Recently, I was inspired by a blog post from Fred Verheul titled “Resolutions and Challenges“. In essence, it encourages community members to do something (or NOT do something!) consistently for thirty days. I was immediately drawn to the idea but could not, at first, identify the “right” 30 Day Challenge for me. Write a blog every day for thirty days? Too time consuming. Eat chocolate every day for thirty days? Tempting, but unwise! Lift weights every day for thirty days? Unrealistic.
Last night, I finally hit upon the perfect Thirty Day Commitment for me – thirty days of gratitude. I find that gratitude is like a muscle – the more you practice it, the stronger it gets! For years I have been keeping a gratitude journal; each night I write down ten things that day for which I am grateful. Over time, this builds perspective – I notice the good things more, I recognize small moments of joy and acknowledge them, rather than letting them slip by. And I never, never write down the “bad stuff” – I just let it drift away, while capturing the good things to remember always.
Thus I decided to launch, “Thirty Days of Gratitude” on SCN, in response to Fred Verheul’s idea. Each business day I will write a note of thanks to someone for whom I am grateful. The end of the thirty days will fittingly mark my first anniversary with SAP – a place where I am grateful to contribute and apply my skills toward helping the world run better while improving people’s lives. I’ll keep this as a single blog which I edit each day to add a new person.
This concept involved some unexpected challenges. First, I was fortunate to realize, immediately, that there are actually far more than thirty people for whom I am grateful. I confess I am concerned that those who don’t appear in the “thirty days” blog will mistakenly think that I am not grateful to them. I decided to assuage my worries in this regard by amplifying my efforts to show appreciation on a day to day basis.
(Drum roll, please……)
1. 14 February. I am grateful for Jeremiah Stone. When I first joined SAP, he went out of his way to give me a tour of Palo Alto, introduce me to colleagues and customers, and generally make me feel welcome. Perhaps more importantly, I joined SCN at his insistence (kicking and screaming, I confess: I had neither blogged nor tweeted, nor did I want to). It is here that I have found a true sense of community and belonging, and I so enjoy reading the content of colleagues far and wide, and getting to know them better through activities such as “Blog it Forward” as well as personal blogs.
2. 15 February. I am grateful for Susan Rafizadeh. As my grandmother would say, Susan “tells it like it is” – she communicates very well exactly what she thinks, a trait I really admire. She develops excellent relationships with customers and proactively works to help our communities in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa – and especially South Africa – to understand the value of SAP’s energy and environmental resource management solutions. Susan has an excellent sense of humor and is very patient when I wish to practice speaking German. And when I visited Walldorf, she shared with me not only an enjoyable meal, but also music that she enjoys – I like getting to know people through music.
3. 18 February. I am grateful for Chuck Pharris. Chuck is responsible for my presence here at SAP. I was working quite happily at another employer when Chuck, whom I met in 2011, referred me for the role of Director of Energy Solutions with SAP. I was not seeking a new role; however, immediately after my first interview, I knew I had finally found my “lost tribe” Each subsequent interview cemented that conviction, and every day I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such passionate, visionary, dedicated colleagues, not only within SAP, but also within the partner ecosystem. I have been fortunate to work with a variety of wonderful companies over the years. But I belong here. I belong. And Chuck made this happiness possible.
4. 19 February. I am grateful for Brindusa Radalescu. Brindusa took the time, in June of last year, to reach out to me across thousands of miles. She welcomed me to the sustainability team and mentioned that she enjoyed my blogs – words of encouragement that meant a lot to me. I had barely begun blogging and had no idea if anyone was even reading what I wrote. Brindusa’s kindness has been “paid forward” many times – I now go out of my way to welcome new bloggers when I come across them, something I might not have done without her example. I was thrilled to bump into her in Walldorf, Germany – quite a coincidence when she lives in Australia and I live in the United States! She is just as warm and friendly in person as she is via email, and we are fortunate to have her as part of the SAP family.
5. 20 February. I am grateful for Adrian Langlouis. He is a stellar team member – intensely intelligent, very collaborative, and truly caring. I could write at length about his professional accomplishments, but I am particularly thankful for some personal kindness he showed to me on a trip to Germany last September. I had to cancel my return trip the U.S. as I became suddenly ill and unable to travel. He offered to take me to the hospital. He offered to host me as a guest in his own home so that I would not have to recover alone in a hotel room. And when I recovered, he offered to drive me to the airport – at least two hours’ drive, roundtrip. Encountering that level of support when I was sick and so very far away from home was truly amazing and I will remember it always.
6. 21 February. I am grateful for Schalk Viljoen. He is an outstanding father to Fred McCloud, and Schalk is very inclusive in his approach to coworkers. He reached out to me prior to Sapphire Madrid to get me more engaged with social media and with the teams in Europe, which was of immense value in helping me meet additional colleagues throughout the world (including, ultimately, in Asia/Pacific). Plus he’s just a lot of fun! I enjoy talking with him and hearing of his many adventures. He’s intelligent, funny, open-minded, and very, very creative, and we’re lucky to have him at SAP.
7. 22 February. I am grateful for Mico Yuk. She will probably be quite surprised that I am grateful for her, since we have never met, except through Twitter. In a way, though, that is the point of this blog – to let people out there know that I am thankful for them, when otherwise I might not have the opportunity. There are two particular reasons that I am thankful for Mico. First, she is what I call “#AllKindsOfAwesome”. I get very inspired by All Kinds of Awesome. So if I’m feeling a bit draggy, I pop onto Twitter and get energized by her enthusiasm – which she probably does not know, since I rarely respond to her tweets. However, I am ALSO inspired by her going OFF Twitter. She regularly “signs off” for a day – and lets her followers know it – and because of her example, I have also taken to signing off, not just from Twitter, but from all electronic communications, a couple of days a month. Instead of staring at a tiny screen, I go for walks, or to museums, or (gasp!) spend really meaningful time with my loved ones. So she has made a positive impact on my life, from afar.
8. 25 February. I am grateful for Richard Vermeij. Richard believes in the power of intention. He explained in a most engaging manner how he applies the power of intention to even small daily tasks such as cooking. Richard not only applies this principle in his own life, but he also notices when others have demonstrated intent – and he compliments them on it, which inspires them to do even more. If you’re not sure what is meant by this, please do ask Richard! He explains it quite eloquently, and much of the pleasure of learning about intention is experiencing his pleasure in explaining it.
9. 26 February. I am grateful for Somill Scheunemann. Somill does a stellar job coordinating our analyst relations, but it is her dry sense of humor and quick wit for which I am most thankful. Doubt me? Read an early biography and you’ll see what I mean. In addition, she is quite a gourmand, and has recommended many a tasty restaurant; a dinner with her is a sure ticket to culinary happiness and conversational pleasure. Though humor and discerning taste are more than sufficient in my book, Somill also has a skill I can only dream of and which I work toward every day: She has perfect pitch. She sings like an angel, whether it is the Lucky Charms jingle or opera.
10. 27 February. I am grateful for Thorsten Franz. His “Ageism” blog, an SCN classic, reaffirmed my faith in the essential goodness of other people. Through that blog I discovered a kindred spirit, thousands of miles away, articulating perfectly a case for genuine inclusion. Sure, Thorsten’s a technical genius. Sure, he had “#HANeurisms” before haneurisms were cool. But that is not why I am thankful for him. I am thankful for him because of his humanity, and his decency, and his kindness. Plus, he tweets adorable quotes from his adorable kids on a regular basis, and that makes me smile. In addition, I am in awe of his writing, which is all the more impressive when you consider that English is his second language. I can only assume that “auf Deutsch”, he is in the same category as Goethe!
11. 28 February. I am grateful for Neil Krefsky. In May of 2012, when I was quite a newbie at SAP, I was falsely accused of a Sapphire crime I did not commit. Neil came to my defense and kept me out of Sapphire jail. What is Sapphire jail, you might ask? I’ll never tell.
12. 1 March. I am grateful for Robin Meyerhoff. Robin is like a mythical angel. You rarely see her, yet there is evidence that she exists, performing little miracles to help mere mortals make their way in the world. Twice in the last year, she has floated in on gossamer wings, touched me with kindness, and floated away. It gives me strength, to know that she is there, waiting to offer a silver parachute of inspiration and friendship when I need it most.
13. 4 March. I am grateful for Marilyn Pratt. She is forthright and honest, open-minded and fun, friendly and truly caring, and a powerful voice for inclusiveness and community. And she does flash mobs! (I *know* I saw a Marilyn flash mob video and am now unable to find it). It is one of my dreams to be in a flash mob, preferably an acappella flash mob, or a Glee flash mob, but Gangnam-style will do! It is interesting for me, the number of people on this list that I have never met in person. I only know Marilyn via Twitter, SCN, and the occasional email, but I feel like I’ve known her forever. And I hope I will – she has enriched my life.
14. 5 March. I am grateful for Jennifer Scholze. Jennifer reached out to me soon after I was hired and offered to help me understand the matrix that is SAP. She is particular adept at this since she has worked here for decades! We’ve had weekly calls for almost a year now and I always learn something new from her. She is very grounded and practical while also fun-loving and enthusiastic. Jennifer shines in many areas, and where I most want to emulate her is her ability to have outstanding relationships with customers. I had the opportunity to spend time with her at a conference last fall, and customer after customer came up to sing her praises. She demonstrates genuine concern for them, and they show genuine appreciation in return.
15. 6 March. I am grateful for Brian Dickinson. Brian does two things that really impress me. First, he proactively volunteers for things that are good for the company and the team, even if they will be somewhat unpleasant for him! On several occasions he has dug into some rather onerous tasks that took him hours of work, rather than delegating them to someone else when he easily could have. He volunteers his time to help make others successful, even if he will not personally benefit. And second, he does what he says he is going to do. If Brian tells you you will have a certain deliverable by noon on Tuesday, then by golly you are going to get it by noon on Tuesday – and his work is consistently excellent. It is gratifying to work with someone so responsible and reliable.
16. 7 March. I am grateful for Harry Blunt. Harry works diligently to market solutions in North America that fall under my area of responsibility. I absolutely could not achieve my goals without him. And when I say diligently, I mean the man never gives up. “The matrix” can throw roadblock after roadblock in his path, and he will find a way around it. He’s very creative in finding new ways of doing things when the first way (or first ten ways) don’t work out, and he’s also open to piloting new programs. He recently helped me execute an unusual direct-to-customer campaign, and he identifies opportunities for me to include my messaging in the work of others. I also admire his genuine commitment to his family; Harry is a solid character.
17. 8 March. I am grateful for Dave Strothmann. My first work experience with Dave was when he helped organize and deliver the recent “Enterprise Operations Management Forum” in Ohio. I learned a lot about effective event management through watching Dave. One thing he brings to the table is his uncanny insight into human nature. He had unique – and very effective – methods for engaging salespeople, partners, and customers to ensure that the event was successful. Everything from how he titled emails to the layout of tables in the hallways was done with intention and with awareness of the human element of his decisions. Dave tailors his messages very well to differing audiences – and he gets results that make everyone happy. Word of warning, though: Don’t ever ask to see pictures of his kitchen, unless you want to be jealous forever after! It’s one awesome kitchen.
18. 11 March. I am grateful for James McClelland. James and I both work in the energy field, so we started conversing soon after I joined SAP in order to align our messaging etc. I quickly learned that he is what most people call a “solid guy”. Smart. Organized. Collaborative. Supportive. Customer-centric. And so on. All of those things are great; what I really appreciate are certain personality characteristics that might be taken for granted by some. First, he always gives credit to other people for their contributions. In many cases I have been on a team where I know who REALLY did the work – often James – and when it comes to presenting to upper management, he goes out of his way to give credit to the entire team and deflect any praise from himself. This makes people want to work even harder to be worthy of his inclusive behavior. Second, he exudes the persona of a mentor, not only to junior team members but also to colleagues and senior leaders. He acts as an adviser, providing excellent insights that help others make better decisions. And third, he is just so darned honest. I really appreciate honesty. James approaches honesty in a very diplomatic way – he tells the truth, even hard truths, but does it in a way that leaves people feeling inspired. I enjoy observing James’ techniques for being truthful without being blunt! SAP is lucky to have him and I am lucky to work with him.
19. 12 March. I am grateful for Paul Boris. Paul interviewed me for my role at SAP; in fact, he was the first person to do so (and one of the few to interview me “live” vs. via telephone). He does a great interview! He asked excellent questions and brought up difficult topics proactively, so I did not have to ask about them myself. However, I’m most grateful for how he has behaved toward me since I was hired. He’s so inclusive. Often, the best way you can behave toward someone is to act as though it is a foregone conclusion that they belong where they are. And Paul does. He never treats me as “the new hire” or “the energy expert” or “the marketing person” or any label at all – he just treats me as a valued colleague who has something worthwhile to contribute. This makes me much more enthusiastic about contributing! In addition, he has an absolute gift for explaining very complicated topics – such a a recent, internal “political” situation – in very clear (and amusing) terms. Ask him about the marble bathtub story the next time you see him. It’s worth a listen!
20. 13 March. I am grateful for Moya Watson. My first encounter with Moya was via a comment she left on an internal blog post. It was awesome – pithy, perfect, exactly on point, and made me laugh when I really needed a laugh. Then I saw an amazing video she created, which had the effect of unlocking a creativity I didn’t even know I had (as discussed in another blog). I can assure you that I would not be writing this blog today without Moya and that video. And just when I thought she couldn’t be any more awesome, I discovered she’s an Ani DiFranco fan. “Little Plastic Castle” is one of my favorite songs ever! (Yes, yes, I have about 8,000 favorite songs. I can have 8,000 favorites if I want). And the little plastic castle, is a surprise every time….
21. 14 March. I am grateful for Raj Valame. Raj is the solution director for our energy and environmental resource management solution, and she is one of the most intelligent, dedicated, thorough, and enthusiastic people with whom I’ve ever had the opportunity to work. She manages to keep her finger on the pulse of industry trends, customer needs, development schedules, go to market activities, and so on, all without losing a beat. In addition, she does fascinating and impactful charity work in the community, and is always avaialble for a friendly chat or to provide perspective on all things SAP. Working with her for the past year has been a true pleasure.
22. 15 March. I am grateful for Annika Klich. Annika out-organizes the organized. She is a project management machine. One of my colleagues describes her, very appropriately, as “an absolute gem”. Annika is keeping is on track for Sapphire NOW in Orlando, a Herculean effort which she executes with intelligence, grace, charm, and an attention to detail that would put a military operation to shame. Annika also does a deft job of balancing giving orders with giving inspiration; she sends friendly notes of thanks to the hard-working team at just the right moments to motivate them to give a little extra to get that next deliverable done on time.
23. 18 March. I am grateful for Hitesh Patel. There are seven “Hitesh Patel”s listed on SCN; I am referring to Hitesh Patel who works with our environmental compliance solutions! Hitesh is one of the “good guys”; he’s very dedicated to his job, always going the extra mile, and he’s quite the subject matter expert on his material. I’ve seen him be very patient with both colleagues and customers when it comes to explaining intricate regulatory and technical concepts. Hitesh has everyone’s best interests at heart, plus a great sense of humor – ask him to tell you his Halloween story! Another thing I appreciate about Hitesh is that he appreciates others – and tells them so! It is refreshing to work with someone who always looks for the silver lining in challenging situations.
24. 19 March. I am grateful for Marty Etzel. It seems quite appropriate to acknowledge Marty today – my one year anniversary with SAP – since he is the person who hired me! Marty did something in the interview process no one had ever done for me during recruiting before – he flew to me. I was of course working for another company. Marty said he respected my responsibilities to them and didn’t want to take me away from the office for the day for an interview. So he flew to Raleigh, scheduling the visit to align with my other work responsibilities, and interviewed me at the Starbucks in the airport! That made a great impression. Since then, he has proven that he is the kind of manager that “has your back”. Marty’s great at providing just enough guidance to get started, and then he gets out of the way, He’s there to help if you need it, and he trusts his team to get things done. So we do!
25. 20 March. I am grateful for Julie Barrier. Julie cheers me. She has a positive attitude that comes through in her writing, her tweets, her emails. I find this very inspirational, which is a good thing, since her aspiration is to be a “Chief Inspiration Officer”. She’s also fascinating: She lived in Tahiti! How cool is that? (Answer: Pretty cool). Julie has a very, very tough job – explaining complex topics in very simple ways. Simplifying complexity is like ice dancing – done well, it is so very, very beautiful, and inspiring, and perfect – but it takes years and years of practice, and lots of skill, to pull it off. I admire people who do it well. And Julie does!
26. 21 March. I am grateful for Mary Kilgo. Mary is a super-sharp solution manager who really knows her topic area. And she’s also a fascinating person! I’m amazed by her love of rock climbing, a hobby I’ve so far not tried. When she describes her experiences, it is like watching a movie: I can see her moving up the rockface, slinging the ropes, even imagine her sleeping in a little hammock held fast to the mountain, so she wakes up to the sunrise. However, it is another particular characteristic of Mary’s for which I am thankful: She is truly loyal. I was at a bar one night, where multiple people around the table where discussing what drove them crazy about their significant others. When Mary was asked what she didn’t like about her husband, she said firmly “Nothing. I like him just the way he is. We are very lucky and I’m thankful for him every day.” And you could see that she meant it. In my experience, people who are loyal to their families and loved ones are also loyal to their colleagues and friends, and these are the kind of people I like to be around.
27. 22 March. I am grateful for Todd Idler. Todd may not remember me, but he is unforgettable! I met Todd after Sapphire Orlando last year when we shared a cab to the airport. I had been with SAP for only about six weeks at that point, feeling often as though I were “drinking from a firehose” – especially after staffing a booth at my first Sapphire – and he offered me excellent advice. He told me to just accept that the first six months would be a big “swirl”, that everything would seem chaotic, and to just ‘float’ on the surface of it all. He said if I would be patient, that I would notice that on or about my first year anniversary with the company, everything would suddenly be clear, and I would understand how to navigate the matrix and get things done. And he was right! Many times over the past year I have thought of his advice, and it gave me patience. So thank you, Todd, wherever you are! (I’ll be at Sapphire again this year if you’d care to share a taxi again!)
28. 25 March. I am grateful for the Mysterious Moderator. I began this blog on 14 February; at that time, I could write the blog, post it, and Tweet about it in one fell swoop. Sometime about two weeks after that, it seems SCN began a new process – every time I update the blog, which is every business day, it first has to go through moderation. (For those of you who were wondering, that is why there is now a big delay between the blog and the associated Tweet). At any rate, some mysterious, anonymous moderator has been approving my content every single day without fail. I don’t know who this is – perhaps they will reveal themselves in response to this post? – but thank you! Without your contributions this blog could not exist!
29. 26 March. I am grateful for Joyce Swanke and Perry Zalevsky. I get to do a “two for one special” gratitude entry with them, as they are both Industry Principals I’ve begun working with over the past few weeks. My job responsibilities are transitioning toward industry marketing for mining; given that I’m still relatively new to SAP, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the mining team. Well, clearly I should have expected total awesomeness. Joyce, Perry, and the rest of the mining organization are thoroughly impressive. I had the pleasure of meeting Joyce during my initial interviews with SAP, and I remember well how kind she was and how open to answering any questions I had about joining the company. I’ve now learned that her kindness is matched by her intellect and attention to detail: She and Perry have minds like steel traps, constantly tracking hundreds of action items, juggling customer relationships and internal commitments, and consistently being responsive and professional in all that they do (perhaps their brains served as the models for SAP HANA?). I love working with people who inspire me, and both of them definitely fit that bill.
30. 27 March. I am grateful for Fred Verheul! I think everyone will agree that the best way to wrap up “Thirty Days of Gratitude” – with entry number thirty – is to acknowledge the man who started it all with his blog, “Resolutions and Challenges“. I love how here on SCN, one idea sparks another, and things often lead in unexpected and wonderful directions. If you, too, are grateful for Fred, please join me in demonstrating this by paying it forward. Some of you have mentioned that you, too would like to start a gratitude blog – please do so! Or simply thank someone who made your life better today. When you do, you will be honoring Fred, the broader SCN community, and most of all – yourself.
Thanks to all of you who have followed and commented on this blog over the past month. I assure you the pleasure has been all mine – having the opportunity to provide thanks every day has been a wonderful experience that enriched my life.