2021. One thing is certain, for all this talk of “returning to normal,” 2020 redefined the way we look at things for good, and hopefully, for the better.

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