It’s been a year. For me. For you. For everybody. When I look back at events, experiences and what I learned during the pandemic, it’s a little surprising how much change was packed into the last year. I experienced personal and economic loss, learned new skills, started a business, lost a job and found a new one. As an old boss would have put it, I went through a tsunami of change. But I made it through and am better for it. Today, I received my second Covid vaccine dose (I got the Pfizer! 😊). Reaching that milestone has caused me to reflect on my experiences during the pandemic and put some of my thoughts into words.
In July, 2020, after 14+ years with the same company, I lost my job. It could have not been a worse time to enter the job market. Even though my industry (Consumer Packaged Goods) was thriving due to the stay-at-home economy, the phone was not exactly ringing off the hook. I got to work rewriting my resume, improving my LinkedIn profile and calling contacts in my network. I put a job search plan together and interviewed with several companies resulting in a job offer and acceptance after a long 5 months of searching. It wasn’t easy but I am happy with the end result. I was very fortunate and know it was all definitely for the better.
I also took the bold step of starting a vintage furniture business with my wife. I poured a lot of energy into the business because I had the time and wasn’t sure if it might be my full-time gig for the foreseeable future. This has turned into a very fulfilling and challenging sideline. We have rented some manufacturing space and expanded our capabilities. I grew as a business manager as I learned to make educated decisions across all functions from sales and marketing, to production and supply chain.
Working from home consistently for the first time ever, has been eye-opening. I am so productive and work life balance has never been better. After trial and a lot of error, I became proficient at Zoom meetings. I love this capability! Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have removed the main objection to working from home – lack of collaboration. Most of us will eventually return to the office but commuting 5 days a week and business travel for routine meetings may be a thing of the past.
Shopping for groceries was interesting. I recall visiting a grocery store in March just prior to the “lock down”. I remember buying the last box of pasta in the building. During the first few months of the pandemic, many staple items were hard to find. The panic buying in March blew out supply chains resulting in shortages of paper products, dry yeast, cleaning products, rice, canned vegetables and fresh meat, among other things.
Wearing a mask and social distancing for the last year was a big change. But I was glad to do it for multiple reasons. It kept me and people I interacted with safer as demonstrated by the almost nonexistent flu season in 2020-2021. It also sent a message to others around me that I wasn’t engaging in risky behavior. Personally, I didn’t think it was such a big deal. In the end, it was just a considerate thing to do – like wearing a shirt to church.
Thankfully, there were some positives that came out of the pandemic. Many people were able to spend more time with their immediate family. Working from home has become more acceptable and perhaps even entered the mainstream. We are all more aware about our health and the health of those around us. The equity markets are at all-time highs. It feels like we are turning the corner on the pandemic. I would say that things will get back to normal but normal was redefined during the pandemic. We will experience more change as restrictions are lifted. Hopefully, it won’t be another “tsunami”.
*Director of Sales, Walmart & Sam’s Club – StarKist
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written
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