Gratitude for the Flower Bulbs … and the Lightbulbs

It happens nearly every fall. I’m browsing the home improvement store’s garden section and pause at the spring bulbs on display. Usually, I pass them by, preferring plants that result in instant gratification. Yet when spring finally arrives and daffodils and tulips make their appearance, I feel a sense of gratitude for the younger version of me—the proactive planter who decided to invest in the future and get her hands dirty. 

That sense of springtime gratitude is an appropriate metaphor for what I’m feeling as the current SMPS president. This year, we’re celebrating 50 years since the organization’s founding. And this past month, presidents-elect from coast to coast gathered in D.C. for the Chapter Leadership Symposium (CLS), where they shared ideas to help their chapters, and each other, grow and succeed. 

Our landmark anniversary demonstrates how the SMPS community benefits from past leaders who planted seeds and cultivated our organization into what it is today. And witnessing the connections and collaboration at CLS was a reminder that—as volunteer leaders—we wouldn’t be where (or who) we are without the people who encouraged and inspired us along the way. 

Spending time with the CLS class of 2023 last month (Hi, Hillraisers!) brought back memories from 16 years ago when I was gearing up to serve as president of SMPS Indiana. A few months later, I would reunite with my fellow “Big and Bold” presidents-elect at the SMPS conference in Denver. One of the conference’s keynote speakers was Mark Sanborn, author of the book, You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader. His message stuck with me—that a leader is someone who wants to make things better, and that you can lead from any seat. I’ve always believed that if you’re in SMPS, you’re a leader because you’re most likely interested in helping others, pursuing lifelong learning opportunities, and improving our industry. 

Whether we’re supporting others or building upon our own knowledge base, the effects of our efforts are seldom instantaneous. Lightbulb moments—opportunities that seem to pop up out of nowhere—are typically the result of cumulative efforts or past experiences that connect to the present day. 

So, I invite you to continue investing in yourself and helping tend to our community for the good of the future, whether you’re empowering others to lead or inviting transformations that will help us continue to provide value in the years ahead. As you do that, know that everything you’re doing today will make for a better tomorrow—both for yourself and those who share space with you. Together, we can meet the SMPS vision of business transformed through marketing leadership. 


Article written by SMPS President Holly Bolton, FSMPS, CPSM, who is owner of 3chord Marketing. She can be reached at

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