Who I’m Thankful For

Catpaint rebecca lieb altimeter

Who I'm Thankful For
originally published in MediaPost's Social Media Insider, without the cat pic

A great philosopher, Dr. Meredith Grey of “Grey’s Anatomy,” once said, “Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human.” And then there are the timeless words of Spock, who reflected on “Star Trek”: “Oh yes, you humans have that emotional need to express gratitude. ‘You're welcome,’ I believe is the correct response.”

Whether you’re human or half-human, you can probably appreciate the timelessness of gratitude. For those in the United States, it’s especially timely. While I’m feeling that Thanksgiving spirit, I wanted to do my part and give thanks to some groups of people who have made my job notably better. Here’s what’s far from a totally comprehensive list of the kinds of people who impact this column:

Clients: I learn from the best, constantly. Whoever complains that “marketers just don’t get it” has not met any of the marketers I’ve dealt with in my career. I’ve yet to have an exchange with a client that hasn’t taught me something.

Colleagues: The people I’m surrounded with at the office keep getting smarter. Maybe they’re eating acai berries. So much of what I’ve learned comes from them, whether it’s from the work they do for clients or informal emails about crazy memes that get passed around.

Public relations professionals: The great PR pros constantly help me do my job better, both as a writer and in my agency role. I reward them when possible with mentions of their clients here and elsewhere, but there are always many more companies that don’t get mentioned that still shape my views of media, marketing, and technology.

Entrepreneurs: One of the best parts of the job is that I’m constantly in touch with architects, builders, creators, and dreamers. Privately and publicly, I give some a hard time, challenging them to meet the needs of both consumers and marketers. What I don’t say enough privately or publicly is how much I respect what the vast majority of them are doing to carry out their visions.

Venture capitalists: They have played an increasing role behind the scenes. Consummate connectors, they often make introductions to startups long before they’re ready for the spotlight here.

Family: Whether it’s my oldest nephew switching among mobile chat apps while living abroad, my sister setting up a Facebook page for her new business, or my 95-year-old grandmother getting hooked on the Kindle, they’re a constant source of insights and serendipity. This is especially true for the family members whom I haven’t hidden or blocked on Facebook.

Conference organizers: I get to dozens of conferences every year. I’m indebted to quite a number of the organizers for bringing people together, namely people such as: fellow columnist Cathy Taylor who runs MediaPost’s social events, Toby Daniels of Social Media Week, Hugh Forrest at South by Southwest, Eli Mandelbaum at PluggedIn Ventures, Steve Etzler and Maria Feola at the Business Development Institute, Gordon Platt at Gotham Media Ventures, Steve Leon at ShowStoppers, Tonia Ries at Realtime, Victor Harwood at Digital Hollywood, and many others I’m inadvertently omitting.

Conference speakers and attendees: I love learning from great presenters, but there’s often even more value derived from chance conversations at the snack table. That’s just one of the reasons I spend so much time at the snack table.

The media: Whether it’s the mainstream press or committed bloggers, the best journalists and outlets are adding clarity to breaking news or unearthing important stories. This column wouldn’t be possible without them.

Editors: Phyllis, you rock.

Students: At least every couple of months, I’ll wind up presenting to undergraduate or graduate classes or student associations. It’s one of my favorite professional pastimes. The questions from students are far more candid than those I’ve encountered at any other event I’ve taken part in, and the rooms are overwhelmingly filled with people who really want to learn.

Technology powerhouses: It’s good to have some consistency with this job. Certain companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have been generous with their time and increasingly proactive outreach; their generosity with beer and sugar is always appreciated too.

The cats of CatPaint: I wonder how many people buy iPhones just because that’s the only way to use CatPaint. How sad it must be for Android owners — those poor saps who can’t put cats over all their photos. It may sound trivial, but CatPaint is precisely the kind of emerging technology that taps into key trends (mobile photography, social media, putting cats all over stuff) and reminds me why it’s so critical to be a consumer first and a marketer second.

Readers: It’s the classic “tree falling in the woods paradigm.” Without you, none of this would matter, so whether you read every word every week or just see this forwarded to you on occasion, I’m constantly grateful for your attention.

It was Gertrude Stein who said, “Silent gratitude isn't very much to anyone.” So, thank you, and thanks to so many more who make this whole endeavor possible by contributing in some way to the 363 Insider columns so far and the countless editions to come.