Today, I want to share with you a little about the love and kindness I feel every day being part of the team at BRATLAB and Habits at Work.

Even though Caryn Tomasiewicz is no longer part of the team we miss her every day. The impact she had as a founding partner, COO, do it all, consultant and dear personal friend in our business for a decade continues. One of the things I miss every day are the times we’d check in with each other, finding out which city you’re in and what you’ve been up to. For a decade we would just get things done, check in occasionally and make it work. Caryn is the ultimate remote worker, a life adventurer and has a sense of humor that has you still laughing days later. Thank you for the legacy you’ve left at Habits at Work and for keeping us going through all the many difficult early years. 

To keep this post short, I have to limit my comments to one paragraph per person, which I know is going to be almost impossible to pull off, but here goes.

Hanlie leads BRATLAB, refuses to let me make up statistics or misremember them, spends hundreds of hours pouring through and summarizing the latest research in human performance and still finds time to manage clients, be the self-appointed wellbeing coach for our whole team and especially me, and live a life full of new adventures every week: Japanese drumming today, shamanic course tomorrow. Pay attention, because there is perpetually something new to see her in action around, like an upcoming Ph.D. about hate and hate crimes. However, the real value to my life is knowing that Hanlie is around in my times of crisis, a calm head and soothing voice when everything seems to be blowing up or melting down. Thanks for being a 20-year rock in my life, a great friend and the keeper of the vaults for BRATLAB.

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Colin Bullen is my hero. He’s both a real actuary and a very funny, charming man. That’s a rare combination in our world. We first met in South Africa and worked together for some wild years (neither of us are sharing, so don’t ask). When he moved to London I thought we might never do so again. Then, several years ago, we got the chance and without even checking the depth of the water we both jumped in feet first. The last few years have been very hard work for us all, and especially for Colin, being our sole European representative.

In that role he has to be a salesman, a consultant, an actuary, an accountant and operations person and much else besides. And every quarter he comes to Chicago and reminds the team about the value of a good craft beer and what it looks like to be the ultimate professional. When I grow up, I want to be this guy!

Colin’s protégé is Gloria Gong. We met serendipitously, didn’t plan to hire Gloria for more than an internship, and now wonder what the hell we’d do if she ever decides to leave us. Quiet on the outside but bubbling with sharp wit, eager helpfulness and wicked determination, Gloria is one of those people who is easy to underestimate until you’ve actually seen her in action. After that, you’ll never be surprised again at what she is able to accomplish, with little help, guidance or support (at least from me). Colin and I both know she can run rings around both of us – but we’re not giving up the pretense just yet. She’s the owner of the Chinese cultural stories that make an appearance on our office walls, and is the only person I know that can tell me if my little boy is actually counting to ten in Chinese or just making it up.

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Bree and I are too alike in many ways. Which is why people sigh when we’re working together on something, and mostly avoid us. But I love those times, because things move quickly and we invent at lightning pace. I guess neither of us are ever satisfied or patient about ‘what is’. If you know what the enneagram is, we’re both archetypical 8’s. Bree has invented or been a part of inventing most of our products, tools, websites, approaches to the market and best ideas. It’s so rare, I think, to find people that are highly creative, artistic and imaginative who are then also able to execute and bring to life what they’ve imagined. She is a force to be reckoned with by day, and a permaculture expert, knitter and crafter by night. Bree keeps us interesting and always moving forward, and her commitment to reinventing the world of work has burned strong since the day we met years ago at HBG Health.

Sharlene is indefatigable. She lives in Denver, and we met when she ran benefits for School District 27J in Brighton. We were meant to be advising them, but we learned more from Sharlene and so when she retired from there, we convinced her to join our team and help us to continue to serve that district, as well as other clients. Her precision is remarkable, and I’ve never asked her a question to which I did not get a complete and full answer, and some information that I probably didn’t ask for but she knew I would need. If there were a prize for the most reliable person on earth, I would submit an entry for Sharlene.

There are many people who have spent time on our team at Habits at Work and left their mark.

People like Aaron Levy now running Raise The Bar. Amanda Beemer who did so much for us and for our partnership with Vivacity over the last two years (and is now helping to Keep Portland Weird - they are lucky to have you); Diane Marszalek who taught us about professional coaching and is just now on her way to new and better things; Cayla (Chambers) Weisberg, a force for women in tech (and a new mom – yay!); Debbi Brooks; Tracie Ann Tjapkes; Ashima Jaiswal; Chris Moreno; Kerry Dawkins and Jonathan Dawkins; Mark Myerson; Thomas Bookman; Carolyn Bilson; Louise Allen and many more. Your stay may have been short or may have been long, but your contribution was never small. Thank you all for being part of building Habits at Work and BRATLAB.  

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Last, and definitely not least, is Tia Pappas. She is the light of our office and my ‘partner in crime’. On the rare occasions that I look good, she’s the cause and on most occasions, she helps me not to be an idiot. She juggles more balls than a troupe of circus clowns, manages our office and makes it look easy, helps everyone get their work done, and still handles her ever-growing task list from hell. She has the biggest warmest grin that’s a perfect match for her loving and generous heart. Whenever I see Tia, I always think two things: How the hell did I survive before you came along and what would I do if you ever leave (Note to others, don’t even think about trying to hire Tia, we’re not above resorting to violence to keep her ☺). Not kidding, actually. Tia, thanks for being the glue that holds us all together and the laughter and sunshine that makes coming into the office a warm experience for everyone that visits our space. No-one leaves our office after meeting Tia in a bad mood, ever.

 

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