For marketing professionals, it’s easy to take the “superficial” route for every holiday-themed blog post and make a listicle of social media blunders or share heartwarming stories of brands who give back to their customers. But, as I look out the window feeling gratitude for the rain that has finally come to drought-ridden California, I choose the road less taken. The end-of-the-year holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year (yes, even more than summertime!). And it’s not the holiday sales that have me excited; I’m talking about having a bit of time to reflect, give thanks, and create better relationships and stronger communities.
So, while you’re eating turkey and yams this Thursday (or for my fellow Filipinos, sinigang and every pork dish imaginable), I hope you take at least a bit of time to reflect on your good fortune, appreciate your loved ones, and think about approaching the whole holiday season in a more grateful, expansive way. Here are a few things that I will be reflecting on later this week:
Sometimes, the best reaction to misfortune is to celebrate what you still have.
I think the Pilgrims knew what they were doing when, after losing over 100 people on their journey to America, they brought the community together to give thanks and appreciate what they still had. Let’s face it: in a time of crisis, loss, and uncertainty, we should bring people together, provide hope when possible, and be thankful for what we still have. In the corporate world, in times of crisis there is often a tendency to paper over, deflect, or avoid discussion about the crisis at hand. I’m grateful for companies that don’t do that, companies like Johnson & Johnson and Odwalla that suffered misfortune but celebrated what they still had and made the most of it. People continue to take Tylenol and drink Odwalla juices.
We can all learn from each other, especially when the holiday spirit is strong.
Anyone who has sat through a U.S. history class has been told about the long, sad history of Native Americans and their treatment by colonists and Americans throughout the centuries. One of the highlights in early American history, however, is the First Thanksgiving, when Pilgrims invited their new neighbors to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Relations were tense, so extending a hand of friendship was necessary to achieve peaceful coexistence; but, beyond that, both parties benefitted in learning each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and cultural differences. In providing a bridge to network and communicate, the Pilgrims and Native Americans provided the other group the opportunity to learn how they can better work together.
Likewise, professionals (PR, marketing, and otherwise) can take advantage of the holiday spirit to send warm wishes to colleagues and distant acquaintances alike. Befriending actual competitors gets messy when office talk works its way into the conversation, but the holidays provide an opportunity to send a thoughtfully written card, a LinkedIn invitation with a personalized holiday greeting, or a request for a coffee date. Thanksgiving provides the perfect context for getting to know each other on a basic, human level. And, if you walk away with mutual respect for each other (or a new friend), what can be better than that?
There may be better ways of doing business you’ve not considered.
Because of Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims learned new methods of doing business and farming sustainably in the New World. (A popular trick that comes to mind is the planting of corn with buried fish heads for nutrients.) We marketing professionals are always attending trade shows, conferences, and other networking events to reap the same benefits. Okay, maybe not to learn cool gardening tricks, but you know what I mean — to grow our wealth of information, pro tips, etc. That said, anyone who has been to networking events knows how difficult it can be to get individuals to open up or to follow up with a business card exchange for coffee afterwards. This holiday season, reach out to the people you’ve been meaning to connect with and invite them for a holiday coffee. Enjoy sharing a hot cup of peppermint mocha, swapping industry stories and insights, and agreeing to connect again in January after everyone is back from holiday vacations.
I suppose this whole blog post can be summed into a single phrase: the Thanksgiving season allows us to better nurture both our personal and professional relationships in an authentic, rewarding way. I can’t wait to tell colleagues, clients, and acquaintances how much I appreciate them this season, and have enjoyed connecting with them over cookies and tea this past month. I hope you’ll seize the opportunity to do the same. What is this season for, if not for celebrating community?
Rosie Brown can be reached at email@example.com. You can also follow her at @lilmsrosieposie.