2020: The Year That Taught Us Resilience


If Charles Dickens were writing “A Tale of Two Cities” in 2020, he might have changed “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” to “it was the worst of times, no really, it was the worst of times.”

Who could blame him? A confluence of crises – a global pandemic with a staggering 1.3 million lives lost, political turmoil, social unrest, an economic plunge, and climate calamities – has completely reshaped our lives and kept everyone on extreme edge all year long. The most overused word of the year – unprecedented – also is the truest.

And yet another word keeps entering my mind as I look around me: resilience. Despite the events of 2020, I see example after example of people charging ahead with their lives — continuing to work hard, still dreaming big, standing taller than ever for their families and their communities.

The world seemed to stop, and yet it didn’t stop at all. At Offleash, our technology clients depend on us to get their stories told and build their brands. By dramatically accelerating the pace of digital transformation, COVID-19 has only magnified that mission. I saw our teams working harder than ever, knowing all the while that, in the background, 2020 was taking a toll on their mental health. And yet they remained “all in.”

This ability to adapt through it all is one of the most inspirational things I’ve ever seen and has left me profoundly grateful for what the agency has been able to achieve in a year of mind-boggling uncertainty.

Offleash grew this year, recording record revenues and adding nine new clients across diversified categories – AI, cybersecurity, application development, cloud infrastructure, and more.

Despite 2020’s upheaval, we were able to keep hiring – we brought in four new talented folks – and give people new professional opportunities.

Recently, Forbes named Offleash one of America’s best PR agencies – all the more gratifying because it was an honor that came out of the blue, not one we applied for.

We worked with two of our clients on their successful IPOs and celebrated three others reaching unicorn status with valuations over $1 billion.

As appreciative as we are for these business accomplishments, we remained more committed than ever to investing in our employees’ wellness — maintaining and even improving benefits and programs we have in place to support a healthy body and mind.

We were steadfastly focused on giving back to the community, through our OffleashCARES initiative. Though we regretfully had to cancel our eighth annual Earth Day volunteer event in March due to the pandemic, we shifted our focus to Autism Speaks’ wonderful San Francisco walk that took place virtually Nov. 15. We also made contributions to Ada’s Cafe, Black Girls Code, Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, San Francisco Education Fund, United Nations Crisis Relief for Lebanon, and Vote.org.

The murder of George Floyd and other acts of violence against Black people was a stunning wake-up call that the tech industry and we as an agency need to do much, much more to support greater racial equality. We’ve realized that having good intentions and simply hoping things will somehow get better automatically is surely not the answer. We are doing, and will do, more proactively as diversity, equality, and inclusion rightfully remains a critical priority in 2021.

I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all our clients, employees, partners, and any other fellow travelers in the 2020 journey for everything they have done in a year unlike any other. I can’t imagine a better group of people to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.

Joanna Kulesa has been building successful agencies in Silicon Valley for 20 years.  Her passion for outstanding client service is matched by her dedication to agency employees—reflected in its naming by Fortune as a Best Place to work for Camaraderie and a Best Place to Work for Women. Contact Joanna at joanna@offleashpr.com