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On Gratitude and Gorillas

I’m fond of quot­ing not­ed 20th-cen­tu­ry philoso­pher Fer­ris Bueller: “Life moves pret­ty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.”

Last week, our team gave our agency’s part­ners – Jen Bell­mont, Shel­li Lis­sick and me – a refresh­er course in just how impor­tant, and how effec­tive, it is to embrace that mind­set.

Our whole team was look­ing for­ward to our much-delayed hol­i­day par­ty on Thurs­day evening, but the part­ners didn’t expect what else the oth­ers had up their col­lec­tive sleeve. After ensur­ing we’d be in the office bright and ear­ly by sched­ul­ing fake meet­ings (some clients act­ed as acces­sories to cement the ruse), our team sur­prised us in a huge way by sched­ul­ing an entire day – “Part­ners Day,” as it’s now new­ly dubbed – of cel­e­brat­ing, bal­loons, food, thank-you notes, laugh­ter and even a few tears. Oh, and a singing telegram led by a goril­la. In our busi­ness, we often help our clients sur­prise and delight their cus­tomers – suf­fice it to say we were both sur­prised and delight­ed.

It was an incred­i­ble day – capped off with one more big sur­prise that evening dur­ing our annu­al Bel­lies award cer­e­mo­ny (mod­eled after the Dundies from “The Office.”) at our belat­ed hol­i­day par­ty. Our team had recruit­ed a half-dozen clients and strate­gic part­ners to record heart­felt video mes­sages, which they screened at the par­ty. Cue the water­works.

In an indus­try where we’re often bounc­ing from fire to fire, all of it (OK, maybe not the goril­la) was a won­der­ful reminder of the impor­tance of tak­ing a minute to reflect on the jour­ney we’ve tak­en, includ­ing:

  • Build­ing a com­pa­ny where peo­ple feel val­ued. In 2019, for the first time, Bell­mont Part­ners was named – along with just six oth­er Min­neso­ta com­pa­nies – one of Inc’s Best Work­places, as vot­ed on by our employ­ees.
  • Jen being named one of Ragan’s and PR Daily’s 2020 Top Women in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.
  • Con­tin­u­ing to cul­ti­vate strong and often long-term rela­tion­ships with our clients, thanks in no small part to Shelli’s client-cen­tric lead­er­ship.
  • Start­ing work with more new clients than ever before.
  • Being there for our team. We’re excep­tion­al­ly proud of how every­body at Bell­mont Part­ners jumps in to help and sup­port our col­leagues, par­tic­u­lar­ly when they’re going through tough times in their per­son­al lives.
  • Stay­ing com­mit­ted to our com­mu­ni­ty. Last year alone, as part of our for­mal­ized Bell­mont Gives Back pro­gram, we were able to devote 665 col­lec­tive hours to non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions that are impor­tant to us.

We received a lot of thank-yous for the sac­ri­fices we’ve made along the way to get to where we are. And with­out hum­ble­brag­ging, that tends to be a part of the puz­zle we don’t usu­al­ly think about. We just put our heads down and do what needs to be done. But Part­ners Day did allow us to step back a bit and reflect on those sac­ri­fices – and how we’ve been able to stay true to what’s impor­tant to us while mov­ing on to the next phase. Bell­mont Part­ners is no longer a cry­ing infant that requires sleep­less nights, or an unruly tod­dler in need of struc­ture, or even a teenag­er learn­ing to dri­ve on their own for the first time – it’s a ful­ly real­ized being. We three part­ners have been able to take actu­al recent vaca­tions, where we’ve (more or less) unplugged. We’re mov­ing into the next phase of our busi­ness – and that feels amaz­ing.

We’re extreme­ly proud of the busi­ness we’ve built, the peo­ple we’ve part­nered with and the work we’ve done. And we’re very, very grate­ful for our phe­nom­e­nal team.

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