I’ve thought a lot about gratitude recently.

Every day, after I finish writing my Morning Pages, I spend about five minutes writing in my daily journal. The first prompt is about gratitude, requiring me to write three things I’m grateful for. There are countless articles about the benefits of starting every day with gratitude, so incorporating it into my morning routine was a no-brainer.


Yesterday started with a double bonus. After I finished writing in my journal, the theme for my Daily Calm meditation was Otsukaresama, which is a Japanese phrase used throughout the work day to say “Good job” or “Thank you for your work”.

I’ve had gratitude on my mind because I’ve been living my dream at work for the past nine months, and I’m grateful to so many people for their role in helping make that happen. The challenge is in making sure every one of them knows how grateful I am. Although I seize every opportunity to express my gratitude, I know I could do better. That’s something I’m working on this year.

Sure, starting every day by writing down three things you’re grateful for is a healthy practice. But it’s not enough. You need to carry your gratitude beyond your private thoughts and writing. Thank the people who’ve helped you or who’ve had an impact on your life. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate them.

That’s one thing I don’t do often enough, and I know she reads this blog, so now I have no excuse!

What do you do to practice gratitude? Could you do more?

Leave a comment and let’s chat about it. Or hit me up on Twitter.

Suspiciously Passionate

suspiciously passionate

A respected colleague referred to me as “suspiciously passionate” yesterday. I’m not sure if it was a compliment, an inside joke or something else. I chose to take it as a compliment.

I’m proud of the passion I bring to my work, especially when others notice. While presenting to a group of people from our new Digital Transformation Office yesterday, one person started her question by stating, “You’re very passionate about this project.” I even got a tweet about it from one of my favorite corporate leaders last night:

Or how about these recent tweets from some of my favorite people at American Family?

Passion is my Brand

Personal branding is a popular topic. When I started actively improving my life, I decided to make passion my brand at work. Is there really any other choice? The day I’m not passionate about what I’m doing is the day I’ll know it’s time to move on to something else.

We spend almost half our waking hours at work. I believe we should make that time matter or find something else that’s a better match. Life is too short to slave away at something that leaves you feeling apathetic and indifferent at the end of the day.

Now, about that colleague who described me as suspiciously passionate. At first, I wondered why my passion made him suspicious. But then I realized it’s a good thing. I want everyone to be suspicious about my passion. I want them to wonder how I do it. Why I do it? What drives me?

The brave ones will ask me. That’s just the opportunity I need to pass some of it along, because…

Passion is Contagious

Spread it.

Photo by Clark Tibbs


loyaltyLet’s talk about loyalty.

I celebrated my 26th anniversary at American Family Insurance this month. Go ahead. Make your old guy jokes. I’ll wait…

Ok, with that out of the way, here’s a quick overview of what 26 years of loyalty to one employer has looked like for me.

  • 3 states (MN, IA, WI)
  • 4 cities (Eden Prairie, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Madison)
  • 6 offices + 3 years of working from home
  • 5 divisions
  • 9 job titles plus 8+ months working and coaching in our lean startup innovation accelerator
  • 18 different managers

I tried to remember how many desks I’ve occupied, but we move around so often that any number I come up with would only be an estimate. I’ve definitely had more desks than titles, though, and probably more desks than managers.

The reaction I get when I tell people outside the company I’ve been there 26 years is priceless. But inside the company, I live firmly between two groups of people–those who’ve been there less than 5 years and those who’ve been there more than 40. My tenure just isn’t a big deal. As a matter of fact, it’s almost impossible to attend a meeting where there isn’t at least one person in the room who’s been there longer than I have. Longevity is the norm, at least for the time being.

What is loyalty?

People tend to call long-term employees loyal, but loyalty is not the same thing as years of service or willingness to move to a different city or office. Those things don’t mean much if you’re not increasing, or at least maintaining, your level of motivation and passion for your work every year. I’m 50 years old with 26 years of service behind me, and I’m more engaged than ever. Every day I show up driven to do whatever it takes to serve customers, business partners and colleagues, and to learn as much as possible to be an even better employee tomorrow. That’s loyalty.

It’s a two-way street, though. The company has also shown its loyalty to me, especially this past year when they encouraged me to pursue my passion for innovation by allowing me to step away from my marketing job for a year to work on an innovation team and develop my coaching skills in our Ignite lean startup accelerator.

I’ll always be grateful to my leadership team for approving my request, and to my social media marketing colleagues for taking on extra work every day for a year so I could pursue my dream. How do I pay them back? It starts by continuing to bring my best self to the office every day.

That’s what this blog is about; building and maintaining my best self every day, both at work and at home. I’ve been disrupting myself for the past 18 months, and that disruption will continue. Stick around, and I’ll share stories about how I’m accelerating my life and taking control of my future.

It’s never too late, and I’m here to prove it.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash