Celebrate Your Accomplishments

In the rush of meeting orders and collecting enough cash for payroll, many entrepreneurs don’t take enough time to celebrate accomplishments. It can be big things or little things, milestones and anniversaries. Celebrating on-going accomplishments is a way of building a positive, growth-oriented, and hopefully ‘fun’ culture within your business.
One of my favorite stories about celebrating milestones in business comes from one of our alumni, Charles Hagood co-founder of The Access Group. I recounted their celebratory tradition in the opening of the case study that I wrote about their business:
“The duck quacked. It was a long standing tradition at The Access Group (TAG) to enthusiastically make a stuffed duck they kept in their office quack whenever they landed a new project. In fact, that duck had been quacking much more often in recent months. The recession that started in late 2000 and the aftermath of 9/11 had taken a toll on manufacturing companies, which has been TAG’s main client base. But their fiscal year 2003-2004 had seen improvement in both the top and bottom line, and their forecast for 2004-2005 was for TAG to have its best year ever. Charles Hagood and Mike Brown were once again able to think about strategies to grow their business.”
That’s right. Middle-aged engineers march up and down the hallway quacking a rather homely looking stuffed duck whenever they land new business. What a wonderful way to build a culture that celebrates success.
We had a tradition of celebration in our business that also involved, coincidentally, ducks.
When we first went into business together my partners, both physicians, found a particular piece of art work I hung in my office to be, well, funny. It was a rather nice scene of ducks flying out of a marsh–a painting like you might find in hundreds of offices around the country.
It looked a lot like this picture:
duck picture.bmp
My partners had decorated most of our office space with trendy and modern pieces of art. My picture to them was way too “corporate” for our entrepreneurial venture. But, I liked it and it stayed.
On our first anniversary in business together, my brother (one of my two partners) gave me a present to mark our first year in business. It was–you guessed it–a duck. It was a beautiful carved mallard to be precise. On the second anniversary of going into business he gave me the female mate to my mallard. Each successive year he gave me another duck; each unique.
Over the years these ducks became a wonderful focus of conversation for those who visited my office. The ducks symbolized our staying power in the volatile industry of health care during the 1980s and 1990s. Each year our staff would check in to see this year’s duck for the collection.
Finally, on the ninth and final anniversary of our business he gave me a magnificent carved loon to commemorate the successful sale of our business. I was moving to the land of loons–Minnesota–to begin my current teaching career, so it was a fitting end to our tradition.
The ducks are on prominent display in my office here at Belmont. They allow me to tell stories about tradition, celebration and longevity in business to my students.
Milestones and anniversaries are important, so be sure to celebrate.
What brought this topic to mind today? Well, it is our 27th wedding anniversary! So from Dr. C to Mrs. C — Happy Anniversary!!!