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You made it to the finish line! This epic year, 2020, is nearing an end. It has been a year filled with challenges; loss of jobs, struggling mental health, and for many the unfortunate loss loved ones. No doubt this year will be historic and a critical moment for your growth both professionally and personally.

I am hopeful for the year to come! Vaccines are being distributed. The stock markets are staying strong. I can all but promise that 2021 will be a much, much, much better year for most of us.

This year has been the third crazy year in my career.

My career started in 1996 after I graduated from Indiana University. These early years coincided with the economic boom of the “dot com” era. From 1996 to 2001 things were great. Jobs were prevalent. My career grew quickly. Things seemed “easy” and I didn’t know any different.

Then came the tragic events of September 11, 2001 which created economic uncertainty and ultimately resulted in the “dot bomb.” The tech industry collapsed. Internet startups were failing left and right. My creative director position at Fox Studios became uncertain as I watched my coworkers get laid off in mass. The time was emotionally challenging, to say the least.

The picture above is a closet full of workstations from my coworkers who were laid off at Fox during 2001 and 2002.

What result did the challenging year have on my career? In 2002, with an absence of job opportunities, I began freelancing out of fear and necessity. My freelance business grew into my agency. My agency, Riser, enjoyed an epic 13 year run serving an amazing list of clients including Disney, Google, ABC, NBC, Fox and many others. I sold my agency in 2015 after an epic 13 year run.

The picture above is the main production area at my agency studio space.

If the challenging year of 2001 had not happened, I never would have started an agency. The challenges led me to a better path.

Following the “dot bomb” era and prior to the challenges of 2020 I experienced another challenging year. In 2008 and early 2009 the global economic recession had a disastrous impact on my agency. 2008 was a record year. 2009 yielded record low profit, layoffs, and half the revenue I billed in 2008. This challenging time resulted in multiple pivots for my agency, an expansion of services, and a firm understanding of a better market position. What result did it have? In 2013, my agency was listed on the Inc. 5000 as one of the fast growing privately owned businesses in the the United States. We survived the challenge and thrived in the future.

If the challenging years of 2008 and 2009 had not happened, I never would have refocused my agency. The challenges led me to a better path.

Now that 2020 is wrapping up and 2021 shows so much promise and hope, I ask you…

  • What will the challenges of 2020 lead to in your life?
  • Learn from the challenging year.
  • Pivot where you need to.
  • Enjoy the bright future ahead. Better things are coming to you.
Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.