As 2020 draws to a close, the words of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche come to mind,  “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.” There’s no sugarcoating it, 2020 has been a hell of a year. And yet, we’ve also witnessed profound moments of beauty in the human spirit. I get goosebumps just thinking about Italians under siege to the novel coronavirus, singing into the night from their balconies, buoying each other and the healthcare teams that pulled them through. 

It is in this spirit, that we asked Feedzians and our followers on social media to tell us in six words or less what they learned from 2020. The answers we received were sometimes comical: “you can be productive in sweatpants,” “cats make everything brilliant better,” and “don’t take toilet paper for granted.” They were also sometimes personal: “I need to get outside more,” “there’s areas I need to improve,” and “I am my biggest advocate.” But mostly, the answers were universal and told the story of 2020 that each of us can relate to. Those stories fell within six categories.

6 Lessons Learned in 2020

1. Remote work works.

So many people responded with lessons they’d learned because of being forced to work remotely. Feedzai became a fully remote company, albeit temporarily, with less than 24 hour’s notice. Throughout this year, we learned that remote work takes effort, but it doesn’t mean the end of the collaboration. In fact, far from it. By listening to our employees, having the right tech stack, adapting, and iterating, we’ve actually increased productivity and strengthened our culture.

2. Value what you have.

Many people told us they learned to cherish those around them from family and close friends to co-workers, healthcare professionals, and essential workers at the grocery stores. The terrible uncertainty caused by the pandemic made people certain of one thing – we need to cherish the people in our lives.

3. Good mental health is a priority.

After months of lockdown and isolation, the ability to remain calm and positive is proving to be essential to surviving the pandemic  An overwhelming number of respondents stressed the importance of positivity and patience.  At Feedzai, we understood early on that this was important. We’ve stressed how important it is to ask for help, and we increased the number of free therapy sessions through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Additionally, we added a monthly floating holiday for every employee, a “COVID day” if you will. We also offered mindfulness training. 

4. We need each other.

We received a beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking outpouring of this simple realization. As one person replied, “human contact is not optional.” Others spoke of learning to put the community above themselves. At Feedzai, we scheduled numerous online games and “happy hours,” developed chat channels for the sole purpose of helping people feel connected, and allowed our employees to use their professional zoom accounts for their personal lives. 

5. Struggle leads to growth.

As difficult as this year has been, it has also led to personal growth. For some, this led to new, fun skills and hobbies like making beer out of grapes. For others, this year provided a time for personal reflection to realize areas that needed improvement, how to be patient and discover new things about yourself, or how to learn to stand up for yourself. In this way, we’ve become like the butterfly whose struggle to break through the chrysalis is what makes its wings strong enough to fly. 

6. The importance of resilience.

Psychologists define resilience as the ability to adapt to stress and trauma. Resilience allows us to bounce back from difficult situations and often to do so after experiencing personal growth. We received many answers from people who understand and appreciate the power of resilience. You can build resilience by prioritizing positive relationships, taking care of your mental health, and finding a purpose.

Of course, we’re not just ending a year, we’re starting a new one. The year 2021 has many of us excited for one simple reason: vaccines! As we write this, there are three vaccines that will soon be available around the globe. 

It is in this spirit of hope that we once again asked Feedzaiians and our followers on social media to tell us in six words or less what they were most hopeful about or most looking forward to in 2021. Their answers fell within five general themes.

5 Hopes for 2021

1. Growth.

As in most years, the promise of a new year helps people recognize a fresh start. We received many comments about self-improvement, but perhaps the most powerful one spoke of leveraging the lessons learned from the pandemic to experience personal and professional growth in 2021.

“On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.”

Gregory S. Williams

2. Togetherness.

This one comes as no surprise – we want to be together! From one-word responses like “hugging” to more specific hopes like “going back to the office some days” and “seeing my family offline,” we are ready to be together again. 

3. Peace and freedom.

Many people just want peace of mind when they move about their daily lives. They want to travel and feel safe without having to worry about getting sick or making people sick. 

4. Healing.

It wasn’t just the pandemic that caused so much stress and strife in 2020. There were global issues regarding systemic racism, politics, and the climate that weighed heavy on our minds. Respondents hope that 2021 brings people together despite their differences and that we work together to find solutions to the climate crisis. 

5. Normalcy.

Perhaps all of the other hopes can be wrapped into this one. More than anything, respondents wanted a return to normalcy. The ability to be together again, the freedom to travel and be free of worry from doing simple things like grocery shopping, and to feel that we are all of us part of a community.

Thank you for being part of our story this year. We’ve navigated these dicey waters relatively unscathed because of the efforts, empathy, and community of the global Feedzai family. To each of you, we wish the lessons learned in 2020 help realize your fondest dreams for 2021. 

Want to learn more about how 2020 impacted our world? Download the Quarterly Financial Crime Report Q4 2020 edition today.