Every year at Avocet, we choose one word designed to inspire and guide our team. In 2021 that word was curiosity. We choose it because we believe that inquisitive minds drive creative output.
I especially love this word because being a life-long learner is one of the ways I define myself. A thirst to know more, learn more, to always ask, “why is that?” and “how does that work?” are also qualities that the entire Avocet team possesses and brings to the table every day. Curiosity grounds how we approach every strategy we deploy for our clients and how we embrace the bold and brave mindset that defines the agency’s brand. We believe that curiosity leads to innovation and that it is ultimately what enables us to drive campaigns and come up with new ways to help our clients think about their customers and grow their businesses.
Being curious is what bonds us all, as individuals, as a team, and as a community. Which is why it was easy to pick the word for 2022. It is CONNECTED. And in a time when all of us feel disconnected in very fundamental and deep ways, I am passionate about this word and all its meanings: unity, togetherness, relationships.
To put it mildly, over the last two years, connecting with each other has become more challenging. Families everywhere are missing weddings and birthdays, children aren’t having the usual at-school experience where they can learn, play, and grow alongside their friends. Going to reunions or big events is a thing of the past. Moreover, in businesses across the globe, teams are working remotely, drastically changing group dynamics and our workplace cultures. Client interactions — and meetings in general — are seldom in-person but instead conducted over Zoom or Google Meet. The numbers are staggering: In April 2020, Zoom announced the milestone of 300 million daily meeting participants; as the pandemic spread, Google Meet added roughly three million new users each day.
Those numbers tell me one thing: we are all struggling with a deep desire to BE with people, to look into each other’s eyes, and to truly relate, human to human, even if over a screen. We want to have family gatherings; we want to have exciting brainstorms with our clients in the conference room. We want to be connected. And it’s more than just about keeping up businesses afloat. Zoom’s and Google Meet’s numbers weren’t just business meetings; they were families celebrating milestones from miles away, virtual visits with friends and family we hadn’t seen in months, holidays on a laptop.
So, as we start a new year, and approach Year Three of COVID, I am aware that in certain ways that things feel a bit the same as they did in 2021 and even in 2020. We are not immune to these challenges at Avocet, of course, and I know I sorely miss interacting with my team and our clients like we used to. But I am also aware of the opportunity to shift toward something better.
We are choosing to be curious and ask, “What are some creative ways to stay connected?”
One way is that we are very consciously adapting and looking for ways to connect, things such as making efforts to…
- be intentional in our desire to connect, in whatever way that presents itself,
- do something every day that matters and that improves our world,
- innovate and be flexible,
- embrace a positive outlook,
- commit to safe personal interactions when and how we can, and
- reach out to people outside of our inner circle.
Of course, we strictly follow all state and county health mandates and practice the protocols that keep us all safe and healthy. As the pandemic has moved through its various phases, we have adapted and come up with safe but engaging ways to stay connected. Early on we established regular “happy hours” over zoom on Friday afternoons. We still celebrate birthdays in person if possible and remotely if need be. We reconfigured our “bullpen” to be more open and socially distanced so we can sometimes have client meetings in the office. We established twice-daily tag ups so that we can have face time with our team members who work remotely.
Our commitment to being connected expands beyond our team and the work we do. Being connected to our community is what grounds us as an agency. We have always invested between $75K to $100K annually in staff time and cash donations to local and national organizations such as local schools and to St. Jude’s hospital. This is a different kind of connection, of course, but still, one that touches the heart and reminds us of what it is to be human.
As the New Year marches forward, and as global concerns still impact our lives, I and the entire Avocet team pledge to continue to find ways to reach out and connect with each other, our clients, and our community. We are glad to have you along for the ride!