Kneading & baking handmade bread anchors us & connects people to millennia-old traditions or bold flavors & aromas. Kneading stretches the strands of gluten in the dough, allowing for more expansion during fermentation. Baking rises the dough into perfect morsels of flavor. Gratitude in business is similar to this, as you knead acts of kindness & gratitude into everyday cultures & networks, the strands of human connections are stretched & fortified, allowing for more expansion of values-aligned business connections. Baking allows for those strands of connections to be raised into a beautiful aroma of aligned culture (from a leaders to teams to customers to networks).
Reflecting on how best to give gratitude to during this holiday season (tumultuous & triggering for many) & reflecting on the end of a trying year for most, there are many ways to bake gratitude into your business, from acts of kindness to exercising the power of the purse to old school letter writing. Purposefully leading your business towards gratefulness sustains happy customers, giving thanks to teammates & makes for increased trust within your networks. Living a life of gratitude makes you a more empathetic leader.
Gratitude is the act of giving thanks for anything good or positive in your life. In servant leadership this is especially applied to the people around you. In the startup world it is even more important as building a team that will succeed through the highs and lows is essential to success. Feeling gratitude in your own life will help you get through the tough times; expressing gratitude to those around you will help them get through the tough times.
I have also heard gratitude called an “affirmation of goodness.” Interestingly, this goodness comes from others. By being grateful, we are simply affirming the fact that we are not sufficient all by ourselves in terms of relationships and achieving our aims in life. We certainly need others around us who either motivate and support us or who directly work for us or with us to make our goals reachable.
As I live my values of integrity & abundance, here are actions YOU can take today and everyday to bake gratitude into business decisions, actions & transactions.
FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS / CLIENTS
1. Send them a heart-felt Thank You note.
YOU know your customers and clients. A handwritten note is the BEST way to really stand out from the competition in a service-based business. If you are B to B business, a simple email or hand-written note to the company's leadership will allow for you to stand out from all of the other contractors or consultants.
Going old school is new school!
2. Spend quality time together.
Listen, truly listen when they need some help or a new product.
Good old-fashion customer service makes everyone feel amazing!
3. Teach your customers something new.
Give them a free webinar, a free case study, a downloadable PDF to get started on their “next steps” in your process or insight.
4. Shout-out to your customers on social media.
A quick Tweet, a Linked In story shoutout, a FB live shoutout to your loyal customers, means the world to them. The network effect takes a hold of good acts of kindness and multiplies the good feelings. “At Poshly, a New York City-based data collection company for the beauty industry, a dedicated marketing staffer known as the “community manager” executes a social media strategy based primarily on showing online appreciation for Poshly’s 400,000 members.” –American Express, “Why Giving Thanks Could Be Your Most Cost-Effective Business Strategy
5. Send a sweet treat.
There are tons of thank you programs where you can send some treats, cookies, etc. anywhere. Try it out.
FOR EXTENDING GOODWILL TO YOUR NETWORK
6. Give of your time.
You know what your clients and customers need, so give them what they are hungry for.
“When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time”― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?
7. Personalize it!
Giving gifts to your network is just good business, like a starbucks card to someone you know really connects with people over coffee or like a calendar of inspirational quotes to someone who inspires others.
8. Go old school, again.
A simple hand-written card to a colleague or mentor. Here are a couple of sample letters:
- I learn something from you every day. The business world can be very convoluted at times and I am thankful you help me steer my boat in the right way.
- Your actions always speak louder than words and I am honored to know you and collaborate with you.
- As I go throughout my day, your pearls of wisdom carry me through the valleys and encourage me through the uphills. Thank you.
9. Engage on social media.
You know how it feels when you share a quote, an article, some pics form a networking event, anything you feel passionate about; it's personal and sometimes vulnerable. To show gratitude for someone else's boldness of being vulnerable and sharing their passions, like the post, comment or share on the post.
Sharing is caring.
10. Include your network.
When you have an opportunity to share someone else's wins, their work, their expertise, or quote them in an article, do it. Include them in what you are doing, what you are scaling, what you are launching. When I have the opportunity to write for Forbes or be featured on TV, I always try to include a portfolio company of mine, an investor doing fabulous work, an academic whose research is phenomenal.
FOR YOUR TEAM
Happiness makes employees 12% more productive.
11. Organize a team-bonding event.
In the new year is a perfect time for getting together when it is safe, to bond as a team. Even over zoom, getting together just to check on each other or share a coffee mid morning can really bond the team around personal milestones or celebrations.
12. Invite them to lunch.
It's so much more than a meal. Invite them to sit down with you and talk about gratitude, thankfulness and mindfulness. Invite them to share a meal with you to talk about your values or what you both did over the weekend. Invite them to share in dreams and goals. Anything is great to connect & share some gratitude for working together.
13. Actually say “thank you” face to face.
Be intentional with your thankfulness and gratitude. Listen and speak from the heart. The words, “thank you” can be used so quickly and effortlessly, but when they are used with intentionality in the act of thanking someone for a great job well done and giving them examples of how you are thankful for their wonderful work, they know you are being sincere.
14. Pause & ask.
Especially during deadline season, in the rush of things, or during the holidays where family & work gets ind of crazy for most, pause and ask if your colleagues / team members are OK, if they need someone to advocate for them or champion them, or help on a project. Gratitude can be shown and expressed by the things we say or share.
15. Inner gratitude.
All of this is easier when you cultivate the art of appreciation in your inner life as well. How do you feel about yourself? How do you feel about what you do? If you’re always grumpy, it will reflect in your role as a leader. It’s difficult to give others what you don’t practice on your own. Learn to appreciate yourself first. When you are grateful for every bit of progress you make, it’s easier to communicate it to those around you. This makes the atmosphere at work comfortable for those who are working with you.
GIVING THANKS WITH YOUR POCKETBOOK
16. Shop local.
Your personal pocketbook spending is a statement of your professionalism, so show it through where you shop.
17. Shop with intension.
Use apps and resources like Buy Up Index to help you intensionally shop for products that help women advance and have women on their leadership teams. They rate everyday brands, products and the companies behind them, so you can look up your favorite brands to see how they measure up. The BUY UP index employs a proprietary methodology to score companies on four major areas: Women Employees, Women’s Leadership, Corporate Citizenship, and Marketing.
Learn which companies do the right thing, then shop for integrity.
18. Contract with a colleague.
The most flattering thank you is to actually work with someone you trust and actually pay for their services, thanking them for their time and their expertise. Shift from asking them to “pick your brain” to honoring them with “rent your brain”.
19. Give to a not for profit in someone's honor.
I am a monthly donor to Black & Brown Founders, so I gave in 2021 in honor of one of my colleagues who advocates for gender & racial equity, Sarah Bacerra. She was so honored. Read her Linked In post HERE.
Last, but certainly not least … number 20.
20. Build a culture of gratitude.
If you, as servant leader, show & express gratitude to all around you, a culture of gratitude is created and nurtured. Imagine what it would be like to have an entire team or network would be made up of people who are mentally strong, productive, healthy and persuasive. Gratitude really is that powerful. Try it on, see what the impact is.
BAKE IT IN! purposefully & intentionally. (*periodddd)
Baking gratitude into your business takes careful & intensional acts, thoughtfulness, empathy, the focus should be on the appreciation and not the monetary value of that appreciation. A gift card can be spent, but a thank you note propped up in an isolated home office can make all of the difference every time someone looks at it.