2020 is about to be permanently in the rearview mirror – permanently behind us – permanently hindsight. A fact I’m certain many of us are grateful for.
2020 had begun with such a clear vision (pun intended) for a bright future. I launched into 2020 by saying “yes” on Jan 1st to a marital proposal from the man that I love – my best friend who ignites my passion and makes me laugh harder than anyone – the year was definitely starting off strong.
In February I was working hard on two exciting deals that would effectively double the size of our Sport & Social Group by springtime – only to watch them both come to a crashing halt with the onset of the pandemic in March.
Suddenly, I was leading a 25-year-old organization that should have been celebrating the positive impact we had made in the lives of over 1.3 million people, but instead, we were mandated by our government to stop our operations. The SSG has been keeping people playing and effectively helping them stay connected with old friends, make new friends, meet a significant other, find a new job and help with physical and mental health since 1996. The SSG has also created full-time jobs for hundreds and part-time jobs for thousands over these years. This should have been a year to truly celebrate – but a celebration was not what 2020 had in store for us.
Instead, I spent large parts of 2020 feeling depressed, anxious, and fearful of what would become of my beloved team and organization. 2020 forced me to make incredibly difficult decisions, and attempt to lead my team through the most challenging time I’ve ever experienced in my career – some of this I did well, and in hindsight, some of this I did very poorly.
For seven months I let our SSG culture slide – with my focus entirely on how the SSG would survive – we paused on celebrating our monthly core value awards, we paused giving out 1-year veteran jerseys, we missed book clubs and we were not having regularly scheduled fun sessions for our own team. Instead, I was desperately struggling to figure out how to navigate in a new world where our government would not allow any team sports to be played – outside or inside – effectively stopping our ability to generate any revenue – yet not sufficiently helping us cover our very real monthly overhead costs. In hindsight – lesson learned – I would have not let our culture slide at all – it really is the most important thing.
In March or April, when I could often be found crying in a fetal position in my bed, I would not have believed anyone who would tell me that in hindsight I would look back at 2020 and find gifts and silver (or perhaps rusty) linings to be grateful for.
As I look back on the year 2020 – with 2020 hindsight – I am incredibly grateful for some very special gifts that came from this year.
Firstly, I am incredibly grateful for the support of my fiancé and my six teenage children, my brothers, and my parents who all gracefully stood by and encouraged me through some very dark times.
Secondly, I am so grateful for the support of dear friends from all aspects of my life, (growing up in Sudbury, Queen’s university days, cottage friends, ski-racing pals, musical theatre besties, SSIA colleagues, and my incredible entrepreneurial network) whom all helped me whether it was listening to my tales of woe, providing empathy, brainstorming new ideas, helping connect me to people in the government or sharing suggestions for the launch of a new business – JAM. I would not have made it through this year we’re it not for an incredibly amazing network of very giving friends.
Finally, I am immensely grateful to my entire SSG team (as well as our amazing SSG customers) who have all stepped up in their own unique ways within their own abilities to get through a challenging year for the SSG but also lean into our launch of a brand new business. We stayed true to our core purpose of “connecting people through play” and have launched JAM which is helping corporate teams all around the globe to “keep playing” with our hosted fun remote events!
I now have very clear 2020 hindsight that had the year 2020 not hit our SSG so hard – JAM would never have been born. And while JAM is still a long way from the size SSG was at – it is growing quickly and the revenues we are driving from this little “pivot” are greatly helping to cover some of our monthly overhead expenses while also helping make a difference in the world at large by bringing play to corporate teams and organizations, helping reduce stress and improve personal connections, which makes me smile.
And so it is with hindsight that I look back on 2020 and can honestly say – I am grateful to all of you and for all the learning and gifts that have come from this immensely challenging year! Thank you!