Uncovering the Good in a Challenging Year

No one imagined just how much COVID-19 would change the course of the year. With the holiday giving season getting into full swing it’s a good time to recognize how we’ve been able to survive and think about what we’re grateful for. 

Here, Cathy shares what she’s thankful for in 2020 from the ability to work from home to technology and the industry in general.

How We All Survived and Thrived 2020

Back in January when I wrote this column, I said others were calling 2020 the year of “perfect vision.” We thought the biggest challenges we faced were changes in card brand regulations. No one imagined just how much COVID-19 would change the course of the year. With Thanksgiving this month, I challenged myself to find the good and what I am grateful for in a year that has been difficult for so many. I feel everyone can agree that our abilities to adapt to difficult times have been challenged to the max. We’ve overcome so many challenges and, in some cases, have actually been able to thrive.  From working from home to our industry in general, here’s what I’m thankful for in 2020: 

Personal Perseverance 

I’m so thankful I’ve been able to observe how much my family has grown. I’ve watched my children adapt to online school and now morph back into in-person learning, wearing masks and being socially distanced from their classmates. This year, my oldest son ended his senior year of high school virtually and now moved to college. He’s still doing online learning but he’s living on his own and has found a way to enjoy all the fun stuff of college- just in a new way. He rushed a fraternity virtually, wears his mask around campus, and has developed a nice network of new friends.  He’s even managed to survive COVID. Thankfully the university had great protocols in place and moved him to a special dorm where he was isolated for ten days. We were lucky his symptoms were minor; he only suffered a fever for a day or two. He continued to study while in isolation and was able to get back to his buddies once he tested negative. He really didn’t miss a beat.   

Even my children’s sports coaches were able to adapt and comply with COVID regulations. By May, my children were back at the team sports they love with some modifications of course. For example, the baseball coach could only have ten players on an open field and all the boys had to wear neck guards. My daughter’s swim coach was able to get the kids back in the pool twelve at a time, socially distanced.  My husband, who typically had the whole house to himself got used to having us home 24/7 and he survived! Living in Florida, we’re now all back to work and school and my husband has his space back too. Our furry friends really enjoyed having us all home, especially my dog Cooper who loved our three walks a day and sitting by my feet while I worked. My kids and husband reported Cooper was depressed on my first day back to the office. They don’t call them loyal companions for nothing.  

Computer Connections

At the office I watched the Segpay team adapt to working virtually in mid-March. The company stayed on track connecting via Teams and check-in calls throughout the day. To return to the office safely we made several modifications. Following local guidelines, we spaced teammates twelve feet apart, added clear plexiglass to our cubical areas, added new air filtration cleaning systems, hired full-time cleaning personnel, provided temperature check stations, and much more. By June, staff not considered high-risk, came back easily adapting to our new office environment. We now have monthly zoom birthday parties and instead of sharing cake, they get their own cupcake.  As a company, we decided it was a good time to add to our team taking advantage of talent looking for work during COVID. We hired five new employees and almost all of them came from a non-payments industry. They’ve been able to adapt and learn a new business while allowing us to learn from their outside experiences. Our company team building has evolved too, every other Friday we gather for a zoom Kahoot tournament, something I completely stink at (any tips?). We’re already working on plans in the New Year to keep everyone focused on health and hoping to come together with a company run/walk mid-year.  

Industry Innovations

Most years I’ve traveled two to three times a month but this year, I haven’t stepped on a plane since last March.  Meeting clients, acquirers and other business partners are all virtual. I’m thankful for the variety of online meeting tools available and have used them all from Teams to Zoom. They’ve really allowed us to continue to grow our business and service our clients’ needs while also managing annual audits with our acquirers. Virtual meetings make it possible to have consistent face-to-face calls with clients and partners, some of which spurred from our time in lockdown. It’s amazing but more business is being conducted and more goals are being accomplished through these regular calls.  

Industry conferences have also moved online allowing us and everyone else to still participate in what we usually traveled to. The virtual conferences even make it possible for team members who wouldn’t normally get to attend a “travel conference” to participate. As an industry, I’m proud we were able to unite with the leadership of the FSC, creating a fund for performers to access monetary help during the production shut down. The FSC and other industry professionals worked diligently to develop production policies that addressed COVID so performers could work safely again. The period also spurred the growth of the FAN, Cam, and Clip programs as performers branched out to new platforms to make a living. Program owners did their part too, focusing on conducting content trades and tapped into amateur content to help keep their programs fresh during COVID.  

2020, what a year to remember, and what a year that has united us all. Without everyone working together we wouldn’t have been able to agree to follow protocols.  These procedures are helping to keep each other safe and get everyone back to business as best we can.  No one can predict what’s ahead but at least we know when times are tough, we can pull together.  That, we can all be thankful for.

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