In The Power of We in 2023, I offered a framework for personal reflection that can help you celebrate what you’ve done, take stock of how you’ve served others, and set the stage for what’s next for you personally and professionally. Today, I’d like to talk about gratitude and the importance of recognizing the people who helped you be who you are today.
After publishing The Power of Peers in 2016, I received an email and a follow-up video message from Randy Cantrell – an advocate in his own right for the effectiveness of peer advisory groups for business leaders. As a longtime podcaster, Randy enjoyed the book and believed I would benefit by having my own show. Keep in mind that Randy and I didn’t know each other, nor was he seeking compensation for launching and producing a new podcast. He simply believed in the work and knew he had a unique set of skills that could help me extend its reach.
I recall not being particularly responsive to Randy’s overture at first. Chalk it up to being busy, not knowing Randy, and possibly having some trepidation about stepping into the world of podcasting. However, Randy persisted despite my initial lack of enthusiasm. Of course, once we connected, I knew he was the real deal and that our working together would be a wonderfully rewarding experience.
The Year of the Peer Podcast
So, in 2017, we launched The Year of the Peer Podcast. The show addressed the growing curiosity among business leaders about peer advisory groups and what made them so effective. In my view, and I still feel this way today, it astonishes me that a mechanism for learning and growing that has proven so effective for so many is still utilized by so few. During that year, we invited some incredibly successful people as guests on our show. And lucky for me, they were kind enough to accept. It was among the most rewarding learning experiences I ever had.
My first guest was author and disruption leadership expert Charlene Li; followed by Forbes publisher and global futurist Rich Karlgaard; Birthing of Giants chairman Lewis Schiff; host of MSNBC’s Your Business JJ Ramberg; and best-selling author of more than 30 leadership books Jim Kouzes, among others.
Among my favorite interviews was my talk with Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond, regarded among the world’s top education experts, with more than 500 publications to her name. At the same hour we recorded the show, the US Senate was questioning Betsy DeVos as part of her confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education. Political partisanship notwithstanding, there was little doubt that my fledgling Year of the Peer Podcast trumped the new administration that day. If there were something to be learned about education, CSPAN would not have been your best source. To put the frosting on the cake, Dr. Darling-Hammond quoted a statement I wrote in an article about the power of learning together. It may seem minor to you, but it was quite a lesson for me – not because she quoted me (which I did think was cool), but because despite her stature and depth of knowledge, this accomplished educator took the time to prepare – even for my podcast.
What Anyone Can Do
That day, Dr. Darling-Hammond did something anyone can do; it’s just that most people don’t. Here’s what I mean: Former Runner’s World editor and author Joe Henderson once wrote that most successful runners/people don’t typically perform superhuman feats; they do the things anyone can do that most people never will. If there was a consistent theme among all my Year of the Peer podcast guests, that was it.
Of course, they all needed help to become successful, too. None of them did it alone. By surrounding themselves with the right people, they were inclined to do the things anyone can do with greater regularity. Because of this, their gratitude was palpable. To this day, they thank the people they can and pay it forward to others as an homage to the ones they can’t.
Because of the podcast, I wrote a second book that takes us beyond the limits of formal peer advisory groups and includes all the people in our circle whom we can enlist and engage for their support – our kids, parents, teachers, mentors, etc. No Randy, no podcast. No podcast, no second book – at least not that one. I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the encouragement I received from my friend and fellow author Robert H. Thompson to consolidate and share the wisdom of my Year of the Peer podcast guests.
If there was ever something “anyone can do,” here it is: Take a moment to thank someone who has made a difference in your life. Whether you haven’t seen that person in a decade or live with them daily, tell them what they mean to you and how they’ve contributed to who and where you are today. This holiday season, give the gift of gratitude.
Thank you to Randy Cantrell, Robert H. Thompson, my Year of the Peer (and subsequent podcast) guests for enriching my life beyond measure. Privately, I look forward to spending the remainder of the year showering as much gratitude as humanly possible on my incredible wife, family, and people closest to me. One more thing: Gratitude marks my 100th article for CEOWORLD Magazine. I appreciate beyond measure the confidence and support the entire CEOWORLD team has shown me since submitting my first article. Thank you.
Written by Leo Bottary.
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