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what's The Word?


Every year, our MADE team members select a word that is meaningful to what we each want to work toward. A new year resolution of sorts, these words help us stay grounded during what often become hurried, challenging and overwhelming times.

As 2020 has progressed, we have learned quickly how appropriate our words of the year have become. They couldn’t be any more meaningful as we navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

So we thought we would share our team’s words with you. Maybe these will help you as you make your way through each day of these unprecedented times. And maybe these words will remind you that we can make it through this–together–with a STEADY FOCUS to find CLARITY and CONQUER this challenge.


Allen Reed

When I originally selected “steady” as my word for the year, the thought behind it was to continue to maintain the positive progress we had made in the previous years while making methodical adjustments. MADE was in a good place financially, the team was excited and working hard and we were continuously improving our processes to better serve our clients. Over the last several weeks, as the nation has been watching and anticipating the worst, “steady” seems to be even more appropriate right now.

We’ve all heard the term “don’t rock the boat.” It’s a metaphor for being cautious and not doing anything drastic that would cause more problems. If you’ve ever stepped into a canoe the wrong way and ended up in the water, this phrase has a literal meaning. Right now, at this time, we’re in a metaphorical boat. The water is rough and dark clouds are looming overhead. The fog is rolling in and it’s difficult to see where we’re going. We’re afraid we’re going to sink before we make it to the other side.

Remain steady. You’ve got this. Keep doing what you're doing while being cautiously aware that you may have to adjust course. It may take longer to get where you’re going and it’s going to get rough. But we WILL get through this if we remain STEADY.



Michelle Ledford

For me, 2019 was a year of more responsibilities than usual. My commitments had me moving in many different directions, but I was passionate and cared deeply about all of them. What I learned during that time was that I had to rely heavily on others to help me accomplish everything that was in front of me. The result was a great deal of gratitude for my family and the people I am privileged to be surrounded by every day. The result was also a large amount of dedicated teamwork and continued momentum in the growth of our agency.

Although that year of functioning at a very fast pace helped me grow in many different ways, I found myself longing for a singular focus. I couldn’t wait to get back to “normal”. Well, 2020 certainly hasn’t been normal. We’re sitting here in the midst of a crisis most haven’t experienced in their lifetime.

But I’m sitting here focused. Focused on helping my family, our community and our agency get through this. I am grateful for the perspectives and lessons I have learned through the hard times. I am leaning on those to help us get through this one.



Ashley Miller

Crystal clear calm waters. That's my happy place. Whether it's a daydream, or I'm actually floating in complete bliss, drenched in sunshine and blue skies, and my mind is totally open. But I have a 5 year old, and a job, and a life, and oh my word, where do I find the time and space to seek clarity? Enter: choosing clarity as my personal word for 2020.

Little did I know how much this word would shed light on what we are all looking for right now. Back in December, I was seeking both personal and professional clarity. To be true to my authentic self, but also taking the more literal sense of the word in the workplace: providing clear, intelligible (this should be obvious, of course, ha!),  coherent details to both my team and clients, all while working on a more pure sense of who I am and what I'm here to do as a mom, wife, teammate, and a member of our community.

During this time of uncertainty, I'm focusing on finding clarity wherever I can. It could be in a simple email I'm composing, a strategy I'm collaborating on, or a way in which I choose to articulate something. I'm using this unknown and often unstructured time to seek clarity from what and who inspires me to do better and be better. Perhaps we should all take pause to look for clarity in a world that can often confuse us, and share our findings with each other. How do you seek clarity?



Cindy Joyce

con•quer: to successfully overcome (a problem or weakness)

I started 2020 bidding 2019 good riddance. I took some time to reflect on some recent challenges and failures; failure to reach some personal goals as well as professional ones. Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently? What did I do right? I felt like the thing I needed to focus on was pushing through and not succumbing to self-doubt. If you accept failure, and choose to let it defeat you, you gain nothing. I choose to conquer the challenges put before me. No excuses.

Enter Pandemic (stage right). Talk about having the rug pulled out from under you. Who could have expected such an unpredictable and invisible enemy. An enemy to ourselves, our families, our community, and our world. Together, we will come out of this unprecedented journey stronger, and hopefully with a deeper since of gratitude and a fire to bring our community back to what it was before.

I find myself setting my personal goals aside slightly—redirecting them. I'm choosing to rise up and do what I can as a human being, as a member of my community, as a small business owner, as a neighbor, daughter and parent. I want to be a source of encouragement to my peers—to come together as one whole unit to accomplish one united goal: Conquer.

“If you dare take the challenge, you will possess the courage to conquer.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita


We hope you feel inspired to find your word for 2020. Let it it ground and guide you in times that you need to find focus or seek clarity. Sit steady in the boat, and we WILL conquer this–together.