Some people (ahem: me) tend to blow past a milestone without fanfare. Celebrating the milestones makes the innovation more delightful along the way.
When I was first promoted to an executive position, it didn't feel like much. I had worked hard, built a business case, revised the business case eleventybajillion times, networked, campaigned, etc. By the time my efforts ended and the decision was made, it felt inevitable. So, when I heard the news of this momentous promotion, I didn't feel the weight of the accomplishment. It felt like nothing.
I risked feeling no accomplishment, after a lot of hard work. But, thanks to two people who were instrumental in helping me achieve the promotion, my accomplishment was saved as a positive memory and life story. These two people underscored the event in a way that (1) I will never forget and (2) gave me what I needed to sink into the good feeling of an accomplishment (instead of blowing past it and seeking the next big thing).
The first was Matt, my first direct boss at the company. He delivered the news over what has now become our tradition: beer and wings. He shook my hand very formally and offered his heartfelt congratulations. The second was Lauren, my direct boss at the time. She sent me a beautiful bottle of champagne. I was astounded; the gift was very personal and celebratory, not business-like. It felt amazing.
Recently, a close colleague and mentee was promoted to the same level I described above. I sent him a bottle of champagne. It felt good to send, pay it forward, and mark the event.
People work hard. Innovators have an uphill battle not only to create net new outcomes but to convince people to go along the way. Medtech innovation that requires regulatory change or regulatory innovation is even harder, as it adds a lot of perceived existential risk to the process. As leaders in this space, remember to celebrate the milestones, both team and individual. And remember to celebrate yourself, too.
~Shannon, the Optimistic Optimizer
Ps. After I sent the bottle, I heard...crickets. Nothing. I thought he had disliked the gift, thought I was odd for sending it, and made up all sorts of other little stories about why he chose not to say anything. I started to question my own motivation in sending the gift; was it an altruistic act of paying it forward, or was I needing validation? I finally texted him, he said "That was you?" and let me know there was no "from" name on the package. Silly me! There's another blog post in here about not letting one's creative mind wander into the hypothetical unknown; just call the person!