Dear Friends,

What a year! I think it’s safe to say that very few people anticipated the magnitude and the impact of 2020. As the year comes to a close, I’d like to share my story of this year, and my plans for 2021.

Today is day 287. Ever since the beginning of the quarantine in March, I have been writing daily journals. The original motivation of the daily journal was to document the journey that we went through in our school. During the first week (actually first weekend) of the lockdown, Berthold Academy had to go through seismic shifts in a matter of days. I felt compelled to document the changes of how we were forced to become an online school within a week. For the next two hundred days, documenting daily events slowly became a habit.

Writing was never ‘my thing,’ but in 2020, I started to write. My first long piece was “How a Small Montessori School Transformed into an Online School Overnight”. Subsequently, I wrote 30-day and the 6-month quarantine stories. I am slowly building up my writing habit. I now receive a free latte from Medium every month! (Jon, please don’t laugh.)

In the beginning of 2020, I set a goal for writing a book. At the time, it felt like one of those new year resolutions that would never get done. However, once I discovered that I could write more than 500-words, I started to tackle the book seriously. Right now I have gotten more than 50% done and I am very confident that I will finish it in 2021.

Another surprising development in 2020 for me is that I became a business coach in Hong Kong. Early in the pandemic, I saw that my friend who runs a coaching company started to move their courses online. I proposed to them about an Entrepreneurship course that I could teach through their network. Just like that, I have been coaching entrepreneurs from Hong Kong since April. Wednesday morning became my webinar time. I fully enjoy the diversity of people who come into my class. Coaching others allows me to become a better leader myself.

Within Zerion, I tested a new model where I started working directly with an offshore developer on some R&D projects. This allowed me to test a multitude of ideas without distracting our development team. Some of these projects will inform our product decisions in the coming years.

From a business perspective, we are fortunate that our core business was not impacted. While some of our customers slowed down their spending in 2020, new business actually grew. The world changed in 2020. Our team was able to navigate the changes and found new ways to attract new customers. We saw new sign-ups double compared to 2019. This is an amazing accomplishment. Going into 2021, the overall business environment is still very difficult, however, we see positive momentum in every aspect that is within our control. From product engineering to sales and marketing, we see growth and our teams are fighting a good fight.

2021 is going to be the year of new hopes. We all want to see friends and family again, travel again, and do business face-to-face again. I am going to finish my book, work on new products and am also going to start an educational non-profit. May the world be healthier and happier in 2021.

Happy New Year!

Sze Wong