I’m currently in the running for the most important job title of all: one of my niece’s favorite people. I remember my own aunt sharing how it felt all those years ago when I came home. I couldn’t quite imagine it until my own niece was born – this idea that you can fall in love with ten tiny fingers and toes instantly.
I love this kid more every week on our video chats. While the pandemic kept us apart much longer than I wanted, each week we find a few minutes to talk on the phone. By talk on the phone I mean my brother talks and follows her to each of her flighting interests while holding the phone in her direction. She loves slides, playing drums, and dancing.
I love these little moments where she connects with me in between her favorite toys, looking right at the camera and mirroring my big smile. Nothing else matters to me but her joy. It makes the world seem a lot more simple for a few minutes.
So in my preparation for real life time with her as my van cruised into the neighborhood, I acquired a few toys. A 48-piece unicorn set to be specific. Yes, the box was taller than she is. As to not become my brother and sister-in-law’s least favorite person, I asked permission first assuring they wouldn’t mind adding to the toys already piled high. They allowed it so before her nap, I let my niece know I had a toy for her when she woke up.
I don’t think she was expecting the unicorn parade that awaited her. I wish I had a video of her face. “Wow!” she exclaimed with both her voice and bright blue eyes. While she was unamused with the pile of clothes I gave her earlier, these rainbow unicorns were a hit.
We spent the entire afternoon playing. We braided their hair, learned that wings flap, and made sound effects. As we played on the floor, out of the blue she said, “Kat Kat, thank you so much for bringing me all these toys. You must really love me.” After I collected myself from puddle status, I fell in love with this kid all over again for reminding me how gratitude changes everything.
I grew up in a family where they said, “yes, what?” and “what do you say?” If you felt the instinct to dutifully respond “sir/ma’am” to the first and “thank you,” to the second question, your parents likely grew up South of the Mason-Dixon Line like mine. These manners and auto-replies are mandatory.
While they taught me to say thank you almost mechanically, I didn’t quite understand gratitude. I didn’t know that when people show up, take you in, and ask how you’re doing, they’re saying I love you in a million little ways.
It’s easy for me to forget to be grateful for these acts of love when there’s a whirlwind of emails, DMs, and comments to reply to. It’s easy to believe that I have to do it all myself. CEO is a job title I always wanted, but it’s lonely, too. In all these digital interactions, I don’t always look up from my phone to see there’s a world of people who show up for me in real life.
When things feel hard, that’s the thing I’m forgetting – to look around and be grateful. For an Army of people who love and show up for me – the people who nurtured me when I was just a baby and those that walk beside me today. For the chance to run my own company and make my mark on the world. And to know that CEO simply isn’t the most important job title of all.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.