Thanksgiving is a funny holiday. It seems today, it’s more about marking the start of the Christmas shopping season than anything else. Yes, we might get together with family and friends, have a good meal, eat and maybe drink too much and, if we’re lucky, get four days off. We might also participate in the annual “What are you thankful for?” tradition and be very sincere. But we have one question: why do we wait for this one day in November to give thanks?
We ask that with something specific in mind: the growing attitude that being grateful and gratitude in general plays an important part in our lives, our leadership, and our businesses. The opening paragraph of “Gratitude: The Leader’s Most Underused but Powerful Tool” located here asks the question,
“Gratitude? I mean, yeah, it’s great, but not really crucial for a leader. Why gratitude? And specifically, why would it make the list in a list of leadership tools?”
Answer: “A growing body of research has uncovered the extraordinary impact of gratitude in every area of life…Gratitude not only elicits behavior in the person who is expressing it, but it also elicits response in the person who is receiving it.” In other words, gratitude is beneficial for you, as well as others in your life. It’s good for your person. It’s good for your relationships. It’s good for your business.
It’s easy to spot a grateful leader. In fact, we can identify them long before we even meet them. How? We observe their company culture. There are always signs.
The first sign is the way their social media presents to the world. It’s full of praise for employees. It’s full of thanks for every customer who mentions them or reviews them. There are encouraging words and shares and likes. This is a pleasant person to follow on Facebook and they usually live up to their online persona.
The next sign of a grateful leader comes from the employees themselves. Walk into this place of business on any day, at any time, and you are likely to see employees going about their work with a smile. They are cooperating with co-workers, being helpful, and always expressing appreciation for the way others contribute to the work. There is probably a board somewhere, which tracks company wins. There is a drawer with stationery and stamps for writing quick thank you notes to customers and vendors. The whole place just feels steeped in sincerity and appreciation. And that’s before the leader ever shows up.
The signs of a grateful leader are found in everything he or she touches. That’s because gratefulness spreads over everything, like a warm blanket, insulating us from the chill of the world. It holds us and keeps us. It buffers our interactions and lifts our spirits. There is no doubt, gratitude is good for all of us, and the grateful leader can make it possible for others to benefit. A grateful culture starts when the leader intentionally cultivates gratitude.
So for this year’s annual Thanksgiving post from us, Carter and Taylor, we want you to know that not a day goes by that we are not grateful for all of you: clients, employees, family, and friends. Without you all, Spark Marketer would not be what it is today. We also hope, for those of you who are the leaders in your business, that you take gratitude to heart, knowing it is good for us all.
–Taylor & Carter
Taylor & Carter here. We’ve had several conversations this year about all the things that have come our way and how grateful we are for the opportunities we’ve been given to work with the greatest clients in the world and the best employees a company could ever hope to have, and for the relationships that have been formed or solidified this year. Without a doubt, it has been another great year, personally, and in our business. Looking back, here are some of the ways our company has changed, shifted, and come into its own this year, and what we look forward to going into 2017.
The Vision Summit & Client Tour
One of the things we are most grateful for this year is the people around us who have continually pushed us to get better, be better, and get ready for the next chapter. Early in 2016, we received some very wise encouragement to really look at our business from the inside-out, and started by closing down our business for two and a half days. During this time, we gathered the Spark Marketer staff off-site, in order to hone in on what is most important to us, and define our Core Values, Purpose, and Mission. We called it our “Vision Summit,” and it was amazing what came out of those sessions! We are now very clear and intentional about our company’s Core Values, and what our Purpose is, which is “To build a better world by strengthening Blue Collar Businesses.” If you haven’t done this for your business, I would highly recommend doing it in 2017.
Taylor Hills & Avery Soderman of Wells & Sons
Taking a client tour up the East Coast and through the Heartland this summer was also an eye opener, giving us a glimpse into the challenges that many of our clients face. While a lot of you are in the same industries, it doesn’t mean you all have the same marketing challenges. It was incredibly insightful to be able to spend some time with our clients, one-on-one, and to hear their unique challenges. This tour has made our commitment and resolve to staying in front of any changes in online marketing that much stronger, in order to help our clients at the highest level possible.
What Drives Us Forward
Developing our Core Values, Vision, and Purpose, together with our nationwide “Tour of Clients,” have been the two driving forces behind our plans as we gear up for the future. Getting clearer on who our customers really are, as well as who and what we want to be for them, has been the most important thing we have done to date. It has impacted the focus of the podcast, Guys In Trucks, as well as the future products we would like to create to help blue collar businesses better serve their customers.
But there is something every business owner knows, even if he won’t admit it: Your business cannot grow or change unless you do. This year, Carter and I knew we had some work to do personally in order to lead Spark Marketer and Guys In Trucks into the future. We attended quite a few conferences, seminars, and groups this year to help us become better leaders, planners, and doers , and to get us to the next level. We also hired several coaches to help us stay on track, because we know we can wander around a bit if we’re not careful.
So what exactly are we doing? It’s really simple: We are preparing ourselves for what is next. Working towards the future with great intent. Getting as many ducks in a row as we possibly can, knowing that ducks don’t walk straight. Why? Because we’re going big! That’s right. We have decided to dream big and go after it, just like we talk about on Guys In Trucks. We now have a mission and a purpose that are clear – and they are big. They are much bigger than just the two of us, in fact. And they are powered 100% out of a desire to impact the world, not just grow our personal net worth.
Taylor Hill & Carter Harkins
A Big Purpose Requires A Strong Focus
In fact, the decision to pursue our stated purpose means that there will have to be more changes very soon. In order to better align and focus our ongoing projects and platforms with this purpose, we will be changing the name of our podcast to The Blue Collar Proud Show early in the first quarter of 2017. We are writing a book by the same name (just drop the word “show”), and who knows what other opportunities might emerge. If it helps us fulfill our purpose, then we are open and willing to consider it.
We’ve all got one life to lead, and we decided we want to live ours doing what we love: Serving others. We can’t think of a group of people that deserve that service any more than blue collar business owners. So, we are dreaming big and we want to do big things for this industry. We love you guys and believe it’s time to start a movement. We are Blue Collar Proud and hope you are too!
Happy New Year!
-Taylor & Carter