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Booster Spirit Wear (BSW) was hit harder than any of us expected. We print and ship thousands of tee shirts each year for our clients and because of the pandemic we quickly went from 42 team members to 12. And then down to only six. In the midst of COVID, like a lot of companies, we were forced to make major changes; and through these changes, we needed to not only keep the business we had, but also try to grow. 

At the time, I was one of the senior press operators, screen printing shirts for the schools and other clients we serve. Despite the upheaval, I was determined to not only get us through this tough time, but also to fill key management responsibilities now left unfilled. I had experience managing previous printing shops. I also had the confidence I could do it; it was just a matter of proving myself. My leaders at BSW were open to my ideas and willing to give me a shot at the job. I worked to demonstrate that I had the mindset and the work ethic to do both jobs – continue in my screen printing role, and manage and lead the small team we had at the time. 

With a lot of grit, we made it through! With our commitment to the company and our team, we were able to exceed our goals for the fall and spring seasons – all with fewer team members and a pandemic. And I also became the new production manager at Booster Spirit Wear!

Thinking about how we got through this, I realized a few lessons I learned: 

  1. Patience: This was critical for me. Having a sense of urgency, I’ve always moved at a faster pace. Even with training, I had to learn to slow down and let my team absorb what I was teaching and not overload them with too much information. 
  2. Care / Culture: Booster was built on caring for all our employees and setting an amazing foundation for us to all help grow Booster’s culture. My lesson was to not only speak about culture, but also demonstrate it by building a family-like experience for my team on the production floor.
  3. Acknowledgment: Everyone wants to feel cared for or shown gratitude. It’s important to acknowledge people for not only great work but for them as individuals; genuinely being grateful for them as individuals first, and employees second.
  4. Mindset: We can train 1,000 people how to do a job, but mindset is far more important. If team members don’t have the mindset of consistency, grit, and seeing the bigger picture, there would be no growth or future for them at BSW. At the end of the day, we want amazing leaders, not robots.
  5. Grit: I think of grit as Guts, Resilience, Intentionality, and Tenacity. I encourage people to always have a can-do attitude and a whatever-it-takes mindset to ensure we hit our goals and win every season—even when things get tough.

Some of these lessons were more natural for me than others. Grit and having the right mindset were easy. Others, like patience, showing care, and growing our culture, were a bit more challenging. I’m learning and I’m taking a step back to make sure I’m listening well to my team. This is helping not just them, but also me, to grow. Afterall, we’re all learning together. 

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