Commentary: Looking Back At A Milestone Year

A year ago, I crowed about how 2021 was going to be a milestone year. I can honestly say that it certainly was. 

On one hand, a friend in the automotive retail business called this my personal “glow up.” What that means is I’ve taken larger steps towards success in the media world. According to the traffic stats, V&R will achieve some milestones for 2021. That’s just based on numbers. 

V&R has achieved a lot in terms of expanded exposure to our work. The YouTube channel now has content that is better produced and varied in terms of topics. I’ve explored TikTok as another avenue for our content. Visual content is important, while capturing audiences with short attention spans. 

The marking of long-term milestones also drove 2021. V&R is now ten years young, and the fifteenth #VOTY was awarded to a winner who celebrated it widely. I also celebrated my twentieth year working in electronic and new media. In all, I am living my childhood dream from reading the same content and dreaming of what it was like to be one of those automotive journalists that tested the great vehicles of fifty years ago. 

This past year also provided some twists in the plot. I had no plans on working a major auto show until I wound up at the Los Angeles Convention Center last month. Nor would I envision my local auto show to reinvent itself on the grounds of Minnesota’s state fairgrounds. 

Even though it was “safe” to do so, my regional media association came back together to do in-person events. To see my colleagues again certainly helped to make 2021 a year to navigate through. That also included my involvement with the local car community

Still, the work continued on in the face of the continuing pandemic. While some plans were executed, others had to be shelved. 

In a sense, 2021 provided some points of frustration. From global events that went awry to local behaviors exhibited towards not creating safe spaces for everyone, this year left some marks on the soul. While they never affected this work, it certainly created some hazards that needed evasive measures to maneuver around.

The industry itself also created havoc on this work. We continue to experience supply chain challenges and the constant battle towards greater change in this business. With the horizon coming sooner than later, I still question whether we are fully prepared for the onslaught of battery-electric propulsion, next-level autonomous vehicle technology, and new regulations that will either foster or restrict these two movements. 

I ponder all of this while recovering from another hospitalization and the subsequent journey towards recovery. There is no will to celebrate or chastise the year. Just to bless it and move forward. 

That’s all we have to do: Move forward. There will be some who won’t. They will try to block our momentum. Do we run through them? Or, maneuver in a way to avoid impact? Which route would you choose?

The late Lee Iacocca should be evoked here: “In the car business…you either lead, follow, or get out of the way!”

Not just in the car business, mind you. In life, society, and the world at large. 

There are so many thoughts I could express here. I learned that this might not be the right forum to express those thoughts. Neither would social media provide a safer space to do so. Not anymore. Too many haters – for lack of a better term – want to express their ideas louder than you. 

I hope I did a good job tuning out the haters. After all, one does not have to absorb that negative energy to accomplish good things in life. 

Let’s just say that 2021 will get mixed reviews from everyone. Instead, I celebrate the good things this past year have yielded. It was a year of milestones, reconnection, and staying true to the core of this work. Even as I deal with another health issue, I remain optimistic that good things will continue to come in 2022. 

All photos by Randy Stern/Victory & Reseda

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