Thanksgiving is just a holiday, but the spirit of giving thanks is not. The one comes around once a year; the other should be celebrated every day. Unfortunately, giving thanks is not high on the list of many: We are too stressed out, too busy or too focused on our day-to-day routines to recognize our blessings.
So here are several things most of us can be thankful for:
In the payments industry, we are particularly blessed. It is in many respects a thriving industry despite the woes of the economy. It is a fast-changing, innovative, entrepreneurial environment that rewards hard work, persistence and creative thinking. So it is appropriate to express thanks for this.
Think about it. The industry is composed of networks upon networks that connect customers to retailers and retailers to banks. Central to all of this is the POS terminal. It is the device on which the entire industry is founded.
Who made the first POS device? Who integrated the first one into a retailer's check-out station or countertop? Whoever those people were, they deserve our thanks because their efforts spawned an entire sector of the economy.
While we're at it, we might as well thank consumers for increasingly paying with plastic. They don't have to pull out their credit, debit and prepaid cards. They could go back to cash and checks. Nobody's stopping them. But then where would the industry be? Oh, right, there wouldn't be one.
Now, if you're going to thank cardholders, you can't leave out the technology companies, associations and advisories that help secure payment devices and networks.
If consumers were truly scared of making online purchases because of the threat of data and identity theft, you would see a drop in Internet, card-not-present purchasing. But that hasn't happened and Internet commerce is growing.
So while the networks are not perfectly secure, they are secure enough to give most consumers peace of mind that, with a little caution, they can transact safely online. Therefore, we should be grateful to the stewards of the payment system for safeguarding that most precious cargo - cardholders' payment data.
Of course, nothing in the industry, or the world, is perfect. Certainly your colleagues fit into that category. Oh, that Bob is always complaining about his merchants. Or that Shirley, she wears the most pungent perfume imaginable - whew. And what about Ron? That comb over is just plain ridiculous.
But we all have jobs to do for our respective businesses. Bob's the sales agent; Shirley does accounting; Ron runs the company. They all have foibles, weaknesses and shortcomings.
They get on our nerves from time to time, and we get on theirs. But Bob brings in the business; Shirley keeps the books; Ron steers the company toward profitability.
Our colleagues and coworkers are spurred on by self-interest - they want to survive and make a living, as do we. But Bob can't do it alone; neither can Shirley or Ron.
We rely on each other to make our companies successful. The petty grievances and differences between people fall away when you contemplate the big picture.
When everyone does their job and the operation runs smoothly, profits are made, people get paid and life is good.
Therefore, your colleagues deserve thanks, even the account manager with the goofy laugh and the rep displaying unicorn figurines all over her cubicle. How you express thanks is up to you. Saying "Great job" or "Thanks for helping out" are favorites.
But recognizing that you have much to be thankful for is often enough; it comes out in the respect you show co-workers, even the annoying ones.
As for POS devices, it is not recommended that you whisper your gratitude to the nearest one. But it wouldn't hurt to recognize that that little device - and the people and industry it represents - have made you and your company a boatload of money.
And that's definitely something to be thankful for.
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