When we wake tomorrow, it will be a new day and a new year. Although most things won't change overnight, I'm optimistic for a kick-ass year ahead. All those celebrations we've put on hold are going to happen at some point, and we'll appreciate them in a new way. Projects stalled due to uncertainty will move forward, full-steam ahead, hopefully making up for the lost time. Perhaps most importantly, the lessons we've learned over the last year will forever positively impact us, reminding us of how resilient and creative we can be when facing challenges entirely out of our control.
Having been in business for 15 years, Blend has survived through some pretty shitty years, pardon my French. In hindsight, I'm incredibly grateful for them. During those painful periods, we made big, hard decisions that have shaped us into who we are today. Leadership changes, partner buyouts, team transitions, and financial sacrifices that we experienced have taught us the lessons needed to get through a year like 2020. This year is no different. I have no doubt this year's hurdles will prepare us for the next challenge lurking right around the corner, that will come.
Amidst the shortest longest year ever we call 2020, we've had so much to celebrate. I'm choosing to focus on the positive things, of which there are plenty. It felt a bit out of place to celebrate at the time, but that doesn't mean the positive things don't deserve their spotlight. As others celebrate their "best nine" on Instagram, based solely on the number of likes, I've come up with the top nine things that I like and that I believe deserve recognition as we look back on 2020 at Blend.
1) We celebrated Blend's 15th anniversary, albeit under the radar since it was March 15th, and we were all too busy moving to a remote company, and celebrating just felt wrong. We'll make that up next year! Mexico, or bust!
3) We introduced Blend's Education Exchange Program (BEEP), our first mentoring program that pairs our team members with people eager to learn from the best.
4) Blend's Little Internship Program (BLIP) had another successful year, hiring Connor Engberg as our summer intern! I'm so thankful we could continue this program, and not give up on our goals to give back through thought leadership.
5) We are incredibly thankful to have been awarded a PPP loan covering four pay periods for our business. We're even more grateful that the loan was forgiven! We all remained employed with no salary adjustments during that period, and we are so thankful for those funds. Big ups to AB&T!
6) Our company culture makes us unique, and moving fully remote meant re-inventing how we can connect as a team and mix a little fun into our work. We introduced Blend Bingo, the 12 Days of Christmas Countdown, and Fun Fridays, where we get together to play games, and have tried many more things. Family Feud and Fibbage have been company favorites, and the competition is fierce. Let's not talk about the candy corn "like it/hate it" debate.
7) We officially launched Episerver Coaching & Co-Development. We are excited to help Episerver customers get the most out of their implementations, with a warm hand to hold along the way. Oh wait, elbow bump.
8) Oh, hey, did I mention we moved our entire company remote in a matter of days? Friday: pack up your things, Monday: Hello, Zoom! It's uncanny that we'd just replaced our phone system with Zoom in February and started a Wednesday morning company meeting utilizing Zoom Rooms to bridge the gap between our full-time remote employees and those of us still in the office. Little did we know how important those decisions would become. We certainly all know what it's like to be a remote employee at Blend now!
9) Last but not least, Blend changed for the better in 2020. There is no doubt we've learned so many things about our business, working together, and adjusting quickly. We have trust in our team that they are accountable for their work, and with that comes newfound flexibility in our workdays. We're small enough to make adjustments quickly, make change happen, and have faith that we have the right people on the bus to get us to the next stop.
Until the next speedbump. Onward!