As the CEO of Fuseideas, I was recently asked to describe “What Lessons I Learned In 2020” and how our agency was able to take crisis and turn it into a learning opportunity. But given everything that has transpired in the last few weeks, I wanted to open up the dialogue so that this post could represent the various points of view across our office.
I decided to get the team together on Zoom and have a personal, heartfelt dialogue about this. In this moment, I wanted to use the events of the last year and few weeks with my own team to start a conversation, in the hopes that it may frame my learnings to help make us a better company. In my 16 years of running Fuseideas, it was one of the most important conversations I’ve ever had.
The following post is something we’ve created together, and I’m as proud of it as anything I’ve ever produced. Think of this as a conversation we are having together, but you, the reader, are invited to sit and listen.
Dennis Franczak, CEO
Over the last year, no matter where your views lie, I think we can agree we live in an angry, divided country. One where opinions are de-valued, people are disrespected, and there are different views on what democracy is. All of this has festered during the biggest public health crisis in over 100 years. I long for the days for peaceful discussion, respect for diversity, and an understanding that our best days are in front of us when we work together to solve our problems.
I’ve learned that when you have a strong dynamic of collaboration, respect, and a true desire to be part of a solution that helps everyone, great things can happen. It’s okay to be in a different political party. It’s okay to have a different nationality. We have to think bigger. We are one people, one planet, and there are many problems to solve. We can only solve them by working together, not apart.
So my big learning moment is, “How can I be a better teammate to the people I work with?” There are times where I lead and other times where I should follow. I know if I can do that, and we can all work together, great things can happen. #unity
Rachel Bienvenue, Content Manager
In 2019, I graduated from college and pursued a job search that felt as if it might never end.
It wasn’t until February 2020 when I was offered a job to run social media at Fuseideas, that I would meet my future team of hardworking, creative-minded, and welcoming individuals that I would learn from and admire.
Within one month, Fuseideas, like many other businesses, began to work remotely due to the pandemic. Although this transition was difficult, it wasn’t until our social media team started having challenging conversations and using our platforms to respond to social injustices, isolation and politics that we started to really communicate openly and honestly with each other. Through these tough, but necessary conversations via Zoom meetings, virtual trivia social games and the occasional happy hour, I can say I’ve found my place here at Fuseideas.
One common theme kept appearing in everything we did: challenges create opportunities. As we all continue to cope with our current environment, I can only hope we come out of it stronger as a whole.
Morgan Andreasse, Media Buyer
2020 was an exceptional year of growth for me. As someone who is just starting out, I am constantly in search for guidance and inspiration from friends, family, coworkers, peers and neighbors. But in this past year, we have seen even children treat each other better than grown adults. So where do we look for the truth?
Sometimes the answers you’re searching for come from unexpected places. If there is anything that I’m going to take away from 2020, it’s this: don’t be afraid to rely on yourself for the solutions you seek. Don’t be shy about asking questions or making yourself vulnerable. Give yourself more props, believe in science and facts and treat yourself to a break from all of the noise. You deserve it.
Justin Cyganiewicz, Executive Creative Director
In advertising, the best work comes from being disruptive. Being able to discover solutions and tell a brand’s story in a manner that it’s never been told before. And ultimately, have it resonate with consumers. For all of us, this past year has been disruptive. We had to learn a new way to live, communicate and effectively do our jobs. As an agency of our size we pivoted very quickly and successfully. We used this time of disruption to think differently and become better. Better listeners, thinkers, creators, teammates, mentors, partners and leaders.
Justin Vogt, Practice Lead, Higher Education
2020. A hell of a year that turned the entire world on its head and disrupted our entire way of life. If there’s one thing that I walked away with from last year, it’s perspective. Perspective on understanding and accepting the many differences and opinions, all human beings have. And perspective on our collective ability to come together and support one another, especially when faced with tremendous adversity.
There’s also perspective on empathy. If you can take a minute to stop, put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you’ll realize you’re not the only one going through tough times and it allows you the ability to offer your help to others who might need it most.
This past year has allowed me to take a step back and place more emphasis on spending vital time with my family. Because there’s nothing more important. It’s good to remember that and get perspective.
Tracie Chinetti, Media Director
I have been asked to share the lessons I learned in 2020. Some are easy. I don’t need a file cabinet of historical papers. I can carry everything I need back and forth from the office in a tote. Travel is both a necessity and a luxury. And finally, Sunday dinners are really important, because I so miss spending time with my family.
The difficult lesson I learned was about myself and my limitations. I put the masks on everyone else, then make one out of scraps for myself. And that’s how I started in March; figure out how to address the issues, make a plan and implement it. But the issues just kept coming, from all directions and I couldn’t do it. I was at a loss on how to help my family, my clients, my coworkers and myself.
I had to admit that there was no system, process, conversation, or coalition that was going to work. Sometimes, it just had to be good enough. I had to do the best I could every day and be proud of it. I had to stop internalizing every problem. And now, I am getting better at it.
I understand I have limitations and am going to focus on accepting them in 2021, likely with a glass of wine, a Hallmark movie and a sympathetic ear.
Hayley Flynn, Human Resources
2020 was a year of transformation. A year of pivoting from the known and comfortable to finding new and creative ways to accomplish things. It brought out the worst in people and it brought out the best in people. Most importantly it inspired growth, growth as an individual, growth within my organization and growth in the United States.
As an HR professional, it’s embedded in my nature to stay open-minded to different communication styles and opinions. I believe this skillset helped me while navigating through the rollercoaster of 2020, but I also found myself pushing the boundaries even further. Engaging in difficult yet respectful conversations. Taking the time to truly listen and educate myself.
Realizing that everyone sees the world through a different lens and the individuals at Fuseideas are no exception. Despite our natural differences, we continue to grow as a collaborative team by embracing, celebrating and challenging each other through effective communication. I hope 2021 brings more of this forward momentum.
Julia Matherly, Designer
2020 wasn't the year I imagined it would be. Instead, it was a year where I learned to adapt and be more comfortable with change. In just hours, here at Fuseideas clients switched priorities and we had to work in ways we weren't used to. My team got better at communicating and understanding one another. We became more open and collaborative even from different locations. This year has really taught me how to be a better creative and team member.
Kevin Redmond, Chief Creative Strategist
I think that having a common, existential threat has helped us all gain a new and more empathetic perspective. We are all working from home, with kids in the background and bad Wi-Fi. We all needed to find new ways to collaborate and get our jobs done. We are all doing our best. We are all stressed, anxious, and human.
A recent quote has been circulating on Twitter that hit home: “We all need more right now than anyone can give.”
I try to remind myself of that sentiment throughout the day. That we all need to be a little more empathetic with each other, to listen to different perspectives and be thankful for what we have.
This conversation and article was born from a discussion among a group of people with differing opinions, backgrounds, skill sets, and experience. In a stressful time, where emotions were high, we came together as a company to vow to use learning from the recent past to BE BETTER. I hope our country can follow this same path.