From the Office…

What’s happening now?

As I start to write this column, I’ve looked back and decided that a whole lot of nothing has changed in the last month.  Yet, everything has changed.  It’s like the famous quote by Charles Dickens in the Tale of Two Cities, written in 1859:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

How incredible that Charles wrote this 161 years ago and we are literally living it today!

Typically, Vickie and I are cruising in the office taking care of the day-to-day duties, talking, double checking that we are on the same page and making sure we are pre-planning conferences, making calls to papers, selling ads and having conference calls with our sub-committees and MFCP board.

All that has changed…

I walked into our office last week and it felt like I was in a time-warp. Sitting on my desk, was a folder with the AFCP Conference info. that was to be held in April and cancelled.  My registration, my flight, the conference agenda with pen circles around the sessions that I was looking forward to attending. Plus, photos of the great hotel in Orlando where I would be staying.

It was spooky…

It felt like someone died. My desk calendar was there with March on the top, clean dishes in the sink, old lanyards from our past MFCP conference piled in the corner, the planning schedule for our summer Managers Summit in Okoboji, and the list goes on and on.   An overwhelming sadness came over me… I was sad about having to work from home, having to talk with Vickie over the phone and I was mostly sad about missing a cohesive working environment, even though there are just two of us in the office.

I’m thinking that our publishers are feeling the same way.

As we try to strategize our “new norm,” I miss the “old norm” and realize it may never be the same again.  We will strive to have a re-entrance plan but the days of handshakes and may be even working in an office together, side by side…may be a thing of the past. How sad. I hate being sad.

If you’ve known me for a long time, one of my favorite sayings is: ”Come on, Kel…Pick up your sorry @#$ by the boot straps and deal with this. Keep positive, as this too shall pass.”  When I think about that statement, I think that the most positive thing that has come out of this pandemic is our weekly MFCP COVID-19 Conference Calls…they are every Friday at 10am, and started when our world started changing.  If you have not logged onto to one of these…Man, I am just going to say, you are really missing out!  The brain power between all of these publishers is AMAZING! There are revenue ideas just popping out of the woodwork. Ideas include pages of games, word search puzzles, 2020 Salute to Graduate ideas and pages thanking farmers, health workers and the food workers. No kidding…Land-o-Lakes purchased a double truck with color, listing the first names of all their employees, thanking them for working the front lines of the food industry! (Thank you to Joyce for sharing!)

Would that have happened in the old days?  A double truck with just names?  No graphics, no fanfare, just names in 200 pt. type?  No way… And what about the idea of Senior Grad yard signs?  Or how about the Payroll Protection Plan and navigating through that together?  Or a grant program, that helps our businesses advertise with us? Or the idea for a removable plexiglass in our lobbies to protect our office staff? Believe it or not, all of the above have been either emailed or talked about on our weekly Zoom calls.

I have never seen so much support and cohesiveness…and if I really think about it, was COVID-19 a blessing in disguise for all of us? Not only family time, but appreciation for what we had and the drive to go back to how things were…plus it challenged our creative juices to start flowing again!

Let’s fast forward, 20 years.

I cannot wait to tell my grandson how he was born in the midst of a world-wide pandemic…that taught the world how to think again. It will be a proud moment for me.

Stay Safe. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.