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  • Writer's pictureMikaela Bolling

3 lessons learned from 2021: a holiday reflection

For some reason, the holidays always remind me of mulled wine. Cinnamon, sugar, star anise and hot, red fermented grapes. A delicious drink that would be absolutely frightening during any other time of the year.

Just like mulled wine, reflecting on your accomplishments, in theory, should taste good any time of year—but in reality, the holidays always make it extra sweet.

As a business in our third year of operation in 2021, there have been many highlights, and also, more importantly, many things we learned.

Here are our three lessons from 2021.

Having a good team is better than mulled wine—it’s chocolate cake—amazing all year long.

Thinking about having a team at the beginning of 2021 sounded terrifying. Like many of you know, growing your business means giving up control, trusting others, and a commitment to developing your team. Yet here we are, 12 months later with two teammates who are beyond our wildest dreams. Kim Kogane and Caitlin McCoy bring years of experience, strategy and content development to our clients and to our internal operations. These two ladies are also dear friends and seeing them work together is oh-so-beautiful.

Although maybe not as impressive as two years ago, our team is also fully remote and none of us have ever met IRL (besides Emily + I, we are sisters, so… obviously). The four of us live in three different states and there are almost 5,000 miles between us.

An inspiring story and vision can change the game… and, dare I say, make you jump for joy like Will Ferrell waiting for Santa to come to town.

This past year, we took our own advice and invested in our own brand; developing a new story, tagline, and website. Want to hear it? Brilliant Marketing is for purpose-led brands who are reimagining the world. Whether that is through technology, food, clean energy, or organizational culture-building, we are ready to turn their vision into reality, together. We do this through our Conscious Marketing approach; thoughtful and research-driven strategies that create emotional brands that inspire our clients and their customers.

Getting more clear on who we are, what we offer, our approach, and who we work with has been incredibly valuable in attracting an amazing team, new clients, and being excited about showing up for work every day. It may sound cheesy, but daring to dream up a big vision is what separates successful companies from the rest. So let’s be like the Griswolds and go big!

Taking breaks, incorporating mindfulness, and prioritizing family is what keeps our business running.

A wonderful holiday gift this year was the arrival of Emily’s new baby boy in December. A welcome addition to the Brilliant family! We are so happy for her and for our amazing team that allows her to take an extended leave to be with her growing family. The longer we’ve been in the remote work space, the more we’ve seen families integrated (a complicated issue that has pros, bringing your full self to work—and cons, like no child care for working parents). Recently, I was on a call where someone had their child hanging out in their lap, and it was refreshing to see and get to know that side of them. Kids, fur-babies, and messy houses are always welcome at Brilliant.

In order to better align with our Conscious Marketing approach, we’ve also been implementing mindful minutes in many of our meetings to take a moment to shift from one meeting to another. Research shows that this increases creativity, communication, and collaboration. (Is this a possible life hack for tense family holiday dinners too?!) Being more regimented about incorporating these practices, as well as a little bit of fun, into our activities has been essential for us to keep our business healthy and happy.

Cheers to you!

So what has 2021 taught you? In the midst of all the holiday treats and awkward family conversations, I hope each of you has time to take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished and learned personally and professionally over the past year.

Many times we are so focused on the future, we forget to look back and celebrate how far we’ve come. We raise our glass of hot and tasty mulled wine to you for all that you’ve accomplished. Here’s to celebrating all that is bright and beautiful in the world.

Happy Holidays!

Mikaela, Emily, Kim + Caitlin


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