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Words of Gratitude (#12) for Jody Ordioni and AchievEE.org
Words of Gratitude (#12) for Jody Ordioni and AchievEE.org 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


Last summer, while in Chicago for the Employee Engagement Awards, I had the chance to meet Jody Ordioni in person.

Jody owns and runs a talent branding consultancy called Brandemix. In early 2018, she decided to create an online community called AchievEE devoted to advancing the work of employee engagement. And, within months, the community was already active and growing quickly.

When we met, the blend of her New York-ness and my Midwesterness made for a crazy kind of alchemy immediately. We started bouncing ideas around and before dinner was over, had agreed to collaborate on some projects.

Jody is the unstoppable force. In the short time I’ve known her, I’ve come to realize that when Jody decides something is going to happen, it does. I’ve been fortunate to jump in on a couple projects with her including producing a monthly webcast called What’s nEXt with AchievEE and helping host their first in-person event in New York on October 29.

It’s been fun and a privilege to surf on Jody’s wake as she relentlessly drives forward.

Jody, I’m really grateful that our work brought us together. I admire you and am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with you and the team. I’m excited to see what kind of impact we can make together in the future.  Thank you for all that you do for the community.  

 

Words of Gratitude (#11) for Jamee Kugler
Words of Gratitude (#11) for Jamee Kugler 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


It was about five years ago, give or take, that I was working at Quantum Workplace and looking to add a marketer to my team there. I’d interviewed a number of people and was getting close to making a decision.

Then a note arrived in my email box from my friend, Stuart, introducing me to someone who he thought I should consider for this role.

I explained to him that I was late in the process and had some pretty good candidates already, but he insisted I make time to meet with this woman. He was certain I would like her.

He was right.

When Jamee and I first met for a coffee, I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to work with her. Jamee is the kind of person you want on your team. In addition to being talented and hardworking, she lifts everyone up through her positivity. She’s got a contagious smile and a legendary laugh.

Jamee is the kind of person who makes you feel happy any time you see her. She’s also strong and determined.

This year, Jamee inspired me through her strength and resolve.

It’s a joy to know her.

And, she’s a veteran. So, today I want to share my gratitude and admiration for Jamee Kugler.

Jamee, I’m so grateful to know you and to have had the opportunity to work with you. You are an amazing, strong person and you make a positive impact on others. Thank you for your service to our country and thank you for being you. I appreciate you.  

Words of Gratitude (#10) for Jen Benz
Words of Gratitude (#10) for Jen Benz 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


Earlier this fall, I wrote a post about the power of asking for help. For a lot of people, asking for help is hard but accepting help is even harder.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve asked for a lot of help to figure out our business model, marketing strategies, and a long list of other things.

Back in August, while in San Diego to speak at the WELCOA conference, I had a chance to catch up with my friend, Jen Benz. Jen is the CEO and Founder of Benz Communications, a communications and marketing agency focused on employee benefits.

Jen and I first connected probably eight years ago through social media back in the golden era of Twitter. When we eventually met in person at the annual SHRM Conference, it was pretty clear that we had a lot of overlap in our thinking and passions professionally.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege to both collaborate on work with Jen and spend time with her socially. She is a wonderful human being who I always look forward to seeing.

She is the kind of CEO and leader we need more of in this world. She is focused and driven to both grow her business and her people. She cares deeply about her employees and is constantly thinking about how to create a work experience that amplifies each of them.

She’s also a brilliant strategist.

So, when we were catching up back in August, she asked me a bunch of questions about our business. As I shared with her some of the challenges we were facing, she said she thought she could help. She offered to carve out some time to help me think through strategy.

I jumped at the opportunity. And, I am so thankful I did.

In the space of just a couple hours, as I laid out how we were approaching our business, Jen prompted me to see it in a new way. She helped me climb over a few mental barriers and open doors to new opportunities. That conversation changed our business in important and beneficial ways.

I’m so glad I said yes to the offer of help.

Jen, thank you for everything you are and everything you do. You are a role model and an inspiration to me. Your investment of time and wisdom in me this year has had a profound impact. I’m so grateful to have you as a friend and mentor. You are amazing. And you are appreciated.  

Words of Gratitude (#9) for Linda Jonas
Words of Gratitude (#9) for Linda Jonas 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


I met Linda Jonas at a small HR event probably five or six years ago.

When you meet Linda, you immediately feel like her friend. She approaches everyone she meets with a friendly sparkle in her eye and a truly genuine smile.

Once I had a chance to talk with her, I realized that she was as passionate about making work better as I was. She was also wicked smart and clever.  This was someone who I wanted in my network for future collaborations.

Following that first meeting, Linda and I began chatting over video from time to time about what we were each trying to accomplish professionally. It seemed that every time I had a chat with Linda, she was somewhere else on the planet–Sydney, Berlin, San Francisco. And, she had traveled far beyond that in between the chats.

Linda describes herself as a “global nomad.” Each time we met, she has great stories to share about her travels and experience all over the globe. With apologies to Dos Equis, Linda is my real life version of “the most interesting person in the world.”

When we found ourselves in the same place at a conference or event, we’d carve out some time to catch up and talk shop.

Over time, we became friends.

Then, a little over two years ago when I decided it was time to go self-employed for good, Linda was the first one to say “We need your help.”  The company where Linda works, Small Improvements, became my first HR tech client. It was an incredibly important moment for me on this journey.

She had always been a champion of my work and she was the reason that Small Improvements decided to bet on a partnership with me. Over the past two years, we’ve collaborated on two ebooks, a podcast series, video content and a variety of blog posts.

Small Improvements has been a great client to work with because we have so much overlap in our philosophy about work and employee engagement. But also because I get to work with someone who I enjoy and respect so much in Linda.

There are few things I love more than doing meaningful work with a good friend. And few things are more valuable than a good friend.

Linda, thank you for your friendship and for believing in me. You are a good friend. Few people have had shown me the kind of support and belief that you have over the past two years. I’m so grateful for our friendship and for the opportunity to know you. 

Words of Gratitude (#8) for Rajkumari Neogy
Words of Gratitude (#8) for Rajkumari Neogy 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


Earlier this week, I wrote about how one conversation can have a tremendous impact on your life. Today’s post is dedicated to another conversation and individual who had a major impact on me.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to meet and spend some time with Rajkumari Neogy.

From the first moment we met, I was captivated by Rajkumari’s honesty and authenticity. It was clear that this was a person of depth and wisdom.

Among the things that Rajkumari does is coaching. During our first one-on-one conversation, she stopped me at one point and asked if it was okay if she shifted into coaching mode for a bit. As someone hungry for development, I welcomed it.

Over the course of the next 30 minutes or so, I was confronted with some pretty powerful insights about how my mindset and language were holding me back in some pretty significant ways. I also learned about how a few key relationships in my life were influencing me in ways I wasn’t aware of.

This one conversation set me down a path that has helped me drop some invisible, psychological baggage that I’d been carrying for a very long time.

Every conversation with Rajkumari leaves me a better, smarter person. When you take a minute to scroll around her website, you’ll quickly see what I mean. If you need someone to help you or your team to breakthrough, reach out and engage with Rajkumari. You will be blown away.

Rajkumari, thank you for giving me the gift of insight. Your kind investment of coaching and care in me has made an impact that will be lifelong. I’m so grateful to know you and I look forward to learning from and with you in the future. 

Words of Gratitude (#7) to Tim Sackett
Words of Gratitude (#7) to Tim Sackett 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


Anyone who knows me very well knows how much I love my work. I love to talk about work and the workplace and engagement, etc. Probably too much.

I’m also a pretty relentless relationship builder, always looking to connect to new and interesting people.

This combination of things has led to having a network of friends all over the world who share a common passion for the work. These are people who, when we get together to have a few beers, end up in long conversations about what else…how to make work better for people.

My professional journey has led me to connect with some really amazing people who I now consider friends.  One of those people is Tim Sackett.

Tim is a prolific blogger, speaker and crusader for better HR and recruiting practices. If your work involves recruiting and you don’t know about Tim, you need to fix that. He published a book this year called The Talent Fix: A Leader’s Guide to Recruiting Great Talent that you should probably buy.

Tim and I first connected through social media and then in person at a variety of HR and Talent Conferences over the years. One of the things that immediately drew me to Tim beyond his passion for his work, was his willingness to take a stand and occasionally espouse an unpopular opinion. While I may not always agree with Tim’s opinions, I always respect his authenticity and courage.

As I have been ramping up my business, Tim has been among the most supportive people in my network. Tim has been generous in his advice and support. He’s even helped me find business. One of my awesome clients, PeopleDoc, would not be doing work with me today if Tim had not introduced us.

Friends are those who come through for you when you need them. And Tim has done that a number of times for me.

Earlier this fall, one of my longtime friends and I had decided we wanted to go to a football game at a stadium neither of us had visited before. One of the options on our list was to go see a Michigan State football game in East Lansing.

Tim happens to live in that area, so I reached out and asked if he could help us find tickets. He did far better than that. We had the opportunity to have dinner with Tim and his wife the night before the game and then he invited us to tailgate with his friends. It was an awesome experience that would not have happened without Tim’s generosity.

Tim, I am grateful for your friendship, support, and time. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunities we’ve had this year to hang out talking about work and life. Your help and encouragement as I grow my business has been incredibly important. You have come through for me every time. That’s rare and amazing. Thank you. 

Words of Gratitude (#6) for Jeff Havens
Words of Gratitude (#6) for Jeff Havens 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


As I reflect on my life, I can point to a handful of specific conversations that changed things for me. One of those happened a little over two years ago with Jeff Havens.

Jeff is a fellow keynote speaker who is very successful. If you don’t know about Jeff, visit his site. He’s funny and smart and has a style that’s unique and memorable. He’s also a really good writer. Sign up for his newsletter and you’ll see what I mean.

I’d seen Jeff out on the speaking circuit years before we met. And if I’m honest, I wanted not to like him. His presentation style is quite different than mine and he’s really good at making people laugh. I think I was probably jealous of him and my insecurity at the time told me I shouldn’t like him.

But as fate would have it, we ended up being represented by the same agent, the amazing Donna Buttice. She introduced us and suggested that we talk.

As it turns out, Jeff is a genuinely nice and gracious guy. It was impossible for me not to like him.

In our first conversation, we spent some time comparing notes and talking about our journeys as speakers. When Jeff described to me how he had scaled and managed his speaking business, it sounded a lot like what I aspired to build.

The challenge I’d been facing is that I hadn’t really understood how the business worked and was missing a business model that would make it work. Jeff seemed to have the answer.

Lucky for me, Jeff operates from an abundance mindset. Despite the fact that we sometimes might compete for the same job, Jeff shared some amazing and poignant advice with me.

That conversation set me down the path I am now traveling. His advice gave me the nudge and the confidence to go all in on being a speaker and author. What an amazing gift that I will probably never be able to adequately repay.

Since that conversation, we’ve collaborated on a few things and have done some mutual promotion. It’s been a lesson in abundance and playing what Simon Sinek has labeled the “infinite game.”

Jeff, thank you for your generosity and wisdom. You have had a profound impact on my career and life. I look forward to repaying the favor as we navigate this crazy business in the future.  

 

Words of Gratitude (#5) to my mentor, Cy Wakeman
Words of Gratitude (#5) to my mentor, Cy Wakeman 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


About fifteen years ago, I remember sitting at the back of the room for a concurrent session during a conference I was attending. The speaker, to my surprise, was dynamic and funny and engaging. And, she left me with real stuff to think about.  I was really impressed. So I grabbed one of her cards and I held on to it, hoping someday I might be able to hire her to do some work with me.

Eventually, a year and a half later, I was able to engage with her on a big project for the company where I worked. Over the course of that year, we did some amazing work together. And we became friends.

Her name was Cy Wakeman.  If you don’t know Cy, you need to. She is an amazing keynote speaker with the kind of natural charisma that makes other speakers jealous. And she’s written some great books that will change your thinking in powerful ways.

Over the past decade and a half, few people have had a bigger impact on my career than Cy. From the first moments we met, she’s been a mentor and champion for me. My thinking about leadership, management, and organizational culture has her fingerprints all over it.

Cy has coached me through some tough times professionally with great advice and guidance. When I got my legendary “you suck” list of feedback during my corporate years, she helped me recover and turn that experience into rocket fuel.

When I left my last corporate gig and wasn’t sure what was next, she found space within her organization for me to do what I did best.

It was Cy who helped me understand that this crazy and wonderfully weird career of public speaking and writing was even possible. Her generosity with advice and encouragement and support has overwhelmed me over the years.

Even now, in this past year, while her business is growing like never before she’s busier than ever, she found time to graciously write the forward for my new book and to help spread that word. It’s humbling to have a friend and mentor like this in my life.

Cy, you are the best. Thank you for everything you’ve done to help me along the way. I’m so grateful to know you and call you a friend. I just wish we could find more time in our crazy lives to drink wine and solve the world’s problems like in the old days. 🙂

Words of Gratitude #4: The Gift of Grandparents
Words of Gratitude #4: The Gift of Grandparents 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


If you haven’t caught on yet, I have been fortunate in so many ways in my life. Another example is that as a man in my forties, I still have two grandparents in my life. My mom’s parents, Bob and Lois, are both in their nineties today and I’m so grateful to have had so many years with them so far.

My grandparents are two of the most positive and loving people I’ve ever met. They have been amazing role models for our family for what a healthy relationship looks like.

I always knew that my grandma and grandpa loved me growing up because they always made time to be with me (and all of their other grandkids). They understood time was the currency of relationships and they invested heavily in us.

My grandpa was a postmaster in the postal service for decades. He introduced me to stamp collecting as a child and the two of us spent hours and hours cutting, soaking, and sorting stamps together.

My grandparents introduced me to golf on their small rural Iowa golf course. When I think back on it now, I’m sure it had to be maddening at times for them to take my cousins and me out golfing. I wasn’t very good and didn’t have a lot of patience for getting better. But, I don’t ever remember my grandparents losing patience with me on the course. I only remember joy and fun.

They always seemed so happy just to be with us. That is still true to this day.

Over the past decade, I’ve had a number of great conversations with my grandparents about the past and about their story. Through that, I’ve learned how it came to be they don’t hold grudges and choose to forgive easily. They know that life is too short and relationships are too precious to waste on petty arguments. They saw others make this mistake early in their lives and vowed not to repeat that same mistake.

I hope to someday live up to the example that my grandparents have set for me.

Grandma and Grandpa, thank you for loving me, supporting me, and showing me what it means to live a happy, positive life. You have set such a great example for all of us in the family and beyond. I’m so grateful for all of the time you’ve shared with me throughout my life. I love you.  

Words of Gratitude #3: Remembering My Roots
Words of Gratitude #3: Remembering My Roots 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


As a parent, it’s almost universally true that our children don’t express a lot of gratitude for all we do for them. They don’t seem to appreciate the effort and sacrifice it takes to keep them alive and hopefully get them to adulthood safely without screwing them up too badly.

And, our kids can be pretty nasty to us at times, particularly in those golden teenage years where even the sweetest kids have moments where they behave like assholes. My parents, and my mother in particular, still have nightmares about my teen years. I took being a know-it-all jackass to the art form level with my parents.

My Mom and Dad with our oldest son, Dylan.

So today, I wanted to dedicate my words of gratitude to my parents. I know that I have never adequately thanked them for the sacrifice and commitment it took to raise me.

There are things about me today that I take for granted as strengths I can lean on. Things like a strong work ethic, a deep sense of integrity, a compulsion to give back to my community, and an appreciation for the value of great friends. All of this comes from my parents.

My parents never sat me down to talk about these things. It was by living with them and observing their example that all of this set firmly into my identity and beliefs. I was lucky to have such great role models in my life in my formative years.

Above all of this though, the greatest gift that my parents gave me as I was growing up was a certainty that anything was possible. I never knew or felt limitations to what I could accomplish, only possibility. My parents encouraged me and supported my aspirations even while I was being a giant pain in the butt.

I was profoundly lucky to grow up in a house like this. It is an immense privilege to be born into a family like this. And, I am trying my hardest to give this same gift to my children.

Mom and Dad, thank you for everything you’ve given and sacrificed for me. I know that at times, the choices I’ve made haven’t made much sense to you, but you’ve always been there to support me when I needed it most. Thank you for all of the lessons I learned through your example. So much of the best of me today is a reflection of you. I love you and am so grateful for you both.