After 11 months’ worth of blog posts, our team decided to pause and share what we’re thankful for – at least the L&D things we’re thankful for – this Thanksgiving season.
10 Things I’m Thankful For:
- The opportunity to create an organization where I have no limits. At the end of last year, I set a one-word resolution for 2017: Ruthless. I had some tough decisions to make and I needed to hold myself accountable for actually making those decisions. One of the ruthless decisions I needed to make was between staying at a job I loved or taking the leap into the world of entrepreneurship and risk and building my own company. I chose the latter and I’ve not looked back.
- Health. This is one of those things you generally don’t notice until you no longer have it. With such a crazy year, where I had to log long hours – both in my home office and on the road – in order to deliver on all of my commitments, I’ve been thankful for my own health and the health of my family which was enabled me to focus 100% of my energy on the tasks at hand.
- A no-jerk policy. The nice thing about running a business is that I can choose my clients and the people with whom I work as much as my clients and others get to choose me. Early in the year this no-jerk policy was put to the test, my team was willing to walk away from a project after we were paired with someone who refused to give one inch. In the end, the client moved this other consultant to another project. I’m thankful that my organization has the value of wanting work to be fun – always – otherwise it’s not worth doing.
- Our amazing country. We Americans really live in an amazing part of the world. This year I had an opportunity to visit the 44th and 45th of the 50 United States (Wyoming and Arkansas). I also has the chance to travel and meet people on various projects in California, Oregon, Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Colorado, DC, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina and Maryland.
- Heather Snyder. You’ll read what Heather’s thankful about a little later in this post, but I’m thankful she chose to join our team at Endurance Learning. When you make your first hire, the wrong person can set a start-up back years, while the right person can help the company take off and thrive. It was a scary time for us and Heather has helped us to be way ahead of where we expected.
- The opportunity to work with such cool people across a range of industries. This year I’ve worked with health workers in Zambia and Uganda, trainers in a giant transportation company, staff from three different NGOs who were going through a merger and many others.
- Slack. Working as a remote team, this is a technology that enables us to work together every day, almost as if we shared an office and could walk up to someone else’s desk at any time and strike up a conversation without having to schedule time or a conference call.
- Zoom. Similar to Slack, Zoom helps us feel more connected through extremely inexpensive yet high quality video chatting.
- My connections. From the beginning of 2017, my connections in the L&D world have helped me come up with new ideas for blog posts, invited me to emcee events, assisted in spreading word far and wide that we were looking for Employee #1 and even connected me with editors at TD magazine in order to get an article published.
- Train Like A Champion readers. This is the sixth year I’ve been writing this blog, and the comments, shares and the simple fact people spend a few minutes of their days reading my words and my thoughts is extremely humbling. I truly and thankful for you.
10 Things Heather Snyder is Thankful For:
- A supportive family. My husband is my equal partner in everything including our careers, parenting, and house maintenance. My kids are understanding when my job or a need for a break take me away from them. My ability to do good work starts with the people who motivate me to do it in the first place.
- My mom and sister who have been my village in raising my kids. Even being separated by 60 miles, they have been extremely supportive in my attempt at this working mom thing. They have picked up and cared for my kids more times than I can count, and have always encouraged me to be the mom and professional I need to be.
- Work/life balance. Working from home makes this balance much more difficult than it sounds. Being in the right organization and the right culture is important when you have a home office. It is also important to learn to block your calendar for time to go to the gym, and learn to shut your computer off during dinner time.
- Coffee. My day starts with coffee, my favorite meetings are over coffee, there are even times with I have virtual coffee with colleges over Zoom. Coffee isn’t so much an addiction but a ritual for me. I write better with a coffee in my hand, and I look forward to a cup every morning.
- Endurance Learning. I get to work with a team of people I admire who bring their best work to this company every day. I wake up every morning excited to contribute to our mission, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
- CrossFit. I never thought I would be a deadlifting, box jumping, double under jump-roping athlete, but one year into CrossFit, and I can’t picture spending my lunch hours not covered in chalk and high fiving my coaches.
- Toastmasters. I have learned to be a better speaker, found my voice, and learned a lot about leadership in Toastmasters. In less than two years, this organization has facilitated opportunities I never thought possible.
- Tim Waxenfelter. The first time I met Tim in person, he ran up and hugged me and then cracked a joke about Brian being dressed too causal for our meeting. As a leader Tim is deliberate, intelligent, willing to challenge norms, all while somehow bringing levity and good humor. I have yet to have a conversation where he doesn’t teach me something new and also make fun of one of my quirks.
- Brian Washburn. On my first day working with Brian I squeezed into a car with four members of his family I had never met and we all sang to the soundtrack of The Sound of Music with his kids. Brian doesn’t shy away from a challenge, he has the ability to make even the most boring topics fun, and is one of those people who just seem gifted in everything they do, and I am not sure how he does it. Beyond being my mentor in instructional design, Brian is supportive of all of my hair-brained ideas and is a true confidant. It is not lost on me that I am part of a small minority who can say that about her leadership.
- Jenny Davis. Jenny is a good friend, and I am always thankful for good friends. I am especially thankful for her introducing me to this blog which helped me become a better instructional designer and eventually led me to Endurance Learning.
10 Things Tim Waxenfelter is Thankful For
- Colleagues who LOVE to write. I get to work with two people (Heather and Brian) who love to write! I’m a good editor and love to research and sort through data. I just don’t love writing. Working with two people who approach writing as something that is fun makes my job much easier.
- Time to spend with my family. I have been able to both work rather long days and see my son and wife for breakfast, dinner and bedtime. Living in DC, my previous jobs and commutes often got in the way.
- Never-ending variety. Working on a small team where we have to do everything means I’m never bored. There is always something to learn and a new challenge.
- My Fitbit. I hated the idea but when it showed up in the mail I immediately started exercising more. November has already been a slow month, but it is always there reminding me.
- Collaboration. Whether with Heather and Brian at Endurance Learning or with our customers I get a huge energy boost every time I get to collaborate. I find so much more joy in solving problems collaboratively than I do on my own.
- Aggressive goals. I’m sure to lose a little sleep over the next five months, but I’m positive it will be worth it in the end. It definitely raises my anxiety level but also increases my focus.
- Kind people. It is easy to forget that there are people all over the world who want to be helpful. On a recent morning I got to speak with 3 of them in a row. Nothing changes your outlook like placing difficult phone calls and reaching people who are just lovely.
- My son’s school. Watching the way his teachers treat the children reminds me that we all need a guiding hand. Their confidence in the ability of all the children is a great lesson for learning and development world.
- Humor. I take my work seriously, but I’ve always believed there is room to laugh. I’m very lucky to have colleagues, customers, partners, friends and a family that enjoy laughing. If it is well done, a joke about me will probably be my favorite.
- The support of my wife. I left a full time job with benefits almost three years ago to try to start something special. She didn’t have to believe in me or have confidence in my ability to make it work, but she did. She never questioned that Brian and I would be successful and would start to change the way the world teaches and learns through Endurance Learning.
What sorts of things are you thankful for this year?