A word from a CEO #89

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Reflections on 2020

Hi all –

I was set to send this note last week and then I paused. Because reflecting on 2020 was no longer top of mind. What was top of mind for me was the health and well-being of my employees and the future of our country.

Last week left me concerned and disappointed.

We thought 2021 was going to be different.

And while I am still optimistic for what this year holds, watching the events of last week unfold left me speechless. If you’ve followed my journey, you know that I have realized my own version of the American Dream. And I am working every day to make that a reality for other people of color. We all thought 2021 was going to be different and it’s disappointing that so far it’s not. We need it to be different. And in spite of everything, I’m hopeful for the weeks and months ahead.

But we can’t move forward without looking back. So I wanted to take this time to share a letter I sent to my team at the end of December in the hopes that it will offer you some inspiration as you look ahead to 2021.

What 2020 lessons will you take with you into the new year? Let me know by replying to this email or text me at +1-212-380-1036.

I’ve used a few phrases and terms over and over during this past year: “Now more than ever,” “wartime,” “unprecedented,” “uncertain times.” But they were all worth repeating. And here’s another.

This year was hard. Really, really hard.

But I’m proud to say that we’ve come out stronger than ever.

On March 10th, we closed the office and hung a sign outside the Boston door saying that we would be closed “for the remainder of the week.” None of us had any idea that nine months later, those doors would still be closed – and that remote work would be our “new normal.”

We had no idea that in the turn of just a few weeks we would have to rethink how we worked, sold and interacted. That we would onboard over 100 new Drifters – entirely virtually.

It’s required a whole new kind of leadership and style of work for all of us. One that emphasizes outcomes over hours in the office. One that relies on asynchronous communication even more than we have in the past. One that brings empathy – for our teammates and our customers – to the forefront.

And I am amazed at all we have accomplished over this past year.

We had three major product launches, created a brand new category (again!), we’re almost 400 Drifters strong (and growing), and so much more.

As we enter 2021, we’ll need to think about how we’ll reach our next set of milestones. How we’ll continue to put our customers first, differentiate ourselves and stay ahead of our competition. All while creating a place we all want to (virtually) be every day.

I will share more with you in the coming weeks, but for now, I just want to say THANK YOU.

Thank you to the parents who have been doing double duty working and caring for your kids, those dealing with other obligations at home, and thank you all for your perseverance and dedication to the team and this company. It’s truly #notnormal.

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