Just like that, it’s late November and the start of the holiday season. If you are like us, it’s time to cram as much business activity into two or three weeks before everyone disappears until early January 2021. The season starts with that quintessential American holiday, Thanksgiving – also known as the Day before Black Friday – and this year, due to COVID-19, as the Day We Couldn’t Have 12 People Over For Dinner. Thanksgiving is a great American institution because it is so democratic. Everyone can appreciate the idea of giving thanks, and you don’t have to worry about giving out candy or buying presents.
Thanksgiving also has a special meaning for business and technology. In 2019, according to the National Retail Federation, a record 190 million Americans shopped online during the holiday, a number that is only likely to increase in 2020. Not surprisingly, the folks at Google have found that online search trends are also impacted by Thanksgiving, with pre-holiday ham searches giving way to Christmas tree searches immediately after.
Of course, Thanksgiving is mainly a time for family and friends. But the holiday has some lessons for our work lives as well. It should be a time of putting things in perspective, and appreciating what really matters. For a business, this may mean taking a moment to consider your long-term strategy, rather than today’s fires and crises. It should be a time to celebrate the positive, rather than dwell on what didn’t go according to plan.
Above all, it is a time to exercise the power of giving thanks – to partners, employees, and customers. University of Chicago business school professor Nicholas Epey has done extensive research on the intersection between business success (doing well) and giving thanks (doing good). He has found that thanking someone who has helped you succeed is one of the most powerful ways to create strong business relationships, and that, not surprisingly, business managers that make giving thanks a habit are more successful and happier than those that don’t.
So this year, perhaps during half-time between Dallas and Washington, take a minute to send a personal appreciation email to a colleague or customer – it will do you and your business a world of good.
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