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the Word Is Out: Made's 2021 Words Of The Year


Resilience. Merriam-Webster, Collins Dictionary, and the Oxford-English Dictionary's yearly tradition of choosing a Word of the Year (WOTY) took 2020's Pandemic and turned it into Resilience for 2021. As we reflected back on the year that changed our lives as we knew it, our MADE team members carried on our own tradition of selecting a word that inspires, motivates, and speaks to us in our own personal way for the year ahead.  

As tradition goes, the MADE team gathers around the conference room table every Monday morning. This particular January morning, we brought our words to the table. We shared our words and found common threads between each of them. After sharing them with each other, and using them as reminders throughout this year, we'd like to share them with you: 


Allen Reed

My word for the year is respect. At a young age, I remember learning the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I also tried to teach my kids this principle. Sometimes they (and I) would get the meaning of this confused and think that it was about doing to people what they do to you—an eye for an eye—“If you hit me, I’ll hit you ten times harder!” That couldn’t be farther from the intention of the writer.

With all of the heated debates going on in the country surrounding politics, pandemics and personal choices, the Golden Rule has become even more necessary. Simply put, what this means to me is, treat people like you would like to be treated and respect one another as individuals regardless of [fill in the blank]. Everyone comes from a different place; we don’t all have to agree, but we can learn from one another.

If you want respect from someone, try giving a little yourself and I bet you’ll find it feels pretty good.



Michelle Ledford

As 2020 came to a close and I was setting goals for the new year, I couldn't help but reflect on the challenges the pandemic brought to our families, friends, team members, communities and our businesses. I think we would all agree that 2020 took a toll on each of us in different ways. Yet through it all, we continued to move forward—and even grow.

So growth became my word for 2021. All of the obstacles we had to overcome last year proved to me that our team, our agency and our clients are capable of so much growth.

This year, my focus on growth has me looking at how we do what we do everyday—our processes, our accountability to each other, our emotional well-being, our physical health, our goals, our relationships in our community and in our industry, and our ability to provide the best work possible to our clients. It is a commitment I am making every day to grow in knowledge and in empathy. Do I fail at meeting this daily expectation of myself? Often. But I remain focused on the end-game and know that we are all growing together as a team and as an agency. And I am pretty damn proud of what we have accomplished so far.



Ashley Miller

"Teamwork makes the dream work!" How many times have we heard that phrase? I never really stopped long enough to consider that it's not just some silly saying on a cheesy motivational poster—it's true. So, what's the dream? And how exactly do we make it work? Turns out, you can't climb to the top of the mountain alone. In our individualistic, independent society, we'd like to think that the answers only lie within but, after 39 years of trying, this was the year I finally accepted that we cannot walk this life figuring it out all on our own. 

We all have a team. Whether it's a 2-person team (I guess that's a "pair" or a "couple", but you get the point), or a 100-person team, my wish is that we have at least one other team member in our lives. I have a family team—Team Miller—and I have a work team—Team MADE. And then I have  my "peeps", my handful of friends that offer no judgement—just a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Each of us on the team (family, work, friends) know our very simple assignment: be there. That's it! Just be there. When you show up for your team, and your team shows up for you, you know you're doing it right. 

So when 2020 smeared into 2021 and the roller coaster continued, it took some tough breaks to learn that I in fact, cannot do it all. It's hard for me to accept help. I absolutely love to give it, but to receive it is a whole 'nother ballgame. Being part of a team didn't mean that I should help, but never ask in return—being part of a team means that I could, and should ask for help when I need it.

Another phrase fit for a motivational poster comes to mind: "We're all in this together." And we are. At the end of the day, we MUST all work as a team and do our part to get through tough times. And when the times aren't so tough, what a wonderful thing to celebrate the joy of successes as a team!



Cindy Joyce

My word of the year is align. To place or arrange (things) in a straight line—do one thing at a time. 2020—what can I say that hasn't been said already? No one skated by unaffected by the pandemic. As a person who thrives on having my home in order, I wasn't crying a river when we were told to hunker down in isolation, set up shop at the house and work from home.

In the past I wasn't a huge fan of working from home. I liked having the separation of work and home—being done with the work day and coming home to focus on, well—not work. But as I've gotten older and married with a kid, those moments of coming home and relaxing are gone and a new role is in place. Now, it's shifting from work gears to mom gears and squeezing in homework, dinner, scouts, down time, games, bath, cuddles, reading, and bed time into just a few hours. So, when I got the chance to work from home, drop the routine of the whole family getting ready and out the door and to school and work on time...sign. me. up.

When things started to reopen, we all had to adjust again to the "new normal" that would be the next several months. Pandemic fatigue started to set in. Trying to find a "routine" again when kids needed to get safely reengaged and folks went back to the office was challenging. Time management had become a thing of the past, and I needed to figure it out again. I found myself getting overwhelmed.

When it came time to choose my word of the year, all I could think of from the end of 2020 was, "Cindy, you just gotta take one thing at a time." I had to get things reprioritized and find a way to manage my time and expectations. I had to align my priorities, my needs, my obligations, my work and my time. Making this conscious effort brought life back into a manageable perspective.



Erin Hollenkamp
I wasn't sure what my word would be until I found myself hesitating to drop a barbell at CrossFit Plant City. This was a crazy reaction because, 1. I was in a space filled with other people being noisy and dropping barbells, and 2. I was (finally!) using enough weight that setting it down softly would be more work and hinder my workout.
Why was I scared of making noise? That was my moment of clarity and I knew this year would be my time to lean into the things that make me uncomfortable. I want to speak up when I don't agree, sit in someone's pain with them instead of trying to fix it, and make goals without fear of falling. I'm going to live and love boldly. And I'm going to drop the barbell.
While I'm still working on it (being bold is harder in action than I thought!), I've appreciated this word this year so far. I reflect on it while making decisions and it's been a good goal to strive for in all areas of life.

We hope that you will find your Word of the Year and use it as a guidepost as you navigate the rest of 2021. Share your word in our blog comments—we would love to hear from you!