I’m Told To Be Thankful
We’ve all heard that gratitude is the answer to many problems. That being full of gratitude will help you be more resilient and happy, a better boss and partner, and a better human. But I’ve been skeptical when I’ve heard these comments before. So, I want to spend today’s blog asking, “how does being thankful actually help me do these things above?”

But first, some real-life examples of how people are finding gratitude in this difficult season —

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The Research Behind Gratitude
There is a surprising amount of scientific research on what consistent gratitude does to our brains and bodies. …

“But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies.”

— Joe Biden, United States President-Elect, acceptance speech on November 7, 2020

A Story

At my university, I studied Interpersonal Communications, which is the study of how humans connect with one another both individually and collectively. …

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About a decade ago, I was doing sales for a startup that offered a tech solution for pharmacies. We came across a government initiative (called the 340B program in the United States) that allowed pharmacies to make more money while serving low-income pharmacy customers, and our company’s tech solution would power the initiative.

As I went into pharmacies, I would normally walk in the door and say that I’m here to tell them about a great solution that would help the pharmacy get more business from new customers, powered by the easy-to-use technology we were offering. And when I asked if they were interested, I would be shocked when they said no. …

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What do you believe the world could become through your work?

I posed this question to all of the 156 accelerators, studios, and corporate innovation teams who joined me at the GAN and GSSN Summit last week, and it became the basis for our three-day Summit.

And while that question was posed to everyone attending Summit, it’s an incredibly important question for every one of us reading this blog today. Here’s why — how we answer it deeply affects what we do in our work, how we do our work, and the energy we will ultimately have because of our work.

What happens if we don’t have an answer to this question?

Most people don’t have an answer to this question or just haven’t spent time crafting an intentional vision of what the world could become because of the work they do each day. Personally, I didn’t have a good answer until a few years ago. …

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You know exactly what’s going on in the world. Things are tough right now, and all of us are experiencing some kind of hardship. There are socio-political issues around race, and, in the United States, an election that seems to be one of the most important elections we’ll have in our lifetimes. There’s the ongoing health crisis where new outbreaks of COVID-19 seem to be picking up as we enter the fall. And, there’s this economic recession overlaying all of it. Not to mention the many other challenges each of us are facing in our own lives and communities.

It all seems heavy. I have numerous friends coming to me tired and anxious. Most of my good friends have cried at work at least once over the last few weeks. It makes sense. Things aren’t easy at this moment. …

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The other day I was on a call with a good friend. He’s a great entrepreneur and asked if he could run the pitch for his new company by me. It was a great pitch. He shared the problems he’s solving, what the product does, the size of the market, and how much the company is looking to grow.

For all intents and purposes, it was a typical well-done pitch.

As I reflected on the pitch, I realized two things —

First, he never mentioned any part of his background. This guy is an incredible leader. He has been building products for years, has already been successful on numerous fronts, and has more than enough chops to show any investor what he’s capable of achieving. …

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Each of our companies has a set of values. These are listed on our websites, shared when new members join our teams, and put on posters around our offices. Those values guide us and shape the identities of our companies.

For instance, at GAN we have the value of “celebration”. When we describe the value we say that we “pop a cork when people reach greater heights — after all, getting stuff done doesn’t mean you have to be boring.”

When something deserves to be celebrated, we celebrate. We’ve been known for having 100 balloons randomly show up at our office and sending too many things to our colleagues’ homes. Our neighboring tenants get annoyed at the noise and frequency of our celebrations, telling us that it looks like we’re “always celebrating” to the point where we’re known as the “loud ones who seem to be happy a lot.” …

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Over the last three months, I’ve had more energy than I’ve had in the previous three years.

The reason is twofold: first, my work schedule is “under control.” I wrote about this a few months ago — Regan (who oversees my calendar) and I spent a lot of time prioritizing the things that need to be prioritized, and we’ve done a great job keeping my schedule in order.

More recently, I realized that my good work schedule is just a good work schedule if everything outside of work is crazy. …

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Since GAN’s inception, the community’s mission has been to give startups the power to create and grow their businesses and make a positive impact wherever they call home. Why? Because we believe startups are the job creators, culture-makers, and innovation engines our cities and industries need. Yet, startups can never and will never operate in a vacuum. They need mentors, accelerators, investors, healthy founders, and safe places to work.

And, revenue.

Revenue is an area that startups seem to focus on the least and yet, it’s the missing puzzle piece that they need the most. Revenue is the engine to startups’ growth. It allows them to generate the momentum needed for that next investment and enables startups to stay in business if the next investment never comes through. …

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Accelerators have been around for almost fifteen years now. Throughout that time, they’ve supported and funded thousands of startups, many of which have turned into powerful companies and positively impacted communities large and small.

The reason for that success is, in many ways, due to what accelerators offer every startup that works with them:

  • A Community of startup peers to grow your company alongside.
  • Connections to investors, corporations, and customers who can infuse cash into newly formed businesses.
  • Coaching from both the accelerator managers and guest mentors.

In the past few months, our worlds have completely changed. Yet, what hasn’t changed are the things that every startup needs: community, connections, and coaching. Every startup needs a group of peers they can call on, cash to keep going, and mentorship to help guide them through strategic questions at any given time. This is why, as we think about the next few months and years, accelerators are more important than ever. …


Patrick Riley

Helping to give startups the power to create and grow their business wherever they are as CEO of GAN: @GANconnect

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