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Life is hard, kids. Lucky for you, if you’re an actual kid, the really hard stuff is reserved for the adults—like freeing a big ship that got stuck in a tight place.
While the world gathered around the image of a lone digger, working scoop by scoop to unclog the Suez Canal in March 2021, Flexport Founder and CEO Ryan Petersen wrote a children’s book.
The Logistics Story of the Year
The Big Ship and the Little Digger is an encapsulation of all that 2021 has turned out to be. Namely, an absurdly challenging exercise in keeping global trade afloat, as it rapidly outgrows itself, leaving us one recourse: working together to solve the problem.
“I wrote this book for the same reason I started Flexport. I’m an optimist, and I believe optimism is contagious,” shares Ryan. “The Little Digger’s attitude can inspire children to do big things fearlessly.”
Accordingly, the Little Digger—a yellow excavator with a sweet smile—is a character study in resilience, especially the kind needed this year.
From his perspective, digging out the ship might seem impossible. The wind has dealt a severe blow. The stuck ship is massive. In real life, the excavator operator reported feeling terror that the ship might topple on him as he dislodged it over the course of days.
But in this version of the tale, illustrated with obvious joy by Flexport designer Yanni Davros, the Little Digger plugs away optimistically. His persistence attracts a tugboat, a pump, and a parade of other diggers to join him.
Eventually, their combined efforts clear the Canal for other ships to continue their routes, and the world rejoices in receiving all the goods inside the containers.
Digging into Determination
There’s a reason everyone was captivated by the saga of the Ever Given. We all know what it’s like to be stuck, but with determination and teamwork, it’s easier to push through and save the day. The Little Digger’s got determination in spades.
Despite the magnitude of his task, he is able to smile to himself, knowing that “even though he was little, if he kept trying, he could do something big.”
It’s a feel-good ending that spotlights the power of anyone willing to take on a problem much larger than themselves. In a year like this, it’s the attitude we need.
All proceeds go toward Flexport.org's humanitarian logistics programs for COVID-19 relief. In 2020, Flexport delivered 425 million units of personal protective equipment and other relief items to frontline healthcare workers on five continents.