This will be the last Desk of Brad I send in 2020. Tomorrow is January 1st, 2021!!! It could not come soon enough. Wow, I mean, wow, what a year it’s been! I’ve been around longer than most of you (but not that much longer), and it’s safe to say that we’ve never seen anything like this before. I wonder how we will tell our Grandchildren about this year when they inevitably ask, “Grampa/Grandma, what was it like during the pandemic?”. I get the sense that history is unfolding right now, a series of events that will be consequential over the next century or more. And not just something that happened somewhere else, but something that is happening to each of us … So, what are you going to say?
For my part, I am going to talk mostly about the things I learned this year. Of course, the historical narrative will be woven into my discussion. It’s not many years that you have an Impeachment, Pandemic, An Economic Collapse, Millions of Fellow Americans Unemployed, Breadlines, Political Unrest, Racial Injustice, A Presidential Election, Developed Multiple Vaccines within a year, and the Loss of 100s of Thousands of American Lives. We all had to learn to stay at home, work from home, school our children from home, all while managing the low/high-grade stress of uncertainty and fear related to Covid. It’s safe to say that everyone has been tested mightily this year.
When I was a young teenager, I read a book called “The bumps are what you climb on.” The whole idea is that you learn from your challenges more than your successes. Along those lines, I’ve always appreciated Bill Gate’s quote, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” In the famous Commencement Speech of ’99, by Baz Luhrmann, there is an excerpt that has resonated with me since I first heard it “don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindsides you at 4:00 pm on some idle Tuesday.”
None of us saw 2020 coming. I share these quotes with you to have some insight into how I choose to experience the world.
Lessons learned for me from 2020:
It’s essential to have your life in order as best as you can, especially when times are good, because you never know when you’ll need to handle a crisis. Said differently, Dig your well before you’re thirsty by Harvey McKay. It’s so essential to make investments in your life and your friendships before you need help; otherwise, it will be too late when the crisis hits.
Gratefulness is the secret to happiness. I had to provide a lot of emotional support to family, friends, and many of you this year. When I was out of energy, tired or sad, rather than wallow in emotional suffering, I focused on what I am grateful for, and that ALWAYS lifted my spirits. My Pastor once always said, “you can’t minister from an empty well.” I learned to take this practice to a new level this year; every day, I took time to count my blessings. This habit has changed me forever.
Consciously decide what is important to you and make time for those things. Don’t let the urgent overtake the important in your life. Ironically, in the last Desk of Brad in January 2020, I was worried everyone was too busy and needed to focus on what’s important. Little did I know that 2020 would be a crucible of clarity.
From the first paragraph of that DOB …
Ever notice how much work you can get done the week before you go on vacation? Isn’t it just a matter of focus and prioritization? I am reminded of the Stephen Covey exercise in which you have several large rocks and small rocks that need to be squeezed into a large glass jar. If you put the little rocks in first, you can never make room for the large rocks. If you put the large rocks in first, then there is plenty of room for the small rocks to fit in and around the large rocks. Another way to think of this is that some urgent activities and activities are important. Always remember that the important is more important than the urgent.
Tell the people you love that you love them more often. Show them you love them as often as you can. Frequent little gestures go a lot further than the occasional grand gesture. We are granted a limited amount of time in this life, express your emotions. Although we put it out of our minds most of the time, the clock is ticking.
As for Tahzoo – Work is more about who you work with than what you do. I’ve seen so many acts of overt kindness within the company this year that I’ve been overwhelmed at times. What has impressed me the most this year is our teamwork and collaboration. Not only did we manage our change, but we also helped our clients manage the changes as well. There is a reason we look to hire smart and happy people because it creates possibilities. It turns out that this year more than ever, being surrounded by colleagues who care made the year a little bit more tolerable. “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a teamwork, a company work, a society work, and a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
Looking Forward 2021
We have a lot to be thankful for, to say the least. We have so much opportunity, and we’ve spent the better part of 10 years learning how to drive and implement digital transformation. There is no C-Level Executive at a Fortune 500 company in the world who would not be the least interested in hearing what we have accomplished and what we can do. It turns out the enabling working from home, shopping from home, and being healthy at home, our core solutions are in high demand and will be for the foreseeable future. We’ve set the Tahzoo table for the next ten years of growth.
We really couldn’t be in a better market position, except maybe companies that sell Hepa Air Filters. True story, Matt Heidemann and I we’re playing golf on a muni course in San Diego in early February 2020, we were paired with two strangers. After the usual, I suck at golf speeches, and we talked about what we all did for a living. One of the guys owned a business selling Air Filters to hospitals, and he was already gearing up for a massive year. We should have offered to take over his marketing 🙂
We did okay in 2020 financially, we will be flat or just slightly below 2019 numbers in terms of revenue, and we’ll have a small loss from a profit perspective. I’m quite pleased with this performance, given what I’ve seen happen to many businesses. We managed to keep our accounts moving forward and avoid layoffs. 2021 will be a busy year, we’ve been hiring as fast as we can, and our pipeline is about as large as I’ve ever seen it. We will launch our software business in earnest, and the investments in operational excellence will not only improve the quality of our employee experience it will also improve our client experience.
We have a lot of work to do next year, and it will be challenging and rewarding. I am looking forward to this next phase of Tahzoo. We’ll call it Tahzoo 4.0. So much to be excited about, but as I always say, “don’t dance on the five-yard line, only dance after we score a touchdown.” Another salient excerpt from the class of ’99 speech “Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either — your choices are half chance; so are everybody else’s.” The grass isn’t greener on the other side; it’s just different grass. Control is just an illusion, and you can’t control your life; you can make decisions. Maybe they work out; perhaps they don’t. But we’ll do it together, as a team.
I’ll take these lessons and perspective to heart. They’ll be the basis for my storytelling to my Grandchildren one day. There are many good storytellers at Tahzoo, and if you have something you’d like to share with the company or me, I would be thrilled to hear from you. I am sure your teammates would too. Let’s continue to be generous with one another; we still have tough days ahead.
I am so proud and grateful to be working with each of you.
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!!!