Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
This column originally published on Nov. 26, 2015.
Thanksgiving is here, a time when we gather with friends and family to celebrate the end of a long harvest, enjoy a delicious meal and follow up with a long nap on this relaxing Thursday afternoon. Thanksgiving is also a time to break from our busy routines and reflect on the wonderful people and things we have in our lives.
And while I believe we have drifted away from the latter aspect of the holiday, trading it for the opportunity to gorge food and indulge in football (all while still fitting in that nap), I personally like to give pause and thanks for the gift of being alive, safe and free.
This Thanksgiving, if you’re finding it difficult to list those things you are personally thankful for, feel free to share these with me.
1. Healthy joints
The joints I am referring to are those in my knees, not the ones I consumed in college. As I grow older and continue to take on new personal and professional challenges, I notice how increasingly delicate my health has become. From throwing out my back while sneezing, to experiencing an ever-increasing need for sleep, I recognize the changes in my mind and body. Luckily, now that I have a great morning routine, a proper diet and a few new habits to support my back health, I am more energetic, positive and productive.
For more reasons than can be listed here, entrepreneurs should be grateful for and prioritize their health above all else.
2. The cloud
No, I’m not referring to the fluffy, white condensed mass of water vapor in the sky, but rather the technology that allows resources to be stored and retrieved from the Internet through web-based tools and applications. While I have been using the cloud for a couple of years, I had not become fully integrated with it until this year, when I finally transitioned all of my work and digital photos to this wonderful new tool.
I have also transitioned to Internet phone service, or VOIP, and begun using more cloud-based apps to manage my personal and business affairs. Since converting, I’ve found it great knowing that I no longer need to be tethered to a computer and risk losing my files in the wake of a hard-drive crash.
Some people, like Louis C.K., call smartphones a sad addiction that is dehumanizing our way of life and getting in the way of the things that are important. But I disagree. I see them as a valuable tool that actually allows me to get more done.
Sure, I could use a little less time on social media and strategy games, but being able to access email, complete tasks and make an occasional phone call from almost anywhere permits me to spend time with my family and enjoy life more fully.
4. Coworking spaces
While coworking spaces have existed for years, I discovered this year how incredibly amazing they are as a place to meet, work and network with other business leaders. As their popularity continues to grow, and as their biggest users, millennials, mature and proliferate, coworking spaces become more and more ingrained in our work lives.
The more they promote collaboration as a regular way to conduct business, the more these spaces will continue to blossom and expand.
Can’t find a coworking space in your area? Consider creating one of your own.
After years of deliberation, the SEC voted on and passed rules to enact President Obama’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which will allow non-accredited investors to take part in equity crowdfunding.
According to Chance Barnett, CEO of Crowdfunder.com, “This sets the stage for equity crowdfunding to continue its exponential growth over the next three-to-five years, on top of the existing market for accredited investors.”
This is a game-changer, as it will definitely make raising money less difficult for aspiring startup entrepreneurs. Does it come with risks? Absolutely, but I believe the upside is far greater than the downside for fueling business and innovation well into the future.
6. Emojis, GIFs and memes.
I may get lambasted by English teachers and professionals from across the United States, but I have to admit that I have become quite fond of using emojis, GIFs, memes and other digital images meant to enhance and add context to digital messages.
I still avoid them in professional correspondences, but I would argue that they are so incredibly useful for better conveying meaning and reducing ambiguity in messages that we should learn to adopt them. And, let’s face it, with our diminishing attention spans, anything that reduces the amount of typing can only help businesses.
What’s more, I am not alone with this. Oxford University Press named “emoji” the word of the year for 2015.
7. J.J. Abrams.
The last time I was as excited about a cultural event, I had not even started shaving. And so it is that I eagerly await the new next installment of the Star Wars series next month. As a purist, I am thrilled to see one of my favorite directors, J.J. Abrams, in charge of the next three Star Wars movies and committed to shooting the series on film rather than repeating the terrible cinematic mistakes made in episodes one through three.
More important, as an entrepreneur, I am intrigued by these films’ ability to sustain their popularity over the years and generations. Disney’s masterful use of multi-channel promotion and the movie’s continued success with merchandising have been a driving force (pardon the pun!) and a great business case study.
Granted, the franchise has plenty of brand equity to spend, but the fact that my young kids are as eager to see the new film as I am is a testament to the company’s successful business model.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Entrepreneur.com in this list. In addition to turning out amazing and high-value content for business leaders across the globe, the editors have continued to allow me a place to rant and vent twice per week, an honor I do not take lightly and one for which I am incredibly thankful.
What are you thankful for this year? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.