“Gratitude opens the door to… the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe.”
– Deepak Chopra
Our SoCal autumns are subtle but noticeable. I feel the encroaching darkness on my morning dog walks, the changing crisp weather intermixed with Santa Ana wind conditions that fuel the wildfires. Tis the season to think about what we are grateful for in life and be reminded that our lives could be enhanced by putting this into active practice. It should never be considered cliché, as our world would be an infinitely better place if everyone could have this outlook. Gratitude is extremely powerful and can reframe life’s small moments and bigger challenges into something positive.
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and chaos, while forgetting the big picture. It seems that for me, my attention is able to focus on this only when it’s a real-time moment, a mindful consciousness to absorb the present. For example, it could be me enjoying my music and coffee amidst freeway gridlock on the way to the office. Or finding appreciation that a fender bender makes me slow down a bit and stop my maniacal road rage. It’s a quiet reflection or gesture of gratitude to recognize all of the people who have played a part in one’s accomplishments. And acknowledging that even the naysayers who poke holes at what we are doing will push our determination to build something more impenetrable.
“You have to keep looking for a move. Even if you are dead and buried and they have shoveled dirt on you, you have to keep going.”
– Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Entrepreneurs often oscillate between insane stress moments to enjoying incremental wins to navigating new growing pain frustrations. Because gratitude has been proven to improve resilience and overall mental well-being and positivity, it can assist in helping you stay levelheaded, unflappable, and focused. These are huge assets in the startup environment. When there is a big loss or failure, having a grateful attitude will help you benefit from the learnings to propel you to another level next time. There is nothing to lose by actively practicing this.
I must say that I am extremely grateful for some of the failures we’ve experienced. It’s not natural to react to erupting challenges with an eye for learning opportunities. It’s actually agonizingly sobering to address. For example, the slates of investments that were not successful were painful to participate in and be accountable for. There were partnerships that didn’t work out, monumental team changes that we had to make, pitches that didn’t pan out. What did I learn from all of this? Everything. I’ve reconciled that I/we were not necessarily gifted to be able to beat the odds and pick winners after all, that voluminous sweat and tears put into some of the startups won’t prevent failure, that product timing is critical, founder commitment should be non-negotiable, that we should not play in industries where we have no business doing so (no expertise), that we needed to have bigger follow on funds readily accessible, that partner communication and expectations are imperative, and that tough HR decisions are better made immediately than a prolonged extension. Let’s hope that these cumulative losses reincarnate into something incredible.
When my kids have a twinge of selfishness or are in the brink of a tantrum about something, I will try to remind them to contemplate what they are grateful for. I have instructed that they make lists about gratitude. For the last four Memorial Days, we have gone to our local cemetery to place flags at Veteran graves. We have a conversation about what it symbolizes and why it’s important to thank and honor our armed forces. This summer, I had my daughter read about Malala’s story (we read it together), to learn the shocking realization that there are approximately 130M girls in the world that are deprived of a basic education (UNESCO). I have them do community service projects like picking up trash, feeding homeless, harvesting veggies for the food bank, prepping care packages for the military, and scrubbing school lunch tables with toothbrushes. I hope that they understand the things we take for granted: financial stability, family infrastructure, but also democracy, civil rights, women’s rights, women’s opportunities, and so forth. Opportunity abounds for us here in America, and it’s nice to be reminded about it. I personally have a grateful heart that I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities here at Renzei Holdings – at the core agency, the venture lab spinoff, and now at Built By She.
Finally, thank you to all of the people in my world. I probably don’t express appreciation enough, but I’m talking about our Built By She community members, Built By She/interTrend/Imprint/Renzei team, partners, collaborators, sponsors, investors, family and friends. We’ve been through quite a bit. It has been a gift to work on this. I am so grateful for what has transpired over the last decade plus here, so thank you for your support and being a part of this!