When I arrived at Inc. in the beginning of 2020, I had plans. Big plans. Of course, they went pear-shaped as the pandemic went hockey stick, and most had to be radically altered, if not scrapped altogether.

I think most of you know what that was like.

In fact, when I think about it today, so many problems came through the door so fast, I'm not sure I remember them all, though I definitely still feel the body aches and emotional pains of being hit with each of them -- sort of as if at some point there had been a real hockey stick involved.

I know you know what that is like, too.

And yet, despite all that, here we are, still standing.

And, more important, here you are, on the 2021 Inc. 5000 list! Congratulations!

Building one of the fastest-growing companies in America in any year is a remarkable achievement for you and your team. Building one in the crisis we've lived through is just plain amazing. The accomplishment comes with hard work, smart pivots, great leadership, and the help of a whole lot of people, and that's something we see throughout the stories of this year's honorees. Even if you aren't featured, I know you'll recognize yourself in them.

Speaking of recognizing, 2021 is, as I write this, starting to look a bit too much like 2020. I think, though, I'll flinch a little less at the hockey stick this time. Not because the trouble, the disruption, and the sickness and even death caused by anti-vaxxers and political opportunists are any less real, but because I have 5,000 examples of how to not only survive, but thrive as well. I've seen 5,000 ways you solve problems, push forward, and carve a path for a better business, a more successful team, a more satisfied group of clients -- even a better community.

I don't know that it's made me 5,000 times more optimistic. But I'm making new plans. And one of them is to be with you here next year when we finally, after all this time, triumphantly, raise a glass, face to face, to your continued success. Cheers!