For this post, we took the question below—in the spirit of Thanksgiving (in the States) and the holiday season (around the world)—and reached out to multiple serial entrepreneurs and investors to offer you, the reader, a diversity of perspectives.

How do you bake gratitude into your company’s culture and policies?

David Howitt, founder and CEO of Meriwether Group, serial entrepreneur and author wrote…

…Meriwether Group (MWG) always takes the time to extend a group thank you. We usually sit down with each other to share a meal at least once a month. It gives us all a chance to check in with each other and say thank you. Just recently, the entire team took a moment in the busy, short holiday week to share our Meriwether Group Thanksgiving Lunch. I took time to share my gratitude for our team of dynamic, caring and encouraging people.

We consider all of our clients (past and present) as partners, friends and part of our family. Tweet This Quote

MWG considers all of our clients (past and present) as partners, friends and part of our family. We share all of our community’s achievements, milestones and noteworthy events on our social media outlets. Our heart-centered methodology is the only way we know how to approach business. Our friend and mentor Deepak Chopra says, “Gratitude opens the door to… the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe.”

Mike Quinn, CEO of Zoona and Skoll Scholar for Social Entrepreneurship wrote…

…We use a tool called TinyPulse that asks a unique question every two weeks to help us gauge our employee engagement temperature. For example, a recent question was, “What’s one thing we’re doing that we should stop doing to be more successful?”

As part of the survey, there is a section called ‘cheers for peers’ where employees can send each other a unique cheers to appreciate something about another employee. They can choose to be identified or remain anonymous. Below is an example of what that looks like.

An example of a submission from Zoona's TinyPulse tool.

An example of a submission from Zoona’s TinyPulse tool.

Gayle Karen Young, the former Chief Talent and Culture Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation (i.e. creators of Wikipedia), culture-builder and adventurer wrote…

…Gratitude is a practice, a habit, and a way of inhabiting your life, your world and your days. It is, for me, a form of seeing. Gratitude is most of all the practice of fullness for me—it’s seeing a wholeness embedded into the fabric of life. It encompasses loneliness and loss, terror and fear. It does not deny life’s hardships, but brings them into fullness. To not be grateful is to not see that we are gifted with bodies that breathe to experience this life.

These two poems exemplify gratitude for me: “Everything is Waiting for You” by David Whyte and “This Poem Should be a Circle” by Mark Nepo.

Gratitude is a practice, a habit, and a way of inhabiting your life, your world and your days. Tweet This Quote

Seth Levine, managing director of Foundry Group, serial tech investor, advisor and outdoorsman wrote…

…At Foundry Group, we’re super active in two organizations we co-founded. One is the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO)—a network of Colorado entrepreneurs whose companies share a common commitment to pledge a portion of founding equity or a portion of annual profits to the community. The second is Pledge 1%, which is a group of organizations committed to encouraging the early stage companies we work with to make giving back to their causes or nonprofits of choice a major priority.

Joy Anderson, founder and president of Criterion Institute, consultant and teacher wrote…

We want people in our lives to feel welcome, needed, and invited, and we hold space for their opinions, thoughts and ideas. Tweet This Quote

…Every week at Criterion Institute, our small (but mighty) distributed team connects over the phone for a 10-minute check-in. During these calls, we appreciate one another and discuss how Criterion’s guiding principles of grace, hospitality, and invitation show up in our lives and in the world. It doesn’t matter if what each team member shares is from their personal life or from doing Criterion’s work; it also doesn’t matter which principle each team member chooses to focus on. The common thread is the gratitude of accepting grace—allowing people in our lives to feel welcome, needed, and invited, as well as holding space for their opinions, thoughts and ideas. We may not see each other every day, but this weekly exercise is especially grounding for our team.

Ned Tozun, co-founder and CEO of d.light and Forbes Top 30 Social Entrepreneur wrote…

We recognize the impact we are creating wouldn’t happen without the passion, hard work and dedication of our partners on the ground. Tweet This Quote

…This year, we started holding annual awards ceremonies to recognize our top partners and distributors. We recognize that the impact we are creating wouldn’t happen without the passion, hard work and dedication of our amazing partners on the ground, and it’s a great way to show them our appreciation.

This year, we did one event in Nairobi, one in Hyderabad (for South India) and one in Lucknow (for North India). We’ll continue them in future years as well.

Collage of d.light's award ceremonies in India and Kenya.

Collage of d.light’s award ceremonies in India and Kenya.

Diana Ayton-Shenker, founder and CEO of Global Momenta, entrepreneur, professor and advisor and speaker wrote…

…Gratitude elevates our work by recognizing the abundance of opportunity for social impact, and it grounds us with appreciation for the practical realities of what it takes to make a difference in our world. When we pause and say, “I’m grateful to serve, to innovate, to venture, to generate value, to envision new solutions” for positive social change, we place our work in the context of the collective; we become part of something bigger than ourselves and acknowledge the privilege of aligning values with action.

Practicing gratitude carries us through challenges with humility and perspective. Tweet This Quote

We also recognize what a gift and a joy it is to do this work. This is especially helpful when the challenging grind of start-up stress takes its toll. Being grateful even for the setbacks, frustrations, and obstacles helps us reveal lessons learned. Practicing gratitude carries us through these challenges with humility and perspective, reminding us that we didn’t sign up to make the world a better place because it’s easy. We are here to do this work because we are fortunate to do what we love. And for this, we give thanks.

Pascal Finette, managing director of Singularity University Labs, serial tech entrepreneur, coach and speaker wrote…

…At Singularity University, we have established a culture of generous and general gratitude into all our interactions—we keep thanking folks whenever we interact with them. As Mark Twain once said, “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

Daniel Epstein, founder and CEO of Unreasonable Group, serial entrepreneur, speaker, adventurer and dog-lover wrote…

…At Unreasonable Group, we take saying “thank you” seriously. In fact, this goes back to the roots of Unreasonable. In the first year of the Unreasonable Institute, the largest line item expense on the budget was shipping life-sized stuffed penguins out to partners, mentors and supporters as a way to say “thank you.” Additionally, to thank everyone who made the Girl Effect Accelerator a reality, we spent a few thousand dollars and shipped out over 80 stuffed penguins. Don’t believe me? See the image.

An army of penguins ready to be mailed to Girl Effect Accelerator supporters

An army of penguins ready to be mailed to Girl Effect Accelerator supporters.

But beyond thanking people when they likely expect it, we bake gratitude into everyday operations. In our weekly team meetings on Mondays, everyone goes around and shares their “points of gratitude” from the week prior. On Fridays, our team takes a full hour to write thank you notes and mail them to people we want to thank from the week. This month, I’ve made it my daily habit to ensure the first email I send every day is a note of gratitude. In short, there’s a lot for us to be grateful for, and we’ve done our best to bake that gratitude into our policies and posture as a company.

Burning Question

How do you and your company bake gratitude into your work? Please share in the comments below!

Brittany Lane

Author Brittany Lane

Brittany is Director of Media at Unreasonable Group. She believes lasting change happens at the intersection of entrepreneurship and empathy and that good storytelling can move mountains.

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