As we recognize today, March 11, as the one-year anniversary of when the country shut down because of COVID-19, I wish I could give each of you a standing ovation. You deserve it! You have made it through one of the most difficult years in our history.
The song “Looks Like We Made It” has been in my head, that is until I researched who sang it and the actual words for this post. I’ve only heard the chorus belted out during a climatic scene in a movie where the love story comes together. It wasn’t until today that I realized the song was sung by Barry Manilow (not someone I typically choose to listen to) and the song is not a love song, but a song about two people who once were together but now are in other relationships. WHAT?!? I’m still not sure what they “made it through”, however, that revelation fits well with our current situation.
It’s been a year since we started this journey of living in a pandemic. Many of you have seen your businesses suffer as well as loved ones. There was no strategic plan that could help anyone begin to tackle the impact of a shut down and the drastic change in how we conduct business. My desk now has a permanent light fixture, microphone and upgraded webcam. Have you become too comfortable or anxious having to sit at your desk more?
There is a sense that WE HAVE MADE IT, but also a cautious tone about how we conduct work these days. We are anxious to get out on the road, but some are still not taking meetings, or our companies won’t let us travel. It is like we have one foot in the new normal and one desperately trying to reach back to the old normal. I believe neither will exist in the coming months as we will have defined a completely new way to go about our routines.
I have had multiple conversations with suppliers and distributors who have revamped their view of “NORMAL”. They no longer have a brick and mortar building, their staff works from home, and they are more profitable then two years ago. Others have charted into new industries and built relationships they never knew they would have until a pandemic forced them to think outside their box. Still others are struggling with the lingering ramifications that are here for months to come. They served in the hospitality or events industries and although slowly things are coming back, the question remains will they ever be fully back!
There are many questions left unanswered and yet I’m very optimistic! Why? Because the resilience of this industry is contagious. We learn from each other. We push each other to be better. We help fellow members out when they need product, a new supplier, or just encouragement. This industry is the bedrock for so many other industries. If you don’t have promo, do you have a flourishing business? Promotional products tell stories. The story I want to tell today is we need to celebrate how we’ve made it through the last year. YOU DID IT! STAND UP, TAKE A BOW! (Even if it’s only in front of mirror). It might not have been pretty, and you might still be in the thick of things, but you are closer to the other side today then you were yesterday! Keep going, don’ t give up, think of new ways you can connect with clients. My hope is that a year from now we will see MORE fruit from our labor and our desire to try new things will still be as tangible as it has been this last year!
Click below for your standing ovation! Embrace it for a minute or two…then back to work!
PPAF Executive Director