Jim Schwartz, a former boss of mine in the fashion industry who is now president of Mast Industries, used to remind us to "Keep your eye on the doughnut, not on the hole!" Thanksgiving Day helps us pause and reflect on all that there is in front of us, moving our focusing away from what "woulda, shoulda, and coulda been." This mindset also makes great business sense. Here are three examples of why and how.

1. Tangible rewards.

REI is giving its employees a paid day off on Black Friday this year. This is a huge gesture for a retailer since millions of dollars can be earned not only on Black Friday but also on the evening of Thanksgiving. President Jerry Stritzke's point was to extend the company's brand value messaging to its employees and to its customers: Get outside! REI is practicing what it preaches. The intangible benefits will translate into tangible financial value because these authentic gestures create loyalty among employees and among customers.

2. Optimism is contagious.

This November 2015 at Inc. magazine and CNBC's iCONIC conference in Washington, D.C., Life Is Good co-founder Bert Jacobs gave an inspiring talk about the power of optimism as a business driver in capitalism. Bert shared how his mom, in the midst of family tensions, would begin each dinner meal with "Tell me something good that happened to you today." How amazing would it be to start your work meetings off with this question? It shifts the energy in the room, and the dynamic of goal setting.

3. Generosity is the corollary to gratitude.

Cultivating habits in your business practice that demonstrate gratitude to those who make your work possible--employees and clients--begins to seed a mindset of wanting to help others through action. In a saturated marketplace with lots of competition, this could not be more important. Your generous acts may be in the form of time off, or subsidizing a class for an employee, or paying forward cost savings on to your customers. Generous deeds helps you to cultivate a feedback loop connection between what your brand message states and what you actually do--for your employees and for your customers.

As my dad was fond of saying, "'Please' and 'thank you' will take you far in this life." That's true for us personally, and in business.

Published on: Nov 26, 2015