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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Gratitude In Disguise

The non-traditional things to be grateful for in business.

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States, which means it’s time for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, napping during football games, and the beginning of the end of another year. But, more importantly, it’s always a tremendous time to reflect on our many blessings and express gratitude.

For example, I’m beyond grateful for a family that loves me – warts and all; for friends and supporters who have believed in me, sometimes more than I’ve believed in myself; and even for the doubters for their criticism – just or not – has allowed me to grow and be better at what I do.

However, as is often the case when I write, I started thinking about gratitude a little differently. Although it’s usually difficult to see it at the time, our greatest pains and disappointments often contain our most significant opportunities for growth – both personally and professionally. For instance, if you’re a promotional products distributor, it might be things like not winning the RFP you spent countless hours on, having a client shop your creative ideas around to the lowest bidder, or losing a customer due to a supplier issue. In all of those cases, there are things to be grateful for:

  • Losing an RFP – Many promotional products distributorships go out of business because they “won” an RFP only to find the financial constraints to be catastrophic.

  • Client Shopping Your Ideas – That’s not a client you want long-term, as they will work you to the bone without ever realizing their “potential.”

  • Supplier Issue Causes You to Lose a client – While losing a client is never easy, now you know better than to use that supplier for future orders.

So, in that spirit, I’d like to express my appreciation for some of the thankful moments that have come in disguise this year:

  • The Struggle – the joy in any strife is coming through it on the other side as a more innovative, astute, and resourceful businessperson and makes the good times all the sweeter.

  • The Power of No – even though it’s counterintuitive to who I am as a human, it has opened me up to saying more positive, genuine, and profitable yeses.

  • The Boundaries – the services brandivate provides clients are valuable, and while I’ve lost a few potential opportunities this year by holding ground on price, I’m thankful I held firm to the importance, quality, and worth of our work.

  • The Ones that Got Away – not everyone will become a brandivate client. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in business is knowing when the chase for a specific prospect is over, as it helps me focus on both current clients and other, more realistic, opportunities.

  • The Truth – it’s a true gift when someone will tell you the truth, even if I may not want to hear it at the time. This year, I’m thankful to have listened intently to those revelations – both internally and externally – as those perspectives have helped me and brandivate grow.

  • The Resolve – I’ve often said I’m not the most intelligent person in the room, but no one will outwork me. That approach can sometimes feel like a prison sentence, but that effort has been validated through accolades from clients that genuinely humble me.

  • The Jerks – that’s right, jerks, because they have taught me the difference between honest criticism from doubters (which we all need) and baseless, unjustifiable disdain for me and the business I'm trying to build. There is an important distinction as one is critical to growth while the other is little more than jealousy camouflaged as earnest appraisal because they either lack the ability or fortitude to do something different.

With just over five weeks left in 2022, I feel more confident than ever about both the present and the future. I’m beyond thankful for the family, friends, colleagues, and clients that encourage brandivate to create work that truly matters. At the same time, it’s also crucial to be grateful for the not-so-obvious things that, at the time, might have felt negative. In all candor, those seemingly negative experiences, the temporary setbacks that didn’t feel so fleeting in the moment, and the introspection (and self-doubt) that followed hearing the perspectives of others is what has laid the groundwork for a better brandivate for the remainder of 2022 and beyond.

Last, I’d also like to thank everyone who takes the time to read my musings in this blog, listen to the Promo UPFront Podcast, and otherwise support me and brandivate. It doesn’t go unnoticed and is a big part of the mixture that fuels me daily.

I wish everyone heartfelt blessings this Thanksgiving week.

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