As part of our summer series looking back on an extraordinary year and the one ahead, we asked Kayla Medica, marketing manager at Perkbox, about the good, the bad and what she learnt from last year and what she’s looking forward to in 2021.
Here’s what she said:
Out of 10 (being totally awesome) what mark would you give 2020 and why?
I’d have to give it a 5/10, there were some really high highs and some really low lows, so it’d probably balance out at 5.
What were your personal highlights?
A personal highlight is that as a result of initially getting into the funk of rolling out of bed and immediately sitting at my desk to work until it was time to go back to bed, I ended up pushing myself to disconnect and get outdoors more. I wrote a viral murder mystery game for Zoom, found a bunch of hidden gems in my neighbourhood, and reconnected with old friends. I also started a B2B and SaaS focused marketing newsletter called Mehdeeka. I forced myself to find value in the mundane everyday, and to find it outside of work.
And the lowlights?
The lowlights were definitely the work. Perkbox pivoted in April, which was incredibly successful, but then pivoted back within five to six weeks.
There were a lot of overtime hours to get that done in such a short amount of time. Add to that the general stress of being in a pandemic, a lockdown, and instability and there were definitely a few dark days that turned into weeks.
What was the hardest thing you had to do in 2020?
The hardest thing I had to do was really internal. I had to get myself out of the funk, set boundaries for myself, and stick to them.
And what brought you the greatest joy?
My greatest joy last year was in what I had that was stable through it all — my personal relationships, my partner and dog, my friends. I had everything I needed to be content and satisfied.
What did you learn from the year and in hindsight, is there anything you’d do differently?
I learned a lot in 2020, I think aside from the business lessons of leadership and communication, I learned how far I could (or should) push myself. I also learned what I really need in order to be happy, and just how little that is. I don’t think I would do too much differently — I did the best I could at the time — but I would probably have started doing the things that got me out of my rut a bit earlier.
What company (other than your own) do you most admire for its achievements in 2020 and why?
I think Atlassian have gone above and beyond in being generous with their learnings about how to manage your workforce through the pandemic, they’ve made so many high-quality resources available for free. Journalists who covered the pandemic (and publications who made their pandemic coverage free) deserve a huge shout out too.
Rather than achievements being what impressed me, it was the companies and organisations that focused on community and sharing.
How do you view the current technology climate in Australia?
The current tech climate is interesting. On one hand there’s huge things happening, from the ACCC v Google and Facebook, to what Facebook is undergoing in the US, and closer to home the huge VC fund announcements in 2020. I do find some things concerning, like the proliferation of buy now pay later and the way that these companies are promoting and advertising themselves.
I think it’ll be interesting to see what startups that launched in the pandemic, or early stage startups that launched in 2019, do in 2021. Will there be shining stars from 2020 that sputter out in 2021 as they’re no longer satiating a need?
What tech companies/startup will you be watching in 2021, both locally and internationally?
There’s definitely some startups I’ll be watching for the gossip (like Theranos), and some I’ll be watching because they’ve done something recently (like the Slack acquisition). I will also be looking at some of the larger, older organisations that have seriously invested in and focused on tech (like Disney).
What are you expecting to see in tech in 2021?
A lot of technologies that have been at the height of prediction lists for the past few years will continue to be up there in 2021.
Voice search, VR/AR, drones, all that stuff. I think we’re in a period of time where ‘cutting edge’ technologies are stabilising in the average consumer’s mind and the day to day applications are emerging in actual day to day life.
What are you hoping will happen in 2021?
I hope to see (in 2021 and beyond) more representation in tech. Both in founders, and spokespeople, but also in the branding and design elements that startups use. Having a POC founder as the face of your company doesn’t mean much if your website is plastered with cis white stock models.
What are your goals for the year ahead?
My goals for 2021 are really career focused. I’d like to develop my skills more – I’m still young and have a lot to learn! Instead of stretching myself and doing everything, I’ll be doing fewer things, better.
I’d also like to keep up my side/creative projects that I started in lockdown.
Not everything needs to be a hustle, scalable, or profitable. I want to keep making things for the sake of making things and having a good time.
What’s keeping you awake at night, business-wise?
What’s keeping me up at night is really the economic climate. Each month this year has been unrelated to the month before or after. I wonder what mood B2B consumers will be in when we all get back to work in January after several weeks off!
Suggest 3 books people should read over summer
Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger
This is easily the best business book I’ve ever read because it’s written in true storytelling fashion and has great lessons in it. What else can you expect from Disney!
S by Doug Dorst and JJ Abrams
This fiction book will make you reconsider what the experience of “reading a book” actually is. It’s an incredible concept with equally good execution!
The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada
Japanese fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a very thin book that’s perfect for a beach-side read and is a super interesting look into how capitalism can become so big we literally don’t know what the company we work for even does.