In Difficult Times, ‘Together’ is the Way to Go

Every January, I bring the PPM sales and marketing teams together for an internal event we call Sales Kickoff. Usually, we all meet in person and have a great time learning and sharing. As one would expect, we did it differently this year … virtually, just as we’ve done most of life the past ten months.

John O’Leary plays the piano, despite losing his fingers in a fire in his childhood.

We talked about how we navigated a challenging 2020 and what we can do in 2021 to help our customers prosper. Something I stressed to my colleagues was the need to make bold, exponential decisions, not incremental ones. If you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone – which we must – failure will be part of the equation.

Also on our agenda was a keynote speaker from outside the company to provide inspiration and a call to action. His name is John O’Leary, and his story will stay with me forever.

When he was a curious 9-year-old, he decided to play with fire and gasoline, accidentally creating a massive explosion in his home, and he was burned over his entire body. He wasn’t expected to live, but John went on to thrive and eventually became a best-selling author. He credited his mother with encouraging him to push past his pain and sadness to regain normalcy, including piano lessons.

He lost all of his fingers in the fire, but she believed he could learn to play. During his first post-fire piano lesson, his teacher sat beside him, hugged him and said, “This is going to be hard. But we can do it … together.”

And they did. At the end of his virtual presentation for us, he played the piano. Beautifully.

None of us can do the hard stuff entirely alone. PPM has weathered this pandemic because this is a team that truly collaborates and sustains each other. Through that, we are able to provide an environment where our clientele is valued and supported, even as a pandemic altered the way we do just about everything.

As you’re coming out of a curve, you push the accelerator. There is still uncertainty ahead, but I believe the worst is behind us. This is going to be hard. But we can do it … together.

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