276 days since gap intelligence locked its doors and bunkered down with the rest of the world, which seems like ages ago. The home cooked food here is great, wearing pajama pants all day is a joy, and spending this kind of time with the kids is a rare treasure. At the same time, the challenges of 2020 have been daunting, stressful and ultimately exhausting. I hope that when you read this, the pandemic has the sentiment of a time that happened decades ago, so allow this postcard from the “Ghost of Pandemic Past” be a reminder of how proud we are #tobeagapper.

Simon Sinek Was Right

Long ago, gap intelligence built a company culture that adopted the philosophies of Simon Sinek’s wonderful books Start with Why” and “Leaders Eat Last”. Following Sinek’s philosophy to craft a guiding principle, our “Why”, we pledged to “do great for each other, our clients, and community.” We also fortified our “Circle of Safety” by devoting ourselves to our core values (Trust, Willingness, Ownership, Passion, Professionalism), mission (Empowering People to Bring Great Freakin’ Data to Life), and the vision we charted for ourselves in 2020. The practice of living our why, values, and vision unifies the organization and focuses our efforts on what matters most regardless of what is happening in the world around us.

In the middle of a global pandemic, civil upheaval, and election year, it’s easy to forget just how important company culture is. However, the second we all went remote and stared into the abyss of 2020, we wrapped ourselves in our culture and protected each other from the outside world (just as Simon Sinek said we would).

Living Our Why

We leaned on Google Hangouts to meet and chatted on Slack to communicate daily updates about gap intelligence and the rapidly changing world around us. We held twice monthly company meetings to share progress on our vision and business challenges due to COVID and gave every gapper the floor to ask anything. Three times a week gappers gathered to meditate to better absorb the stresses around us. We had countless happy hours to stay connected, continued our gapUniveristy educations through virtual lunch and learns, and we graduated another class of gapMBA students.

When the country reeled after witnessing the murder of George Floyd, gap intelligence first listened, shared our collective despair, and decided to do more than post a black square on our Instagram. We launched a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee who has in turn created a platform that educates us on inequality and intersectionality. A better understanding of these topics leads to greater self awareness and empathy. In time, gap intelligence will change the way we recruit and hire new gappers. We are committed to taking actions that directly impact inequality in our own community.

Our clarity on our why, values, and mission have enabled us to hire and onboard multiple new gappers during the pandemic who have perfectly fit our culture and contribute to our vision even when remote.

Resiliency and Flexibility

gap intelligence’s style of research is extremely structured as we capture, verify, analyze, and publish every product, price point, placement, and promotion every week. An hour after we publish, the slate is wiped clean and the process starts all over again. gap intelligence’s processes are so hardwired that we can deliver great freakin’ data (GFD) and analysis from our living rooms. The downside to these fortified processes is that they tend to be rigid and inflexible, but gap intelligence became a yoga guru of flexibility during this pandemic.

When retail stores closed their doors, we changed our methodology to collect from our “couches”, armed with countless iPhone shopping apps and phone calls. When the world shifted to ‘Buy Online – Pick Up in Store’, we tracked in-store availability to help our clients understand fulfillment issues. When we noticed that inventories were running low, we started to monitor inventory levels across the omnichannel. As more sales shifted online, we expanded our ability to accurately record online discounts, promotions, and daily deals.

When retailers cautiously opened their doors, gap intelligence data collectors insisted on returning to record the data that “our clients need”. Caren, our wonderful data collector in North Carolina, visited stores on crutches (yes, crutches) to collect the world’s best causal data. When clients needed pictures from the field to verify product availability and promotional displays, we became the paparazzi. That’s resiliency.

Doing Great for Our Community

In times of stress and crisis, it is only human nature to first ensure one’s own safety before looking out for another, but as a values-led company we believe that it’s our responsibility to better our communities. In 2020, the people of gap intelligence chose to help those in need.

At the start of the pandemic we sponsored meals for our brave front line workers.

In July we raised over $40,000 for the Emilio Nares Foundation, a San Diego charity that navigates families through their child’s journey with cancer, and sponsored snack bags for hungry kids in the oncology ward.

We raised money for the San Diego Food Bank, gave our blood to the San Diego Blood Bank, and held a socially distant beach cleanup (masked up of course). This December, we are sponsoring families in the San Diego community who need some extra magic this holiday season.  If you would like a guaranteed spot on Santa’s Nice List, I urge you to reach out to the Emilio Nares Foundation and ask to sponsor a family.

Faced with crisis, a company can recede, hang on to stay flat, or choose to grow. When challenged, the people of gap intelligence chose to grow – for each other, our clients, and our community.

Our Future Island

Another fun fact of 2020 is that gap intelligence has been “HQ-less” for the past three months as we have transitioned to our new location. Sometime in 2021 we will move into our new home at 701 Island Avenue in downtown San Diego. We will be two blocks from Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, and upstairs from Westbrew, San Diego’s best brewery. Please visit us and let us take you out to a ballgame.

The pandemic has taught us that its the people of gap intelligence (aka gappers) that makes us special and we will lead with our people in 2021 and beyond. Our clients need answers, insights, and information to make smart business decisions and while software tools do help, only a gapper can provide the answers for future success.

We’ll launch a new software platform in January. We’ll add to our reach in Germany and the categories we track in the domestic market. We’ll expand the data we collect and deliver even more answers, insights, and predictions. We’ll continue to grow personally and professionally and we’ll continue to make our community a better place. We will live our why and never forget our values whether we are working from home or on our new Island.

We are gappers and we are so proud of the organization we have created in 2020.

We’ll see you in the right-side up world.