The Importance of Being Celebrated
My parents taught me that all things momentous are cause for grand celebration. Most times, their definition of a milestone stretched rather generously to include “graduating” from Brownies to Girl Scouts, getting a two-line role in the eighth-grade play, and even winning the Rotary Club’s drawing contest. They saw all of these precious moments as opportunities to express their love for their children. What I saw was something a bit different.
These celebrations meant that the day-to-day routines of my life got put on hold. I could step away from memorizing spelling words and temporarily kick over my small bucket of childhood worries to enjoy the attention of being recognized. Whether going out for a special dinner or being the guest of honor at a party where Carvel ice-cream cake was served, these celebrations validated my importance. My achievements, however small, were applauded. Being celebrated meant that I mattered and, in my view, there is no better message for a child. I think about its importance in elevating self-esteem with my own two boys.
But I also realize that the great feeling you get when someone acknowledges and praises you is meaningful to everyone, not just to children. So I made room for it in the workplace.
Seventeen years ago, Esther, my first full-time employee, spent her first morning at work reviewing job responsibilities. Around noon I asked her, “Do you like Italian food?”
“Yes,” she said. “Why do you ask?”
“I just want to be sure Il Cantuccio is a good choice for your First-Day-of-Work Celebration Lunch.”
“Are you serious?” she asked.
“Of course,” I told her. “Milestones are to be celebrated.”
I introduced the importance of celebrations at Masters Group, starting with Esther, but over time it has become an integral part of our business practice. Now, with a team of ten creatives and collaborators, I see the practice modeled without my direction, likely to be initiated by any team member.
At MGD, we work hard, every day, around the clock. We pour out creativity in the morning; obsess about deadlines and project management in the afternoon; and bring home our clients’ problems at night. It’s a 24/7 gig—really. Design is profoundly rewarding. It’s also demanding.
You can lose yourself in the work that you do for others, easily forgetting that you matter too. This is why we create opportunities for celebration. To let each other know that our contributions are meaningful, we step away from our work and our worries. A lunch at El Vez, cocktails at Tria, or snacks at 10 Arts can quickly bring into focus that we each greatly value one another.
We may be celebrating a birthday, the first day of an internship, the launch of a website, or the winter holidays. If there’s an opportunity to pause and say “We’re proud of you,” “You rock,” or simply “YOU MATTER,” we do it!