Attitude of Gratitude

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we asked bedding leaders what they’re thankful for and how they convey a positive attitude to their company.

Here’s a little story about the power of gratitude. 

When Douglas Conant became chief executive officer of Campbell Soup Company in 2001, business was anything but “M’m! M’m! Good!”

Campbell had lost half its market value, sales has declined and layoffs ensued. Net earnings had fallen 9% to $649 million, or $1.55 per share from $1.65 per share, according to a company report. Meanwhile, the culture had reportedly become toxic.

Conant had his work cut out for him.

First, he created The Campbell Promise: “Campbell valuing people. People valuing Campbell.” Then he made a plan to re-energize a “great company, its brands and its people.”

So, he started writing thank-you notes.

During his 10-year term, Conant sent more than 30,000 thank-you notes to his employees and customers, which averages to about 10 handwritten cards a day.

The result? By 2009 the company was outperforming the S&P 500 and the S&P Food Group. When Conant left in 2011, the company had rallied, earning Gallup’s “Great Workplace Award” and becoming known for its support of women and minorities.

Conant’s legendary comeback illustrates his attitude of gratitude.

At the ISPA EXPO in March, another thank-you guru, drummer Mark Shulman, outlined that “A times B equals C” — or attitude times behavior equals consequence.

“Understanding that you, as a leader, have the power to drive different behavior and actually produce different results is truly powerful,” Shulman said.

When facing challenges, he advocates taking a few minutes to list the things you’re grateful for, thus shifting your attitude toward positivity — and shifting the attitudes of those around you.

For more tips on how to stay positive and grateful, turn the page for thoughtful and inspiring lessons from bedding leaders.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we queried them on who taught them the power of gratitude, and we get their answers on the age-old question: turkey or ham?

What are you personally and/or professionally grateful for?

“Personally, I am grateful to be blessed with a happy and healthy family. Professionally, I am grateful for a supportive board of directors at Therapedic and the steady leadership of a strong chair in Norman Rosenblatt. I am also blessed to have the world’s best support staff in Princeton, New Jersey, headed by the incoming Better Sleep Council chair, Susan Mathes.”

— Gerry Borreggine, president and chief executive officer of Therapedic International, a mattress licensing group based in Princeton, New Jersey

“I definitely lead a blessed life. I am most grateful for my husband and family, my health, the time I am able to spend outdoors and for the opportunity to work surrounded by team members who care for each other and for the success of the company.”

— Vicki Fishman, vice president of sales, home division, for industry supplier Wright Global Graphics, based in Thomasville, North Carolina

“I’m personally grateful for my friends and family and the ability to connect with them in person following the pandemic. Although Zoom get-togethers were a way to stay in touch during that time, they most definitely lacked the connectivity of being in-person. Professionally, I’m grateful for our customers. The last year has been a challenge for everyone in the industry with supply chain issues, labor shortages, etc. Our customers have been patient with us as we managed through those challenges, especially when we weren’t always at our best.”

— David Jaffe, chief executive officer of sleep product manufacturer Rize, based in Cleveland

“I’m grateful that our family got through Covid healthy and that no one had any serious issues and that Covid taught us we don’t have to be at the office as much. So, now business is thriving, and I’m getting more time with my family and friends. Professionally, I’m grateful for our team and how they came together and adapted to change and how they’re taking everything in stride with the ups and downs of business these days and with all the challenges we’ve had the past couple years. Being able to maintain positivity and stay engaged through the ups and downs is really something I’m grateful for.”

— Shaun Pennington, CEO of Diamond Mattress, based in Rancho Dominguez, California 

“When I was a child, my dad always said that if you have your health and your family, you have everything you need in life. He believed if you were missing either of those, nothing else in life would be as sweet. Throughout my life, his advice has helped me in countless ways, and it’s guided my growth as a leader, too.”

— Julia Rosien, vice president of brand and digital marketing for Restonic, a mattress licensing group based in Buffalo, New York

Who in the bedding industry are you grateful for and why? Is there anyone you would like to thank?

“There are many people who have helped me along the way, but I have to say that I am most thankful for my uncle Ed Bates, because I would never have gotten the chance to be in this dynamic position and meet the many amazing people in this industry if Eddie — a long-time Spring Air licensee in New England — had not taken a chance on me to run this company. There’s no question that he was responsible for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m grateful for his faith and trust every day.”

Thankful road sign

— Nick Bates, president of licensing group Spring Air International, based in Woburn, Massachusetts

“I came to this industry from the tech sector — such a different world. I’m so grateful to all the people who welcomed me and made me feel like I could find a home here — so many! I’m especially grateful to the retailers I worked with in the early days who had no idea what social media was but trusted me to help them find their place in it.” — Rosien, Restonic

“I’d like to thank my dad, Randy Pennington. He’s the one who got me into the business and taught me everything I know in terms of how to handle customers and employees. He was a great mentor to me, and my grandfather, Richard Pennington “Dick,” for setting up a business that had great financial stability and great people inside of it that let us grow our company to where it is today. I thank my dad for his guidance and support all these years.” — Pennington, Diamond

“I am grateful for Roger Magowitz and the great work he has done and continues to do fighting pancreatic cancer. I’ve had the chance to work with Roger in our core business and as part of the Seena Magowitz Foundation and truly there is nobody I have more respect for than him. He has a unique ability to be calm and positive in any situation and has done a tremendous job bringing our industry together to do something good for people who are less fortunate.” — Jaffe, Rize 

Describe an instance when someone in the bedding industry taught you the power of gratitude.

“There are so many examples within our industry, but I have to call out Dan Swiniarski, our executive vice president of sales and marketing, as a great example of someone who personifies gratitude through an organization called Fairways for Warriors. Their mission is to provide hope, healing and camaraderie to combat-wounded veterans and their families by engaging them in golf. I’ve been amazed at his passion for showing our nation’s bravest men and women gratitude through instruction and fellowship.” — Fishman, Wright Global Graphics 

“One of our sales managers worked with us for over 40 years. My great-grandparents hired him, and he always taught me to be thankful for our customers and to treat everyone equally. He said to be grateful and kind to the people in the warehouse, and to the people everywhere in any company, because you never know where somebody is going to be in the future. Somebody could start on a forklift, and the next thing you know, they’re running the company. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. He taught me to be grateful for all the people who help to support our business and our families. His name was Murray Povitch, and he worked with us till he was 84 years old.” — Pennington, Diamond

“Whenever someone — retailer, rep, supplier, employee or licensee — reminds you that they remember all the times you’ve taken care of them and that in the end, they will be there for you, too. To me, those are the best instances and most meaningful moments of gratitude, and it’s something we experience regularly because of how we conduct business.” — Bates, Spring Air 

“I’ve recently celebrated my ninth anniversary with Restonic, and I’m so very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with industry icon Ron Passaglia. He is the epitome of servant leadership. At the end of a particularly stressful week, he told me, ‘If you’re struggling, pay attention only to me. Be like the baseball player up to bat who focuses on the pitcher and the ball he’s holding. The crowd, the noise, the game — none of it matters. Dial everything else down. Breathe. Focus. Swing.’” — Rosien, Restonic

Given the challenging business climate and the tough economy, talk about a situation in recent months when you remember being especially thankful.

“In early October, I co-hosted an event called Dream Camp. We welcomed 30 leaders from the sleep industry to Bentonville, Arkansas, and spent three days connecting, learning, having fun, and envisioning the future of the mattress industry. I am grateful to everyone who said yes, showed up, and brought their incredible energy and ideas to the event. It meant the world to me.”

— Mark Kinsley, president and chief executive officer of Englander Sleep Products, based in Chicago, and co-founder of The Fam 

Thankful at the morning sunrise.

“When Covid-19 first started, it was total chaos. Just like most business leaders, I was faced with how to manage the chaos, what to communicate to our employees, how to keep people safe, and how to keep a business running. There was no playbook for how to move forward. Needless to say, it was a time of extreme stress and personal vulnerability. I reached out to Zev Fredman, the president of Glideaway, who was also a competitor, to touch base with him to see how he was managing. Over the next several months, we checked in with each other every day to offer personal support. I am thankful to Zev for being open to those conversations and for the honest conversations we were able to have during those dark times.” — Jaffe, Rize

“I’m so grateful for the many people who I’m connected to and who have taken the time to reach out over the past few years — when my mother was ill, when my husband and I contracted Covid-19 … It’s been humbling to be the recipient of so much caring and concern.” — Rosien, Restonic

“Each day presents challenges as we attempt to balance quick turns and continued supply chain issues. I am most grateful for our production teams, who consistently meet these challenges with flexibility, creativity and the spirit of cooperation.” — Fishman, Wright Global Graphics

“A recent moment that I remember feeling very thankful was when the entire Spring Air network was sitting at a dinner table in Fresno, California, for our first-ever manufacturing meeting. We weren’t seated around that table as a group of peers; we were there as a family.” — Bates, Spring Air

“I believe a great deal of positivity can be found by being in the moment. By listening and paying attention to each other — truly listening — we convey positivity and gratitude.”

— Mark Kinsley

How do you convey positivity and an attitude of gratitude to your team and to your company?

“For me, positivity is a way of life. When my team is faced with a challenge, we allow ourselves to dig into it, rumble for a bit in the pit and really feel it. But at the same time, we’re always looking up … . And if you’re working together in that way — comfortable rumbling but working as a team — you’re eventually going to find a ladder or a rope or even just a foothold that will get you a little farther up. And there’s a whole lot to be thankful for when you reach the top together.” — Rosien, Restonic

“Through supportive words, actions and even small gestures.” — Borreggine, Therapedic

“I’ve learned that negative people will always find a problem for every solution. As leaders, I believe it’s our job to assist our teams in finding solutions and to never quit until we solve a problem. If we all sit back and sulk, we accomplish nothing other than to stew in our own depression. And, by the way, the only people who will feel sorry for us will be us!” — Bates, Spring Air 

“I try to own my mistakes and share my successes. With every challenge comes an opportunity to learn, show grace, improve and strengthen our team.” — Fishman, Wright Global Graphics

“I believe a great deal of positivity can be found by being in the moment. By listening and paying attention to each other — truly listening — we convey positivity and gratitude because those around us feel heard and recognized.” — Kinsley, Englander

“Recently, I’ve been sending notes of appreciation to team members to say thank you for all their hard work. I think often we get so busy just trying to do and move on, and we can get very task-
oriented. Taking a step back to say thank you and to acknowledge what they’ve done for the company and who they are as people; it’s something I enjoy, and it goes a long way toward building our team.” — Pennington, Diamond

What are your tips for staying positive and grateful?

“I do my best to meditate every day. I find taking just 10 minutes a day to re-center myself has really helped me to be a more grounded, positive person. I found this so useful, we decided to give our employees a subscription to the Calm app, which has been very well-received.” — Jaffe, Rize

“Your days become your life. That means it’s important to create great days because they eventually add up to one big life. To stay positive and grateful, I think it’s important to be intentional about designing days that are fulfilling. To me, that fulfillment comes from serving others and taking the focus away from myself. When I put that into practice, I feel more positive and grateful, primarily because it leads to deeper relationships.” — Kinsley, Englander

“Regular daily meditation and prayer. In the mornings, I use a biofeedback device called Inner Balance by the HeartMath Institute. There are over 400 published research studies that show that heart coherence links to brain coherence links to feelings of gratitude. So, this biofeedback device, you clip it to your ear or your finger and it looks at your heart rate, and you use the breathing patterns that it teaches you to reconnect your heart rate and it helps move you into a state of gratitude.” — Pennington, Diamond

“Take a few minutes every day to sit back, relax and take a breath. When I do so with an attitude of gratitude, I always come to the realization that things could always be a lot worse than they are and that I am very lucky to be where I am today.” — Bates, Spring Air

“Try to keep yourself happy, and your own inner peace will be reflected in your everyday demeanor and will play out in your actions.” — Borreggine, Therapedic

“My No. 1 tip would be to make sure you are getting enough sleep. It’s hard to stay positive when you are sleep deprived and grumpy.” — Fishman, Wright Global Graphics

In the spirit of Thanksgiving — turkey or ham? Any special cooking method?

“Turkey! The old-fashioned way, right out of the oven!” — Bates, Spring Air

“We are a traditional turkey family. I am more of the carver than the cook. In that area I prefer the down-stroke method.” — Borreggine, Therapedic 

“I have a big extended family so both turkey and ham make it to our table.” — Fishman, Wright Global Graphics

“If I have to choose, it would be turkey, but I have a huge sweet tooth so I prefer starting with the pumpkin and apple pie and coming back to the turkey only if I’m still hungry.” — Jaffe, Rize

“Make sure you are getting enough sleep. It’s hard to stay positive whenyou are sleep deprived and grumpy.”

— Vicki Fishman

“Eggplant parmesan. I know it sounds unorthodox, but years ago we started eating Italian for Thanksgiving because we enjoy it more than turkey or ham. There’s a great restaurant in Chicago called Mart Anthony’s, and my mother-in-law would take her own dish down to the restaurant and the chef would cook his signature eggplant parmesan in her pan. I was always grateful for the people at the restaurant who were willing to do that for us so we could enjoy serving from that beautiful dish, cooked the way it was meant to be.” — Kinsley, Englander

“I’m a turkey guy and I like the moist Butterball bag turkey.” — Pennington, Diamond

“As a vegetarian, I love this holiday so much. There are always so many kinds of salads and veggie dishes — a feast!”  — Rosien, Restonic

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