Cultivating an "Attitude of Gratitude"

Teamwork makes the dream work.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick and tired of all the bad news about the economy. Up one day and down the next. In story after story, it’s mostly gloom and doom in the media.

Well I’m here to tell you that it just isn’t so. I speak in dozens of organizations every year, and I know some organizations are doing very, very well. They’re doing all the right things, and so they’re prospering despite the “economy.”

I spoke in one such company a while ago. I was there to “motivate” them, but they motivated me beyond belief.

For starters, they achieved a 4,334% sales growth in the last five years. And they were ranked #40 on the “INC 500” list of the fastest growing, privately held companies in America in 2001. Not bad!

So I wondered what’s their secret? The Editor-in-Chief of “INC” magazine, George Gendron, said it was “the result of a collective effort by each person within the company.” He was right. I saw it first hand.

The company is Tastefully Simple. It’s a national direct sales organization that sells gourmet foods through home taste-testing parties. Or as they say, they provide “small indulgences for busy lives.” Indeed they do.

I thought you might benefit from a few of the many things they do at Tastefully Simple. Indeed, you should be doing the same things in your company.

1. Appreciate everything.

At Tastefully Simple, everyone has an attitude of gratitude. They refuse to take anything for granted, and so they’re thankful for even the simplest things.

Their restrooms are but one example. As you take a tour through their corporate headquarters, they point to their restrooms with a great deal of pride. They appreciate them.

Now that might seem strange, but many of the employees remember the “old days.” Way back in 1995, when the company was founded, the employees worked in a 1200 square foot shed with no running water, no air conditioning, and no restroom. The employees had to go over to co-founder Joani Nielson’s house to use her bathroom, but they had to unplug the refrigerator before turning on the bathroom light to avoid blowing a fuse.

Contrast the appreciation you see at Tastefully Simple with the entitlement you see in many organizations. Less successful companies have employees who think they’re entitled to all the perks — regardless of the contributions they make.

That’s unfortunate. Motivation and peak performance are fueled by appreciation. And productivity always takes a nose dive when employees are focused on “what they’re entitled to” and “what they’re going to get” instead of appreciating what they have.

2. Celebrate frequently.

Tastefully Simple lives and breathes its seven core values. They’re all great, but I especially like the one that reads: “We celebrate with a cooperative spirit of teamwork and fun.”

They’re great words — celebrate, cooperative, spirit, teamwork, fun. But they’re more than words. I saw them played out everywhere I went. Celebration is a way of life for these people.

At the reception desk, for example, there’s the “renowned” brass bell. Once a day, the Reception Team rings the bell throughout the building to signify the number of consultants that joined the company that day. When the bell rings, you hear a wave of clapping, cheering, whistling, and Kazoo blowing from all the other team members in the company.

Now you may be tempted to pooh-pooh such silliness. You may think your organization is too “dignified” to indulge in such behavior. That’s fine. If you can match the growth and profitability of this company, you may not need to do such things.

3. Train continuously.

At Tastefully Simple, they do more than give lip service to training. They actually do it, and they keep on doing it in dozens of different ways. That’s why they can honestly say that one of their core values is pegged to training. They say, “We enrich the lives of staff and consultants through empowerment and personal growth.”

Notice the two words “empowerment” and “personal growth.” “Empowerment” is business-related. In other words, the leaders do everything they can to ensure the success of their team members. That gets my endorsement.

Their “empowerment” training comes in a variety of ways. They certainly have a lot of classes and conferences, but they also offer a lot of “TRIM” coaching. In other words, their team leaders, or “sponsors” as they call them, know it is their job to Train, Recognize, Inform and Motivate.

I like that acronym. It encapsulates the key roles that should be played by all managers and leaders.

Unfortunately as I speak to hundreds of groups across the world, I often find all four parts of the TRIM formula missing from an average manager’s day. The average manager spends most of his time attending meetings or putting out fires. And, if there’s time left over, he or she may slip in a little TRIM.

The other training emphasis at Tastefully Simple is “personal growth.” To many companies, that would be too touchy-feely and a total waste of time, money, and energy.

Again, I would challenge them to match this company’s results. I would ask them to tour through this company, watch the employees work, and notice their overwhelming enthusiasm. Then you can ask yourself if “personal growth” training is a waste of time, money, and energy.

Tastefully Simple is the epitome of enthusiasm. As I walked through the company, I heard singing and cheering. And I saw motivational prints and slogans everywhere. They totally buy into Samuel Goldwyn’s belief. He said, “Enthusiasm is the key not only to the achievement of great things but to the accomplishment of anything that is worthwhile.”

One such employee was my tour guide, Joey Peterson. She was warm, friendly, knowledgeable, and hard working. But you and I have a right to expect that of every employee in every company.

Joey was a great deal more. Joey was radiant. She truly believed in her company, and she truly cared about her team members and customers. She was filled with energy and absolutely devoted to the success of everyone around her. And to top it all off, with total sincerity she kept saying, “I love this company. I love my job.”

As Joey took me on tour, I kept thinking two things. First, I would invest my money in this company. With a totally turned-on work force, I think they’re a sure bet to keep on winning. And second, all a company has to do is get their people to be like Joey and their competition wouldn’t have a chance.

For years, I’ve told my audience members that they can achieve more because they can become more. The personal growth training at Tastefully Simple proves that.

4. Push goals.

Most companies have goals, and that’s great. It’s very difficult to be successful without goals.

But how many companies encourage their employees to set goals for themselves? At Tastefully Simple they know that goal-setting, goal-achieving team members are turned on, loyal, effective team members.

So founder and CEO, Jill Blashack, writes a monthly column that teaches people how to set their goals and then review their goals. She provides “Got Goals Worksheets” and “Got Goals Income Worksheets,” and she tells them that writing down goals works. And she should know. She started this phenomenal company.

One of the company’s team leaders talked about how well this process has worked for her. Eileen Kosar said: “When I decided to build a team, I stopped telling myself, ‘I stink at recruiting,’ and instead told myself, ‘I am a recruiting magnet!’ It really works! I have begun recruiting and it feels magical.”

She continued: “I have a goal buddy to talk over my goals and fears and it has been extremely beneficial for both of us! I see my goals in front of me on a daily basis and keep my heart in the future. I can visualize all the good things that are coming my way.”

Do you want more success for you and your team? It’s possible. I would strongly recommend that you incorporate the four things I saw at Tastefully Simple.

Action:  Look for things to celebrate at work. There’s never a shortage of things for which you can be thankful. So stop taking them for granted and start celebrating.

It doesn’t have to take much time, and it doesn’t have to cost much money. It just has to be done.