Humans of HR: the gratitude effect

September 26, 2019 Mike Wood

4-minute read

Mike Wood and his family

I remember it like it was yesterday. There I stood in the lobby of one of the tiniest airports I have ever seen, in a country I had only dreamed of four months earlier. My friend and HR superstar Laurie Ruettimann had reached out to me about an opportunity to speak at the Cayman Islands SHRM conference and DisruptHR Cayman.

I love speaking and I especially love DisruptHR, but how could I sell this at home? I’ve only been married for five years, but I knew how the conversation of “I’m going to the Cayman Islands while you stay home with the 2-year-old” was going to go.

I never had to have that conversation because here I was, in Cayman, with my wife, daughter, and mother-in-law. How did this happen? They were able to join me because of the generosity of Chris Bailey.

Chris met us in the terminal and proceeded to rent us a car and drive us to a condo he rented for us. I was prepared to have the entire family squeeze into a hotel bed like Grandpa Joe and pals in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Not only were we able to relax in a condo with multiple rooms, but we were also within walking distance to the beach.

The next day he told us to visit the Cayman Turtle Center on the other end of the island. When we got to there, we found out we were listed as VIPs. We got a private tour, access to the turtles (even getting to hold one), and lunch overlooking the sanctuary. Plus, I got to introduce Caymans to the Egg McMuffin at DisruptHR and co-present with Laurie on the power of gratitude. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I will forever be grateful to Chris for the opportunity.

In celebration of World Gratitude Day this month, I asked the Humans of HR – a group of influential thinkers in the HR space committed to making work more human – their thoughts on gratitude. Here are some of my favorite responses.

What is the most fun and rewarding experience you were grateful to have?

Sabrina Baker

“Going through the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur is something I’m immensely grateful for. The experiences and network this company has helped me build are amazing.” – Sabrina Baker, founder at Acacia HR Solutions


Sharlyn Lauby

“I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career, both in terms of the skills I’ve acquired and the recognition I’ve received. Today I’m grateful that I work with terrific companies and people on fun, interesting projects.” – Sharlyn Lauby, president at ITM Group, Inc.

Victorio Milian

“In 2003 I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Norway for business. Even better was having my partner and 15-month-old daughter with me. She learned how to walk in a foreign country!” – Victorio Milian, senior HR consultant at Humareso

What is the best gratitude moment you’ve ever received? How did it make you feel?

“A client won a big account because we were able to provide a service that many others couldn’t. The client, normally not one to express gratitude, did so in a very direct and real way. It made me very proud of the work we do.” – Sabrina Baker, founder at Acacia HR Solutions

“Back in 2013, while doing a live broadcast of #DriveThruHR, I let the host know that I was looking for work. Before the end of the show, William Tincup bought me a website and the HR community helped me amplify my job search.” – Victorio Milian, senior HR consultant at Humareso

John Baldino“The opportunities that involve my family stand out the most. I was sent to Disney World as a ‘thank you,’ and my family had the time of their lives. I also had client work in Miami Beach, and the client asked me to bring my whole family. While I worked, my family headed to the beach and were treated like celebrities – roped-off area, food delivery, fresh towels. Amazing time.” – John Baldino, president at Humareso

Life moves fast and if you don’t take a moment to stop and reflect, you may miss some of the things that really matter. Six years, six months, even six weeks from now you aren’t going to remember your third quarter goals, but you will remember the moments you were able to make someone’s life better through gratitude. Take a moment to tell someone what they are doing right.


What my grandfather taught me about gratitude

About the Author

Mike Wood

Mike was the former Industry Relations Manager at Workhuman.