Making it to 2021
“It's hard to feel cheery because everywhere you look there’s some sort of fire. There are so many unknowns. It's hard to predict. You’re constantly second-guessing if you’re making the right decision at any given moment. It's almost like a war of attrition where you try to see who can hold on the longest and get to the other side. Am I doing a good enough job at that? Am I even the right person to be doing that? Being in this situation you feel helpless…you think “I know I’m good at this, but I’m only so good.”
Pancho Kachingwe, Owner of The Hatch (Oakland, California) – Listen to episode here
I left a doctor’s appointment yesterday and headed towards the grocery store. I hadn't expected to be stirred emotionally by a daily news podcast during that 5 minute drive, but soon enough I found myself shifting between tears and goosebumps as I listened to Pancho, a corner bar owner, share about business since March. He articulated experiences and worries in words that I have not been able to find or use. Maybe it’s because the deeper questions beyond, “How’s the bakery doing?” aren't happening. It has to be hard to know what to ask, really. Hard because the answers seem pretty apparent as our small businesses are disappearing around the country. Nearly 800 permanent closings each day. Over 100,000 since March.
My experiences since March seemed to mirror Pancho’s so closely that felt like a beautiful solidarity across many miles. It was a soothing balm on some pretty deep wounds. And a confirmation that this crazy train is actually a ride I'm on. These are actual hardships, not just news stories. There are actual reasons to feel helpless. The problems that I, and hundreds of thousands of others, are trying to solve aren't just overinflated anxieties.
The struggle as an employer knowing that government assistance is more than what I can pay employees to return to work. Feeling like I need an MBA to understand the legalities around PPP funding & forgiveness, furloughs vs. unemployment. Weighing out the risks of taking on debt to keep the bakery going or closing up shop and living on credit cards to feed my family until I can come up with a Plan B. Thinking through concepts and ideas for future growth but realizing we're on life support. Feeling an immense amount of gratitude for our community sticking with us and also feeling the weight of responsibility that also brings.
Pancho mentions in the podcast that his friends tell him he looks old. I resonate with that too. I feel like I’ve lost myself more than just a little this year. Maybe you have too? My joy. My fun. My optimism. My self-confidence. My ability to be present in a moment. To be a good friend. A good parent. A good employer. I’ll be honest when I say that in this struggle of keeping the business afloat, I’ve lost the fire in my belly for this space on the hill. I want to find that again. I'm going to invite you on that journey with me. I think we both could use some simple reminders of where we can get back to. Or start fresh from.
As the bakery remains solely online for now, I want to reconnect…to reset with you all. For the next month, lets discover the joy and optimism for what the bakery (and our lives, for goodness sakes!) was birthed for. Connection. Excellence. DoGooding. Love.
I’ll post often throughout the month – sharing tutorials, recipes, thoughts, and ideas. I think it’ll be a nice bit of goodness. And a little anticipation for our (hopeful) reopening in February!
Thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable. Thank you for being open and transparent with me too. Lets keep communication flowing and we'll be together again soon to hug it all out.