Volume 100: How We Move Forward

When I started this e-newsletter in 2014, the intention was to connect with the industry. At the time, I figured my career recruiting for this industry over a few decades gave me a different perspective on the industry that might be helpful. I hoped the articles would be a good way to facilitate dialogue with the industry.  

As I look back, I think we’ve been fairly successful in this goal. We’ve delivered articles on company culture, diversity in the workplace, how to be successful in the interview process from both the employer and candidate perspectives, how to deal with conflict in the workplace, and many, many more topics.

Some of the newsletters have been very well received and have led to lively phone calls with industry personnel about various changes that could be made. Other newsletters have been met with angry emails and loud phone calls. I’ve been thrilled to get my teammates involved in the writing from time to time in an effort to present a different perspective. And our team has been very flattered to have many of our articles picked up by respected industry publications such as Corrugated Today, Board Converting News, and AICC’s Box Score. They even asked me to speak at CorrExpo a few years back, which was a great experience.  

This edition of the newsletter is our 100th newsletter, and I normally like to use these milestones to stop and thank everyone for helping produce, as well as read, this newsletter. I am grateful, of course.  

But I think it’s important that we take a moment and acknowledge that the world has changed quite a bit over the 2,380 days since Volume 1…  

Diplomatic ties have been restored between the US and Cuba. Star Wars started releasing movies again. #MeToo happened. We lost icons like Gene Wilder, Mary Tyler Moore, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Steven Hawking, Burt Reynolds, and many, many more.  

Apple became the first trillion-dollar American company, and Amazon has continued to grow. (The continued growth of Amazon and e-commerce has obviously been good for a lot of our industry; everything comes in a box!)  

American Pharaoh won the first Triple Crown since 1978. The Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years. The Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Cavaliers, Kansas City Royals, Washington Capitals, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros*, and St. Louis Blues each won their first ever championships in their respective sports. (My Director of Operations wouldn’t let this go out without acknowledging the sports aspect.)  

Too many lives to count have been lost tragically in senseless bombings, shootings, stabbings, and other acts of terror around the world. We’ve changed presidents and held contentious campaigns and elections. The internet, despite its many benefits, has helped grow the divide in this country more in the past decade than perhaps any other time in modern history. There have been protests, counter-protests, riots, and general unrest, both in this country and around the globe.  

That list is enough to fill a Billy Joel song and doesn’t even scratch the surface of the major events of the last six years.  

I haven’t mentioned COVID, yet.  

In 2020, COVID-19 has absolutely shaken the world. Earlier this year, most of the planet ground to a complete halt in an effort to slow the spread. Since then, the return to business has been slow. The impact on our economy and societal health, both physical and mental, has been staggering. A few weeks ago, a story came out that reports of severe anxiety and depression have tripled during the pandemic, and those are just the ones reporting.

COVID has changed how we work, how we go to the grocery store, how we exercise, how we attend (or don’t attend) sporting events or religious services, how we spend time with loved ones, and just about every other part of life.   We’re six months into this pandemic and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. This is our reality now. So, how do we move forward?  

I’m certainly not going to pretend to have all the answers, but one thing is abundantly clear: We have to do it together.

At some point, we stopped having meaningful debate and discussion in this country. Differing opinions suddenly meant cutting someone out of your life, instead of trying to understand their viewpoint and argue ideas. But this can’t work. Not everyone on the left is an [insert derogatory term] and not everyone on the right is a [insert equally derogatory term].  

If you can cut through all the mindless talking points, the name calling, and the bullshit, most normal people want the same thing: to be left alone to live our lives. We just have different views on what that means, and how to get there. And that’s okay.  

It’s okay to disagree.  

We should be able to argue tax rates, foreign aid to developing nations, and the role of the first, second, and any other amendment in a civil way. (Though, let’s not re-hash the 18th and 21st, times are hard enough right now.) We should be able to discuss platforms and ideas without resorting to extreme hyperbole and name calling.  

Not “we should”, “we have to”.  

We have to be able to disagree in a way that doesn’t devalue the other side’s very existence or make them the enemy. We have to be better.   We have to stop letting talking heads divide us. We have to be able to change our stances as we take in and verify new information, not decry it as “fake news” or “media bias”, because the truth is inconvenient. We have to stop looking for people to blame and start looking for solutions to the challenges we face. We have to be able to have tough conversations and admit that we’re wrong sometimes.  

We have to care more about making ourselves, our communities, and our country better than winning just to beat the other side. We have to leave a better society for all those that follow us.  

Conclusion, as I step off the soap box:
I’m not sure I expected to get to 100 newsletters when we started this in April 2014. I’m positive I didn’t expect to be hopping up on my soapbox and writing a newsletter like this one from my home office for it.  

But I am grateful for everyone that makes this newsletter possible. My team here at Oberg and Associates for the many, many hours debating topics, writing, editing, and proofreading articles.

I’m grateful for all of you reading, as well. Whether you’ve been reading since 2014, or just recently had it forwarded to you. Whether you read and delete, or engage us in some way to discuss. Even if you’ll never see this at all because you just hit delete as soon as it comes to you, I’m grateful for everyone that lets me invade their inbox every three weeks.  

I’m going to wrap this up by quoting two dudes: “Be excellent to each other,” and, as always…  

Stay Strong. 

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