On Gratitude

I will never forget 2008-2010.

landscape sea horizon mountain cloud sunrise sunset night morning lake dawn river dusk evening reflection reservoir body of water loch inspirational landscape atmospheric phenomenonOn June 1, 2008, I basically sold 50% of my 5-year-old business to a CPA firm.  It seemed a natural fit and all was set for a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.

My business, which was providing HR and workforce advice to small businesses, had grown pretty well since I started it in 2003.  But I needed to take the business to the next level, and the CPA firm was poised to help me get there.

Then the Great Recession hit.

My company revenue went down 70% that first year, and then another 70% the second year.  I couldn’t buy a client; my CPA partners were furious, to say the least, and I was wondering if bankruptcy wasn’t the best option for me.

Then, finally, a few key clients came on board.  Slowly, the business came back.  And then it grew a lot more.  And now, since 2014, our revenue has grown 245%.  I have a team of 11 employees.

In many ways, I’ve never been busier.  I’m travelling consistently for business (40 plane flights last year, probably 50-60 this year).  We’re juggling literally dozens and dozens of clients throughout the western U.S. and Canada.

When people see my schedule, they express sympathy: “Wow, you must be crazy busy all the time”.

Today, I respond by saying, “I’m not busy, I’m grateful.”

Today I’m doing things I could only dream of ten years ago.  I travel around the country giving speeches to organizations that actually pay me to express my thoughts about leadership, contemporary workforce issues and the like.  I wrote a second book in 2016, and I’m revising my original book on management, years after it was published.  I’ve got the privilege of being a strategic advisor to numerous executives and leaders, and my talented team of professional provides HR outsourcing to businesses of all sizes in California and beyond.

I’m in a constant state of gratitude for all of this.  When you do things you love, you’re really not busy.  I don’t have to go to work; I want to go to work.  I’m never bored, I see how I make an impact and am grateful for the opportunity to do both.

I’m seriously in gratitude for my talented team of professionals, for my business partners and business relationshipw.  I’m getting the opportunity to be a mentor (and be mentored by) young professionals, for which I’m hugely grateful.

Nothing’s perfect, of course; there are challenges and drama frequently.  But I’m grateful that 90% of the time there isn’t drama.

I don’t know what the future holds for my company.  A recession fairly soon seems inevitable.  But my business is more mature now and should be able to withstand a downturn in ways we could not in 2009.

Did it take a recession and decade recovery for me to establish an attitude of gratitude?  Or was it simply a sudden realization that I’m doing the things I’ve only dreamed of?

I don’t know the answer.  But until I do, I’m grateful.  Every day.

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