Happy Anniversary, Willow!

Dear Willow:

It is hard to believe that this week is our fifth anniversary! On the one hand, it seems like we have been working together at Willow forever. On the other, it seems like yesterday when Van, Betsy and I moved into our first little office on Clark Street.

In the midst of a global pandemic and economic shutdown, with no clear end in sight, it is easy to get caught up in fears and concerns about the future. And, no doubt, those concerns remain for all of us.

But, we built a company from scratch, and we made it to the critical five year mark! We have a lot to be proud of and hopeful for, and I wanted to take this moment to acknowledge all that we have done in just five years:

  • We set up the financial, legal, and administrative infrastructure necessary to run a business. Remember when we had to fire our first accountant two months after we opened? We made a quick decision and got ourselves in better hands. Administrative tasks still take up more of my time than I’d like, but we have the right support and processes in place.
  • In just five years, we have designed and conducted nearly 150 projects for over 30 clients. And what a range of clients we have had—from Gallo Winery to the National Football League, from Monster Energy to the American Bar Association. The range of issues and problems we have addressed makes life and work interesting and keeps us on our toes. And, we have successfully delivered on every one of them, and have learned and grown together in the process.
  • We created and launched a brand, positioning and website. Remember how many serious discussions we had about our positioning and website?! It is such a subjective and arduous undertaking, which was made easier by Brooke Foley and our friends at Jayne Agency.
  • We also started a blog and have become increasingly consistent in putting out fresh content. And, within a couple of months of the shutdown, we launched a COVID Insights web page to host our COVID-related blog posts and share our personal reflections on the pandemic and shutdown.
  • We have had no staff turnover in five years and have grown from the three charter members (me, Van and Betsy) to five of us today (adding Jenn and John). Technically, that’s a 67% increase, but I admit the denominator is small. ?
  • Oh, and in just five years, we opened an office; then moved into a bigger one; then moved into a yet bigger one, where we are today. Up until two weeks ago, I was the only one coming in every day due to the pandemic. Though I missed seeing all of you everyday, I still love it here. It is a productive and beautiful space in a lovely neighborhood. I even got the couch I always wanted! We designed and furnished the office, and it absolutely reflects who we are and how we work together.

No doubt there is more that I am not thinking of right now, but this is more than enough to feel good about.

It turns out that the traditional gift for a fifth anniversary is wood. It’s so fitting. As you know, the symbolism of the Willow tree is one of the things that drew me to the name: Willow Research. It is a fast-growing tree with deep roots and a strong and hearty trunk. It is also a beautiful tree and a place of shelter.

Looking back on all that we have accomplished in these five years, I believe that we have lived up to our name. This is a scary time and nobody knows what the future will bring, but we have a solid foundation and a fantastic team.

Thanks to each of you—Van, Betsy, Jenn, and John—for taking this journey with me and making Willow what it has become today.

And, happy anniversary to Willow Research!


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