Pandemic Life Lessons with Maureen Barsema

The digital-only March issue of tED magazine (available 3/1/20) focuses on one question: “What have you learned or put into practice during the pandemic that will make your career and/or your company stronger going forward?”

We received a number of responses, and there is still a little time for you to provide your response by clicking this link:

Meanwhile, we had the opportunity to ask Maureen Barsema, past NAED Chair, to provide some insight into what she has learned in the past year:


The Grinch would say 2020 "stink, stank, stunk" with pandemic "spiders in its brain and garlic in its soul." Yet, we learned that even a mean one’s heart with a hole can grow three times as big, busting out its hidden soul! The year of 2020 did just that for all of us. It made us change and adapt in a flash, respect others deeper than before and challenged us to trust and accept a new way to collaboratively succeed. Would we have done all of this without the challenge of the pandemic?

This is what I have learned and will carry into 2021 and beyond…

  • The status quo can change on a dime. Shaking things up and rolling the dice to build the path to a new outcome can be good when things are bad.

  • I witnessed how resilient humans are together, how we held-up one another up in new, creative ways.

  • I learned how living more centered, focused and prioritized made us stronger. We organized our line, ramped-up our solution-based behavior and focused on what really matters.

  • We did all we could to sustain our businesses, making them safer, more accepting and more understanding of our employee’s and customer’s needs.

  • We made work-from-home more acceptable and trustworthy. In turn, we showed a deeper appreciation of the struggle of balancing home-work life.

  • Home was rediscovered. We ate more often together as a family unit. We cooked together, protected each other, respected each other. Even though we wanted to bust out and live somewhere else at times, we were reminded of the importance of patience and tolerance.

  • Technology instantly climbed the ladder of success. We would have been lost and more isolated had we not adapted to a more virtual, digital medium. It proved its service to humanity in providing the connectivity needed to survive. It served as it was intended, as the tie that binds, keeping us connected to one another, with less cost and with more accomplishment. It enhanced employee happiness and elevated our technology culture with added acceptance & trust.

  • I have learned we can accomplish anything in a time when we are pressed into “now how?” Continuing to look at the glass half-full when reality indicates the glass is getting emptier is survivor behavior. Despite the despair, I witnessed new life coming into this world, the flowers bloomed, the tress blossomed, the crops thrived, and we as humans grew bigger hearts. We enhanced our company culture by gaining loyalty, strengthening our bloodline while never losing site of our mission.

  • I have learned to take time more time learning, to live more simply with higher thinking.

Where 2020 was the season of despair, let 2021 be the season of repair, hope and renewed strength.


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