Coming out of 2020, it’s easy to say that we all had pretty high expectations for 2021. It had to be better, right? Now, at the close of 2021, how did it all pan out? We asked Listen leadership to weigh in with their thoughts about this mixed bag of a year and here’s what they had to say.
Maile Keone, Chief Executive Officer and President
One of the biggest challenges of 2021 was the yo-yo of recovery. We went from highs and lows, and it was challenging to know the trajectory of recovery and manage toward it. Listen’s biggest win was growth and profitability. Through a lot of hard work and sacrifices, we were able to manage the business. It was also a win to watch people step up in various roles and really assist in so many ways.
This year has changed many of my perspectives. It changed what I considered was a “normal” recovery (because there really isn’t such a thing) and how we manage through stress and hardship. This past year underscored the importance of perseverance, hard work, and grit. I’m excited about what’s next, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Each experience teaches us. Each is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Keldon Paxman, Chief Financial Officer
We can do hard things. We can work through all sorts of challenges. Perseverance is the word that sums up 2021. Plowing through all the obstacles in 2021 was a big win. When we work together to attack opportunities, the results are favorably magnified.
Balance was also key for 2021. We need to find ways to balance our lives better. We need to keep moving forward. We need to enjoy life more.
Positive expectancy helped me survive the challenges of 2021. When we focus on the desired end results, our productivity and health are better.
Kim Franklin, Vice President of Marketing
As a marketing team, 2021 was full of pivots and shifts in both strategy and execution. Looking back, we knew a lot of things had to fall into place for us in 2021 to continue to support our partners and customers under very uncertain times. I am proud of the way we pulled together to build a new website and execute our digital marketing plan, as well as the team we now have in place. If I had to summarize 2021 in one word it would be “optimize”, we took a lot of disconnected processes and activities and pulled them all together to create a better ecosystem. I am excited for 2022 and beyond, and for the opportunity to help our customers succeed and provide more inclusive experiences globally.
Ryan Paxman, Director of Operations
I would say that shipping was one of the biggest challenges of 2021. Both the transit times and the cost of shipping approximately tripled in the second half of the year and that was frustrating. But the fact that we were able to maintain nearly continuous availability of all Listen products, even with the tandem issues of transit delays and parts shortages in production, was a great win in 2021.
Kevin Jewkes, Director of Strategic Growth
The biggest challenge of 2021 was finding the right balance for the excitement of people working together in person and keeping everyone safe. In 2020, the guidelines on how to keep people safe were clear because everything was restricted. This past year, as things opened up, it was a challenge to determine the right speed and pace of getting back together face-to-face, while keeping people safe. Listen found that balance and compromise – acknowledging people have different comfort levels – was the key to our success.
The biggest win of 2021has been continuing to move the business, and more importantly, our people, forward. We now have hybrid working models for employees to work remotely and are finding a balance that works to keep everyone engaged. I think at Listen we have found a great balance for our staff where people feel safe, comfortable, and supported, and that has increased trust among our team and fostered greater productivity and creativity.
The past year has helped me focus more on each and every day, realizing we can only control what’s immediately in front of us. We can plan for the future, but we barely know what will happen next week, let alone next month/months/year.
Jonathan Stanley, Chief Experience Officer
When I look back on 2021, gratitude is one of the most important reminders. In the past, it’s been a moment, an occasion, or reflection that led me to feel grateful. Now I strive to acknowledge and appreciate the value people provide in small acts of kindness. It’s in my everyday life I find gratitude at the check-out counter in the grocery store, for the waiter in a restaurant, the flight attendant on a flight, or my wife for a simple gesture of affection – holding my hand. I don’t take these small ordinary moments for granted anymore. Instead, I think about gratitude every morning and how lucky I am for the disappointments, the challenges, and the joy and successes. I am learning all the time, striving to be a better version of myself.
I am not a country music fan. But it affected me when my wife introduced me to Tim McGraw’s song, Humble and Kind, early in 2021. His message is a simple one. The more we “hold the door, say please and say thank you, and help the next one in line,” we’ll lead more fulfilling lives.
In Reflection and Gratitude
It’s been a year of uncertainties and some challenges, but also one of great hope and renewal, a coming into our own personally and professionally through reflection and prioritization of what really matters. With gratitude for our people, partners, and customers, we wish 2021 farewell and look forward to 2022. From all of us at Listen Technologies, thank you. We wish you a very happy holiday season and a healthy, prosperous new year.