Announcing our 2020 Cohort!

Congratulations to our 2020 Cohort of Gratitude Fellows!

Fellow Name Organization
Elekwachi Chimezie Lekwas
African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect Nigerian Chapter
Thinh Nguyen Better Life Vietnam
Dr. Selina Hasan Clinic5 (School Health Initiative)
Joseph Osuigwe Devatop Centre for Africa Development
Gideon A. Asaah Educate a Child in Africa
Gina Womack Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children
Lindsay McClain Opiyo Generations For Peace
Blessing Adaobi Onyejike-Ananaba Girl Child Art Foundation
Katherine Hermans Global Changemakers
Monica Bennett I Protect Me
Samyak Jain Involve Learning Solutions
Soraya Fouladi Jara Worldwide
Yessica Flores Kantaya
Michael Abolarinwa Sunbola Lagos Food Bank
Nick Monzi Learn Fresh (NBA Math Hoops)
Dhirendra Pratap Singh Milaan Foundation
DONIA EMILLY Music Life Skills And Destitution Alleviation (M-LISADA)
Oluwaferanmi Omitoyin Panacea Project
Susan Osterhoff Project Commotion
Elsa DSilva Red Dot Foundation
Elnaz Sarraf ROYBI Inc
Duane Wilson San Francisco Achievers
Fatma Said Kauga Shule Direct
Manoj Kumar Swain Society for Children (SOCH)
vicki abadesco! Soul Shoppe
Dr. Yared Alemu TQIntelligence
Elaine Keuper Tripura Foundation
Satish Manchikanti, Ajit Sivaram U&I
Ayeshna Kalyan Varitra Foundation
Kat Thorne The Commonwealth Education Trust

Message From Our Founder, Randy Haykin

A friend and Gratitude Ambassador recently introduced me to Second Mountain (a book by David Brooks) and I loved the book…and the metaphor that we all start out on our “first mountain” but at some point begin to travel up a “second mountain” in life – one that brings us more joy and satisfaction.  

The first mountain, according to Brooks, is about oneself and about filling the ego. On our first mountain, our upbringing and school teach us to obtain the things we want in life:  a job, money, possessions, and stability for our family. This first mountain is primarily “ego” focused and all about “me”. Some of use have scaled this mountain early in life and are now on a different journey. Some of us leave this mountain quite early in life.

Typically a shift from first mountain to second mountain is brought about by a change in job (boredom, unchallenging),  life (e.g. children leave home) or even something traumatic (e.g a narrow escape from death or the loss of a loved one).

The “second mountain” is more about “us” or “we”.  It’s about finding something that we want to contribute to and finding joy in giving our most valuable assets and gifts to a larger cause.  David Brooks suggests four potential commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith, and to a community. 

Second Mountain thinking resonates well with the mission and people surrounding The Gratitude Network.   In some ways, all of us that are part of the Gratitude Network (whether a Coach, Fellow, Expert Advisor, Team Member or Ambassador) are climbing “the second mountain”– whether we are later in our careers or early on—at least as far as our work around Gratitude is concerned. 

Minhaj Chowdhury, the founder of DrinkWell and a long time Gratitude Fellow, chose his second mountain in life at the ripe old age of 18, when his grandfather in Bangladesh became ill from water poisoning and passed away. Minhaj went on to study at John’s Hopkins, where he corralled numerous professors and scientists to aid him in creating a unique resin which extracts toxins from groundwater supply… he patented the technology, brought it to Bangladesh and India, where his systems are in use today impacting the lives of millions of children.

Holliday Goodreau, and her daughter, Olivia, founded the LivLyme Foundation, which promotes research and patient support for those with Lyme disease.  In addition to providing financial assistance to families of children suffering from Lyme disease, the LivLyme Foundation funds studies for Lyme and tick-borne diseases research. The idea for Livelyme Foundation, which is certainly a “second mountain” effort for the mother-daughter team was inspired by Olivia’s personal struggles, at an early age, with Lyme disease.

Gratitude Fellows like Minhaj, Olivia, and Holliday truly inspire our team, because they are all “mountaineers” with a strong sense of purpose.  Many of these entrepreneurs have even managed to amass a loyal following at the “base camp” of their mountain! All of them are scaling their second or third mountain.

So…what’s your purpose…and which mountain are you presently climbing?

Alumni Spotlight 2015 Gratitude Fellow Springboard Collective was featured in the NPR podcast. Changing children’s future.

Nationally, only 17% of low-income 4th graders are reading proficiently; not coincidentally, only 9% earn a college degree. Springboard Collaborative closes the literacy gap by coaching families and teachers. Click here to read more.

“If I Have to Attend ONE More Unproductive Meeting . . . .”

In the last newsletter, I wrote to you about a productivity killer called email, which is a wonderful tool when it’s not being abused left, right, and center. This time I’m going to continue along the same path with something that affects people in every industry I face meetings that drain away our lives without contributing much value. The Atlassian study I mentioned last time found that in the U.S. alone, organizations waste $34 billion a year on unproductive meetings. That’s a staggering figure! It also explains why so many of us feel like we must take the laptop home every evening, in order to do the work, we couldn’t get to during the day while we were running from one inefficient meeting to the next. It’s a problem I frequently help my clients solve, but the solutions (while very doable) require a shift in corporate culture. People must be willing to change and stop saying “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

So, what changes will transform meetings from snooze fests to high-gain encounters? Try some or all of these:

  • Eliminate standing meetings. Back in my NCR days, all of the business unit’s managers and team leads met every Monday afternoon for a three-hour time slot. We carried lots of action items, but the great majority of the time most attendees would say, “Was that mine? Huh. Well, give me two more weeks on it.” Meanwhile, what was happening with the staff all afternoon while they didn’t have access to any of us? We have to assume that some individuals might have, oh, taken advantage of the situation.
  • Establish an expected outcome for each meeting schedule, such as determining a solution to a problem or creating a plan for an upcoming project. That outcome then dictates your attendee list; rather than “all hands, all the time,” we might have more effective meetings if just the people knowledgeable about the situation and empowered to act on it were present. And if you don’t get invited to every meeting running, offer up praise! You just got that hour of your life back!
  • Meetings are not for one-way communication; we have group email and other tools for that. Instead, every person present should have an active role to play. Remember how much fun those undergraduate courses were with a lecture hall full of two hundred students and one dull professor droning on while we took notes, hoping to pass the exams? Let’s not recreate that experience down through the years.
  • Reward the good behavior of punctuality by starting on time. I encounter different attitudes about punctuality in my travels around the world. For example, I taught project management to a group of women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the first 15 minutes of every day were spent in taking off the abaya and niqab and chattering to one another about their evening and their children. Could I adjust my timing by 15 minutes? Yes. When they had that opportunity and were now ready to start, they were very engaged and respectful, and didn’t allow any further delays. Contrast that respectful use of time with a meeting in which many attendees have made the effort to arrive on time, only to be told that “we’re waiting for a quorum” or “we’re waiting for So-and-so” . . . so their good behavior is punished, and the bad behavior of tardiness is rewarded. Doesn’t feel so good to those sitting there. 
  • Stick to an agenda. Sometimes the facilitator doesn’t know how to prevent an attendee from taking the meeting hostage around another topic altogether. Those of you who have attended meetings I facilitate know that I don’t allow this; I want everyone engaged and participating, but that may mean I have to help someone find their “off” button if they are talking too much, or if what they are saying isn’t to the purpose.  

As you coach people around you to re-think their willingness to fill up workdays with meetings, remember to breathe deeply, exhale in gratitude, and give yourself affirmations every day for the productivity killers you are eliminating.