A Routine of Gratitude

A Reflection on Gratitude from a Teenage Mentee

CEO Candi, Gratitude, Thankful, RoutineSince it was a rainy Saturday morning, my will to get out of bed was less than usual. The calming sound of rain kept me in that wonderful in between lull where my brain is the most creative and open. I pondered what we would talk about and if this 14 year old boy would be judgmental of my professional decisions or any advice I would offer. During my sleepy entrancement, I imagined the various conversations we might have.

Once 9:30am rolled around, I was forced to get out of bed and on my way to meet with my new mentee. The drive to our meeting spot – a cute little cupcakery and coffee spot – was quick despite the rain. And as I entered the shop, I could see that he was already there patiently waiting for me (luckily I wasn’t late).

The conversation was supposed to be about his personal and professional goals, but I didn’t know this kid beyond the brief conversation we had over a month ago. We talked about movies, books, society, debate, and psychology. I forgot how awesomely open and curious teenagers are about the world. It was such a refreshing conversation. Most adults I know are terribly boring – they talk only talk about work, love, and money.

At one point in our conversation, we talked about gratitude and the discomforts of one’s teenage years. It may just be due to the upcoming holiday or the many changes happening in my life right now, but I felt required to emphasize the importance of gratitude in our conversation.

As I look back at the meeting, I know that he didn’t need to necessarily hear all about the importance of gratitude. We expect a lot out of teens today – work hard in school, get a job, act like an adult, stay innocent, be polite & grateful, and so on.

This young man is grateful for his friends, his family, and his life.  That’s more than I can say for myself on a regular basis. It takes effort for me sometimes to feel gratitude and recognize it.

Create Routine, Routines, Gratitude, MarketingCreating a Routine

I will always preach to my clients the importance of creating a positive and consistent routine for their marketing. Things like posting a blog the same time and day every week, checking social media regularly, and creating fluidity to the voice of the story across all channels.

Routines work best when they flow from your personal life to your professional life. When my mentee told me that his goal for the next 8 days is so write 10 pages of narrative every day, I realized that I haven’t been doing something so regimented to practice my own skills.


My Vision as a Marketer:

To create beautiful expressions that tell the story for each company that I provide services to.

Goals Toward that Vision:

Spend 1 hour each day coming up with a new way to reach people with that story. It will look like mini-marketing campaigns.

What is a positive routine you are keeping to grow or improve yourself?

A Note of Thanks To Supportive Leaders

Thank you for leaving a positive impact on my life

Developing yourself into a professional is a long and sometimes complicated journey. We are never on this journey alone. And in my case, I’ve had several cheerleaders and coaches supporting me with each step. Today I’m taking a moment to thank some of those influential people.

Peggy Devery – English teacher, grammar great, and life instructor.

Not every kid in class appreciated her like I did. She saw a world beyond the halls of that school and the importance of the words we use in that world. Ms Devery showed me how beautiful and comical a single sentence can be – because of the way we arrange it. Powerful Leaders, Thank You, Good Grammar, Marketing


Susie Blank – Choral director, cellist, and non-traditional music aficionado.

Every singer is touched by people who help to find her voice. Ms Blank was the first person to push me to work on music the same way one would practice a sport or prepare for a test. She forced me to work on sight reading and trying new things outside of the comfort zone.

Music, Powerful Leaders, Thank you, marketing

Tamara Bering Sunguroff – Vocal teacher, opera singer, and musical coach.

Each week that we met was a new adventure in music and culture. She was more than a voice teacher, she was a musical advisor and coach to me. Tamara was a professional opera singer, so she bestowed many wisdoms on me about music and life.

Roz Dischiavo – Wellness Center director, relationship therapist, and mentor.

Most of us have that one college professor who opens your mind and turns your world upside down – that’s Roz. She was hard on me, supportive and insightful, and that’s what 19 year old me really needed. That magical mixture forced me to look at a world beyond performance and business, and to see the importance of offering a social good to the world.

Supportive Leaders, Leadership, Thank you, Marketing

Jennifer Hempel – Marketing director, cultural omnivore, and proud Canadian.

We did not always get along or agree, but when we were in sync the air was supercharged and anything could happen. She had high expectations and sometimes pushed me a little harder than I could take. At the end of the day though, I am stronger and smarter for working with her.


Always Seek Knowledge and Development

You may notice that only one of the incredible women I list here has impacted my profession directly (marketing). It is important to be influenced by people with varying backgrounds and experiences. I seek out mentors and mentees because life is an ever evolving series of lessons, and that goes beyond a paycheck.

Inserting Your Passion Into Your Life

Just in case it wasn’t obvious already, my oldest and most personal passion is musical performance. Living in a city with the tagline Live Music Capital should make it easy for me to get what I need, but I’m not always so sure about it. But I am a Broadway brat, and New York will always be my hometown.

Broadway Background

The first time I saw the lights of Broadway, I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was on the way home from seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular – a family tradition for a few years. In that moment, my gut and every nerve ending in my body reacted. It wasn’t about the lights themselves, but about what was lying beyond those lights. I could get lost in the incredible talent, music and stories of Broadway. I knew this even before seeing my first Broadway show. It is the only instance of love at first sight that I have ever experienced.

For my twelfth birthday, mom and dad bought tickets for the whole family to see Les Miserables. I was never the same again. From the moment that the curtain went up my entire life became about that stage. Through the years I’ve been on stage, back stage, promoting what’s happening on stage, and simple in the seats enjoying the story unfolding on the stage. No matter where I was in life, Broadway was my perfect escape. It was a place where I could laugh, cry, and feel changed. (Funny side note: I specifically became obsessed with Les Mis).

Growing From My Passion

Since musical performances are clearly my passion, I have always found my way into roles that reflected that – Broadway marketing, Carnegie Hall, etc. One day I realized that my biggest strength was not in my passion, but how I expressed it. I was writing and speaking about music with clarity and high energy, and the people listening or reading were picking up on that spirit and becoming my audience. I had created my own stage.

After moving to Austin, my participation in musical performance dropped to zero. It’s not because options are limited, but it’s because… well there is just no Broadway here. That is a terrible reason, I know.

So now what do I do? How do I re-inject my passion for musical performance back into my life? Passion for Music







Confidence and Negotiation

Own it – your future, your finances, your role in a company.
If you don’t own it, then it will own you.

When we are fresh out of school and excited about stepping into the working world, we are willing to be pushed around and told what to do. In some ways, that is okay when you are 23 years old and finding your place & your voice within a company. However, if you are 30 years old and still letting the company decide your future it is time to step up and own it.

Recognize Your Value

You bring something valuable to the company. Throughout your work, school and life experiences you have honed a skill that brings value and gains profit for the company. If you are in marketing (like me) then it is difficult to see that dollar amount, but I promise that you make a difference.

Professional Development

No matter how good you are, there is ALWAYS something new to be learned. Take the time to perfect your abilities and learn new complimentary ones.

  • Marketers – learn about your product inside and out. If it is a technology, then at least learn how to speak some of the lingo.
  • Developers – learn how to communicate with non-techies (please).
  • Designers – if you haven’t already, then learn HTML and CSS. Whether you like it or not, you will eventually need to know it.
  • Financers – learn more about the product/service and how the marketing and public relations teams interact with the public.
  • Account Managers – if you are not already managing projects, then learn more about project management. Otherwise, get more involved in finance and the client goals.
  • Creatives/Artists – learn about finance and management. I know you hate that stuff, but you will bring so much more value to the team if you understand it.


Before you start negotiating with a supervisor about money or positions, take the time to do the research. There are a plethora of online resources that can help you figure out your worth.  Make sure to account for the years of experience and city you are living in when you do this research.

Make a Plan

How long have you been working with this company? What is the trajectory for your continued growth? Where do you see yourself professionally in 6 months, 1 year and 3 years? Once you feel you know the answers to these questions, then schedule time to discuss your future with a supervisor or human resources. Take a deep breath and (in your head) repeat the mantra “I am a valuable employee and deserve to be treated as such.”

For more advice, check out this article How to Ask for a Raise


Music Review

Meiko (untitled album)

She has a pretty voice, but it reminds me of too many other singers. Her music does not feel unique to me, and I value musicians with a truly unique sound. I enjoy her music in the background, but I do not foresee going to see her in concert or spending money on albums.

Meiko, singer songwriter

Strategic Alliances for Your Business

My energy comes from other people, so the connections I make around my business are highly important. One often thinks of strategic alliances as a tool of manipulation. It assumes that we align ourselves or businesses with certain people purely for tools or power. I treat strategic alliances as deeper relationships that need to fit with both my core values and my professional goals.

At each point of developing a business, you need different things.

  • Beginnings: on-boarding strangers to understand and get excited about your idea. These people’s tools only matter to a small extent, because the excitement behind them is more important
  • Established: the people you align with your business begin to fill needs. You may need to find a CPA or a lawyer who has interest in what you are doing
  • Growing: you need to admit that there are some things you cannot do yourself. It is time to trust someone who is an expert in that area, and invite him or her into your circle of strategic alliances

Throughout all of these processes, we must keep in mind the key element that can easily break the connection made – trust. There is a world of difference between the person who is great at his job, shares an interest and passion for your business, and has mutual trust with you; and the person who is the best in his industry, sort of understands what the driver is behind your business and is questionably trusted.

strategic alliances

Funding Your Business Idea

After working for a funded start-up I gained many valuable insights. One of those was a better understanding of how new businesses get the money to pay the bills. I have met powerful investors before and big donors to non-profits, but few of them impressed me. This is not to say that investors are not a wonderful thing for start-ups. However, with investors comes additional management. If I was an investor in a company, then I would probably want a say in how some of the operations are run – which is why I do not fault investors at all. It’s the relationship and the process built around it that can often go off track and make things…mucky.

Let’s dig deeper into this concept. If I want to start a new company and I need $50k to get things going, then I will do a few things:

No matter how I decide to fund my business, I need to have a clear plan and relationship with who/where I am getting the money from. Investors and banks need you to be very honest, clear and detailed about what you want from them.

blog, money crowd funding

  • How will the relationship work?
  • What is their stake in the company?
  • Is there an end date?
  • Why do they want to help you?

Grants, crowd-funding and bootstrapping take on a whole other level of finesse. These folks want to know more about you, the person behind the idea.

  • Why should they choose to help you instead of someone else?
  • What social good are they making by working with you?
  • How will they be involved in the process of developing this business?

Bridges Should Always Remain

We have all experienced times in our lives when we want to get revenge or pretend we do not know the person who hurt us. As much pain as he or she brought on me, the experience changed me and possibly made me a better person. Running or hiding never solved anything (unless there is a zombie apocalypse), so I realized one day that I need to stop and recognize the experience for what it is. The people we meet and the experiences we share enrich our lives. It sounds a bit cliche, but think about it – what would you lose if you stopped connecting with others?

  • Smiles and laughter
  • Great stories to re-tell
  • Moments of epiphany
  • Breakthroughs – even if they come from tears
  • Self realizations friends and connections matter

The picture here is goofy, and you can tell that we are long time friends. It doesn’t matter if we have fought before, annoyed the other person or simply disagreed. We know there is a connection worth holding on to.

I am a big proponent of making deep connections with those I work with and professionally befriend. There have definitely been times when I don’t want to hear an alternative opinion to my idea or concept, but I listen anyway. We all have those moments where a client or co-worker says every possible thing incorrectly and insists that he or she is right. A difficult part of being a leader or a good manager is relationship building. If you have taken the time to build strong bridges, then no disagreement will break that trust. Being honest about who you are, your limitations, understanding other people and accepting it will make you a great leader.