We believe in lots of things at The Latimer Group, including the importance of certain traditions. Some of our favorites include starting off our Monday team meetings with personal stories and experiences from each member of the team; taking a mid-year retreat together for an in-depth look into our business (which sadly could not happen in 2020); and the closing of our office at holiday time so each of us can catch our breath and enjoy our families.
This year, a momentous one to say the least, I have made the decision to close our business a little early, and give my team (and myself) some additional and well-deserved time off. So, this missive is one of our final acts of 2020. We are closed for the year at the end of day today, Friday, December 18th, and will reopen on January 4, 2021. After a healthy break, we will be rested and ready for another great year of connection with our Latimer community.
But before we go, there is one thing left to do… we would like to spend a few minutes with you, and share more than the usual end-of-year holiday greeting. This year, it seems like there is more that needs to be said.
As we reflect on 2020, we would like to avoid some of the quickly clichéd comments about “the new normal” and how badly we want 2020 to end. Yes… it has been an unbelievably momentous and challenging year for many people. Hard for many, brutally hard for others, and fatal for far too many. But as we look back on 2020, we believe it is possible, and important, to have a full acknowledgment of the hardships, while also noticing and appreciating the unintended and unexpected benefits this year has brought.
Here are a few that immediately come to mind:
In business terms, the pandemic quickly turned what looked like it would be a fantastic business year into an awful one. Many people lost their jobs and many businesses closed their doors. Havoc, fear and pain were everywhere. But the pandemic also caused countless businesses to get creative quickly and find ways to reinvent themselves. Manufacturing companies began producing things they never would have considered previously. Nearly every business in every industry now realizes how a virtual business world creates all sorts of flexibility regarding where, how and when we work. There was a great deal of creative destruction in 2020… which is always, by definition, both rewardingly creative and painfully destructive.
In personal terms, the impossibility of travel decimated the airline and hotel industries. But many families also suddenly were given the gift of time. For me, like so many others, travel went from constant to non-existent. Bad for airlines and hotels, but good for families. I have not been away from my family for a single night since late February, a stretch unprecedented in my adult life. There has certainly been plenty of pain… but the gift of time with family has been a godsend for many.
And in societal terms, 2020 was a painful year, particularly so for large swaths of society. This year made clear, once again, that we have real issues of inequity in our society… socioeconomic and racial inequities at the top of the list. But at the same time, the painful experiences also caused us to continue our national journey towards more functional dialogue around the issues of race, equity and how we will navigate a society that is becoming more diverse with each passing year. We have a lot of work to do in this regard, both in how we discuss these issues, and what to do to solve them. But my colleagues and I believe that the willingness to acknowledge and discuss hard issues is an important step in the process. We took a step forward this year. Did we move far enough? I would argue “no.” We have a lot of work to do… there are still far too many people unwilling to engage in the hard discussion, or very willing but unable to engage in a healthy and productive way. But, steps forward, no matter how tiny, are always better than steps backward.
There is no denying the pain of 2020. But when we look closely, it is equally apparent that some good also rose from those same ashes of pain.
So, as we close our year, and take our own deep breaths, please know that one of the great joys in our collective Latimer Group lives continues to be the deep and powerful relationships our company enjoys with you, our community of clients and friends. Our team enters the world committed to empowering others with the ability to communicate in powerful ways. We believe the world is a better place when people have the skills to communicate and advocate for their ideas, their organizations and themselves. If we can play a positive role in that skill development, then we will be proud of that contribution.
We have long held the fundamental belief that great communication skills change the world. And this year has caused us to lean even harder into that belief.
Enjoy these holidays as best as you can. Take a deep breath, love the people around you, and stay safe.
We will see you in January, and we will be ready to partner with and serve you in the new year.
Dean (on behalf of The Latimer Group)
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