Culture

What we learned about the world – and ourselves – in 2020

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FHR
Culture

What we learned about the world – and ourselves – in 2020

Écrit par
FHR

2020 was wild. 2020 was weird. While we probably would be stretching it by saying 2020 was wonderful, it was…well, it’s almost over now.  However, that doesn’t mean that 2020 didn’t leave us all with some lessons learned. Here’s what FHR employees – in their own words – took away from the year that was:  

“My 2020 peaked when on my birthday a giant tree branch broke off and fell right beside the passenger door of the car that I was supposed to be opening 4 seconds later. The takeaway here: the universe is hilarious, and always on time – also, trees breaking and falling somehow happens quicker than you think.” - Yulia Balinova

“Sure, 2020 has been stressful. And weird. And, frankly, a bit of a drag. But I choose to see it as ‘The Year of Silver Linings’. That’s because my son, Callum, was born in late January – just as news of the pandemic was going global. You could say he’s the COVID KID! Working from home has enabled me to get more face time with the little tyke. Even if it’s just popping out of my makeshift office in my daughter’s room for a quick hug, those little moments of connection are valuable. Life is full of trade-offs and balances. That’s certainly been the case for me this year!” - Jeremy Twigg

“2020 taught me grade 5 math (again). Sadly, not much improvement over the last time around. Seriously, three big lessons for me: 1) We all need to slow down and enjoy the people and things we have in our lives, 2) We all need to explore our own backyards – figuratively and literally – more and 3) We all need to stay focused on the things we can control and try not to stress over the things that we can’t.”  - Angela Carmichael

“Bras are optional. COVID tests aren’t that bad. #Blessed to be this #stressed.” - Emily Schuler

"That you can have something monumental thrown at you, but can adjust (with time) to a completely new way of working that I wouldn’t have thought possible before. It’s not the work itself that is different (at least for me).  But it is pretty much everything else, with lots of good and not so good mixed in together.  I’ve learned that we are a team that is resilient and that our culture keeps showing up in good times and in bad. Getting through this would be near impossible without each other, so in the end, that’s what I’ve learned from this year: that trusting the team you work with and being able to share frustrations at times and full out laughter at others is what it’s all about." - Anne Marie Quinn

“I have learned in 2020 that true resilience is less a matter of strength, and more about acceptance. Accepting that I am vulnerable, that health is a precious gift, and that tomorrow is never a guarantee. The pandemic has also exposed several gaps – both on a collective and individual basis – and has forced me to address underlying issues that were elephants in the room. Most importantly, 2020 has taught me to appreciate what I often took for granted: time with family, old friends, good health, international travel, live concerts, sporting events, pub nights, and – last but not least – not having to wear a mask in public.” - Pierre Cyr

“2020 has taught me to remember the following in a post-pandemic world: Take the trip, follow through on your plans, hug your grandmother, buy the concert tickets and always keep four-weeks’ worth of wine, toilet paper and flour in the house.” - Giulia Turco

“2020 has reminded me that change is constant and as a result, we can’t be too precious about what we intended to do or how we planned to do it. The brands that will succeed in our new world are the ones that stay nimble and change course when they need to. Adaptability and fluidity have become our most essential skills.” - Adrienne Connell

“I learned to slow down and truly appreciate life. I’ve always been one to rush through life, rushing to get somewhere, rushing to get personal tasks done and now I’ve learned to take a step back and breathe. I encourage everyone to do the same!” - Sue Zuccala

“Things are not so far out of reach as you’d think. Have a crazy idea about something you’ve always wanted to do? Just do it. Been meaning to connect with someone you look up to but too shy to reach out? Just do it. The first step is always the hardest, but once you make a move, you begin to wonder why you waited so long in the first place. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so making the most of your time today is the best thing you can do for yourself. Have confidence in yourself and the value you bring to the table. Trust me, your future self will thank you for it.” - Mubashira Farooqi

“2020 has taught me that, once again, relationships are everything. Whether friend or family, at work or at home, the best relationships can get you through the worst of times. ‘Only connect’ as E.M. Forster wrote to emphasize the value of personal relationships -- that’s been true during this pandemic. My constant virtual companions have sustained me, and at timely moments, old friends re-connecting have delighted me. The lesson remains that relationships must be nurtured, and what you get is what you put into it. It’s as true for business as it is for personal life.” - Katherine Fletcher

“I found out that I’m not really a competitive person. I’ll be the first to admit it. 2020 also taught me a lot about managing productivity, especially when it comes to tackling overwhelming, large tasks. Now I just break them down into smaller ones that are easier to ignore.” - Ben Rose

“After relocating from Nova Scotia, I got so swept away into my Toronto life, career and hobbies that I often forgot the importance of my roots. As we dug into the pandemic, it became more and more apparent what I had been missing. That big city auto-pilot grind is not all that makes life worth living. I missed connecting with nature, going for coastal drives, and appreciating the simple things like a cup of tea with my Nan. In the past five months my mom had a severe fall, my Nan passed away, and my dad suffered a heart attack. I drove 20 hours to be home with them, and I can tell you I wish I made more time for that before. I wish it didn’t take a pandemic to make me realize why this stuff is important, and that was my lesson.” - Lindsey Gillard  

“This year, I learned that the best way to test a relationship is to move in with your significant other and then two weeks afterwards go into lockdown indefinitely. I’ve also learned to blur my background during Teams meetings to hide any messes. Also, you just don’t realize how expensive weightlifting gear is until you try to create a home gym. The most important thing I’ve learned though is that good company culture is not rooted in a fancy workplace, free coffee or from the ability to steal pens from the office: it’s in the people. I’m extremely lucky to have joined FHR this year and to have been welcomed with open arms by my colleagues. I’m looking forward to becoming a permanent member in January 2021.” - Emilie Noel

“2020 taught me how great my local neighbourhood is. I already knew it, but this year I spent a LOT more time in the area and got to know so many more of my neighbours (at a socially safe distance, of course).” - Anna Lilly

“2020 taught me I am absolutely a people person and thrive on physical interactions. That said, it’s been especially hard to be with friends and family throughout this year, but I’ve learned I can be resourceful when it comes to video and phone calls. Socially distanced walks are great to keep you staying in the know while getting some much-needed exercise! Moreover, 2020 has taught me it not only takes a village to raise a child but a village to support any individual – and a village can also stop the spread of a virus with proper measures and PPE.” - Allan Keith

“2020 gave resilience a new meaning! I learned, and was impressed by, how resilient we all could be when faced with so many challenges at once. I also learned the value of taking the time to slow down and invest in building personal relationships – with my colleagues, my clients, my friends and my loved ones. 2020 was full of big and small lessons that I hope we carry forward once life returns to a pre-COVID normal.” - Jesica Mikkila

“The power of a whiteboard. No seriously, stay with me for a sec. About a week into the pandemic (or was it a year? A decade? What is time anymore?) my husband declared in a rather exhausted state that “we need a whiteboard!”. I laughed (he’s a strategist and he LOVES whiteboards). Each night we’d go to the whiteboard and plan out our toddler’s meals, map out our calls for the day and discuss any overlaps. We also used it to store information we could no longer retain, like grocery lists, house things that needed to get done and when we cooked certain foods (lesson learned – trying to guess if meat is still good based off smell is not a great game). The whiteboard truly helped keep us sane. So, 2020 taught me that the simplest solutions are often the best ones.” - Belinda Bien

“2020 was a year when a lot of things broke. Plans, promises, hearts, hopes – honestly, even bones. But of those ‘breaks’, there were a few I could say I was proud of – like, breaking in my new bike and clocking over 1290kms this summer, breaking my record pace and running 6km three times a week and 10km on weekends and even breaking out of my parents’ house and into a place of my own. This year taught me that while things can break and make you bitter, other times, things can break and make you better.” - Jorielle Nunag

“2020 taught me that sitting still ages you quicker than moving a mile a minute. A year full of time on my hands with nowhere to go has the grey hairs in my beard being born at an exponential rate. But because those hairs weren’t conceived out of new and enriching experiences, they feel hollow and for naught. However, as the year dwindles down though, I’m wasting a heck of a lot less time sitting around waiting for the world to come to me and am learning quick to find the adventures of my old life embedded in the minutia of this new one.” - Joey Arsenau

“When asked to write about what 2020 taught me, I was surprised I could list so many great lessons. For one, the world woke up to the realities of racism, and I believe it’s because COVID somehow made us more empathetic. Second, it’s okay to not be okay. Since COVID, we’ve seen hardened leaders cry, and cautious colleagues openly talk about their struggles. Lastly, it’s okay putting past priorities on pause. COVID forced people to examine how they want to move forward in their lives. Recently, my husband and I decided to move to the country for a calmer way of life, accelerating our plans by about ten years. The time spent in early lockdown helped force us to make a life change that pre-COVID we might have continued to push off.”  - Jennifer Atkinson

“2020 taught me to always have a back-up plan for your back-up plan.” - Nicole Herchell

“I did all the pandemic things. I learned that keeping a sourdough starter alive is akin to keeping a neopet or Tamagotchi alive. It takes love and dedication, but it is also very easy to forget about – no easy feat. I learned that Jessica is 34 and Mark is 24, so when she’s 55, he’ll only be 45. I learned that when it comes to banana bread, you can easily swap the white flour for whole wheat and not even notice. I learned that doing any of these activities with the people I love most – virtually or otherwise – makes even the hardest situations a little bit easier. I learned how much I value human connection. Finally, 2020 taught me how lucky I am to have an amazing family, job and my health, and for that I’m so grateful.” - Danielle Smith

“This past year has taught me that sweatpants are an essential item in your wardrobe. How is there not a website called 50 shades of grey sweatpants yet?” - Gemma Manangan

“I learned resilience and openness. When 2020 started, I had my entire year planned out. I’m a planner and am extremely organized, so when things changed in March, I was pretty darn lost and discouraged. Fast forward after a month-long quarantine in Kelowna with my family and I had a new outlook on life. I focused on what I could control and kept myself open to new opportunities. Instead of travelling abroad, I explored Alberta’s backyard (18 hikes, 200kms and 15,000 meters of elevation). Instead of seeing my coworkers and clients face to face, I made do with our WebEx/Teams/Zoom calls and did what I could to lighten the mood. And I took a new leadership role with an organization I love when I stepped in to Chair the Calgary Stampede committee that I’ve been a part of for the past three years. I refused to let 2020 get me down by being open to change.” - Brooklyn Lutz

“2020 made me extremely grateful for my large family and how close we all are. A new question I ask myself now when moving into a new apartment: are these roommates people you could quarantine with without driving you crazy? If your answer is no, keep looking or have a backup plan.” - Miranda Nero

“2020 taught me important reminders about the humbling effects of nature. First, as much as we like to think we’re in control, Ma Nature can always knock us down a peg. Second, there is more life around us than we know. Without the hustle and bustle of endless activities, my family has spent more time outdoors than ever before. On one adventure in the woods, my son flipped over a log and found the first Salamander he’d ever seen in the wild. I learned a humbling life lesson in that moment; flip more logs.” - Neil Johnson

Anyone who followed the career of professional wrestler Scott Hall in the 90s and 2000s knew that he had hit a jagged rock bottom in the form of addiction. However, the fragile – yet ferocious – remark that punctuated his WWE retirement speech in 2014 signaled that he had turned a corner. In seconds, he darkly stared down his past and put it in its place. He then averted his gaze – with a hardened, gleaming eye – to his unknown, but seemingly brighter, future. In doing so, he gave those watching a sense of hope for him, and in turn, for all. I learned that if nothing else, Hall’s words are words to remember when the going gets tough. With all that said, I will let the original Bad Guy slam the book shut on 2020.” - Kent Carter

2020 was wild. 2020 was weird. While we probably would be stretching it by saying 2020 was wonderful, it was…well, it’s almost over now.  However, that doesn’t mean that 2020 didn’t leave us all with some lessons learned. Here’s what FHR employees – in their own words – took away from the year that was:  

“My 2020 peaked when on my birthday a giant tree branch broke off and fell right beside the passenger door of the car that I was supposed to be opening 4 seconds later. The takeaway here: the universe is hilarious, and always on time – also, trees breaking and falling somehow happens quicker than you think.” - Yulia Balinova

“Sure, 2020 has been stressful. And weird. And, frankly, a bit of a drag. But I choose to see it as ‘The Year of Silver Linings’. That’s because my son, Callum, was born in late January – just as news of the pandemic was going global. You could say he’s the COVID KID! Working from home has enabled me to get more face time with the little tyke. Even if it’s just popping out of my makeshift office in my daughter’s room for a quick hug, those little moments of connection are valuable. Life is full of trade-offs and balances. That’s certainly been the case for me this year!” - Jeremy Twigg

“2020 taught me grade 5 math (again). Sadly, not much improvement over the last time around. Seriously, three big lessons for me: 1) We all need to slow down and enjoy the people and things we have in our lives, 2) We all need to explore our own backyards – figuratively and literally – more and 3) We all need to stay focused on the things we can control and try not to stress over the things that we can’t.”  - Angela Carmichael

“Bras are optional. COVID tests aren’t that bad. #Blessed to be this #stressed.” - Emily Schuler

"That you can have something monumental thrown at you, but can adjust (with time) to a completely new way of working that I wouldn’t have thought possible before. It’s not the work itself that is different (at least for me).  But it is pretty much everything else, with lots of good and not so good mixed in together.  I’ve learned that we are a team that is resilient and that our culture keeps showing up in good times and in bad. Getting through this would be near impossible without each other, so in the end, that’s what I’ve learned from this year: that trusting the team you work with and being able to share frustrations at times and full out laughter at others is what it’s all about." - Anne Marie Quinn

“I have learned in 2020 that true resilience is less a matter of strength, and more about acceptance. Accepting that I am vulnerable, that health is a precious gift, and that tomorrow is never a guarantee. The pandemic has also exposed several gaps – both on a collective and individual basis – and has forced me to address underlying issues that were elephants in the room. Most importantly, 2020 has taught me to appreciate what I often took for granted: time with family, old friends, good health, international travel, live concerts, sporting events, pub nights, and – last but not least – not having to wear a mask in public.” - Pierre Cyr

“2020 has taught me to remember the following in a post-pandemic world: Take the trip, follow through on your plans, hug your grandmother, buy the concert tickets and always keep four-weeks’ worth of wine, toilet paper and flour in the house.” - Giulia Turco

“2020 has reminded me that change is constant and as a result, we can’t be too precious about what we intended to do or how we planned to do it. The brands that will succeed in our new world are the ones that stay nimble and change course when they need to. Adaptability and fluidity have become our most essential skills.” - Adrienne Connell

“I learned to slow down and truly appreciate life. I’ve always been one to rush through life, rushing to get somewhere, rushing to get personal tasks done and now I’ve learned to take a step back and breathe. I encourage everyone to do the same!” - Sue Zuccala

“Things are not so far out of reach as you’d think. Have a crazy idea about something you’ve always wanted to do? Just do it. Been meaning to connect with someone you look up to but too shy to reach out? Just do it. The first step is always the hardest, but once you make a move, you begin to wonder why you waited so long in the first place. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so making the most of your time today is the best thing you can do for yourself. Have confidence in yourself and the value you bring to the table. Trust me, your future self will thank you for it.” - Mubashira Farooqi

“2020 has taught me that, once again, relationships are everything. Whether friend or family, at work or at home, the best relationships can get you through the worst of times. ‘Only connect’ as E.M. Forster wrote to emphasize the value of personal relationships -- that’s been true during this pandemic. My constant virtual companions have sustained me, and at timely moments, old friends re-connecting have delighted me. The lesson remains that relationships must be nurtured, and what you get is what you put into it. It’s as true for business as it is for personal life.” - Katherine Fletcher

“I found out that I’m not really a competitive person. I’ll be the first to admit it. 2020 also taught me a lot about managing productivity, especially when it comes to tackling overwhelming, large tasks. Now I just break them down into smaller ones that are easier to ignore.” - Ben Rose

“After relocating from Nova Scotia, I got so swept away into my Toronto life, career and hobbies that I often forgot the importance of my roots. As we dug into the pandemic, it became more and more apparent what I had been missing. That big city auto-pilot grind is not all that makes life worth living. I missed connecting with nature, going for coastal drives, and appreciating the simple things like a cup of tea with my Nan. In the past five months my mom had a severe fall, my Nan passed away, and my dad suffered a heart attack. I drove 20 hours to be home with them, and I can tell you I wish I made more time for that before. I wish it didn’t take a pandemic to make me realize why this stuff is important, and that was my lesson.” - Lindsey Gillard  

“This year, I learned that the best way to test a relationship is to move in with your significant other and then two weeks afterwards go into lockdown indefinitely. I’ve also learned to blur my background during Teams meetings to hide any messes. Also, you just don’t realize how expensive weightlifting gear is until you try to create a home gym. The most important thing I’ve learned though is that good company culture is not rooted in a fancy workplace, free coffee or from the ability to steal pens from the office: it’s in the people. I’m extremely lucky to have joined FHR this year and to have been welcomed with open arms by my colleagues. I’m looking forward to becoming a permanent member in January 2021.” - Emilie Noel

“2020 taught me how great my local neighbourhood is. I already knew it, but this year I spent a LOT more time in the area and got to know so many more of my neighbours (at a socially safe distance, of course).” - Anna Lilly

“2020 taught me I am absolutely a people person and thrive on physical interactions. That said, it’s been especially hard to be with friends and family throughout this year, but I’ve learned I can be resourceful when it comes to video and phone calls. Socially distanced walks are great to keep you staying in the know while getting some much-needed exercise! Moreover, 2020 has taught me it not only takes a village to raise a child but a village to support any individual – and a village can also stop the spread of a virus with proper measures and PPE.” - Allan Keith

“2020 gave resilience a new meaning! I learned, and was impressed by, how resilient we all could be when faced with so many challenges at once. I also learned the value of taking the time to slow down and invest in building personal relationships – with my colleagues, my clients, my friends and my loved ones. 2020 was full of big and small lessons that I hope we carry forward once life returns to a pre-COVID normal.” - Jesica Mikkila

“The power of a whiteboard. No seriously, stay with me for a sec. About a week into the pandemic (or was it a year? A decade? What is time anymore?) my husband declared in a rather exhausted state that “we need a whiteboard!”. I laughed (he’s a strategist and he LOVES whiteboards). Each night we’d go to the whiteboard and plan out our toddler’s meals, map out our calls for the day and discuss any overlaps. We also used it to store information we could no longer retain, like grocery lists, house things that needed to get done and when we cooked certain foods (lesson learned – trying to guess if meat is still good based off smell is not a great game). The whiteboard truly helped keep us sane. So, 2020 taught me that the simplest solutions are often the best ones.” - Belinda Bien

“2020 was a year when a lot of things broke. Plans, promises, hearts, hopes – honestly, even bones. But of those ‘breaks’, there were a few I could say I was proud of – like, breaking in my new bike and clocking over 1290kms this summer, breaking my record pace and running 6km three times a week and 10km on weekends and even breaking out of my parents’ house and into a place of my own. This year taught me that while things can break and make you bitter, other times, things can break and make you better.” - Jorielle Nunag

“2020 taught me that sitting still ages you quicker than moving a mile a minute. A year full of time on my hands with nowhere to go has the grey hairs in my beard being born at an exponential rate. But because those hairs weren’t conceived out of new and enriching experiences, they feel hollow and for naught. However, as the year dwindles down though, I’m wasting a heck of a lot less time sitting around waiting for the world to come to me and am learning quick to find the adventures of my old life embedded in the minutia of this new one.” - Joey Arsenau

“When asked to write about what 2020 taught me, I was surprised I could list so many great lessons. For one, the world woke up to the realities of racism, and I believe it’s because COVID somehow made us more empathetic. Second, it’s okay to not be okay. Since COVID, we’ve seen hardened leaders cry, and cautious colleagues openly talk about their struggles. Lastly, it’s okay putting past priorities on pause. COVID forced people to examine how they want to move forward in their lives. Recently, my husband and I decided to move to the country for a calmer way of life, accelerating our plans by about ten years. The time spent in early lockdown helped force us to make a life change that pre-COVID we might have continued to push off.”  - Jennifer Atkinson

“2020 taught me to always have a back-up plan for your back-up plan.” - Nicole Herchell

“I did all the pandemic things. I learned that keeping a sourdough starter alive is akin to keeping a neopet or Tamagotchi alive. It takes love and dedication, but it is also very easy to forget about – no easy feat. I learned that Jessica is 34 and Mark is 24, so when she’s 55, he’ll only be 45. I learned that when it comes to banana bread, you can easily swap the white flour for whole wheat and not even notice. I learned that doing any of these activities with the people I love most – virtually or otherwise – makes even the hardest situations a little bit easier. I learned how much I value human connection. Finally, 2020 taught me how lucky I am to have an amazing family, job and my health, and for that I’m so grateful.” - Danielle Smith

“This past year has taught me that sweatpants are an essential item in your wardrobe. How is there not a website called 50 shades of grey sweatpants yet?” - Gemma Manangan

“I learned resilience and openness. When 2020 started, I had my entire year planned out. I’m a planner and am extremely organized, so when things changed in March, I was pretty darn lost and discouraged. Fast forward after a month-long quarantine in Kelowna with my family and I had a new outlook on life. I focused on what I could control and kept myself open to new opportunities. Instead of travelling abroad, I explored Alberta’s backyard (18 hikes, 200kms and 15,000 meters of elevation). Instead of seeing my coworkers and clients face to face, I made do with our WebEx/Teams/Zoom calls and did what I could to lighten the mood. And I took a new leadership role with an organization I love when I stepped in to Chair the Calgary Stampede committee that I’ve been a part of for the past three years. I refused to let 2020 get me down by being open to change.” - Brooklyn Lutz

“2020 made me extremely grateful for my large family and how close we all are. A new question I ask myself now when moving into a new apartment: are these roommates people you could quarantine with without driving you crazy? If your answer is no, keep looking or have a backup plan.” - Miranda Nero

“2020 taught me important reminders about the humbling effects of nature. First, as much as we like to think we’re in control, Ma Nature can always knock us down a peg. Second, there is more life around us than we know. Without the hustle and bustle of endless activities, my family has spent more time outdoors than ever before. On one adventure in the woods, my son flipped over a log and found the first Salamander he’d ever seen in the wild. I learned a humbling life lesson in that moment; flip more logs.” - Neil Johnson

Anyone who followed the career of professional wrestler Scott Hall in the 90s and 2000s knew that he had hit a jagged rock bottom in the form of addiction. However, the fragile – yet ferocious – remark that punctuated his WWE retirement speech in 2014 signaled that he had turned a corner. In seconds, he darkly stared down his past and put it in its place. He then averted his gaze – with a hardened, gleaming eye – to his unknown, but seemingly brighter, future. In doing so, he gave those watching a sense of hope for him, and in turn, for all. I learned that if nothing else, Hall’s words are words to remember when the going gets tough. With all that said, I will let the original Bad Guy slam the book shut on 2020.” - Kent Carter

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