Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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Gratitude is always in season!

For the past several weeks, we have been exploring what it takes to create a great culture in an organization! And as we start the holiday season, it is an opportune time to delve into a vital requirement in human relationships and cultures. – Gratitude!
Gratitude is always in season! And workers thrive in a grateful environment.

Last Tuesday, November 29, 2022, was Giving Tuesday!
Giving Tuesday is a global giving day. And it takes place each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. – The timing of Giving Tuesday is ironic! Because it is emblematic of our unquenchable thirst and quest for balance as humans. How, one might ask?

Overeating defines the Thanksgiving holiday. And binge shopping signifies Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Then with a twinkle of an eye, we turn the page on Giving Tuesday with extreme generosity. Whoa! It seems we navigate our days by fluttering between two extremes – selfishness and selflessness!

Gratitude begets giving??

That aside, Giving Tuesday sends an important message. – It is a reminder and opportunity to engage in charitable giving! – Many nonprofits leverage this opportunity to attract new donors, raise brand awareness, and encourage repeated giving.  Did you know that: Nonprofit organizations acquire 10X more donors on Giving Tuesday? The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022.
Indeed, at the end of the year, people donate more, and it is also when we seem to be the most ungrateful. 

After our Thanksgiving meals on Thursday, we march into shops for some good ol’ Black Friday shopping! Black Friday is the first day of the traditional Christmas shopping season. – A day when consumers rush to make purchases as retailers offer doorbusters, rock-bottom prices on highly sought-after items, and the best deals of the year! 

Black Friday – then and now!

However, this day that many retailers plan for year-round and many customers await with great anticipation has a dark origin. – Black Friday is also used to describe a stock market catastrophe on September 24, 1869. On that day, after a period of rampant speculation, sparked by a ring of speculators who attempted to corner the gold market, the price of gold plummeted, and the markets crashed! It is a fascinating story! What’s Black Friday? When It Is and Importance to Economists (investopedia.com)

Ironically, what has stayed the same between the Black Friday of 1869 and the Black Friday we celebrate today is that: prices drop and lead to unfortunate outcomes! In the 1800s, the drop in gold prices led to mayhem in the markets. And today, price reductions on goods often result in chaos in stores.

Also, there is remarkable irony in how we transition from Thanksgiving to Black Friday. – Because in a matter of minutes, we move from expressing gratitude to shoving and yelling at one another in pursuit of the best deals. As a result, after the Thanksgiving holiday, we often march into the season of Giving with a sense of frustration, overwhelm, and anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
And one of the ways we can prevent this frustration is by expressing gratitude in our personal and professional lives.

Why gratitude matters

What exactly is gratitude?
Some say gratitude is saying thank you or being thankful. And others equate gratitude to actions that show appreciation. Is it all of these, one of these, or none of these?
Well, what does Merriam say? 😊 The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gratitude as the state of being grateful. (Thankful). Gratitude Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

That sounds simple enough!
Gratitude is a state of being, and there are many ways to express gratitude. – They are brought to life when we say “thank you” and mean it or express thankfulness through action. Furthermore, expressing gratitude is critical in an organization because it creates an environment where workers can thrive.
To bring this closer to home, I’ll share a story I recounted to a group of leaders a few months ago.

Effectively expressing gratitude 

Earlier in my career, my team leader used an effective method to celebrate Labor Day. She went to each employee’s office or called them on the phone if they were not in the office building. And she thanked them for their work. And told each employee what she appreciated about them and the unique value they provided to the team. After these conversations, we all scrambled around the office building, stopping by each other’s offices or calling each other on the phone. Desperate to hear what she had expressed to everyone. 

As would be expected, employees were very motivated by her kind gesture. And this propelled many employees to seek ways to put the unique capabilities she highlighted in them to good use. – This included volunteering for special projects and taking on stretch goals. – Remarkably, that tiny gesture from my team leader had an impressive impact on the team’s productivity!

The burning question!

And this begs the question: What holds us back from creating such an environment?

There are many reasons! And one of them is: sometimes, we might think compensation is a sufficient expression of gratitude to workers.
Indeed, in response to this question, I have heard some leaders say: What else do employees want? They are paid very well. We have wide salary bands, and their salaries can increase significantly within a job level. Also, our benefits are some of the best in the industry! That should be enough! 

The frustration in their response is understandable because many leaders work hard to get their boards to approve leading compensation packages. However, it is worth remembering that while providing a paycheck might fulfill a leader’s responsibility and obligation, more is required to strengthen culture. – And to build a healthy culture, workers need to feel valued.

Importantly, when a leader expresses gratitude to a worker, it sends a powerful message to them. – It signals that they are valuable to the organization, and their work is appreciated. 
Also, this opens the door to workers offering
 discretionary effort! And we will explore this powerful concept and opportunity in the future!


As we traverse the busy holiday season, this is an opportune time to express gratitude to those who work with us. Consider taking a moment during a team meeting to tell your employees what you value about them. And make it specific – highlight their unique strengths and let them know the impact they make on the team. 

This tiny gesture can pay significant dividends. Some might even say it is more valuable than a small monetary bonus. – But for many, that would be pushing it too far. 😊

Have a wonderful week! And remember, gratitude is always in season!

For you and to you,



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