It’s been quite a year.
In February, we moved our entire lives from one house to another. A few weeks later, everything turned upside down. For some inexplicable reason, we got another Aussie, who’s ten times more difficult than our first one – compounded by the fact that two dogs are three times more difficult than one.
Maddie started a gauntlet of 14 college auditions, taking us from Cleveland to Norman. Noelle quit gymnastics after 10 years and started a new sport. And every single string of Christmas lights that worked perfectly when I put them away last year didn’t work this year.
My job was nearly as taxing. We chased down a ton of new investment to start a new business, interviewed (and hired) a ton of people, and re-orged the whole company to make it work. These are a few of my least favorite things.
All that happened during a perpetual game of will-we/won’t-we…return to the office, attend conferences, or require vaccines. We fought like hell to maintain the culture we’ve built, when 60% of our team didn’t work here before the pandemic and half of them live somewhere other than Pittsburgh. Culture is a bitch via Zoom.
My dad always taught me to never wish time away – so I don’t. But I’ve never been more excited to swipe left to a new year.
Because everything is in place.
Our fundraising is done, our new business is launched, our team and organization are locked in, and all of our biggest customers are renewing. I get to focus on the things I love – strategy, sales, marketing, solving big customer problems, and, of course, writing.
I know everyone had a challenging year – many, far worse than mine. I’m blessed with an amazing wife, amazing kids, supportive friends, coworkers, investors, and two pain-in-the-ass dogs who think I hang the moon. I work for the coolest company, with access to a magical platform that can legitimately change the world.
Oh, and I have people like you who humor my ramblings every week.
Life is good.
I’m skipping writing for two weeks (for the first time in 5+ years), but promise to come back better than ever in 2022. In the meantime, I’ll be celebrating the holidays with endless optimism for a new year to come.
My very best to you and yours.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
Nearly half of Americans (like the Dicks) are likely to spend their holiday breaks binge-watching. With such a crazy year in the rearview mirror, U.S. households are gearing up to lay around in their pajamas to watch TV until their eyes bleed. Of the vaunted new shows coming soon, Cobra Kai is the most anticipated overall (+1), but The Witcher is most popular among the biggest streamers. We’ll embark on our annual tradition of watching the entire Harry Potter series (and Fantastic Beasts), while overdosing on popcorn. I can’t wait.
People are twice as likely as last year to spend the holidays with family. Things won’t be entirely back to normal, but Americans are definitely feeling safer about gathering together for Christmas than they did a year ago. We’re also way more likely to travel. For sure, the pesky Omicron variant is keeping a lot of COVID-cautious people home and out of bars and restaurants. Still, progress is good.
Online sports betting is booming – especially among Gen Z and young Millennials. This isn’t entirely dissimilar to the crypto craze we’ve seen across the 20-something set. Younger adults have disposable income right now and they’re not afraid to wager it. Over half of adults between ages 21 and 29 have made bets online, which is twice the rate of the 30-44 crowd. Most usually bet less than $25 and there’s no noticeable correlation to playing fantasy sports. But what surprised me was how evenly divided the numbers are between men and women. Stop gender stereotyping.
CVS is onto something with their HealthHUB concept. When CVS announced their decision to close hundreds of stores and reformat their footprint, it caught Wall Street by surprise. But the idea of turning pharmacy and retail stores into whole-health wellness centers looks like it has tremendous potential. Nearly half of U.S. adults say they would visit a HealthHUB if one came to their area – and the numbers are even better among young adults and people who are otherwise unsatisfied with their current healthcare services. Convenience is king in the post-COVID era.
In truly – I swear to God – coincidental news, the guest on my podcast this week was Norm de Greve, the CMO of CVS Health. We talked about the impact of COVID on the physical and mental health of Americans, COVID-related trends that are here to stay, and the future of healthcare and advertising. It’s worth a listen while you work out.
Telehealth seems to have plateaued. Sticking with the healthcare theme, the rapid rise of telemedicine – out of necessity – during the early days of the pandemic doesn’t have the staying power insurers wish it did. Apparently people, particularly older Americans, really do like seeing their doctor in person. There’s an interesting income correlation, however – the better off someone is financially, the more they dig virtual doctor visits.
The only thing weirder than people who think Die Hard is a Christmas movie is people who have never seen Die Hard. Over half of Americans rightfully believe that the Bruce Willis + Snape action flick is NOT a Christmas movie. Thirty-five percent of people disagree and somehow around 15% of people have never watched the legendary film. The over-one-third who subscribe to the misguided Die-Hard-is-a-Christmas-movie fallacy are big music streamers who leave a lot of positive online reviews and regularly eat out for lunch. What would you ever do without critical knowledge like that?
To preserve the Christmas spirit, I saved all the depressing shit we published this week for the addendum. Feel free to breeze on by:
- Most toy shoppers don’t want to buy gender-neutral toys;
- Omicron has officially replaced Delta as the fear-du-jour;
- COVID fears aren’t the only reason people are wary about flying right now;
- Advent calendars are a fading tradition, just not in the Dick household, where we buy them for our kids and our dogs;
- A super-majority of Americans are feeling the pain of product shortages;
- Comfort shopping in physical stores is backsliding as the last week of Christmas shopping arrives.
And here are your final popular questions for 2021:
- How confident are you in your kitchen abilities to roast a whole chicken?
- Have you ever spent the night in an airport?
- How much of an effort do you make to keep in touch with your significant other’s extended family?
- Have you ever made your own compost?
- Have you ever taken a skiing trip to the Rocky Mountains?
- Do you think you look better with short hair or long hair?
Answer Key: Very; More than once; Quite a bit actually, thanks Facebook; Nope; Hell yes; My hair is impeccable at any length.
Hoping you’re well. Happy Holidays.
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