Finding Gratitude in 2020

2020 has been one for the books. Very few people have been entirely unaffected by the events in our world over recent months. Notwithstanding, there have been some lessons learned this year, and just like any training, it is important to debrief what we can take away from this year.

This week on the Train Like You Listen podcast, the entire Endurance Learning team calls in for a special Thanksgiving podcast. We all take some time to reflect on how this year has affected us, what we have learned, and find some gratitude in what we have.

Transcript of the Conversation with the Endurance Learning team

Brian Washburn: Welcome, everyone, to a very special edition of Train Like You Listen, a weekly podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks…brought to you by Soapbox, the world’s only rapid development tool for instructor-led training. We are here today with our team from Endurance Learning.  We’re going to be talking a little bit about what 2020 has meant to us and lessons we’ve learned this year.  So we’re here with the entire team.  We’re here with Heather Snyder, Lauren Wescott, Rachel Niles and Tim Waxenfelter. 

6-Word Introduction

Brian Washburn: And before we get started, as we always do, we love to have people introduce themselves with 6-word stories that– then for today’s topic we’re going to talk about 6-word stories that could sum up the year 2020 for each of us. So, for me, in the year 2020 the story that represents this year for me is that “everyone went virtual…more family time”. And how about you, Heather?  Why don’t we start with you.  What’s your 6-word story for 2020?

Heather Snyder: “I have a sweet mask collection.”

Brian Washburn:  (LAUGHTER) That’s pretty awesome.  You would not have been able to say that in January. How about you, Lauren?

Heather Snyder:  I never thought this would happen…but I have a good one.

Brian Washburn:  How about you, Lauren?  6-word story for 2020.

Lauren Wescott:  “Nothing changed except buying toilet paper.”

Brian Washburn:  Mmmmm.  That is true.  How about you, Rachel?

Rachel Niles: “Haven’t been home alone since March.”

Brian Washburn:  (LAUGHTER) And, Tim, why don’t you round us out with your 6-word story?

Tim Waxenfelter:  “Office Classroom Dinner Table All Together.”

Brian Washburn:  I think that works. (LAUGHTER)  We were just talking about how some people take liberties with our 6-word stories.  But I think that we were all able to do it. Now 2020–

Tim Waxenfelter:  And, Heather– I will say Heather inspired me because my second version is “I know what a gaiter is.”

Brian Washburn:  Oh. Yeah. I had no idea what it was and then I got one and then all of a sudden the news reports came out that said they’re worse than wearing nothing, so–. I don’t know if it’s a good thing that I know what a gaiter is.

Your Biggest Professional Challenge of 2020

Brian Washburn: Now 2020 has been a very interesting year, a very different year, I think for anybody.  Both for us and for people who are listening.  And what we wanted to do here was just to have an opportunity as a team to reflect on some of the lessons that we’ve learned over the past year.  And I’m just going to start by going around and asking folks, you know, what has been the biggest professional challenge they’ve faced, either individually or as part of this team over this past year?  And we’ll go ahead and we’ll let Heather kick this one off.

Heather Snyder: I think the biggest challenge for me has been not traveling. I didn’t do a ton of traveling before but I do have some projects that work much better in person.  Also, not being able to visit with the teammates, having our typical off-site retreat that we do every year.  It’s fine to do things over Zoom, but it’s nice to do things in person.

Brian Washburn: What– have you found anything that has been helpful, Heather, as you’re thinking about the fact that we can’t travel and I think that this is a really interesting one because I think that a lot of people have run into this.  And we’ve had to find different ways to work around it.

Heather Snyder: We’ve shifted a lot to working meetings, as opposed to just status check-ins, where we’re doing things on the meeting and not leaving with action items.  And I’ve found that to be probably the most productive way to combat that whole not-being-able-to-be-in-person.

Brian Washburn:  Yeah. How about you, Tim?  What has been one of the biggest professional challenges for you this year?

Tim Waxenfelter: It’s funny because it’s not related to COVID.  It is– my 2020– my one-word resolution was about “Quality” and this year’s been a real challenge to kind of find a balance between the work of our team, internally, the quality has gone up dramatically. And everyone has contributed to that and figuring out how to bring on partners outside of our team to also ensure that same quality.  So as many challenges as there are around COVID, I feel like this one was going to happen no matter what happened this year.

Brian Washburn: That’s a really good point. How about you, Rachel? What have you found to be one of your biggest challenges this year?

Rachel Niles: I think when you work from home and when you know that everybody is working from home it’s really hard to #1) stop working.  There’s like– you forget that there’s “work time” and there’s “home time”.  And so for myself it’s been hard to, kind of, put those boundaries, but it’s also hard to think of other people in terms of those boundaries. And I’ve heard horror stories from teachers of people, you know, students being like “Can you meet at 9:30 on Saturday night to go over that thing?” People forget that it’s one thing now.

Brian Washburn:  Have you found that there’s anything that’s been helpful for you when it comes to putting some boundaries and structure in place?

Rachel Niles:  No. I’m actually really poor at it and I think that just trying to be mindful of it, continuing to try to be mindful of it.

Brian Washburn: That’s actually a really good question. Has anybody on the team found something that’s been helpful for them to put some structure in place to divide between “work time” and “home time”?

Tim Waxenfelter:  Yeah, the only way I can do it is to not be near a computer. If I have my phone, or the computer, then I’m going to connect in some way. So the only– I have to do something that just completely separates and be ok with the fact that I’m not going to get text messages or phone calls.

Lauren Wescott:  In our house, my husband works virtually, I work virtually. We have two kids that are not in school and so we have to schedule everything. We have to– we have a calendar with both of our meetings, because we can’t both be on a meeting at the same time with kids. And we schedule workouts. We schedule family time. We schedule work blocks. We have to schedule everything, otherwise it just all runs together and we spend 20 hours a day working or 2 hours a day working and it just does not work. So we have just been scheduling to try and create some normalcy in our household.

Brian Washburn:  The family calendar. So it sounds like you’ve been able to overcome that, but what’s been the biggest challenge that you’ve had so far this year?

Lauren Wescott: You know, I feel bad, but I said nothing. Just because nothing really changed in our house.  We don’t have kids in school. We were both working from home anyways. Business has been, kind of, thriving…everybody wanting things done virtually.  So everything has just been, kind of, cruising for us. And I think we’re definitely the oddity there. We feel kind of guilty in some ways. 2020 hasn’t been awful.

Biggest Professional Lesson Learned in 2020

Brian Washburn: I’m glad that you frame it that way because I think it’s been a year when we’ve been able to learn some things too. And i’m just kind of curious and I want to go around the team again and ask: What has been the biggest professional lesson you have been able to learn over the past year? I’ll start with Heather with this one.

Heather Snyder: The biggest professional lesson I learned this year is that organization isn’t static.  And this kind of goes back to what Tim was saying earlier with “Quality” and what Lauren was saying about calendars and scheduling everything. We’ve had a very busy year at Endurance Learning and now I have kids home remote learning.  Keeping things moving, personally and professionally, requires every single day that I sit down and organize for at least an hour.

Brian Washburn:  And, Lauren, you mentioned that you didn’t find things to be that different when it comes to challenges, has there been anything that you have really learned in this year of everything virtual?

Lauren Wescott: I think it’s just been an expansion on the virtual space, to be honest. We have found ourselves in Webex meetings and GoToTraining meetings and all of these different virtual platforms. Everything is virtual conferences.  So it’s been a big learning opportunity to just dive into all of these different methodologies, to learn them, to find favorites, to find new tools…just an expansion on the virtual space, in general.

Brian Washburn:  And just kind of a shameless plug for anybody who’s listening and is curious about all of the different platforms…Lauren has spent the vast majority of this year developing quick-reference guides for most of the popular online platforms, so Zoom, Webex, AdobeConnect, Microsoft Teams. So if you wanted to know a little bit more about that check out our Train Like a Champion blog for that. Rachel, how about you?

Rachel Niles: My lesson has probably nothing to do with COVID but I’m the newest member of the Endurance Learning team. I think this year I’ve just learned to be patient with myself but also– because I’m new to this field– I have a background in film production and school administration. I’m learning new things and just to be patient with myself, but also to remember not to be afraid to speak up and have opinions. Every time I’ve had something to say, or had an idea to share in any given situation, instead of being afraid that I don’t know what I’m talking about– if I bring up a new idea or an opinion, it’s always been well received.  Just because I’m new to the learning & development field doesn’t mean that I don’t have a lot of skills that are transferable to this particular work that you guys are doing.

What Are You Thankful For In 2020?

Brian Washburn: I think that’s well said.  2020 is a year that I think a lot of people are excited to see end. However, it hasn’t been all bad. A few weeks ago I did a blog post about 45 things that I’m thankful for from this year. And I’m kind of curious for some of you, what is something that you’re thankful for this year? I’m going to go to Lauren.

Lauren Wescott:  I think this year has just put an exclamation point on the fact that I’m really thankful that I have a job with such flexibility. Our team is all over the nation and so I can work at 6:00 in the morning. I can work at midnight. I can work 2:00 in the afternoon. And for the most part it doesn’t really matter that much. And we– in our household, I would not be able to work probably at all if I didn’t have a job with that level of flexibility. So I’m just really thankful for that, especially this year.

Brian Washburn: The idea of being able to work virtually has really hit home, literally, for a lot of people. And hopefully others are finding that flexibility as well.  How about, Rachel, is there something that you have been thankful for this year?

Rachel Niles: Something silly, but you know, it matters, is I don’t spend half my day in the car driving my kids around. We’re all in the same place, so that’s been kind of nice.

Brain Washburn: I’m right there with you. The morning routine, the afternoon routine, trying to squeeze work in between that. Absolutely. How about Heather?

Heather Snyder: Staying busy. I know a lot of people have been bored or taking up new hobbies during quarantine. I am fortunate enough to have not been bored, even one day, during this whole COVID experience. I have family at home and they keep me very busy. This work keeps me very busy. Also I get– I live in Montana. I get to enjoy the great outdoors and I have a fixer-upper home that keeps me busy doing projects on the weekends.

Brian Washburn: I think it’s good to be busy. Alright, so– how about Tim? Is there anything you’re thankful for from the year 2020?

Tim Waxenfelter: Yeah, absolutely. With having the family home more we definitely can get on each other’s nerves more. But the nice thing has been that they’ve forced us to get outside and hike, and play basketball. And we could have been doing those same things any other year, but we wouldn’t. Because the schedule would be too full. But now we can block off time in the afternoon. So I’ve spent so much more time hiking through the parks in our city that I would have never done before.

Brian Washburn: I love the idea that it is– it has been a different year, but there are still things to be thankful for.

Get To Know the Endurance Learning Team

Brian Washburn: We’re going to wrap up our conversation here with a speed round to see how quickly people can come up with some answers that help us get to know you just a little bit more. And we’re going to start with Heather with this speed round question. What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

Heather Snyder: Scalloped potatoes.

Brian Washburn: How about Rachel?

Rachel Niles: Similar. It’s called “cheesy potatoes”. It’s got sour cream and potatoes and cheese and chives in it.

Brian Washburn: That sounds pretty delicious. How about you, Lauren?

Lauren Wescott: Stuffing is my absolute favorite.

Brian Washburn: And you, Tim?

Tim Waxenfelter: My grandma’s sweet potato casserole.

Brian Washburn: Oooooohhhh. I think we’re bordering on dessert which is my next question. I’ll start with you, Tim. How about– what is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?

Tim Waxenfelter: It’s a close tie between my grandma’s sweet potato casserole and my grandmother’s pumpkin pie.

Brian Washburn: Mmmmm.

Tim Waxenfelter: It’s all in the crust. Has nothing to do with the filling. It’s all about the good crust.

Brian Washburn: Rachel, when it comes to dessert what’s your favorite?

Rachel Niles: Pecan pie.

Brian Washburn: Mmmm. Lauren?

Lauren Wescott: Dessert is not worth it to me unless it’s chocolate. So anything chocolate would be my answer.

Brian Washburn: Do you have chocolate pie for Thanksgiving?

Lauren Wescott: I have before. Like a chocolate mousse pie, yes.

Brian Washburn: I like that.

Tim Waxenfelter: (LAUGHING)

Brian Washburn: Going off registry a little bit, I like it.  How about you, Heather?

Heather Snyder: I’m not really a dessert person and I sort of hate baking but I do have an amazing New York-style cheesecake recipe that I modify to make gluten-free. My whole family looks forward to it every year.

Brian Washburn: Thanksgiving is just the start to the holiday season. What is your favorite thing, Heather, about the holidays?

Heather Snyder: Movies! I love holiday movies.

Brian Washburn: Nice. How about you, Lauren?

Lauren Wescott: My kids are very little so everything is brand spanking new to them so just seeing their excitement and joy over just the little things is so fun.

Brian Washburn: Yeah, it’s a magical time. Tim?

Tim Waxenfelter: The combination of the traditions and nobody will let me work over the holidays. So if we have a holiday, I’m not allowed to work…which is the only time I take a break. (LAUGHING) It forces me to stay away from the computer.

Brian Washburn: Well, if you want somebody to let you work, I will let you work, Tim.

Tim Waxenfelter: Oh, thanks.

Brian Washburn: (LAUGHING) How about you, Rachel?  What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Rachel Niles: My kids are a little bit older, but similar to Lauren it’s just– just surprising my kids with something, just seeing them delight in something

Brian Washburn: It does. It seems like a magical time. So the last question that we’ll exit with here is if you had to make a New Year’s resolution for 2021 in only one word what would it be? We’ll start with Lauren.

Lauren Wescott: THRIVE.

Brian Washburn: Hmm. I like that one. Tim?

Tim Waxenfelter: I hate the one-word resolutions but I’ll say EXPAND.

Brian Washburn:  Expand. I can’t wait to hear more about that. Rachel?

Rachel Niles: CELEBRATION.

Brian Washburn: Nice. How about you, Heather?

Heather Washburn: RESOURCEFUL.

Brian Washburn: Resourceful. And that is a little bit of a teaser because a little bit later on this year you’ll find in our Train Like a Champion blog post a little bit more about each of those words. Thank you so much for listening to our special Thanksgiving edition of Train Like You Listen. You can find Train Like You Listen on any podcast platform, so Spotify, Apple, iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you like what you hear go ahead and give us a rating because that’s how people find out about us. And until next time happy training, everyone.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Soapbox.  Sign up today for a free demo.

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