Appreciating what got me through a challenging year and what will continue to fuel me in all the years to come
By Ken LeBlanc, President and CEO, PropertyGuys.com
Goodbye, 2020 – although some would probably disagree with me, it wasn’t all bad.
For context, I’m a glass half full type of guy who rarely lets things outside of my control negatively affect me. I’ve always accepted that you can’t change the past, but if you get your mind right, you sure as hell can shape your future.
2020 has been a different year for all of us. There’s no doubt that the global pandemic has affected each and every one of us in one way or another. So to wrap up the year and start 2021 on a positive note, I want to share with you the Top 5 things I’ve come to personally appreciate even more because of what I’ve learned in 2020.
Supporting our local community and businesses has never been more important – they make this home. In the past 10 months I’ve seen many local businesses helping families in need, I’ve seen our community rally and support local shop and restaurant owners, I’ve seen our community follow Covid 19 rules that have changed week by week and even day by day to ensure our safety. I’ve seen our leaders in both the public and private sector step up for the well being of our citizens. Because of that, I’ve always felt that we were in this together and as safe as possible in our interactions. The power of community was one of the most important takeaways for 2020 that will continue throughout 2021 and beyond.
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller
I know my business partners (Walter Melanson and Jeremy Demont) share this appreciation for our ability to adapt this past year. We have never been so proud of what our 22-year-old business has achieved this year. Our entire network of franchise owners, Master Franchisees, and Home Office team members truly stepped up in 2020. In a year that one could easily be paralyzed by the uncertainty that came with the pandemic, our team did the exact opposite. Here is a short list of just a few of our 2020 milestones:
- Our entire corporate team remained employed without any layoffs or reduction of hours, when needed they worked from home and kept production levels at an all-time high.
- We had a record number of nine new franchisee training sessions (PGU virtual classes).
- We added two new master franchises (Texas and Florida).
- We expanded globally into South Africa.
- Our rockstar Canadian franchisees took less than 2-weeks to pivot from face-to-face meetings, to virtual appointments and contact free listings – many were and still are the envy of their real estate competitors.
I want to officially go on the record here to also say how proud I am of our franchisees. We heard very little grumbling or blaming the changing health landscape for getting in their way in regards to operating their business. The vast majority of our owners all found new ways to prospect, market, and grow their business and did everything in their power to maintain market share. They are the true champions of change for PropertyGuys.com.
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth
In many ways, the pandemic has forced us all to slow down. As someone who usually has a full calendar both professionally and personally, I was forced to cut back on activities I never would have before. For example, having our local hockey arenas closed for a few months actually did me (or at least my hip) a huge favour. I’ve been making my way to the rink and playing hockey since I was 4 years old, but for the past few years that has been getting more and more challenging. I’m a competitive person and I often push my limits, so this ‘break’ where I had no other choice but to rest gave me much-needed time to heal and also helped me get the treatment I needed for some physical issues that I’d been putting off.
All this to say, having a little “downtime” from the rink and our collective enhanced focus on safe interactions made me appreciate my health and how important it is to take care of my mind and body. I think many of us realized how important every day movement (whatever way you can) is for our physical and mental health in 2020. I’m now eating healthier and hitting my home gym 5 days a week.. Looking out fellow beer-leaguers, I’ll be skating circles around you in 2021!
“A healthy man wants a thousand things, a sick man only wants one” – Naval Ravikant
I’m an introvert. I love alone time, am not one for small talk and nothing recharges my batteries more than an hour or two of isolation. However, 2020 was a real eye-opener for me when it comes to spending quality time with friends. Little things like enjoying a cold beer on a summer afternoon or attending a baseball game with a pal, a round of golf on a Saturday morning with the guys from the office, or just enjoying lunch with my business partners. There was a time not long before 2020 where I just assumed these options would always be there for me whenever I wanted. This has led to immense gratitude today for every lunch, cold beer, or any function I can attend with my friends. You never know when those options could be put on hold again so this quality time is truly appreciated by all. I don’t want to lose sight of how important these interactions are for our wellbeing.
“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” — Dr. Seuss
The people who are there for you no matter what. Whether they’re near, far, or in your household bubble, I think many people, myself included, found a new appreciation and gratitude for my family this year.
Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of material things, and yes there were times where we weren’t sure where or when our next meal was going to come, however, my parents gave my sister and I everything they could. The greatest gift they gave us by far was unconditional love, respect, and a work ethic that’s second to none.
Today, my family life is blessed with two beautiful, talented, and intelligent ladies, my wife and daughter; my sister, another successful entrepreneur in the family, and my best friend who just happens to be my dad. Not being able to celebrate birthdays or any other family gatherings was probably the most difficult thing to endure during our lockdown, I know many of you probably yearned for these moments of connection too. Little things like watching a hockey game with my dad, or having my sister over for a BBQ – aren’t just little things anymore. They are very big things to never be taken for granted.
If the pandemic taught me anything, it was the value of having these key people in my life and that no matter what was going on in the world around me, as long I had these pillars supporting me – everything would be ok.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
So again, goodbye, 2020… It’s been a year of learning and growth for myself, our team and many people we speak with daily. Focusing on what really matters and letting the rest go was a powerful takeaway from last year. Whether that’s in business, in your personal life, or in how you impact your community, I think we learned to appreciate and care even more for the world around us. I know I can’t change the past – but I’ll continue working on changing the future.
– Ken LeBlanc